Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016

Ç'kemi familja, ju dua!

So this has been a crazy week, and I'm sure it'll get even crazier. Today we started what's called "Consecration Week" and what that means is that my whole district is speaking only Albanian until Sunday, and we're trying to be even more obedient and spiritually attuned than ever. So this is the only communication I'll have in English this whole week. We've already done a few separate SYL days but this will definitely be a lot harder, but we've seen how much these help us so we're ready and excited for the challenge. 

Also this past week we got our flight plans! So we have to be at the travel office at 3:50 AM on Tuesday, Sept 27th, which will be rough but I'm still pumped. Then our flight leaves at 8 from Salt Lake, so I'll probably call at 6 AM so everyone be ready!(maybe even a little earlier, we'll see) I'm excited to call you all, it feels so weird that I haven't heard your voices in so long! Our flight is to Chicago and we have about 3 hours of layover there so I'll get to call again there but I'm not exactly sure when. Then after our layover we fly all the way to Austria! Our flight to Vienna is super long but it's going to be so cool, I've always wanted to go to more places in Europe. Then we have a 4 hour layover in Vienna, and then it's straight over to Shqiperia! I've heard that we get to take a nap when we get there which will be awesome, but then it's straight out into street contacting. I'm so excited to know where I'll be serving and who my trainer is! It's going to be so weird not having Elder Schneider as my companion anymore though! Hopefully we get to serve together again later in the mission though. I'll send a picture of my flight plans later with more specific information when my camera finishes charging. But for now just typing it out, it's SLC-Chicago 8:40-12:59, then Chicago-Vienna 4:30PM-8:35AM Sept 28, then Vienna-Tirana 12:45PM-2:20PM. I don't know if that includes time zone changes or not, because those are going to be hard, but that's what we have. Then we also have a flight from Tirana back to Vienna 2 months later but I'm pretty sure we won't take that.

Also we got our new name tags this week! They just changed the spelling so it fit Shqip pronunciation so my new name is Elder Gardnër, but there are some that changed spelling a ton. Elder Schneider is now Elder Shnajdër, Elder Johnson is now Elder Xhansën, and Elder Draper is Elder Xhrejpër. Shqip is so cool! 

Also we had another Apostle come speak to us last Tuesday! This time it was Elder Cook and it was so awesome! Their testimonies are all so strong and powerful and we learn so much from them. Also I want to talk to you about choir. That has honestly been one of the best things ever. Even though I'm definitely not the greatest singer I've loved participating in that. There is so much power in singing and the spirit is so strong whenever we sing hymns. I challenge you all to always have a hymn that you can sing or bring to memory if you ever are in need. I know that it will help you in any situation. And dad reminded me so much of this when he told me about the time where there was bagpipe music on his hike, I really wish I could have been there because those two are a perfect combination.

While I've been here I've also been reading the Book of Mormon not only more but with a purpose. That's definitely one thing that I was bad at before my mission. The difference that that book has made in my everyday life here is so apparent and I've definitely seen the power it has. There is a drastic difference in our lessons based on how well we use the Book of Mormon, it's so critical and so powerful. I've grown so much here and I can't wait to see how much more grow out in the field. I can definitely see the difference that has come from trying to have the spirit with me all the time here in the MTC and I hope that I can continue to have that after my mission.

So I'm still loving it here with all my heart. We've had some amazing lessons, and some that weren't so great. It's really cool that because most people in my mission are either Muslim or Atheist they know nothing about Jesus Christ and so little about God. That's been so amazing to teach here, I love teaching about our Savior because he really is everything. I know that he loves all of us and I love that I've been blessed with that knowledge in my life. I've seen the undeniable power that we are promised by God when we're teaching about Him and His Son. In one of our lessons we were teaching about the Gospel of Christ and we felt impressed to ask our investigator Fjorela if she would be baptized and she said that she would think about it, then Elder Schneider asked her what was holding her back and she said she wasn't sure she could do it, especially since her family is very devout Muslim. But then we read Ether 12:6 with her that teaches about we don't receive until after the trial of our faith, then we just testified that it was the right thing for her to do. The Spirit was there so strong and so we reinvited her and she accepted. That helped build my testimony so much about how powerful the Spirit is when we use the scriptures and we are unified. I also know that our Heavenly Father will help any of you as you share the gospel, it's a promise and He will never break a promise.
So that's all I have for now but if you have any other questions be sure to ask me

Mirupafshim, ia kalofsh mirë!
Elder Gardiner

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