Monday, July 24, 2017

It's weird to think that we're almost done with the transfer, 

and with July altogether! 

This is us with Erica, the sister that was sealed to her parents, husband, and children on Saturday!  We didn't have a lot of time to go to their luncheon to celebrate, but we were biking by the church and stopped by (hence why my face is so red).
This week we had the immense privilege of going to the temple with a family as they received their own endowments, and then to attend their sealing this weekend. It was humbling and so, so beautiful! A little bit of backstory - Alejandra joined the church first, and has since worked with the rest of her family, and now three of her sisters and their whole families are members and her parents and her own husband and children are all members as well. She's also brought a lot of friends into the church. Well, on Tuesday, Alejandra's father, her sister Erica, and her brother-in-law Miguel all received their endowments. Friday, we witnessed a set of four sealings in the same room - first, Alejandra and Erica's parents were sealed, then Alejandra and Erica were sealed to them, then Erica and Miguel were sealed, then their two kids were brought in and sealed to them. The room was so, sooo full of love and happiness, and incredible emotion! We were so humbled to be asked to come by the family. Alejandra was crying so many tears of happiness, it warmed my heart. That is the joy of sharing the gospel!!

But because of all of our trips to the temple this past week and a half, we're running out of miles that we're allowed to use on our car. So we've been biking a lot more - on Saturday we biked 11.3 miles in the afternoon heat and I thought I might die. And then yesterday, as we were biking to try to visit a less active, there was a MONSOON! We were absolutely SOAKED through, every time I peddled my foot went into water, the street was so flooded! Luckily most of my things only received little to no water damage, but my bag was definitely not made for rainy climates! And we didn't get the phone out of the side pocket and inside of Sister Hanson's bag fast enough, so now the touch screen isn't working ... which means it's impossible for us to do anything but answer if someone calls. It's a problem ... but hopefully we'll get it worked out soon! Anyway, as wet as we got and as crazy as it was, it was actually kind of fun and definitely makes for a good story. We were all excited that this less active was DEFINITELY going to let us in (we've never met them) but they still didn't answer the door ... oh well!

Sad news from this week, though - remember the member who told us she wanted to get her two kids baptized? She cancelled four lessons we had set up with her this week and we have since not been able to get a hold of her and she did not come to church, nor did the kids. So ... they're not going to be able to get baptized this weekend most likely :/ 

But we got in touch with Luis again! He's not quite as prepared as we thought, he was talking about how busy he was and that he didn't have much time in his life right now. We talked about putting the things of the Lord first, and as we were talking with him I felt one of the strongest promptings of my mission. He's working on building a house in Mexico for his mom, and I said, "If you read one verse in the Book of Mormon every day this week, you will receive a call from Mexico, and something that is not working out with your project will be resolved." We were both a little shocked by it, but I felt the Spirit confirm, as did Sister Hanson, that it was an inspired promise that would come to pass if he did his part. So we're praying for him and hope he'll accept the blessings our Father in Heaven is trying to give him!

Thursday night we held English classes for the first time! Only one person came, but we all still felt like it was successful (we're just starting so not everyone knows about it yet). Also, it was SO nice and refreshing to be teaching like that again! It wasn't exactly how I usually teach, but it definitely had theatrical elements of role playing and I felt much more comfortable in that setting than teaching as a missionary haha - just because I feel more confident that I know what I'm doing.

I've been reading a lot in 1 and 2 Samuel and getting a LOT out of the stories! 1 Samuel 28 - Saul goes to a witch to have her conjure up the spirit of the prophet Samuel since God won't answer his prayers. Verse 14's footnote talks about how the vision of 'Samuel' was not of God. Therefore, it must have been of the devil. But everything prophesied comes to pass. Why? Because, as the footnote says, the effect of the vision was to destroy all hope. Saul wasn't fated to die in the way that he did - if he'd truly turned to the Lord, he could have received forgiveness. But the evil spirit masquerading as Samuel lied and convinced him it was impossible and he should just give up (vs. 16). It was a spirit of despair, and Saul made its words a reality by fatalistically believing them. He's the one who gave up on the Lord, not the other way around. We need to be careful not to let the devil deceive us into thinking the Lord has given up on us, because He never will - His arms are always stretched out to us!

Hermana Garner

Thursday, July 20, 2017

So Much Going On 

There is SO MUCH going on I feel like I can barely wrap my head around it! Each day has felt like a year this past week, and we've hardly had any time to catch a breath or two.

One of the biggest things that happened this week was going to the temple with Claudia. She was baptized about a year ago, but when we got to this area Hna Hanson and I discovered that somehow she'd been forgotten about and no one had talked to her about going to the temple.  The Spirit was INCREDIBLY strong. After she'd changed and we were heading out of the temple, she expressed, "I feel - weird. I feel this joy and happiness that I didn't even know was possible. It's almost bursting out of me." She expressed how she could feel gratitude from those she did the work for, and I told her I felt the same. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience that strengthened my testimony incredibly, and hers as well. 

Tuesday afternoon was a bit rough - we got in a car accident. I tried to pass someone who looked like they were pulled over to the side, but it turned out they were turning left and just hadn't turned their turn signal on. They drove off, and neither us nor the sheriff's department could find them - they probably didn't have insurance. It wasn't a bad accident, the car was still drivable and neither Hna Hanson and I got hurt, but it was definitely a little scary! We felt protected by the Lord and were grateful for that!

That night we had a great lesson with a part-member family, and the father committed to come to church. Of course, then they went out of town for two weeks ... but we feel confident that he'll start progressing when they get back!

Wednesday we stopped by Luis (the new investigator we put on date last week) only to find that he

was rushing out the door to get to work - he got a new job at a restaurant opening up here, Pita Jungle. Well, they were having a friends and family day last Friday as a promotional (they open today) and he invited us to come for free. We decided to go, and the food was AMAZING!!! It was a $45 meal that we got for free, appetizer, entrees, dessert, drinks - we felt so spoiled!
Luis had committed to come to church, but he didn't show up, so he's unfortunately not on date for the 29th anymore, but we have an appointment tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes!​

  Thursday morning we met two new potentials who told us they'd really like to learn more, that they're looking for a church to go to, so we're excited about that! And then Thursday night we had an interesting lesson with our new investigator Ana - her husband came downstairs and basically anti-ed us while we were sitting there, but she was tuning him out and reading the restoration pamphlet, and when he started talking about how we worshiped Joseph Smith she interrupted him and said, "Dejame hablar," (Let me talk) before rebuking him and saying, "Reading this, they don't worship him, they just see him as a disciple." Sister Hanson and I were like, "EXACTLY," and her husband quieted down a bit and we were able to commit Ana and her mother to both read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and they seem to have a sincere desire to learn

  Friday we had an incredible experience with Angelina - she's progressing slowly, but still progressing. She understands what she needs to do, and what she's not doing, in order to receive her answer. She was another investigator who went out of town for the weekend, but she committed yet again to come to church next week. We feel so strongly that if she comes to church she'll receive her answer about if the church is true! She wants to know, and keeps asking us about how she can develop more faith, and how she can help her family members do the same.

Sunday was our busiest day this week, but it was also a day when I saw one of the biggest miracles of my entire mission! None of the people we invited came to church, and we were pretty disappointed, but were moving forward in the faith that we would, somehow, have four baptisms this transfer. Well, just after sacrament we hurried up to introduce ourselves to a less active who's never answered her door for us, and she says, "Hey, thanks for coming over - I have two kids that I want to get baptized." We were floored, and met the kids - they want to get baptized too, we just need to make sure they understand everything and aren't just doing it as a 'cultural' thing but understand that it's a promise with God - and that their parents understand that part of their kids keeping that promise will be coming to church, so they have to recommit to their own covenants and bring them. But as of now, they're scheduled to be baptized on the 29th!

And then there were two new people in the Gospel Principles class, relatives of recent converts who are getting sealed this week in the temple, who are having us over for an FHE tonight, so there's a lot of potential there as well!

This morning we enjoyed a hike as a zone, and it was fun! I was also rather pensive, I recorded some of my thoughts and will send them to you in a video.​

There was SO much I learned in my studies this week, I feel like I could write a novel. I'll do my best not to. 

1 Samuel 1:18 - I was incredibly struck by the faith that Hannah had. The moment she'd received her promise from Eli the priest, she went away rejoicing with no doubt in her heart that she would be given the promised child and blessing. 

1 Samuel 2:10 (footnote b) - "anointed" is translated from the Greek "christos." So "Christ" is a variant of "anointed," meaning his name and title signifies His calling of the Lord.

2 Nephi 16:6-7 - The Seraphim put a LIVE coal on Isaiah's mouth to cleanse him. Repentance is not a painless process, though it is worth it - as a result, Isaiah could see and converse with the Lord.

1 Samuel 4 - The Children of Israel brought out the Ark of the Covenant to war thinking it would protect them, but they were unworthy, so instead they were smitten and it was taken. The Lord cannot protect us if we are not keeping our covenants.

1 Samuel 15 - Saul justified sinning against the Lord by not destroying all of the Amalekite's flocks by saying he did it to sacrifice to the Lord. But our wisdom is not greater than the Lord's - we must obey in all things and not yield to our own desires and judgements, even if they seem righteous (vs. 22)
(Last one, I promise!) 1 Samuel 17:40, 49 - Even though David only needed 1 stone to kill Goliath, he prepared himself with 5.

Hermana Garner

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Happy 4th of July

This was such a great week, I've been so excited to write to you about it!

Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow and we unfortunately didn't get to see many people, but we still had some great experiences! And then, Tuesday night, all the missionaries got together at one of the churches to spend the 4th of July there (we weren't allowed to be out proselyting for safety). It was SO much fun, I took a few videos - we had a short little devotional, where Elder Janda, who's from France, thanked us for all being there to celebrate the independence of his country, America, even though we were all immigrants. It was pretty hilarious. I was spontaneously asked to play the National Anthem on the piano and botched it, but it didn't matter. I used the decorations you sent to decorate the gym and we played a bunch of games in there and just enjoyed our time together. Driving home, we got to see some of the fireworks which was a tender mercy!

And then, we got to go to the temple Wednesday morning!
It was a surprise, we were told just the day before, but it was definitely a welcome surprise. I felt so much peace and love from the Lord as I was there, and was again incredibly grateful that I was sent to a mission where I have the opportunity to go to the House of the Lord often!

Wednesday was FULL of miracles, but I'll just talk about one to save time - we had an extra hour of time because some of our plans fell through, so we prayed before leaving the house to know where to go. As we got in the car, Hna Hanson says, "Let's go try the potential we have in the apartments." The story behind this apartment is literally just that someone told us they thought they heard someone speaking Spanish inside. So it was a sketchy referral, we didn't know anything about them, and the few times that we'd knocked no one had answered. But we followed the prompting and headed over, and heard a vacuum on inside, so we at least knew someone was home and we were going to figure out if they spoke Spanish or not, or were even interested.  Well, this man comes out, introduces himself as Luis, and yes, he does speak Spanish. He says, "Yeah, I know quite a bit about Mormons, but I've never tried it out." I felt the Spirit super strongly and just said, "Well, we're going to invite you to try it out." He smiled and said, "Okay, sure."He didn't have a lot of time, and we had to travel to another appointment on the other end of our area, so we only were able to talk to him for fifteen minutes. But at the end of those fifteen minutes he agreed to read and pray, and committed to be baptized on JULY 29TH if he knows it's true!!!!!!!  It was seriously SUCH a miracle!!!! Pray that he'll get his answer and follow through!!!

There were a couple of less exciting things - we were really excited for Sunday, because we had 17 investigators and potentials who had agreed to come to church ... and literally not a single one of them showed up. Which was really disheartening, but I'm deciding to grow my faith instead of start to doubt! I still believe we'll have four baptisms this transfer!

The other frustrating thing (that was also a miracle, really) was that we tracted into this member, and he got super excited when we told him we were Spanish missionaries. He told us that his neighbor has been investigating the church. Here's the thing - she's been meeting with the English missionaries and going to the English ward, but she doesn't speak English!!!!!!! She has an interpreter who's coming to her lessons and going to church with her, but she doesn't catch quite everything and wants to participate in Gospel Principles but can't. We texted her and she was SO excited, she had no idea that there was a Spanish ward let alone Spanish missionaries.

  In other news, our AC broke AGAIN, Hna Hanson and I have been unintentionally matching our outfits every day which is just ridiculous, and this morning in the shower I looked down and THERE WAS A SCORPION CRAWLING ON MY FOOT!!!!!!!!!!! One of the most TERRIFYING moments of my life!!!!!

I've been learning SO MUCH from the Old Testament! I love it! ​In Joshua 10, there's a story about one of the battles that Israel had with the kings of the Canaanites. They were vastly outnumbered, but the Lord told Joshua not to fear, that He had delivered them into their hands. Well, in verse 11, the Canaanites are running away and "great stones from heaven" fall on them, and the scripture says that more people died from those than from the men of Israel battling them. It truly shows who won that battle, and it wasn't the children of Israel!​

​2 Nephi 9:52 - "Let your hearts rejoice." This phrase stood out to me so much. Joy is a choice, though at times a hard one to make, and the Lord will help us as we seek it!​

Joshua 23:6 - this verse relates being courageous to keeping the commandments of God, and I'd never associated that word with obedience before. It was really interesting, and gave me a new perspective!

Anyway, just some of what I learned this week! Hope you're all enjoying your scripture study as well!!

Hermana Garner

Here are a couple of videos from this week

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It was a really incredible, eventful week! 

I've seen the Lord's hand so much in my life as this week has gone on, and Hna Hanson and I are really excited for the rest of the transfer!

On Wednesday we had zone conference, which was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. Hna Shaffer and I sang in a small group for the musical number, "I Need Thee Every Hour," which is my favorite hymn in the hymn book. It was a great experience, I was glad to be able to use my talents! And the training that we received in zone conference was really amazing - we talked a lot about the power of bearing testimony and received a promise that if we had 10 quality gospel discussions a day (even if people aren't interested) and always, always ask for referrals, that baptisms in the mission would double. Hna Hanson and I have committed to do that, and we've met so many people and seen them put directly into our path by the Lord as we've striven to do so! As a zone, we also made a very prayerful goal of having 18 baptisms this transfer. When Hna Hanson and I were praying in our companionship about what our goal should be, we felt very strongly that we should settle on the number 4. It's a bit daunting at moments for me, since I haven't had any baptisms my whole mission, but we've talked a lot this week about how the Lord loves impossible odds. I feel no doubt that as we continue to work diligently, the Lord will bring those 4 people to us one way or another who are prepared to receive Him and make covenants! Our whole zone has seen so many miracles as we've continued to pray and fast for this goal.

We got two new investigators this week, which I know was a huge answer to prayer and a fulfillment of the promises we received at zone conference! One of them was Luisa. We met her a week or so ago, and gave her a Book of Mormon. She said she was never home, but we stopped by to see if we could catch her or one of the other people who live there, and she happened to be preparing to leave for Mexico for the weekend, so had some time to talk. She let us in, and we taught her the first lesson. The spirit was so strong! She's already been reading the Book of Mormon, she wants to know how we can know if what's written in any of the scriptures is true and which church is really God's church, and when we shared the story of the first vision her jaw dropped and she was obviously touched by the spirit. At the end of the lesson we invited her to be baptized when she knew these things were true, and though she didn't commit to a date or anything she said that she does want to know if it's true and will read and pray, and she's coming to church with us this coming week! Pray for her and the rest of our investigators!

 Juan and Sandra are back in Guadalajara, but they're continuing to go to church and meet with the missionaries! We just got an email from Juan that they went to church yesterday and that their daughters came with them and loved it, that they felt the spirit very strongly. Juan's wanted to be baptized for a while now, he's praying for the Lord to open the hearts and minds of his family members so he can be baptized with them soon :)

 Angelina's one of our investigators :) We invited her to be baptized this past week, and she said she doesn't agree with organized religion and doesn't want to be baptized in any church. We talked about how it's not about joining a church but about making a covenant with God under the proper authority in his established way. She softened after that, and is praying to know if baptism is something the Lord wants her to do (she even prayed for it right there in front of us at the close of the lesson, which was awesome!)

I've been reading a lot in the Old Testament, I'm really behind on my schedule to finish reading all of the standard works before I finish my mission and am trying to catch up. There's been a lot that I've learned, I just love the Old Testament so much!

Deuteronomy 7:7-18 - I related this scripture to John 14:21.Deuteronomy 8:2-6 - Verse 2 especially stood out to me personally, about how the Lord tries us to see what's in our heart and if we will follow Him. I want to show Him that I will, regardless of my trials.

Deuteronomy 10:2 (footnote) - This verse confused me when I first read the Old Testament - why would the Lord have Moses break the tablets just to write the same things on the second ones that he made? But with the JST we learn that the Lord said "And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, save the words of the everlasting covenant of the holy priesthood..." They didn't qualify themselves for the higher law, so it was taken from them.

2 Nephi 2:1-3 - I'm going to retype this scripture in the way that it stood out to me personally as I read it this past week, and the way I likened the scriptures to myself: " thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow ... Nevertheless, ... thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed ... and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God." 

Hermana Garner

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hello, my name is Arizona, and I'm really, REALLY hot!

(video about the heat)

So this week the temperature has just been ridiculous. There were multiple times the gage in our car said it was 127 degrees. When it gets over 120 degrees we're supposed to be inside unless we have a set appointment that we're going to and studying or calling people, finding other things to do. We're not allowed to tract or proselyte for our safety.

Problem is, even being inside became a problem for us this week, because our AC broke AGAIN! Yep, that's right, hottest week ever and our AC decides to stop working. It was just upstairs in the bedrooms, the downstairs was fine. We ended up moving our mattresses into the upstairs landing because the air was coming there from downstairs and it was cool enough to actually sleep. So it's been sleep overs with the four spanish sisters all weekend haha. They're coming over today to fix it, we've been living like this for four days now.

We tried to fry an egg on the street. It didn't quite work.

This week was another roller-coaster week, with some days harder than others, but as always miracles sprinkled in between it all.  

Anyway, on to our investigators - Juan and Sandra are officially back in Mexico, it was hard to say goodbye to them but we're going to keep in contact. We love them so much! We had a few miracles lessons, and I've definitely felt myself starting to actually figure out how to do this whole teaching the gospel thing haha. 

We had an AMAZING lesson with Angelina, a new investigator, on Friday, she's so golden! She's a former who never got baptized, but is now really seeking for the truth, she said that she's 'avila,' which means hungry for knowledge. Pray for her, we think it's really likely she could be baptized this transfer!

thoughts this week ...

Ether 3:1 - when the Brother of Jared is trying to figure out how to get light into the barges, it says that he took stones that he had "molten out of a rock." He didn't expect the Lord to do all the work, and didn't just pick up random stones - he fashioned the stones and put effort into making them acceptable before the Lord, doing all he could until the point where there was nothing left but to rely on God's power. It's a great example.

Hermana Garner

Monday, June 19, 2017

I Love Being A Missionary!

I'm staying here, and Hna Hanson's staying with me! We're excited to get to have another transfer together and particularly in this area. Great things are ahead, that much we're sure of!

It was a bit of a roller-coaster week, but overall great! Monday night was hard, though - we came home and were getting things out of our car and we hear the opening song of Beauty and the Beast. Now, I know that musical well enough that I IMMEDIATELY knew it was the new version. It was playing on a big screen in the park across the street from our house. Hna Hanson and I had to literally run inside to stop ourselves from being tempted to just watch it. 

On Wednesday we had a funny moment where Hna Hanson got back into the car after backing me (it's a rule, anytime I back the car she has to be outside of it directing me) and acted like she was a hitch-hiker who knew nothing about the gospel. We ended up role-playing lesson one, and just as we neared the investigator's house we were going to I started laughing and was like, "What gets me is we're doing this for fun." Hna Hanson lost it laughing.

I've started focusing more on exercising in the morning, because in a recent blessing that I received I was promised that I would be protected spiritually and physically by the Lord as I do the things He asks me to do, and exercising was one of them. I've been a bit lax about it, because I've been so worried about hurting my IC, but now I'm trusting in that promise and trying to be more active. So far so good - we're doing T25 videos together as a house, its' intense, I do what I can hahaFriday night we were at dinner with Juan and Sandra (they move back to Mexico this Saturday 😥) and they called Hna Cedeno, so we were able to FaceTime with her!! It was awesome. She's doing well, she's lost a lot of weight and things are crazy there, but she finally got accepted to school here! Hopefully she'll get her Visa soon and can be back in the states in a couple months!

We didn't get in with very many of our investigators this week, but we did have a few miracles! I wrote in my journal on Friday night, "I think the thing I love most about being a missionary is that you get to feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of the gospel several times a day - almost constantly, really. And I'm feeling it more and more as time goes on." I've seen myself change more and more as I've sanctified myself on my mission and feel more the constant companionship of the Spirit. It's a wonderful thing.

Anyway, Saturday we knocked on a potential's door (we've never met them, the neighbor just told us they speak Spanish) and she immediately let us inside. Her name is Angelina, and it turns out that she's a former investigator from who knows how many years ago. Her son actually goes to mutual with some of his friends, and as soon as we told her what time the Spanish ward was, she said, "Oh, I'll go tomorrow!" ... Unfortunately she didn't, but she was really interested in going to the Tucson open house and was interested in us coming back and teaching her again, so we have a new investigator! She seems prepared, we'll see if she'll take the step to get baptized this time around.

Hna Hanson and I are growing so much closer together, and it's just fun to be her companion! She's a writer as well so we toss ideas around at times, and it's a good creative exercise to keep my mind from wondering too much when we're driving in the car. But we're also both very focused on the work and our investigators and dedicated to helping them in any way we can.I love being a

Hermana Garner

Monday, June 12, 2017

I'm So Grateful for the Gospel!

Our ward had a party for "Dia de los Pap​ 
 ás" on Saturday, but they made a play on words and made it "Dia de Papas" which means "potatoes," so they had all these Mr. Potato Head decorations, played Hot Potato, had a Baked Potato bar, it was really fun :)
So even though this was a short week for emailing, I feel like there's SO much to share! We've received so many referrals and seen so many amazing miracles in the past few days, and I feel incredibly blessed! Transfers are coming up next week and I'm really hoping I don't leave the ward, I want to stay here because I feel like the work is just starting to pick up!

Wednesday and Thursday were rough, though, because our AC broke. Wednesday night we came home and it was 85 degrees in the house, so we tried turning it down and nothing happened. We called the housing coordinators the next day, but they couldn't get anyone in to fix it until Friday morning. So we blasted fans throughout the whole house as it slowly got hotter and hotter. I barely slept at all on Thursday night, no AC in Arizona is no fun! Haha we're spoiled, but were very, very grateful when things were fixed!

Friday night, we had a lesson with Juan and Sandra. We'd been planning to watch the Restoration video with them, but we showed up and The Testaments was on the TV cued up and ready to go. They explained that they couldn't find the one we'd been planning on (the members they're living with had the case, but the DVD wasn't in it). I felt strongly that that wasn't a coincidence, and that this was the movie we were supposed to watch. I felt the spirit witness to me yet again the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as we watched it, and when we reached the end of the video Sandra was crying for about five minutes. She's still holding herself back from accepting that all of this is true to a certain extent, but we know the Spirit is working with her and witnessing to her, so we're just trying to be patient. But they go back to Mexico next week, so we're just trying to strengthen them so they'll continue investigating when they get there. I'm pretty confident they will, we're going to write them letters as well.

Yesterday we saw HUGE miracles in sacrament! One of our investigators, who's wife and kids are members, came to church for the first time this transfer! He didn't stay all three hours, but it's a start! He's also keeping his commitments to read, we need to follow up a bit more on his prayers. But he supports his kids and helps teach them about how to gain a testimony ... he just needs to apply it in his own life!

Anyway, we also had a number of less actives who've never come show up, which was super exciting! Then, Hnas Showalter and Shaffer came up to us and were like, "Are you teaching someone named Ana?" and we were like, "Well, we have a referral for an Ana, haven't actually had a lesson with her yet ..." They pointed out a woman sitting towards the front of the chapel and said that she said she was meeting with the missionaries. We hurried over, and it wasn't the Ana that was a referral, but it was a former investigator that Hna Hanson and I didn't even know about who just showed up of her own accord with her two little girls and told us she wants to meet with us again! We were incredibly surprised, but are excited to get in with her!

I've also just had my testimony grow so much this week. I've felt the Lord closer to me than ever before and His love and support in every moment, especially the hard moments. I'm so grateful for the gospel!!

I've learned so much during my scripture study this week! I'm so grateful for the scriptures!!

D&C 84:109-110 is about how every member has a role and a calling and none is more important than another, I was touched by the way it is stated: "Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling." Sometimes we try to labor in others' callings (something I've seen a LOT on the mission) but as we trust in revelation and the organization of the Lord's church we'll be confident in the ability of our leaders and those who hold other positions to fulfill their callings, and that if they don't the Lord will make up for it.

I was also struck by D&C 18:5 - "Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you." Contrast that with Mormon 2:4, where Mormon talks about how the Nephites used all of their strength to try to fortify their city but the Lamanites still overcame them. Where are we drawing our strength from? Where are we building our foundation? If the answer is not in the gospel and in Christ, we will inevitably fall.

I also started reading the Book of Mormon again from the beginning. This week I was so incredibly struck by Nephi's experience with leaving Jerusalem. He mentions that when he prayed to the Lord, that the Lord softened his heart, which communicates that he felt resistance to follow his father. And it makes sense - imagine what a hard, hard thing that must have been! But rather than complaining and trying to logically explain it all, he looked to the found of all knowledge and received his own testimony of the Lord's will for their family and was ever faithful from that day forward. I love the scriptures! What are you all learning in your scripture study?

Hermana Garner

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This was a long week, but it felt like it really flew by! 

We were incredibly blessed by the visit from Elder Pearson of the Seventy this week, but I'll get to that later.

It's really strange that it's been over a year now since I entered the MTC! Time flies by. I'm a little relieved that I have a bit more than six months left to enjoy my mission, it already seems like it's going so fast and there's so much more I want to do and learn while I'm out here!

We've had SO MANY members give us food this week, which was really a blessing since we were running low, and it's been GOOD food. So I've been eating a lot of leftovers haha.

Last Tuesday, we decided to explore the southern part of our area ... and discovered why the elders had labeled it "The Boonies." I'll send pictures and a video. 

It's out in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, but there are random houses scattered throughout it  so we definitely have some work to do down there! But it was quite the adventure driving around, we felt like we'd left the mission and gone somewhere entirely different.

We've had some amazing lessons this week. Juan and Sandra are both progressing, and it's such an incredibly example how humble they are and how much they want to learn. Sandra still has questions about Joseph Smith, but she's seeking for spiritual guidance and we have no doubt she'll gain a testimony soon! Friday we're watching the Restoration movie with them, so pray for them to be close to the spirit and allow Him to testify to them!

We saw our first live scorpion in the house last Wednesday and it was TERRIFYING. Somehow I ended up holding the jar while we were standing outside trying to figure out what to do, and Sister Hanson called the zone leaders and they told us to microwave it to kill it if we were too chicken to squish it... Yeah, I don't really want to use our
microwave again.

Sister Sorenson and I went on exchanges this week, which was fun! We saw SO MANY miracles - doors that have never opened, opened, we met people who have never been home, and we made an appointment with a referral from Salt Lake and her husband and they seem REALLY interested! We're going by them tonight to teach them and are super excited!

I had a very personal and amazing experience on Sunday during the Sacrament. I was really focusing on the ordinance and very consciously partaking in it, and as I took the water I literally felt like I'd been baptized again. I just felt this sense of peace and complete cleanliness wash over me and was surrounded by love. I'm so grateful for the priesthood and for the covenants I have made!

Monday was weird since it wasn't P-day, but it was also a really successful day! In the afternoon my IC got the best of me a bit, but we were still productive and I powered through and got a blessing that night from the bishop. But the real miracle of the day was the FHE that we had with Karla and her family at the bishop's house. She was really excited to come, and the Bluths just immediately accepted her and her three kids. They have a HUGE playground in their backyard, so the boys were immediately running out onto that, and then Shantel (the 12-year-old) and her mother stayed inside and talked to Sister Bluth. It was all really social, but very quickly Sister Bluth got them interested in cub scouts for Michael (who's 8) and Young Womens and girls camp for Shantel. Karla seemed SO comfortable with all of them, which is a miracle, and the kids are excited to start the activities this Wednesday. We'd had a lesson with her earlier in this week about how if she wants things in her life to improve she's going to have to make changes to be more in harmony with the Lord's will, and she was completely on board. Little by little, she's on her way, and she has great faith to begin to step into the dark! Pray for her!

And then yesterday was when the Southern half of the mission had our zone conference with Elder Pearson. It was really an amazing experience. I learned so much, and really felt the Lord's love and support. I felt more assuredly that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me and I have divine nature and potential. And I felt more and more of a desire to press forward and work with all my might. As part of the conference he randomly called on four missionaries to give talks that we had prepared, and I was one of the ones who was called up. It was an interesting experience because that morning I'd woken up really early with the plans for my talk going over and over in my head, and felt very spiritually guided, so I had a strong suspicion he was going to call on me. The talk was based on "Seek Learning by Faith" by Elder Bednar (which is AMAZING) and I called it, in my notes, "Inspired Questions = Inspired Learning." I drew upon my education as a teacher as well as the talk and examples from the scriptures to talk about how we should be teaching by questions to allow investigators to actively engage and learn for themselves instead of talking at them. Sometimes as a missionary, I forget this principle even though it's what I was the most passionate about when studying pedagogy at NYU. I'm trying to be better about that, and preparing the talk definitely helped keep my mind on how I can improve.  

At the end of the Zone Conference, we were given a promise - that if we went out and asked EVERYONE we talked to, "Who do you know who can benefit from our message?" that we would find someone new to teach THAT NIGHT. And so, Sister Hanson and I went out and did that, and we actually found two potentials as a result, which was a huge blessing!

I know that the Lord directs this work, and am striving to be a worthy instrument in His hands!

One of the main focuses of the conference was, "What kind of missionary do you want to be?" and focusing on what you needed to do in order to get there. At the beginning, I felt a little inadequate, and like I wasn't anywhere near where I wanted to be. But the more we talked about it, the more I realized that I was underselling myself. Yes, there's plenty that I need to improve on, but there's also a lot that I'm already doing well or really striving to do. The Spirit taught me how my effort is accepted, which pushed me to put in even more effort!

Elder Pearson also talked about how the Doctrine of Christ is, in essence, Alignment - being perfectly aligned with Christ so we can be perfectly aligned with the Father, and doing what is necessary to realign ourselves when we get a bit off course. I liked the visual of it!

One quote that he said that stood out to me was, "Are you going to be a young man or a young woman masquerading as a missionary for two years or 18 months, or are you going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who used to be someone else?" It was such a powerful question and reminded me that I need to forget myself! But at the same time, he focused so much on our potential, what we've already achieved in this life and in the premortal existence, and the love that our Father has for us, which was all so incredibly uplifting. He said that what you determine about your identity ultimately determines your reality and destiny, so never forget your divine identity!

One more thing that stuck out to me - he was talking about how some people are waiting for angels to come down and answer their prayers or a prophet to speak to them directly or something. Then he said, "You've got a member of the Godhead - that should suffice." It hit me right in my heart! We literally ALL receive a witness of the truth from a member of the GODHEAD - why do we look for something more when nothing could be more miraculous than that?

Hermana Garner

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy, Positive and Enjoying the Work!

First of all, ya'll should know that next week we won't have P-day on Monday, it'll be on Wednesday instead - we have a member of the Seventy visiting us and have zone conference on Monday as a result. So it'll be a long week, but the next one will be short! :P

Hna Hanson and I had quite a lot of funny moments this week. We just enjoyed each others company and found joy in the work each day. We're both improving with the language, but still make funny mistakes. We were practicing teaching the Plan of Salvation, and Hna Hanson was explaining how there were two parts of the spirit world - Paradise, and Prison. In Spanish, the word for prison is 'Carcel.' But she made a mistake and said that we either go to "Paraiso" or "Cartel." We both had to stop practicing because we were laughing so hard. So apparently, if we don't go to spirit paradise, we're all in the cartel together.

There are a few people that we dropped this week, but we also saw miracles with current and potential investigators. I don't know if I've told you anything about Juan and Sandra Lopez, but they're amazing. They've been coming to church for months and are living with Juan's brother's family, who are all members. They're so close to being baptized, and they both know it - they just need some encouragement. Hna Hanson and I both felt really impressed to challenge them to make the decision to be baptized. They went to the New Member Fireside last night and I thought I saw Juan crying, and they both said they were touched by the spirit. Pray for them!

We're teaching a few part-member families, which I definitely like more than families where no one is a member to a certain extent, because they understand our purpose and that this is a big decision, and they have support right there in their home. But we also have amazing investigators who individually understand the purpose of these things and are taking it seriously, so we have high hopes! Namely, they're Enrique and Maria. Pray that they'll keep their commitments and feel the Spirit witness to them of truth! 

My IC had a few bad days this week, but I powered through. I think I told you last week that I got a blessing that said that if I pushed forward with faith that things would work out. Well, on Saturday I was in pain all day, but I didn't excuse myself from the work and I pushed through it all. We didn't see a lot of success throughout the day, and it was discouraging, but the last person we went to let us in and we had an AMAZING lesson! She truly wants to investigate the church, come next Sunday, and committed to read the introduction and testimonies of the Book of Mormon before our next lesson with her!

Overall, I'm happy and positive, and enjoying the work. There are days (like when it's 110 degrees and we're walking on dirt roads through a gated neighborhood) when I wish I could just be home, but even in those moments I'm content. It's truly such a blessing to be a missionary!

Scriptural thoughts this week -1 Corinthians 14:1-9 - I was reading this and thinking about how blessed I am to have the Gift of Tongues, but how it really doesn't mean anything if I don't focus first on having the Spirit and teaching the Doctrine of Christ. It's something I knew, but it put things a bit more into perspective for what I should focus on praying for!

D&C 76:50-60 - The blessings that we're promised if we live worthy for the Celestial Kingdom are INCREDIBLE! I especially like how it ends with "And they shall overcome all things."

I've also become obsessed with sharing Moroni 7:33 this week,  "And Christ hath said: aIf ye will have bfaith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is cexpedient in me. " it's such a comforting scripture!

Hermana Garner

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

GPS is Great!

Let me start off by saying that this was a week of miracles, not the least of which was being surprised by that GPS being delivered to my door!!!!!!! I was NOT expecting that, and was incredibly excited! But not only is it more up to date, holds a charge, and doesn't glitch out on us all the time, it has a feature where you can program in as many favorites as you want, and it will even show you what favorites and nearby and how far they are away from each other. So we programmed in all of our investigators, recent converts, and all the members of the ward and can see at the tap of a screen EXACTLY where everyone lives! It has been INCREDIBLE for planning and helped us be incredibly more proficient! Sister Hanson and I have named him Ian. We're so, so, SOOO grateful for Ian!!

Also, thank you for sending me the earrings! I'm wearing them right now :)

 We were able to meet a lot more people this week and got more referrals and potentials that we're working to stop by. It's truly been a blessing, and I am seeing more and more how the Lord rewards our efforts. 

On Wednesday, we spent the entire morning knocking doors and didn't find a single person who was interested, nor anyone who spoke Spanish. But because of that effort we put in, and our willingness to work, the Lord blessed us with a miracle that afternoon - we were driving through a mostly unexplored part of our area and saw a man sitting outside in front of his house, and immediately pulled over because he looked Mexican. He was, in fact, Mexican, and we taught him the first lesson right there. He accepted the invitation to read and pray, and when we talked about baptism he was very open, saying, "We'll see as I learn." So just like that, we had a new investigator!! His name is Alfredo. He has a HUGE family that lives with him as well, so we're hopeful we'll see more miracles with them!

We also had more than one lesson this week where it was incredibly clear that it was the Spirit teaching, not us. Lessons that we knew the Lord had planned, and merely guided us to share what He knew His children needed to hear. It's been a humbling experience.  

I've had a few more problems with my IC (this is the health condition that sent her home for a little while) this week, and we don't know why. It's frustrating, but I'm powering through it. I received a blessing, and it talked about how I would be healed as I continued to work. So that's what I'm doing. 

I've been continuing to study patience this week, and Luke 21:19 kind of summarizes everything I've been learning: "In your patience possess ye your souls." One thing that I've been doing to help me develop more patience is every time I feel myself becoming impatient, I say a silent prayer to the Lord thanking Him for the many blessings He has given me. It helps put everything into perspective.

I've also learned just how connected patience is to hope. And hope is the next attribute I'll be studying from Preach My Gospel.

Hermana Garner

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hola Otra Vez!

I loved being able to talk to all of you yesterday!! I feel so blessed to live in this day and age and be able to do a FOUR WAY Skype and see each and every member of my family while out here on my mission!  

So I know I already told you some of this yesterday, but I'm going to write a bit about the transfer and my new area anyway (for the blog, too). I'm now serving in the Queen Creek Ward! Hna Hanson and I are still together. It's been a little weird it just being the two of us without Sister Anderson, but we're also enjoying ourselves and looking forward to the rest of the transfer together!  We're both COMPLETELY new to this area - I've only ever served in the branch, and so has she since this is just her second transfer in the field. So we've had some fun and adventures trying to get to know people and trying to find our way around. 

We've already seen a lot of miracles, too, which is amazing. But there's been a LOT of getting lost in the process! I have some funny videos to send you in a bit :)

We've had to build our own area book from information from the other missionaries, since we're opening a new area, and it's been interesting. We were given a ward list, but it was old, so not everything was right. On Friday, we drove thirty minutes to the family's house where we were supposed to have dinner only to discover that it was their OLD address, and that their NEW address was literally right by where we had been before. The Relief Society president is awesome. She's the one who had us over last night to Skype and she also gave us dinner afterwards. She's super sweet and has already been really helpful in helping us get started in this new area.
The RS President is Sister Allred, Br Allred is Hermana Garner's 6th cousin
Generally, the ward has been very welcoming, and I look forward to getting to know them!  Not much else to say, really - it's been a crazy week just trying to settle in and figure out how to get around, but also a great week to set up for a great transfer!

We're living with Hna Showalter and Hna Shaffer in a BIG house in Queen Creek, it's super nice. They're both awesome people, and Hna Shaffer is a talented singer, she's actually on one of the For the Strength of Youth albums produced by the church.

Lost with Hermana Hanson

One funny story that I almost forgot about - we were knocking doors on Thursday and ran into a family that goes to the English ward in the area. I looked inside and saw a 3D model of Hogwarts on their piano and commented on it (of course). The sister invited us inside and was super excited to show us the rest of her Harry Potter things (they'd just gone to Harry Potter World for the 3rd time and she had a Harry Potter themed party a few days before). She even had "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened - Enemies of the heir, beware," written on her bathroom mirror and letters hanging from the ceiling as if they were flying around the room. It was awesome. She's also a teacher, and she's married to a Spaniard, and they have these cute little kids all running around. I was standing there thinking, "This is literally me in five years." hahaha

Just a few things from my studies!  Hosea 13:14, footnote f - in this footnote, the word "Repentance" is translated from Hebrew into "Compassion." I've been thinking a lot about what a gift and blessing repentance is from a merciful, compassionate, loving God!  

I've been studying the Old Testament a lot as I focus on trying to finish reading all the standard works before I get home from my mission. As I've been studying it, I wrote down this thought: "The Old Testament teaches us the law of Justice and the desperate need for a Redeemer." I've had this thought from many of the stories in the Old Testament, but particularly from the story of the children of Israel who were worshiping the golden calf. They were given one chance to choose to repent, and then anyone who didn't was immediately slain. One mistake, that was all they were allowed. We know now that we always have the chance to repent, and though the Lord has always been merciful, it wasn't until Christ's atoning sacrifice that we truly had the ability and opportunity to be forgiven and given time to prepare ourselves and turn back to him, because Christ paid for our sins. 

Along with all these thoughts goes Helaman 14:17-18, which talks about the beautiful gift of repentance that we have.

Love you all!

Monday, May 8, 2017

 Hermana Garner Had a Birthday!

Transfer news - I'm leaving Gilbert! For the first time, I'm leaving the branch. It's bitter-sweet, really, but I feel a lot of peace about it and feel like the Spirit's been preparing me for this change. Sister Hanson is also getting transferred, but we still don't really know what's going on - the two of us could be together in a new area while Sister Anderson stays here with Sister Fuimaono, or Sister Hanson could go with Sister Showalter and I could train the new sister coming in in a new area, or .... who knows? Haha. It's a bit daunting not really knowing what's up ahead, but it's a good thing. Besides, a change of pace and scenery will probably be really helpful for me at this point!  

Not going to lie - this week was really hard.  It was a slow week without success (in fact, really only the opposite) despite our best efforts, and incredibly discouraging. And yet, here I am, pressing forward with the strength of my Savior. It hasn't been easy, but I'm striving to have patience and diligence.  One of the things that was so hard about this week was that Luis dropped us. I felt like such a failure at that moment. I've worked so much with him, devoted so much energy to helping him understand what we're teaching and recognize the spirit, and he's simply deciding to ignore what he's experienced. It was all friendly - no hurt feelings on either side - just a broken heart on my side as a missionary who wants to see salvation come to him and his family. 

Another hard thing this week was an incident that happened in the neighborhood near the church. Sandra and Sayra live around a bunch of other kids/teenagers, and one of their neighbors was shot with a BB gun by another kid in the neighborhood. He's also a former investigator, and we happened to drive up just after it had happened and right before the police arrived. Thank goodness it was only a BB gun, because he had a bad welt on his chest exactly where his heart is. They were metal BBs, so it hurt a lot and his hand was bleeding where he was hit there, but it didn't break the skin on the chest. If it had been a real gun ... it's scary to think about what would have happened. So we're praying a lot for them, their safety, peace, and comfort, and we're going to buy him some of his favorite snacks at the store today and bring them over since that's really all we can do in this situation.

With one of the sisters from the branch who made them dinner
But, of course, there were also upsides to the week, as there always are when you look for them. My birthday was really awesome, we had a wonderful, fun time and I felt loved and enjoyed myself. I received some great spiritual guidance from my Father in Heaven and feel I am growing closer to Him and becoming more of the woman that He wants me to be. Yesterday, we received about eight referrals (that I won't be here to contact, but oh well!). And all of our dinners this week were amazing, I am seriously going to miss the branch!

Another really hard moment this week - being given back a Book of Mormon that I gave to a potential a few months ago. As soon as she saw us, she rushed to get it, and I felt excited to share something from it with her since she seemed willing to talk to us, but she handed it to me and wouldn't take it back, and when I tried to testify of how it's brought me closer to Christ, she just said, "Pero no creo en el," and more or less shut the door on us. I broke down and cried as I carried that book back to the car. So as I mentioned in my other email, it was a difficult week for me. But in the midst of the trial, I was able to grow closer to my Father in Heaven, and he provided me with so much guidance and spiritual insight for me to understand the gospel more and also learn and grow individually. 

The last picture with Hermana Cedeño before she went home
One thing that I've started to focus on really studying is patience. I've realized this past week that that's a Christlike attribute in which I am seriously lacking. I need to be more patient with myself, with others, and with the Lord in the going forth of His work. I've found more peace and serenity as I've studied this attribute, but know I still have a long way to go. Yesterday morning I prayed for patience, and in my prayer I said, "I'm a little scared to pray for this, because I know that it usually means that you have to wait even longer for the things you're already waiting for and be tried a bit more, but I know it's something I need, so ... help me." And then, throughout the entire day, literally NO ONE was home at ANY door that we tried to knock and go to. I just started laughing at one point, and when Sister Hanson asked why I said, "God has a sense of humor."But in all seriousness, I have learned a lot about patience. 

Hermana Garner

The Spanish zone in their zone shirts

Friday, May 5, 2017

Lots of Miracles, and Lots to Pray for!

This week was a humbling week for me. I've been able to see more and more the Lord's hand in my life and how He is lifting and supporting me. I've also been able to experience an incredible amount of peace and comfort from Him, and I'm so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the love of our Father in Heaven!

We were privileged enough to go to the temple twice this week - once on Thursday to do initiatories and once on Friday to do a session. It was really, really wonderful. I feel like I learned SO much, and reinforced the spiritual armor that I have to help me face trials, doubts, and discouragement in the mission. Go to the temple often!!

All week, we were cramming in practices for a musical number this past Sunday (the whole theme of Sunday was missionary work, and they had all the other sisters speak and we all did a musical number together - I didn't speak simply because of time and because I've spoken in the branch before). It was a bit overwhelming for me - I'm the only one of us who plays the piano, so I of course was the accompanist. We chose this song at the beginning of the month and I've been practicing it when I could throughout the transfer, but as missionaries we don't have very much time for it and the piece was a bit more complicated than I initially expected when I glanced over it.  As the week went on and we really didn't have time for me to practice, I started to get more and more stressed about performing it on Sunday. Saturday night I spent an hour practicing while my companions studied their Spanish, and I just felt discouraged afterwards. But I decided to rely on the Lord and the Spirit to fill the congregation regardless of my abilities. Sunday morning, I prayed for the Lord to guide my hands as well, and when it came time to perform, He really did. I still made some mistakes (and simplified a few things in the left hand), but they were hardly noticeable and the focus was able to be on the Spirit and the words of the song. 

That was just one of many humbling experiences this week! On Wednesday I was in Queen Creek again, with Hna Hanson and Hna Showalter. I was kind of a third wheel - they were MTC companions - but still enjoyed my time. It was a good day, and we got to teach lessons to a couple of investigators who are SO well prepared - one of them is just waiting for her 'esposo' to agree to legally marry her so she can get baptized, and the other has a baptism date for this Saturday (the 6th) that she's still on track for as far as I know. They're both so sweet, and it was wonderful to see how the gospel is working in their lives and their true desire to learn and grow!  

Hna Fuimaono was really sick this week, so there were a couple times when we did impromptu exchanges with them so that Hna Weyand could go out and work (she leaves a week from tomorrow ... yikes!). One of those was Thursday night, and we had an INCREDIBLE miracle! I think I told you briefly about the family that we helped move into their house, when we just happened to be there at the right time? Well, we'd only met the husband and the daughter, and earlier in this week we bumped into the mom, Susana, as she was coming out of the house and heading to work. We introduced ourselves, and almost immediately she invited us to come back another time. So, we went by Thursday night, and she was home, and turned off the TV to listen to our message. We taught the first lesson, and she had SO many questions, and expressed a sincere desire to know for herself if what we were teaching was true. We promised her that she could know, and she said that if and when she does, she will most definitely be baptized!! So it was one of those lessons that missionaries dream of, and we have another lesson scheduled with her for later in this week. Pray for her!

We had a lesson with a former on Friday, Mayra, that was interesting. She was talking about how she was already baptized in the name of Jesus Christ by someone having authority, believing that the Catholic priests had the authority, but acknowledged that we couldn't both be right. We challenged her to pray, and I shared the story of Apollos from the bible, as well as Acts 19:13-16, which talks about men who - without authority - were trying to banish devils in the name of Christ, and that the devils did not obey them because they didn't have the priesthood. She found the stories interesting, but we don't know if anything will happen there. But we testified of truth and gave her something to ponder!!

And then yesterday, we had the opportunity to go to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center with Luis - AND his WHOLE family!!!!! It was SUCH a miracle - his wife hasn't really liked us but we talked to her and she agreed to come to the visitors center with us, and they brought the kids! It was wonderful. We talked about eternal families and how we can be together forever, and Hno Cuello - the brother who brought us there, with his wife - talked to them a lot about the temple, using some of the screens in the Visitors Center to answer their questions, without us even prompting him to. Rosa (Luis's wife) was very, very interested in learning more about temples, and we see so much hope for them moving forward! They took a family picture in front of the statue of Christ and all I could think was how much I want to go to their sealing one day haha. Hna Cuello invited Rosa and Jocelyn, their 10-year-old daughter, to come to her granddaughter's baptism next week, and it sounds like they just might! Also, Rosa AGREED to have a FHE with us! It was seriously SO amazing to see her opening up to at least being friendly with the church, even if she's not ready to quite investigate it herself, and we think that that will help Luis feel more comfortable with the witness he's received and moving forward.So, lots of people, lots of miracles, and lots to pray for!

I have a goal to finish reading all of the standard works before the end of my mission. I'm learning so much and coming so much closer to my Savior!

Hermana Garner

Sister Young (now ASHLEY) surprised us by dropping by the house for a visit! It was fun to see her again. She's been home since December.