Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Welcome Dinner - Elder and Sister Goo

Saturday, January 24 was a relaxing day.  We woke up to the most snow of the season so far.  We enjoyed a day in our apartment.  Jerry colored my hair and it really turned out great.  I did some cleaning in the apartment, took down the little Christmas tree, and we finished the puzzle.  We took a little nap and then got ready to go to the Mission Home.  

We drove to the CVS Pharmacy and bought some almonds for President Morgan's birthday.  Sister Morgan had made the most delicious chicken enchiladas, chips, rice, guacamole, salsa and apple pie for dessert.  It was a dinner to welcome the new Chinese couple, the Goos.  They were very sweet and will make such a great contribution in their MLS Mission in China Town.  They invited the office couples, the APs, Elders Smith and Duvall, so with the Morgan's, we had 10 in all.  We all fit around their dining room table.  I had made a birthday card earlier in the day for President Morgan and also Pete Litster.

Today we enjoyed a sunny drive to the New Rochelle 2nd Ward.  One of the high councilman Brother Adam Fleming told about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir coming to New York in July.  Jerry came home and ordered 6 tickets.  I emailed Jeanne, Judi and Sue about coming to NYC and going with us.

We are studying the New Testament in Gospel Doctrine class and Ezra Taft Benson this year in Relief Society and Priesthood meeting.  The lesson today in RS was on prayer.  We came home and cooked potatoes in our little pressure cooker, and had chili over them, with corn and pineapple.  Later we both had a yogurt.

We loved having face time with JD, Sarah, Bergen, Anders and Emme.  They had been skiing at Beaver Mountain, Bergie's first try.  Emme can say so many animal sounds now and her hair has turned more blonde.  They have been looking at a new home about a mile from their present home.  It has a steep road to get there, but a flat driveway.  They would be in the same ward, schools for the kids, and it has a swimming pool.  JD and Anders had built a big Star Wars figure out of Legos.   They had their Ward Conference today and their Home Teachers came while we were talking to them.  It was wonderful to talk with our kids.

I sent some pictures to Sister Morgan from the Sisters Conference.  It has been a wonderful day!  We are in Ether, almost finished with reading the Book of Mormon.

NY NY Mission Sister's Conference

Friday, January 23, 2015 was the NY NY North Mission Sisters Conference, held at the Scarsdale Church.  As these beautiful young sisters started to gather, there were many hugs and sounds of joy as they greeted each other.  Jerry dropped me off and then made two trips to the  train station to bring sisters to the conference.  There was just a loud din in the foyer as they were so happy to see each other.

President Morgan spoke first followed by the China Town sisters singing.  Sister Frihoffer spoke next (her husband is a counselor in the mission presidency).  She had been a former missionary from Tooele, in this mission, who had expectations of grander, Broadway etc., and was hit with the hard reality when she served in Harlem.  She finally found the treasure and joy in sharing the gospel.  We then had two break-out sessions.  Sister Jennifer Darger spoke about humility and confidence.  And Kem Nixon spoke about handling stress, which included relaxation techniques.  Photo below are West Chester Zone Sisters.

We had a lovely salad bar for lunch, which included three Valentine cookies with frosting and candy sprinkles to decorate them with. In the afternoon, President Morgan did a question and answer session, and our West Chester sisters sang, "The Lord  is My Shepherd."  It was fun to sing with our zone.  Sister Morgan finished up with comments about being fully wrapped up in the gospel and committed to its principles.  She had a scarf for each sister to take home with them. 

I met Sister Kalli Kovak (above right) from Switzerland, who comes from the Alpine German Speaking Mission where Calee will serve.  Jerry took sisters back to the train station and then picked me up and gave me a ride back to the office, where we worked until 6pm.  I did some filing and got him the missionary files he needed.

China Town - January 20, 2015

Our alarm went off this morning at 5:30am.  We walked to the White Plains Train Station, about four blocks from our apartment, and took the 6:40am train to Grand Central Station - NYC.  There we met Elder and Sister Wilson who are responsible to oversee and open apartments. We took the Green Line to China Town.  
President Morgan wants us to cross train so we will know how to do all the office jobs. The Wilson's go home in June and will be very hard to replace.  Today we prepared an apartment in China Town for a Chinese couple (Elder and Sister Goo) who will be coming Saturday. The red front is where the China Town Ward meets.  It is a short walk from the Goo's apartment.  This 2nd photo is out the apartment window.

Elder Goo and his wife have been the Mission President and Temple President in Hong Kong.  They will be doing Member Leadership Support.  
Furniture will be delivered today.  We are having a Chinese adventure. Elder Gardner is all tired out after helping set up the apartment in China Town.  It was totally empty when we arrived with Elder and Sister Wilson this morning about 8:30am.  This photo is the after.

The Office Elders Moss and Johansen brought all the apartment accessories: rug, towels, bedding, pillows, appliances, dishes etc. and Chinese food for lunch.  A furniture company brought the couch, chair, bed, dresser, desk, end tables etc.  Jerry and Elder Wilson went to a Chinese Market and bought grocery basics for the fridge.  We all helped take everything out of boxes and set up the apartment.  It was quite eye opening to see all that is required to get a missionary apartment ready.

After riding the subway back to Grand Central Station and taking the train back to our home in White Plains, we were tired and needed a nap.  We are happy to be serving and helping the Church and Kingdom roll forth in the NY NY North Mission.

Ice Storms, Baptism, and Dinner in New Canaan - January 18, 2015

Ice Storms yesterday!  We got up and started out for Church at the usual time.  The roads were like ice.  It had been raining all night and today.  Since it was so cold, the rain would freeze as soon as it hit the ground.  We drove slow, but when we got to the freeway entrance, there was a police car with flashing lights and we could see the exit was packed with cars, all stopped.  Jerry turned around and we went a different way to Church.  Along the way, we saw a car on a tow truck which had been rear ended, and another car down in a ravine.  There were several police cars and a fire engine, and cars all backed up for a long way, thankfully going the other direction.

We arrived at Church at 10am and found they had pushed the meeting back to 10:30am.  That gave me time to talk to Sheron Gayle who was baptized tonight.  She asked me what a Stake is and I explained. I also showed her a Relief Society video from Lds.org on my iPad.  It was a wonderful experience!  Then she asked me what are the purposes of Relief Society.  I looked up on my iPad and told her: 
Increase Faith and Personal Righteousness
Strengthen Home and Family
Care for the Poor and Needy

The elders were at the Church when we arrived chipping the ice off the sidewalks.  They only held Sacrament Meeting and cancelled the other two meetings because of the weather.

Brother David Brooks, who had accompanied Calee last week when she sang so beautifully in our New Rochelle Ward Sacrament Meeting, and was also the same Elder Brooks who replaced Elder Jerrold David Gardner as AP in the Norway, Oslo Mission - he spoke about reverence.  

We went slowly back home on those icy roads, then at 2:30pm, we drove to New Canaan, Connecticut to have dinner with one of Nate's former missionary companions in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Keith Dickinson told us of the great positive influence and example Nate was to him when he first arrived, was homesick, language was hard, etc.  He got teary eyed as he read from his Missionary Journal about Elder Nathan Gardner, who helped him catch the vision of
Missionary work.  We are sure proud of all our kids and the great examples for good and Christlike influence you are to those you meet.

It was fun to Skype with Ashley, Chris, Aiden, Hugo and baby Ellie last night.  Those 19 grandkids are so precious to us.  We miss our dear family!

Mission Vehicle Safety Training

Today was the day we have been preparing for, the Car Safety Training.  We had prepared a packet for all the new missionaries, and each one had a cover sheet, a copy of their drivers license, their personal driving record.  They all watched three videos on car safety, then signed their "Signature of Compliance," after also reading the rules of driving a Church vehicle.

Jerry and I came back to the mission office and got everything for those whose files were incomplete.  About 2pm, we went back to the Scarsdale Church and waited until the meeting was over at 3pm.  The missionaries had Hawaiian Haystacks for lunch.  On our way back to the office we went to the market across the street from the mission office  and bought soup and oatmeal raisin cookies.  Jerry had clam chowder and I had tomato bisque.

Calee and Malisalee come to NYC - 1/9-11/2015

This has been a wonderful weekend.  Saturday we took the train from White Plains to Grand Central Station.  We took the Subway to the NY Temple. It was beautiful right across the street from the Lincoln Center.  

We then took the Subway to Times Square and met Malisalee and Calee for lunch and then went to "Phantom of the Opera."  They had attended the Broadway show of Matilda on Friday night.  Matilda is the story of an extraordinary little girl of genius and super powers who decides that despite a bad beginning filled with rotten parent, a terrifying school and a vicious head mistress, her story is to be an astonishing one.  It was written by Ronald Dahl.  

Calee was able to have her dream fulfilled of coming to NYC, attending some Broadway shows, and even ice skating at the Rockefeller Center Rink, before she goes back home and makes her final Alpine German Speaking Mission preparations.  She will travel to the Preston, England MTC for six weeks, starting February 25, 2015.

We went to Planet Hollywood for dinner and then to another Broadway show, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder."  It was a hilarious show about Monty Navarro, an heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by eliminating eight relatives who stand in his way (each played by the same great Tony winner Jefferson Mays).

After the show, we retrieved Malisalee and Calee's bags at the Hampton Inn and took many subways, up and down many sets of stairs, no elevators in sight.   
We returned to Grand Central Station and from there took the train to White Plains.  

There was a drunk guy on the train who got in a fight, his girlfriend cried, the conductor threatened arrest, another plain clothes policeman interrogated the drunk.  It only added to a great day of adventure. We walked to the Marriott Regency Hotel (four blocks) and Malisa and Calee got checked in for the night.  It is across the street from our Avalon Apartments.  It was a day of treasured memories.

Sunday, Calee sang, "The Master's Voice" by Sally DeFord.  David Brooks accompanied her.  It was amazing to find out that he too had served his mission in Oslo, Norway and had replaced JD as the AP.  We had heard him play at the Norway Mission Home when we picked up JD from his mission.  He is a fantastic pianist, and was a piano performance major at BYU.  

Mission Leadership Conf. January 2, 2015

The missionaries were taken to the JFK Airport to depart and return home after serving with all their heart, might, mind and soul.  The mission didn't miss a beat, as this morning the new trainers for the incoming missionaries coming next week, were trained.  It is called "Train The Trainer."  We didn't attend that meeting, but did attend the lunch (Pizza and salad), and then stayed for the Mission Leadership Council which was all the new Assistants to the President, Zone Leaders, District Leaders, Office Elders, Sister Leadership Trainers etc.  One of the senior office missionary couples attend each time, and it was our turn.  It was very interesting to attend our first MLC and to get to know the leaders in the mission.  The photos are of some of the missionaries who attended that day.

NY NY Mission History July-December 2014

Today during our Office Staff Meeting, President Morgan asked me if I would compile the NY NY North Mission history from July-December 2014.  I wanted to say, "I wasn't even here!" But of course I said, "I would be happy too!"  

The picture above is of January-June 2014 history book, about an inch thick.  
I have to get it copied and made into books to send to SLC, one for the Mission President, and for others in the mission.  It needs to contain all the things that happened during that six months, including their Zone Conferences, transfers, missionaries coming and going home, Mission Leadership Conferences, Training of new missionaries, agendas, minutes, including their mission blog that Sister Morgan posts with pictures.  

Missionaries Farewell Dinner at the Mission Home - January 1, 2015

New Year's Day we slept in, went down to the exercise room and did our 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill, went to the mission office from 3-6pm, then to the Morgan's Mission Home.  It was such a wonderful event.  Sister Debbie Morgan had cooked flank steak, salad, corn, beans, rolls, baked potatoes and cheesecake for dessert with blueberries and strawberries on top.

Each of the departing 22 missionaries bore their testimonies, as well as President and Sister Morgan.  President told the missionaries, "You can go home, but can't ever go back to what they were before their missions.  They now know too much.  They have experienced miracles, felt the Holy Ghost's influence as they have taught about the restored gospel.  They have refined their lives and humbled their hearts.  They have become true disciples  of Christ, and never will as pure in their lives as they are at that moment.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Colleen and Jerry go to NYC

On Saturday, December 20, 2014, Elder Jerry Gardner and I took the train to New York City to see the Rocketttes at the Radio City Music Hall.  The train station is in White Plains just four blocks from our apartment.  It took us just 33 minutes to arrive at Grand Central Station.  We were bundled up against the cold, but with warm hearts for our exciting adventure.  We walked along 42nd Street to 6th Avenue, then over to 51st Street where we passed a park with ice skating, large Christmas balls, and we even met characters from Star Wars.  Since we arrived early, we enjoyed delicious hot sandwiches at a bakery a block away from Radio City Music Hall.

The show was an eye-popping extravangaza of synchronized moves and ho-ho-ho enthusiasm.  We had to wear 3-D glasses at the first of the show when Santa is delivering presents all over the world.  The Rockettes started out the show as Santa's Reindeers in "Sleigh Ride."  Favorite numbers were Santa's workshop with charming Rag Dolls that came to life.  Every moment was magic in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!  From the beloved Wooden Soldiers, to the dazzling Snow scene, to the unforgettable Living Nativity, it was really the best show of the season.  

The final two numbers wereThe Living Nativity and Joy to the World.  It was the beautiful and inspiring story of the first Christmas - told reverently in pageantry, with music and scripture.  An angel appeared to the shepherds to the song, "Angels Ye Have Heard on High."  Real camels accompanied the Wise Men to "We Three Kings," and a donkey carried Mary to the Inn where the Savior of the World was born.  

"He Is The Gift"


At the NY NY North Mission Leadership Council, held on January 2, 2015, the statistics were reviewed about the reach and impact, "This Is The Gift" video had:  About 95,000 individuals looked at this video on the the NY NY North Mission Facebook page.  About 16,000 shared the video from this same page.  

This initiative was a tremendous influence in teaching lessons about our Savior Jesus Christ.  It was also advertised on the big screen in Time Square.

Gardner Christmas Card 2014

We would like to thank our daughter-in-law Sarah Gardner for getting the red t-shirts with the "I love NY" logo for all the grandkids.  Thanks to JD and Sarah for getting our Christmas cards printed at Zen Print, before we left on our mission.  Sarah also designed a beautiful 2014 Gardner family picture book which was our gift to each family.  This memory book with be a treasure for years to come.  These are 19 big reasons why it was difficult to leave.  We will really miss our dear family and grandkids while we serve for 18 months.

MTC District

This is our MTC District.  It was with these people that we did our missionary encounter exercises.  Overall the MTC experience was uplifting and wonderful.

New York New York North Mission

On December 1st 2014, we entered the Provo MTC and embarked upon a new adventure.  Our greatest challenges was getting our house in Highland, Utah prepared so that Nate, Nicole and their family could move it.  Thanks to the "Locust Movers" (Jerry), we were just able to slip out as Nate's Family was moving in.  

On Tuesday night, we went to see Calee in her Orem Hale Theater production of "A Christmas Carol."  She played the part of Belle, who was Ebenezer Scrooge's fiancĂ© before his life was ruled by money.  Calee did a great job.

 We left Highland about 1 pm on Saturday December 6th for the drive to New York.  We made Laramie Wyoming by night fall and stayed in Omaha, Nebraska, South Bend, Indiana and State College (Penn State) Pennsylvania.  

We arrived in Scarsdale, New York about 1:30 pm on Wednesday, December 10th.  We move at a rate faster than we had planned because we were concerned that we might encounter bad weather.  We did encounter some heavy rain in the area below the great lakes and also a little snow in the hills of Pennsylvania, but nothing that impacted the drive. 

Driving in New York City takes patience and constant awareness.  In some area, traffic seems to converge on one from every possible direction.  Some of the roads here seem narrower than in the west and that adds the stress of driving.