Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31: Happy Halloween

Përshendetje! Happy Halloween!

So another great week here in Elbasan! So this week has definitely been different, we've had a ton of people not show up to lessons we set up with them so we've had the opportunity to do a lot of contacting. We went tracting twice this week, and let's just say that it didn't go so great. We've gotten rejected at every door we've gone to and yelled at a few times, because people are still convinced that we're JWs. But we decided not to let that get to us and so we've done a ton of street contacting. That was really hard for me at first because I'm still not very good at the language yet but as the weeks have gone by I've learned to love it! At this point I can even do solo contacting pretty well. I've definitely gotten better at the language in the time I've been here and I think a lot of that is from contacting.
Now for the usual Lindis news. He got baptized last week and that was such an awesome experience! We've been teaching him almost every day still which is so much fun. Now that he has been taught all the lessons we're really just working on helping him understand everything more solidly and that's been awesome. For one lesson we had him teach us the Plan of Salvation and we would help him if he didn't understand something and that was so cool! It was so awesome seeing how excited he was getting when he knew the answers and he's been participating so much in church too. It's been so cool seeing the difference the Gift of the Holy Ghost has made on his life, and that's definitely made me work harder to have it with me at all times. Also he got the Aaronic priesthood yesterday! That was so so cool to be a part of. And lastly, he's been bringing his (kind of)step-sister with him to English course and to church and she's been loving it! We've had one lesson where she came with him and hopefully we can do a few more of those.

Also this week, we had one person who was an investigator back in August come back from Germany which was awesome. He came to church this week and we had one lesson with him but the other two lessons we've planned with him he hasn't shown up to, but hopefully we can get another lesson with him soon. He's super awesome, his name is Arjan, which is a very common name here, and he's super funny.

So other than that life's been pretty normal. We found a new sufllaqe restaurant that we've gone to a ton and is super good. You'll be proud to know I even ate a salad once this week, tomatoes included. Also it's super windy here in Elbasan recently but other than that the weather here in Albania is awesome!

Now I'll get to some of your questions mom. So when it said I pulled out $8 that's the equivalent of 1000 lek, which isn't a ton of money but things here are really cheap so it'll last for a while. The pictures of us on Facebook are from Sister Weidman (one of the senior missionaries not the mission president's wife), and they're at their apartment, which isn't in a rough neighborhood it's just in Albania. There's a ton of graffiti here, and when it comes to construction they're really good at tearing things apart but building things comes a little slower. Also thank you so much for sending me the picture of Lindis and Ersi! Elder Mero has one that has us with them and he should be sending that this week, we just didn't have time last week. And so yes they kind of celebrate Halloween here, but it is different from how it's celebrated in America. Here in Albania they don't do trick-or-treating and I haven't seen a lot of people wearing costumes but aparently they do do haunted houses and parties for it. We had a big branch party on Saturday that Ersi was in charge of planning, that was a lot of fun and a ton of people came. Lastly, we do transfers every 12 weeks which is very different from most missions. Most other missions have transfers every 6 weeks or sometimes every 9 weeks. But just because the transfers are 12 weeks doesn't really mean you'll for sure be there for the whole time, there are mini transfers every 6 weeks where some missionaries get moved around and there are also ETs where you could be transferred at any moment if necessary. However, this transfer is 2 weeks shorter because of the holidays so it does vary according to needs. We'll probably stay here for the full transfer because I'm being trained but there is a small possibility we could get moved to Kosovo, but we'll see. 

All in all things are going great! Elder Mero and I are continuing to get along fantastically. The language is coming a lot better, but as always I still have a long ways to go. I'm loving it here and it's definitely starting to fly bye. I love you all so much!
Elder Gardiner

So another thing before I get to Annaka's thing. I gave my first Albanian talk yesterday in sacrament meeting! It was really hard to write but it seemed to go pretty well. 

Now for Annaka's thing. Missionary work definitely blesses everyone, so I'll start with how it's blessed me. I've grown so much closer to my Savior through this work, I've searched and studied the scriptures way more diligently than I ever had before. Not only do I enjoy studying the scriptures now I look forward to getting to do it. My testimony has grown indescribable amounts and I've been able to feel much more powerfully and constantly the love that God has for all of his children. There truly is a connection that comes through sharing the gospel with someone that you can't find anywhere else. I've seen that especially through Lindis and the amazing opportunity I've had to share this amazing message with him. I've seen him change so much, even though he by no ways was a bad person before he was baptized the amount of joy and light that he has gained is amazing and it truly can't come from any other source. The gospel has such a unique power to heal even the deepest wounds and it truly can make us whole. There is no other way that we can have true happiness in our lives than through the peace and love that comes from God and this church. I'm so glad that I have the amazing to opportunity to do this work and I know that I will never forget the things I've learned and the people I've met. Also as we turn our lives over completely to the Savior he is able to do so much more with them than we ever could by ourselves.
Hopefully that's what you wanted.

Love you all, and no I didn't get any pictures of myself yet. I think other missionaries might have some so maybe I'll give you some eventually. And maybe I'll eventually take some myself but we'll see.

So here are a ton of pictures for you. The first one was the view off our balcony one morning, then there are a ton of pictures of our drive to Korça which were all taken from a moving car so they aren't the greatest pictures but honestly Albania is so beautiful! Then there are a lot of pictures of Korça, we got to go in this huge Orthodox cathedral which was really cool. Also a picture of Elder Mero on a communist bunker which is always fun. And a picture of a park in Korça with a big toy train. So hope you like them.​

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 24

Pershendetje Familja ju dua!
So I don't have a lot of time this week so it'll probably be really quick.
This has been an amazing week and so much has happened. But first and foremost Lindis got baptized!!!!! One of the members here, Ersi did the baptism which was awesome and it was so cool getting to watch that happen and helping him prepare for this. That was so amazing, I loved having that experience so much! He's so amazing and I know that he'll be such a strong member. It was so cool because his family even came to his baptism! Then they came again to his confirmation, and his little step-sister even stayed for all three hours of church! I had the amazing experience of confirming him too! That was so cool because I still don't really know how to speak this language but it was still so good. He talked to us after his confirmation yesterday and said that he was so overcome with emotion that he couldn't stop from crying during it which was totally the Holy Ghost comforting him! It's so cool to see the change that comes from having the spirit with people as that constant companion. The difference it has made on him is so noticeable, it was so cool seeing how much he wanted to participate and share in church it's awesome! So I don't have a picture of us at his baptism, but Elder Mero does and there should be some on the facebook page so if you could send me that when you get them I would really appreciate that.
So the reason that I don't have a lot of time today is because we went on a P-Day trip to Korça and Pogradec which was so cool! I got a ton of picture but I don't  have my camera cord so I will send those next week and explain that more.
Also this week we got to do an exchange with the zone leaders. I got to work with Elder Ingram for one day and that was so cool. We worked super hard and we had so much success that day. I learned so much from him and it's really inspired me and shown me what I need to do to improve. Also the day after Elder Mero had District Leader training so I had another half-day exchange where I got to work with Elder Holding, who is related to the McGills. That was a lot of fun too because he talked in Albanian for almost the whole time so that really pushed me and I learned a lot from that.
On that regard I feel like I'm understanding the language a lot better this week. There are still a ton of words that I don't know but I am starting to hear it better. I still sound extremely new when I talk but that's been one of the best parts of working with Elder Mero is that he knows the language very well and he has good really good pronunciation, at least for missionary standards. So I've been learning so much from him and I keep improving. 
Now just for a few fun things. First off, no one can pronounce my name here. It's super hard for them, so don't be surprised if I end up changing to Elder Gardi or Elder Garni eventually(there are other missionaries who have had to do that as well). Also along those lines, everyone is convinced that I'm Chinese here. Whenever I tell anyone where I'm from they always ask where my origins are so I have to explain that I'm very much Western European of descent. Also one thing that they don't have at home that they need to get is Fanta Exotic. I drink it all the time, even though it's probably not the healthiest thing on the planet, aka it's probably the second most sugary thing I've ever drank.
So that's all I have time for this week, I love you all and I'm still doing great here!
Elder Gardiner

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17


Well this has definitely been an interesting week. I'm definitely settling in here. The language is still really hard and I still have a lot of work to do there, but I do feel like I'm improving. Yesterday we were contacting and Elder Mero decided that we should try solo contacting so he went to the other side of the road and I had to do it all by myself. That was super hard! But it ended up not being as bad as I though it would be.

So we've been talking to a lot of new people this week. We only have one real investigator, who is Lindis, so we've been doing a lot of contacting and we've set up a lot of lessons. We've had a lot of people where we've set up a lesson but they either never show up or they just end up having work or some other conflict and don't end up being able to come. But I do have a lot of faith that this will all turn out well, through our contacting we've met some more people and I think that some of them are very promising. 

Now onto Lindis. I'm sure you're all tired of hearing me say this but he's honestly the best! I've started understanding him a little better and that's been so much fun. He's super funny and it's so much fun teaching him. We teach him every day, and then he also has been coming to English Course and Institute, and he hasn't missed a Sunday yet. He even came yesterday in the storm. Quick story, so yesterday we were leaving to pick up Ersi to bring him to church and we got outside and it was just pouring rain, and then we realized that we had left our umbrellas at the center. So we went and picked up Ersi and we were just soaked, but that wasn't too bad, but then we were walking with Ersi to the center and lightning struck somewhere in the castle which was right next to us. It was one of the scariest things ever, it was so close that I felt the thunder at the same time we saw the flash. So that was fun, after that we got to the center and Lindis was already there! So we just sat inside and waited for Andiol (Ersi and Andiol are members here) to show up and then we all walked to church together which was a lot of fun. So now back to Lindis, he's progressing super well, he has such a desire to learn and it's so much fun seeing him learn more and more. We've gone over the baptismal interview questions with him twice and he's definitely ready to accept everything, his biggest problem is just remembering which rule goes with which name. His interview is coming up on Wednesday and then his baptism will be on Saturday! I'm so excited for him and he seems super excited as well!

Other than that things are going pretty normal here. We visited the Sadiku family twice this week which was great. They're so nice to us and their son is on a mission right now. They live at kind of the edge of the city so it's a bit of a walk but it's fun visiting them. Brother Sadiku talks really fast though and so every time we go there he ends up just talking for like two hours and I understand pretty much none of it. So that's not so much fun but I think I'm starting to get better, or at least better at pretending that I understand. But we visited them on Saturday and they fed us dinner and it was so much food! It started out with a big plate full of tomatoes (like three tomatoe's worth for each of us, my favorite), goat cheese, cooked peppers, french fries, a quarter of an onion, and a qofte (Albanian mystery sausage) with a huge bowl of soup and tons of bread. So I just started eating as much as I could and then like 20 minutes in Sister Sadiku brings in another plate full of rice and chicken for each of us. I didn't end up finishing everything but I still probably ate like a meal and a half worth of food. And yes I even ate most of the tomatoes. So that was a ton of fun and we were so grateful for them because they're definitely not the richest people. Then they even went to church the day after which was awesome because they hadn't been to church in a few weeks.

So on Sunday we had church again which was awesome. We didn't have a lot of people show up, and the Sunday School teachers didn't come so we only ended up having two hours of church. But it was still really good, Elder Mero spoke about keeping the Sabbath day holy and especially emphasizing church attendance. Then Elder Weidman spoke about the same thing and president Karanxha translated for him. Then president Karanxha spoke about the same thing. So that's something that really gets emphasized here because there are so many less actives, not only in Elbasan but in Albania as a whole. The stake has a goal of having 700 people in church by the end of the year and so far we still have a ways to go, but I think that we can do it!

So all in all things are still going great here and I'm still loving it! Elder Mero and I still get along fantastically! I'm really glad that I got put with him as my trainer. He knows so much about this mission and all the people in it, he knows the mission genealogy (who trained who and so on) like the back of his hand, and the music has definitely been a bonus. We listen to music a lot in the apartment and the music is way different than you'd think. Elder Mero and the other missionaries have found tons of music that follows all the rules and really focus on Christ without it having to be either MoTab or EFY music and that's been awesome. Also we work well together and we laugh a ton. He's taught me a lot of the old inside jokes and we've made some new ones so we can always get a laugh out of something. And by the way that picture on the nightstand is an old missionary that went home a while ago and a picture of Hillary Duff. I'm not completely sure why we have it but it's one of those things that just get passed around the mission as people come and go.

So far the food has been pretty normal. We eat a lot of byrek, crepes, suflaqe, qofte, and sandwiches. And that soup we made that I sent a picture of that you said looked frothy, so yeah that wasn't froth, we actually just ended up putting in way too much rice. We definitely cook like elders, we buy a lot of peppers and onions so whenever we cook things we basically just throw in peppers, onions, butter, and tabasco. Also they have cheesy hot dogs here so we've made a lot of things by just combining the usual ingredients and cheesy hot dogs, as well as Ketchup. We're lucky and we actually have Heinz Ketchup which only exists in one city in the mission so hopefully we don't use it all before we get a chance to go buy more.

The people are awesome here, but they're definitely different from back home. Our mission is different from others in that we actually are allowed to teach muslims. A lot of people here are muslim but they don't really practice. Also it's weird being away from all the stereotypes of Mormons, because here people just have no idea who we are. However, people here do hate Jehova's witnesses because there was some misunderstanding of their doctrine that made it seem like they encourage suicide, so whenever we're contacting we have to make sure to emphasize that we are not JWs.

All in all I'm loving it. The mountains here are so beautiful and there are so many of them. I'll make sure to go on a hike here sometime and send you all some pictures. Next week we are going to Korça so'll get some pictures of that as well. I haven't gotten any pictures recently because we aren't supposed to use them when we proselyte but I'll try to get some when I have time.

Lastly, for Christmas if it's not too late, if you could just send me one of those old Ipod nano's and a cord for it, and maybe a speaker that would be great. If you can't that's fine but if you can that would be awesome! Thank you!

Love you all so much!
Me dashuri, mirupafshim!
Elder Gardiner

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016

The Mero Family, Mariana, Edmond, and Angelina came to visit on Sunday.  Their son, Elder Mero is Austin's current companion in Elbasan.  They brought Canadian maple syrup to honor their current country and Albanian spinach pie to honor their home Albania.  It was amazing to meet them and get to know them.

Austin's email...
Përshëndetje! Ju dua shumë! (by the way there is no apostraphe on this keyboard so I wont be using those in this letter, just fyi)
So this has been a great week out here in the field! I am still not really understanding the language very well but it is getting better. I feel like I am starting to get settled in and that has definitely helped me calm down a little bit. As I have gotten more settled in I am starting to be able to hear the language a lot better so I think I am getting close to getting it, and Im understanding more every day. At least for now I can understand generally what people are talking about, I just have no idea what any of the details are.
Thats so cool that you met the Meros! And thats so cool that they brought some authentic Albanian food too! Thats one thing Ive definitely loved here is the food. Im glad that Elder Mero is my companion because hes so cool! Him and I are getting along so well. He is super funny and he knows so much about the doctrine, its so cool and its so fun studying with him! One of the cool things about being companions with Elder Mero is that hes had such a different life from me and I learn so much from his experiences. He has so many cool insights into the scriptures and he really knows how they can be applied to the investigators.
We had the amazing opportunity to watch conference yesterday and the day before. I definitely didnt understand everything, but I did understand a lot more than I expected. It was really cool because a lot of people came and watched it with us too! It was also a lot of fun seeing my friends from the MTC again in the choir, that and seeing both Thomas and brother Williams. That was so fun! Also Lindis even came and watched conference with us. He came to 4 out of the 5 sessions and the only reason he didnt come to the first session is that he didnt know we were doing it! Weve been meeting with him every day and hes so cool! Hes been accepting everything we teach him super well and he loves meeting with us. Hes also come to church every week for the past three weeks! If everything goes according to plan his interview should be this week and then he will be baptized next week! I think he will definitely be ready!
Also this week we had Zone Training and it was so awesome. All the missionaries in the south zone came up here to Elbasan and we did some training. It was awesome getting to see some of my friends from back in the MTC. We did some role plays and we got committed to ask for more referrals and now were working hard to do that.
Also thank you for sending me that video, that was so cool! Its so true and so powerful, this work is definitely not easy but the rewards that we bring into the lives of others are definitely worth the hard times! Just in the short time Ive been here Ive seen that beautiful light that the gospel brings into the lives of others in undeniable ways.
Another fun thing that happened this week was that we got to go to institute. Its taught by the Stake President here and he is so awesome! He speaks English fluently, but he teaches in Albanian, and the insights he has into the gospel are so cool! Were planning on going to that again this week and we asked Lindis if he wants to go and he seemed really interested in going as well which will be so awesome! Also we got the assignment to go to Seminary with one of the youth named Ersi. Hes so cool, he lives in an orphanage so we have to get him and bring him to all the church activities but hes so active and so much fun. Hes learning English and I think he wants to serve a mission some day. One cool thing about Elbasan is that the youth here are very strong in the church. Many of them have served mini missions and are planning on serving full time missions as well! They are so fun and they come to a lot of the activities and help us a ton in our lessons.
So all in all Im still loving it here! Serving a mission is definitely the best thing I could be doing right now! I love this place and Im sure it will just keep getting better as my language abilities grow!
So until next week mirupafshim!
Elder Gardiner

So here are a lot of pictures. A lot of them are from when we went up to the monument that overlooks the city where Elder Oaks opened Albania to missionary work. There are also pictures of my apartment and the view from our hotel room on the first day. And a picture of the soup we made that Elder Mero was really proud of. So hopefully these all work, let me know if it doesnt! Also Ill make sure to get more pictures in the coming weeks​

Monday, October 3, 2016

Adriatic South Mission Welcome Letter

Dear Sister and Brother Gardiner,
 We warmly welcome Elder Gardiner to the Adriatic South Mission.  He was picked up at the Tirana Airport by President and Sister Weidmann and the Assistants to the President.  After a short night, he had an interview with President Weidmann.  Thursday, included a visit to the site where Albania was dedicated by Elder Dallin H. Oaks for missionary work.  Then an afternoon of training, meeting a companion and receiving an assigned area.
Elder Gardiner will be serving with Elder Mero in Elbasan.  Attached please find a few pictures of your son.
 You have a very special son who is strong and he will do a great work here.  Thank you for sharing him with us.  President Weidmann takes very good care of his missionaries.  He loves them and they have no doubt that does.  He sends them an uplifting text every morning and always signs it ‘Love President Weidmann’.  They know they can call him anytime even if it is just to talk.  Sister Weidmann is there making sure they have everything they need and that they are happy.
In sending mail to the mission please address your letters and packages as follows:
Adriatic South Mission
Individual or Recipient’s name
PO Box 2984
Bulevardi “Gjergj Fishta”
Qendra “Alpas,” Shkalla #5,
Apartmenti #14
If you want to be sure your letter or package arrives, purchase a tracking number for it.  SLC also sends a pouch to Albania, which would get a single page letter here for a first class US stamp.  The pouch takes about 1- 2 weeks, regular mail can take 3-4 weeks, packages can take 1-3 months, and sometimes they don’t arrive.
The postal system sorts the mail by the first letter on the top line, so addressing Adriatic puts all of the mail for the mission in the A pile.  If something is marked at $50 in value or more, it goes to customs, and a hefty fee is paid to get it out.  We recommend you un-package the item and try on any clothing, also take the tags off and refold it, maybe wash it.  Then consider a value for “used items.”  If something is very important, we recommend using Fed-Ex or DHL.
There is an Adriatic South Mission Facebook page that you can “get on” by request.  It has a lot of mission news and pictures.
Best Regards,

Sister DaBell
Mission Secretary


Sister DaBell
Adriatic South
Mission Secretary

October 3, 2016

Përshëndetje familja! Jam në Shqipëri!
Well I'm finally here! It's been a crazy couple of days. So sorry if this letter is kind of scattered, a lot happened and I'm just going to try and put it all down. My first thoughts about Albania, it's super pretty but way different from back home. Everyone smokes here. It's not as bad here in Elbasan but back in Tirana it was super strong.  My companion described Albania as kind of the Mexico of Europe which is pretty fitting. We may not get to play video games here on the mission but I figure driving here in Albania is pretty much the closest you can get to Mario Kart so that's pretty fun. There are lines on the road and speed limits but no one follows any of those. Also there is not rule against J-walking so we do a lot of road crossing but luckily the people here are pretty good at not hitting us, we just have to be careful. There are wild dogs everywhere, but they leave us alone so it's not really a problem. Also one of the weirdest things I've seen is that there are just wild horses here that you see every once in a while. The people are way different from back home. First off most people are muslim, or more like "muslim" because most people don't actually practice it they just say that. But there are so many amazing people here, a lot of people have really difficult lives. I've met a lot of the members here but I don't know them all too well because I can't understand anyone except my companion, Xhoni, and sometimes Ersi. Xhoni and Ersi are two of the members here and I'll talk about them more later.
My first day in Tirana we started straight out with street contacting. I really though that I was going to be good at the language but I honestly have no clue what anyone here is saying. We handed out a few passalong cards but other than that I'm not really sure what happened with that. After that we all got dinner at president Weidman's house, we got giant pizzas, like the ones we had in California or at scout camp in Bear Lake. Then we just went over to the hotel they rented for us which was just right across the street and went to sleep. We even got to sleep in a little bit that day which was super awesome! I got a little behind on my journal because I fell asleep writing in it that night and then the two days before just felt like one day but I'm all caught up now. Then after that we had transfer meeting where we got our areas and companions assigned.
So just to start out, you probably know all of this, but I am in Elbasan. I'm being trained by Elder Mero and he's so awesome! We get along great so far, and he's super funny! He's been out here for about a year, he was trained in Kosovo and he knows a ton about our mission. His parents are Albanian but he grew up in Canada so he spoke the language a little bit before he came but not a ton. He's actually a convert which is super cool. He has an amazing testimony and he knows the gospel and how to teach really well.
I'm so glad I got here when I did because things are going great! We have one investigator who is named Lindis and he is amazing! He's been meeting with the missionaries for about a week and a half and before I came he had already been taught the first three lessons. We taught him again the morning after I got here about reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it everyday and that was really cool. He's already at the Isaiah chapters of 2nd Nephi and he's reading and meeting with us everyday. He had already been invited to be baptized before I got here but he said he'd already been baptized and hard a hard time with understanding that he needed to be baptized again. But so on Friday at the end of our lesson Elder Mero invited him to pray about it again and he said he would. Then we taught him again on Saturday morning about the Word of Wisdom and it turns out he was already living it! That was so cool because pretty much everyone here smokes. At the end of that lesson Elder Mero invited him to pray about baptism again and then Lindis said that he didn't have to. He said he prayed about it on Friday and he felt like it was the right thing for him to do! We were so excited! He even came to church again on Sunday, he also went the week before but it was awesome being there with him. We teach him again tonight and probably everyday this week which is so cool. We also have two other investigators but I haven't taught them as much and I don't know them quite as well but their names are Orlando and Xhamali(xh makes a j sound).
The members here are awesome! That picture you saw of us was at Xhoni's house and he's so cool(his name is pronounced like Johnny). So he's a recent convert and he lives about an hour walk from the Qendër(church center) here in Eldbasan. He speaks English fluently and he has an amazing testimony. We taught him my first night here in Elbasan and he already knows so much. Sadly he actually just moved to Dubai yesterday, but the reason he moved to Dubai is to earn money to serve a mission which is so cool! He helped the missionaries here in lessons so much and he'll be an amazing missionary. The other members here are so cool too, I won't go into as much detail with them this week but some of the other members I've met are Ersi, Bajame, president Karanxha, and Paola. They're really awesome and I'm sure I'll tell you all more about them in the coming weeks.
In regards to your other questions, travel was good. The flights were all pretty smooth, but I didn't really sleep on any of them, which may have actually been a good thing because I'm not feeling any jet lag. As I've already said driving is crazy but I've been safe and there seems to be some sort of pattern to the madness. Luckily I don't have to worry about that for a while. It was kind of sad parting with Elder Schneider but at the same time it wasn't that bad. He'll be an awesome missionary and he has a pretty awesome companion too. Elder Mero and I get along great! He's definitely different from Elder Schneider but that's not a bad thing, he's super funny and very experienced. I forgot my camera back at the room so I don't have any pictures for this week but I'll send those all next week, and I'll make sure to get some of my apartment to throw in there. It's not huge but it's definitely not bad, we spend most of our time at the Qendër anyway.
That food we had at Xhonis house is called la cror and I think it's greek but it was super good. The food here is great but it's pretty much all the same thing. We've eaten a lot of pica(pizza spelled the Albanian way) and byrek. I haven't had Souflaqe yet but I'm sure I'll have plenty of that before I leave. Dhall is gross but I'm sure I'll learn to like it before I'm done with my mission. Also we got to eat some sausage thing for lunch that was really good but it's name just means surprise so that was a little unsettling. Luckily we ate at a reasonably trustworthy place.
It's been weird adjusting to the language because I don't understand Albanian very well and there is also a whole different missionary language that my companion uses. For example he uses the word kotë which just means useless a lot. It gets used by missionaries for anything that is against mission rules or for missionaries who don't work. Also the word kismet which just means "maybe but probably not" so that was kind of weird getting used to. The weirdest one was that if he describes a missionary as dead it just means either they've gone home or they've stopped working so that was a bit of a surprise at first. But all in all it's not been a problem and I've having a great time!
I'm loving it here and I hope everyone's doing well back at home!
Love you all! Mirupafshim
Elder Gardiner

Here's a picture of Elder Johnson, Elder Wood, and I at the Vienna airport so hopefully you can actually see this

Just one last note, in the picture you sent of us all at Xhoni's house the other people are Motra Hall and Motra Saldanja (I don't know how her name is normally spelled but that's it in Albanian) and they are our whole district here in Elbasan. Elbasan is one of only two cities in Albania with a church building and there used to be a ward here. Then a whole bunch of people went less active\inactive so it's back to a branch. I think there used to be like 300 members but now we only get like 40 that come to sacrament meeting and then even more don't stay for the last two hours. But the people here are still awesome and I have a lot of hope for them!