week three:

Hola querida familia!!!!
Guess what?! It was an AWESOME week!! I can honestly say that I have really come to love it here now!! I am so happy.
Weather: It feels like california! mostly overcast but the sun usually comes out in the afternoons, and its always like 70. sooooo nice, it makes my heart happy. Sometimes I walk around outside and close my eyesd and pretend im at Newport beach, and it totally feels like it!!!! except the 98% humidity...no bueno. But its so green here and there are lots of cool plants and trees everywhere and i swear there are always birds. weird birds making bird sounds all day long. I feel like im in the jungle or something.
Comida!: OKAY. I actually LOVE the food here at the CCM! Its always some sort of chicken or meat with a differernt sauce. soooo good. and no beans, but RICE. Rice at all times and in all things and in all places. For EVERY MEAL. But dont worry, i stopped eating it hhaha. K but GUESS WHAT. they have this fruit here called a granadilla and if you guys saw what it looked like inside you would NOT BELEIVE that i EAT IT!!!!! You smash it on the table and bang it open and then the inside looks like dirty toenails covered in boogers. Or fish eggs or something. i was so afraid of it at first but now I eat one every meal! haha. Yall would be proud of me. :)
Miracle moment:
At church on sundays, they randomly pick 4 missionaries in sacrament meeting to go up and give a 2-3 minute talk in spanish. Guess who was called on this week??? haha yep! It was me, Hermana G. :)  They call 4 names and then right then and there without warning, you gotta go up and give a talk in spanish. I had prepared a few sentences just in case I had happened to get called on, so i had a little prepared which was good. So i walk up and i had already been balling so my eyes are all wet and i couldnt see anything so im like cleaning my glasses as i walked up ha!! SO I read the sentences I had prepared and read a scripture, but then I started thinking of other things I wanted to say. And let me tell you. I had one of the coolest experiences I have had here yet...I just felt the spirit with me so strong and I felt like I could just speak what i wanted to say, and I remembered the words that I needed and I wasnt even looking at anything written down!!! In a language that was soo foreifgn to me just 2 weeks before. I bore testimony of my love for the Savior. That we can live again with Him, with our Heavenly Father, and with our families. and that that is why I am here in Peru, to share this most comforting knowledge with His children here!!! I seriously cannot explain the power of the spirit that was with me in that moment, it was so so so cool. Apparently the gift of tongues is a real thing!!!
-Okay so I want you all to know how much I LOVE my companions. I seriosuly prayed so hard before i got here to be blessed with good companions and to learn from them and love them. And the Lord seriously made it happen for us! Hermana Haupt especially. Every day we find something new to lauigh about and I love it!!! We arehaving so much fun here!!! and Hermana Shumway is great too, she is literally the most caring and kindhearted girl i have ever met. She is more quiet and reserved but her heart is golden. Seriously...and youu guys thought i was spiritual...not compared to her!!!!! But anyway, our district is just a hoot. I really love themn soooooo much and we have allbecome so much closer and seriously the funniest things happen and me and mi hermanas just die laughing in our little corner of the classroom, its Hilarious.
-K so I fell off the bed one night. actually it happened twice but the 2nd time i was climbing up to the top biunk and it just so happened to be right as Hermana Gonzales was in the room (mission presidents wife) hahahah and I lost my balance and fell off backwards onto my feet and then onto my bum!! We were all dying laughing soooo hard!!! And hermana gonzales just look ed at me like i was CRAY CRAY. Im like I lost my balance!!!! Shes like *lost your balance?? you lost your MIND!!* hahahahaha she thinks im looney.
- Last night I played a prank on one of my maestras, hna. chacon. She is awesome. We went into another classroom to meet with her but before she came in, I snuck out the window!!!! hahahahaha Then when she came in i wasnt there and then she went loking for me in the other clasrrom... but i wasnt there either. So she comes back around aand I had climbed back in the window and I was just chillin in there. Shes like *WHAT.??* in her little spanish accent hahaha i thought it was so dang funny!!!
-K so today after the temple (which was GREAT), Mi y mi hermanas got to go on a special trip to the MALL with Hermana Gonzalez!!!! Long story short but Hna Haupt ripped her toenail off and so we had to find better shoes for her. So we all got to go out to the mall and it was so american and so fun!!! and afterwards for lunch..... BURGER KING!! hahahahha it was the best meal of my life, i never enjoyed an american hamburger so much. and they played a taylor swift song and a coldplay song in there, i loved it! haha!!! So it was a fun little girls day with sassy Hermana Gonzalez. (She kindof reminds me of Grandma Omi!!! hahahahaha shes so blunt. it was a way good time. We took a selfie with her at burger king, ill try to send it.)
Just feeling happier here in general and I love it and thank my Heavenly Father every day. There are still challenges but my faith is getting stronger and I am feeling the spirit so much so that makes everything worth it. I crave scripture stufy more than ever. Reading the Book of Mormon is strengthening my testimony of Christ more that it ever has, it is so so so amazing. I love feeling my testimony grow, especially about Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon. I am learning so much about the church and its really cool. I didnt realize there was so much more to understand.
-whenever we have extra time, a bunch of us go to the piano and just sing. We sing our favorite church songs. I KNOW it sounds SO cheesy missionary. But I kid you not, the spirit that I alwawys feel when we do that is sooo powerful. I can hardly think of a time when ive felt the spirit more clear or strong or powerful than when we sing together as misionaries. Especially the EFY medley song (As sisters in zion, we are as the armiy of helaman..) Ther eis a very real power in the room EVERY TIME. It is the coooest thing i have ever felt! I always used to feel the spirit during that song but now that we are actually here, actually real missionaries, set apart and called to go and do the Lords work and be his servants and to be sitting there together singing about it, oh my gosh it is soooo awesome. It  is so relatable to us now. *We are as the army of Helaman. We have been taught in our youth. And we will be the Lords missionaries to bring the world His truth.* aHHHHH I get chills every single time. I which I could explain the feeling or bring you all here to just feel that feeling just for a minute. so you know what i am talking about. It is seriously the coolest thing and I know Heavenly Father loves his misionaries, It makes me feel sooo special! So that is always a real highlight and maybe the best part of my week. Especailly on sundays when we have extra time. Everyone looks forward to it.
Well gang, thanks for tuning in. Ive reached my HALF WAY MARK at the CCM!!! Everyone said it would fly by, and at first i didnt beleive anyone who said that haha!! But now, it really is going by so so fast and its crazy to think ill be going out an teaching people in 3 short weeks. I pray for you all every day. Thanks for your love ,i feel so much strength from you and your prayers back home.
Fav quote from this week: *The tag doesnt make the missionary...its the Spirit inside that makes the missionary.*
Keep praying, keep beleiving. It will all be worth it in the end.
love you guys! take it from me, The church is true!!! and its so so so important.
paz y amor
Hermana G. :)

me and my comps and sassy little Hermana gonzalez on our burger king outing!!! hahaha it was so hilarious. I really am happy and LOVE my compnaions. we are seriously ALWAYS laughing about something. Esp. Hermana Haupt!!! She is a good mix between Zoe and Romney. Shes awesome.

my cute district. love love love these girls and boys.

week two:

Hola familia y amigos!!!!
It was a BETTER week! I am slowly but surely adjusting to the life of a missionary!!! haha ok and if you want a visual of me right now, picture Flint Lockwood from cloudy with a chance of meatballs typing away at his computer at  the speed of lighting with his floppy hands hahaha the time FLIES on here but i love hearing from each and every one of you and if you dont hear from me right away, I am working on a response i promise!!!! I just have to write it throughout the week. :) k so heres the breakdown: (not day by day, just by category cause i pretty much do the same thing every day, hahaha)
- i am learning that the spirit is so strong here, always but especially at certain moments. Sometimes me and my companions will get iunto deep conversations about the gospel and the spirit world, and the work that we are doing for Heavenly Father, and the spirits that are hel´ping us and the help we have from the other side of the veil, and its just so cool. I am feeling little by little, what it really means to be a missionary. I am really learning that this is His work and i feel so blessed to be on His errand, teaching His children that they are loved!
- On sundays, we get to watch lots of old MTC devotionals and listen to talks by he apostles. We watched one by Elder Holland and everything he said just hit my heart. I realizsed that being a missionary is the coolest thing in the world and the Lord really is on our side!
-sunday night, a bunch of the missionaries just ended up singing around the piano while someone played a bunch of random hymns. And that sounds so cheesy but i kid you not, the spirit was SO STRONG. It was the coolest thing ever!
- my district (group of missionaries) sang the prelude music in sacrament meeting, and the elder statred playing families can be together forever, (en espanol of course) and immediatley i just burst into tears! I couldnt even sing the song because i was crying and just became so full of love for my family. I can feel your love every single daY! and i just felt so grateful for the spirit of God and for the knowledge that I will be with you guys forever, even if not right now.
Hard things:
-speaking spanish!!! hahaha i am slowly improving and can teach basic principles to people about the gospel in spanish but basically you can just call me Mormon Dora. Lots of spanglish, talking at robot speed, and using a high concntration of gospel vocabulary.
I was watching a devotional and taking notes, and I here an Elder behind me say, ¨Hey Hermana Gardner, how many fonts do you have?¨ and i looked down at my notes and they were filled with all sorts of sizes of words and crazy letters and stuff like i always do hahahahaha i was like, umm lots iguess? ha! They were all making fun of me for it, lol
-My district is filled with a bunch of crazy boys and then my companioinship and needless to say, we break out in laughter a lot, ha! For example, we are in class and our teacher tries to say in her broken english, ökay, tell me why.¨and then Elder Cluff and Elder Utai simultaneously break out into the backstreeet boys song and sing ¨TELL ME WHYYYY!!!¨haha i guess when you are cooped up in a classroom making yourself crazy tryin to learn spanish all day, really dumb thingsd become really funny.
- we always try to think of pranks to play on ourt teachers. One time this week, we opened the window in our classroom and one of the elders what like, ¨can i go o9ut side for a sec?¨and the proceeded to leap put the window hahaha except he didnt make it all the way out cause the Hermana realized what he was doing and was like ¨NO!!!¨hahaha
Random thoughts from the week¨
JACKSON!!!! i just keep thinking of you!!!! And imagining you here with me as one of the elders in my district or something. I wish you were here!!!! You are going to be such a fun missionary and I cant WAIT to have you with me out here in the field! Its hard work but I know you asre just gonna kill it. Get studying that spanish cause i just know youre gonna be speaking it with me one day! Love you so much brother :)
We watched the video, i think its a mormon message, ¨mountains to climb¨by president Eyring. GO WATCH IT.  i loved this quote from it ¨acting on a twig of faith allows god to grow it.Protect it, and USE it to whatever extent you can.¨
Favorite scriptures that lifted me up: D&C: 68:6
D&C 84:88 and Luke 9:23 & 24
I am so thankful to be out here serving the Lord. I know that He hears and answers our prayers and that the challenges that come are because they are designed to make us stronger and better! I can feel myself becoming a better me, feeling the Lords love and reality stronger in my life. ¨¨The sorrows outnumber the joys, but the joys outweigh the sorrows!!¨
Be strong ! love you all soo much!
 paz y amor
Hermana Gardner :)

week one:

MADRE!!!!!! and familia!!!!!!!
Have I been here for a week?? or 27??? because it feeels more like the latter!!! This has been the longest 7 days of my whole life!!!! I have been looking forward to writing you guys all week and I miss you so so much!! SO! I AM HERE! IM on a MISSION! its the weirdest feeling ever but every day I come to like it a little more.
The MTC here is called el C.C.M. It stands for el Centro de Capitación Missional. It is a really clean, nice and well kept facility and a lot smaller than I thought! THere are only 13 sisters here and about 65 elders. A pretty small group!!! I Love my district!!!!! I am in a threesome companionship with Hermana Shumway from Texas and Hermana Haupt from San Diego. Then therer are 7 other elders in my distrcit. Most of them are only 18! Hmmm Im trying to figure out where to even start!!!!! The days all blurred together!!! Every morning we wake up at 6:30 and eat breakfast. Then we have personal study time and then class starts at 8:30. Then we have class till lunch at 12 and then we got to this language study thing called TALL on the computers. From 2-3 we have physical activity time and I have beeb doing VERY GOOD at exercising and eating healthy! yall would be proud of me :) I do laps around the field and jumpr rope a little and do sit ups and lunges and I even use the resistance bands you guys gave me! haha!! After that, we have a half hour to shower and stuff and then additional study time. Then we have class again until 6 and then dinner. and then class again (or sometimes a devotional or something) and then at 9 we plan and then head up to bed at 930 and then im in bed by 1030. SO theres my typical day! haha in class, we learn different grammar vocabulary, in spanish of course, and learn how to teach the lessons in spanish. Most of what we have learned so far is how to pray en español, how to bear testimony, and just other vocab words and stuff for teaching lessons, meeting people, etc. I am learning it slowly but surely!
Okay, so Im not going to lie, this week has been HARD. The first few days were so so rough. But the last couple of days I have been feeling better, little by little, day by day. I am definately learning PATIENCE. Its just a whole different lifestyle you have to get used to and I am learning that it takes TIME to adjust. You just put so much energy into studying, and sitting in class, and you dont have your family or friends, and you have to follow all these rules and everyone expects so much of you. Its just a lot all at once. But I have given it time and every day I feel happier and I definately feel my Heavenly Father cheering my on! And you know what else? |Every day I am learning a little more about how AWESOME it is to be a missionary. It is HARD. But it is SO GOOD! I just need to be patient with it and slowly get used to everything. i have had glimpses of the happiness that will come from my mission. The MTC is hard cause you just want to leave and go out and be with the actual PEOPLE but instead you are stuck in here in class. haha. But its necessary, because we are learning how to teach effectively and how to actually SPEAK their language!!!! hahaha!! So i kep reminding myself that I just gotta be patient and make it through the next 5 weeks and learn all that I can and it will be worth it in the end!!!
And I have been feeling SOOOOO much better these last few days because I am really coming to love my companions and the people around me! Its so fun having a small CCM because im becoming so close ALREADY with the other hermanas and our awesome teachers and even alot of the elders!!! Hermana Haupt is the more latino looking one in the photos. She is so funny and so cute!! hah fiun fact: her brother is 23 and his name is Dillon and he also works at Lu Lu Lemon!!!! I was like what the HECK?!?! haha so random!! Hermana Shumway has super super curly red hair and she is more quiet and reserved but the SWEETEST most thoughtful sister ever. I LOVE THEM BOTH! and we laugh alot and have fun together. I think we all balance each other out. Also, all the teachers here and the CCM president and his wife, the Gonzaleses, are SOOO GREAT! I LOVE LATINO PEOPLE ALREADY!!! Our teachers are these two Peruvian hermanas that can speak english a little and they are so fun. I love them. Hermana Gonzales is the mission president\s wife. She is a very happy, outgoing woman but also so fiesty and bold and all the elders are afriad of her hahahaha.
The best part of my weeek, hmmm. Ill share the 2 best parts.
1) I got to leave the CCM and go out into the center of Lima to the Immigration offices! and I got to do it twice! One morning the teacher comes in and shes like, Hermana Gardner? Elder Utai? You guys need to come here and go to migraciones for a few hours. WE were like what?? So It was me and Elder Utai (The funniest, Samoan 18 yr old kid, the one I sat next to on the airplane!!! He is hilarious.) and elder Herrera and just the 3 of us had to get into the car and drive 30 minutes to downown Lima into the busiest office building place because we filled out a form wrongon the airplane hahah!!! But it was such an adventure and I loved being out in the city!!! It was such an answer to prayer, honestly!!! Heavenly Father was like "There is life after the CCM Tessa! I promise!" haha but really, that day I became so much happier because I was able to feel a little bit of the happiness that will come from going out and it hoinestly feels SOO amazing to walk around a crazy city with this name tag over my heart that says "'Hermana Gardner -- La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de los Ultimos Dias." I feel so happy just walking artound smiling at all the people and saying "Hola! Buenos Dias!!" and having everyoine stare at you cause youre walking around with a dress and a name tag and the elders in their suits and everyones like, who are these crazy happy people?? hah! and we had a few random members come up to us and they were so sweet and excited to see missionaries and it feels soooo good when people say "Hermanas!! Elders!!!" It is so happy. I cant wait to get out there. Pray for my sanity in the next 5 weeks!! haha!
But really, the CCM is a good, good place to be. I am learning so much about my Heavenly Fathers love for me. Last night. Elder Waddel of the 70 came and spoke to us and I have never heard a more INSPIRED talk in my whole life. Everything he said touched my heart so much and I felt so so happy inside. I know that Heavenly Father hears my prayers and KNOWS MY HEART!!! That is what keep coming back to me every day and I cry just writing this to you guys because I feel it so strongly: "HE KNOWS YOU, TESSA. HE KNOWS YOU." I wouldnt be here and i absolutely couldnt do this if i didnt know tis and most importantly FEEL this with all my heart.
Thank you for your prayers!!! I can honiestly say that I feel you guys here with me and I feel your prayers and the stregnth that comes to me from them. I DO feel your love and arms around me. Thank you SO MUCH. I look at the photo album mom, every night, and cry haha!!! because I miss you guys! But it makes me feel so happy that I have a loving family back at home that loves me and is with me in my heart.
I took a few days, but now I can honestly say that I am happy here. And I just know that it is going to kee[ getting better and better. I know this is where I am supposed to be.
Im sorry I dont have time to reply to everyones emails but THANK YOU to everyone who wrote to me!!!!! Really really, thank you so much and I will write back to you soon!!!! I love you guys and I love having a team cheering me on back at home!!!
Alli, Happy Birthday girlfriend!! Im so thankful for you and your love in my life!!!
Funny moment from this week:
A latino guy was giving us a tour around the campus our first day and he was like, "Youll learn spanish,,,it will be a piece of, brownie." I was laughing SOOO HARD!!! Im just the crazy girl in our district that laughs at everything haha but i try to have fun. Like I said, it had been so fun getting to know my district and learning and growing with them. its like a new little family away from home...or someything like that haha. We have fun together and \i am already making friends that will last a lifetime. It is such a cool expereince.
also, I got to go to the TEMPLE this moirning and it was 10x better than the first time when i got endowed!!!!!! It was SOO AWESOME and I felt so at peace.
I love you guys! I feel your love EVERY DAY! literally i feel it so strong i swear. I wish I had more time. Ill try to send some pics next week.
LOVEYOU ALLLLLLLLL!!!! Pray for the people in Peru!!!
paz y amor,
Hermana Gardner