Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The first P day

Pershendetje familja! So it has been a crazy week! It was so awesome seeing Trevor and Robert right when I got here and I've been lucky enough to run into them a lot around here. Make sure to tell the Mickelsons that I am so grateful for the package! It was so fun getting that and I'm so glad I got to read your dear elders. So to start with my companion, his name is Elder Schneider and he is from Idaho Falls. He's 18 and he just graduated from high school. He loves music, he plays the piano and cello and he sings. We've gotten along super well and he is so awesome! He really pushes me to always try to learn, not only the language but also to be more confident in the doctrine. Also him and I have the same taste in music. Funny enough, him and I actually went to the same Imagine Dragons concert so I technically could have already run into him. Here at the MTC there is a huge choir that is open for anyone to sing in so we decided to go and that was super cool. The choir director was super funny and he told us some amazing stories about the song we were singing. We sang Lead, Kindly Light and it made me think harder to make sure that I'm following the path that the Lord wants me to follow instead of trying to make God follow my will. My district is also so cool! There are 4 elders, Elder Johnson, Elder Benson, Elder Schneider and I. And there are 5 sisters, Motra Suckow, Motra Dunn, Motra Haggard, Motra Miles, and Motra Bland. We've all gotten along really well and we have a lot of fun together. Elder Johnson and Elder Benson are also our roommates and they are so much fun! All of us are so different from each other but we all work together and we all get along so well. I'm so happy at how good of friend's we've become! There are so many different personalities but we all have the same purpose and we try to do our best to work our hardest. I've been told that this is the largest group of Albies that they've ever had at the MTC, we have 20 missionaries and we even have 2 different districts. Our teacher for now is Motra Kokol and she is so awesome! We've learned so much and we have a lot of fun. It's also so cool that she is such good friends with the McGills! We also have the best zone ever! As soon as we got here everyone went out of their way to welcome us and they gave us all the advice they have and they are all working so hard to learn everyone's names. Ballard Elder, and Fisher Elder (They're backwards because they're Hungarians) were our zone leaders when we got here and they have helped us so much and they've helped clear up any confusions we had. They got released Sunday but our new zone leaders have been just as awesome and that has been such a blessing. Our zone is the Hungarians, the Dutch, and the Albanians, and we will also have the Turks when they get here on Wednesday. So on Sundays we have sacrament meeting as a zone and it's so cool because we all sing, pray, and give talks in our own languages. It sounds super cool when all of our weird languages combine on the hymns and even though we have no idea what the words mean it brings the spirit so strongly! Also our zone works so hard to be exactly obedient, and because we work so hard and we are so obedient we have been blessed with unlimited email time on P-Days, however we have been recommended to keep it under an hour and a half so that's what we'll do. Our Branch President is President Allen and he is so amazing! He is so kind and he loves us so much, he also shares so much and always gives amazing lessons! So on Friday we gave our first lesson and the investigator was called Juxhin (pronounced like Eugene). We had no idea what he was saying. We tried our best but we couldn't really answer any of his questions so we just kind of read out our lesson plan. The next lesson we had a much better understanding of the language and we could understand a lot more of what he was saying but we still didn't have a lot of the vocabulary to respond to his question. I'm starting to get a much better vocabulary but I'm still having a hard time listening to the language, but I'm doing my best to stay positive and just keeping working as hard as I can and I know that it will all be ok. Last night we watched a talk by Elder Bednar called The Character of Christ. It was so amazing and it really changed my perception on how I should live my life. It basically challenged us to instead of focusing on ourselves to always look to others just like Christ was, and it also emphasized that a testimony is not the same thing as a conversion. Also yesterday we had our devotional with the head of the missionary department. Before the meeting started we had some church songs that we all sang as prelude music and it was so funny when the conductor said that the next song was from the Children's Songbook, everyone was so excited and was laughing super hard. We also had our temple walk yesterday and we took some good pictures, I also ran into Trevor Madsen while we were there. I've run into so many people that I know from school here, it is so cool. There is such a unique spirit here that I honestly have never felt anywhere else. There is so much unity and kindness here and it's so amazing to see how excited everyone is. For our exercise time Elder Schneider and I have been working out in the gym for the first half of our time and then for the last half we go back to the main gym and play some four square. It's so much fun and so many people in our zone play, it gets pretty competetive! The food here has been fantastic and there's always plenty. I've been doing great here and I've felt super healthy! It is definitely one of the many blessings of missionary service! I'm doing so well here and I'm so happy. This is totally not as bad as everyone says, and I'm happy we still have a long time. I'm going to need all the help I can get to learn this language. By the way in Albanian the word Shqip (the Albanian language) literally means "the language of the eagles" which is probably the coolest thing I've ever heard. I love you all and I'll be back on the computer later if I think of anything else to say. Have fun at your Shakespeare festival. Mirupafshim!

Later in the day:

So there are two Albanian districts and the other district has six elders, Elder Harris (the one we ran into at Tucanos), Elder Nelson, Elder Nielsen, Elder Draper, Elder Wood, and Elder Taylor. There are also more sisters in that district, I think there are 5 but I don't know their names. So there are an odd number of sisters in our district because one sister didn't show up so there are 3 sisters in a tripanionship and then a regular companionship. In total we have 20 missionaries going to Albania, 10 elders and 10 sisters. We went to the temple this morning and that was super cool, then we've just been doing laundry and email for the rest of the day until 6:10 when we have to go back to class. We have 6 hours of class each day, other than Sunday and P-Day, and it's split into two three hour blocks. Then each day we have a ton of time for personal, companion, and personal language study. Also it would be nice if you could send some laundry detergent, I'm not sure if that's possible but if it is that would be fantastic. Sometimes sending pictures just doesn't work so if Trevor Madsen hasn't sent any pictures that might be why, it's really hard to figure out. Also if you have any more questions that you would like me to answer in my P-Day emails please send them. Also if you could post the dear elder thing that would be awesome, they're super fun to get and that way we can think about them in personal time at night so we know how to respond during our email time. Also if you end up sending more white shirts to me before I leave check if they have front pockets because some don't, which is fine, but the ones that do are better because then we can take off our suit coats and still wear our name tag, which is a rule. Tell everyone I love them and I'm doing great!

Some additional information about my district, Elder Benson is from Logan Utah and he is a baseball player, he's the taller one. Elder Johnson has lived and visited all over Europe because his dad was a doctor in the military. We all get along and we make sure to set our alarm a few minutes before 6:30 to make sure that we're up and ready in time for breakfast. Elder Johnson eats an ice cream with pretty much every meal, which is ok because I've totally been doing the same thing with chocolate milk. We are meeting our other teacher tonight when we have class. P-Day's are the best and Sunday's are amazing. The days feel like they last weeks and it feels like I've already been here for a month but I'm loving it. It would also be nice if you could send me one or two more sleep/exercise shirts just because we work hard and sweat a lot. Thank you for everything!

Love, Elder Gardiner

Austin and his companion Elder Schneider

Elder Mickelson 

 Both Elder Mickelson's

 Elder Madsen

 Albanian Elders

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