Tuesday, June 26, 2012

3 Weeks Left!

Hallo alles!
I have Mom and Dad's letter with the questions highlighted so I can do my best to remember them and try to answer haha. So here goes: I have not heard anything from Matt since I left BYU really :/ But I pray for him every night. I hope he is doing what he needs to to get in here soon! And I have talked to Elder Ewert a couple times! I see him pretty often. Chris I haven't seen as much, but last Tuesday after devotional Tyson and Chris and I took a picture on Chris' camera (I forgot mine :/ sorry). You can ask the Halls probably. Christlike attributes I am in need of? I took the quiz thing at the end of chapter 6 in PMG, but the number of questions weren't even for all the attributes, so I don't really know haha. I would say that I am really working on faith and patience (and I am always working on charity too). Elder Botcherby shared a scripture, Ether 6:7, and highlighted the part that says "buried in the deep." Sometimes with all the things going on in life, that is how we feel. And if we have faith, and trust in our Heavenly Father, we can pray for help and He will bring us out of the water again. I feel like that will be a processed repeated for an entire lifetime. Patience is also a good one when trying to learn a new language and also when dealing with people that you are with for every hour of the day (I don't have problems, but I have to interact with the people that do have problems with things.) So it's good practice. I have thought about it a lot, saying goodbye to Tyson. I think it will be harder than anything we have done before. He will have to see me off now, since he gets to stay here a little longer. We shall see when the time comes. The language is coming well, but I know for a fact that what I have learned and what I have been able to use is not my own doing. I go into lessons and feel nervous about having a hard time saying what I want to say, but I pray often and I get in there and things just go!
Oh, real quick, for the package: I have so much food still, and honestly I never have time to eat much, because we are rarely home and we are given food til we are stuffed 3 times a day. However, I guess drinks would be nice. Would you mind buying each elder in my room a Sobe? haha. If so, Elder Robins and Janis would both like Pina Colada, and Elder Botcherby would like Strawberry banana. I am just trying to serve others, you know? ;)  But yeah, I don't really know what I need in the package, drinks would be nice and a couple snacks don't hurt. Just surprise me I suppose. I don't think I have anything that I need really. (But I will remember something later today most likely).
Our last lesson with Andreas was awesome! We literally had no time to prepare the day before, so we got 15 minutes to get our thoughts together on the 1st Lesson. We are teaching Andreas the lessons and then he teaches his wife. Oh, and his wife came to church the Sunday before last Sunday, just for an hour. But Andreas said he will teach his wife what we teach him. So we went in with 15 minutes prep and taught the entire lesson! We have never made it all the way through a lesson before. And we just said short meaningful things, and gave Andreas a Verkündet Mein Evangelium (PMG) to use. It was the coolest thing ever! The Lord will help you out in any situation if you turn to Him. Paul is also doing well! He came to church and last night we planned to teach him about the Atonement. But, when talking about church and the importance of going to church, and the sacrament, we got to baptism instead. So we invited him to be baptized, and he is going to pray about it. We just went with it, even though we planned something else. You can trust the Spirit more than anything else, for sure!
So we still haven't had an Apostle talk, even though they are all here! And guess what? Both our teachers have told us about how President Uchtdorf loves to drop in on the German elders' classrooms!!!!! We have been so exctied to maybe see him, but it hasn't happened yet. But we are all hoping. Bruder Evans actually talked to him a couple years ago, when he was just starting as a teacher. So he really does come! I will let you know of course. We should definitely have an Apostle speaking at the Devotional tonight though. Can't wait!
I can't remember if I have shared something that Bruder Evans said already, but here goes. When talking about hard times in life, we talked about the story of the Jaredites crossing the sea. They wind with which God blew them was a furious wind, and Bruder Evans asked why it had to be so furious? Of course, it's because God had greater blessings for them. Then Bruder Evans said, "No matter what wind God is blowing on you with, it is always in the right direction." That was cool, and it goes along perfectly with what Elder Botcherby shared with me yesterday.
I feel like I had something else cool that happened, but I can't remember. We can't wait to be hosts and maybe find our new German Elders! Then we have more people who may play soccer with us! We have a lot of people who play already, new people, but sometimes it is just too much. It is still fun nevertheless.
Oh, so the last letter I sent Kacy had a pretty sketchy stamp on it. The corner kept coming off, and I had to keep pressing it down. So Mom, could you text her and see if the letter made it or not? I have been worring about that for a while haha. Then you could just tell me in a Dear Elder. Danke schon!
Hope Sydney had a good birthday! I will be writing just a couple letters today, which is a nice break from the usual number. I am glad Sister Eagley enjoyed her letter! I was very grateful for her card from her class. Well, I am out of time and also incapable of thinking about what happened in the course of the last week. So, if I come up with anything more, I will write it in my letters.
Oh, last thing, I have been reminded of how much I love the Primary songs, and songs from the childrens hymnbook haha. I listen to the music from conference in the computer labs, since we can't use our ipods. My favorite, that has really touched me this whole week, is "I Feel My Savior's Love." Listen to it haha.
I look forward to hearing from you again!  I love you all! Stay safe and always smile, even when you feel like you can't.
Elder Jalen L Gibbons

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 5

Meine Gute!! Where does the time go? I was just sitting here a week ago but it felt like yesterday. Oh, hi everyone haha. So i hope Sydney's surgery went well last week! I didn't hear about it until I got her letter on Wednesday, so I prayed for something that happened the day before; however, that is the cool thing about an eternal Heavenly Father--time isn't the same to Him. I also got a postcard from Nice, France (Gma and Gpa). I didn't know they were going there! I showed Bruder Ehlen the picture of the beach and asked if he saw many Alpine lakes that were the same color (and of course he did). So, I can't even remember all the cool things that happened last week...that is why I have my journal. All my friends say that they are never going to read their journals again in their life, but maybe their kids and grandkids will someday. But I am totally going to read mine again!
Oh, I think a reason last week went so fast was because we only got to teach a couple times (or maybe that made it slower, I can't tell). But yeah, Bruder Ehlen was sick and didn't come in till Thursday I think, but he was still a little sick then, so we didn't get to teach him. So, the lesson we had prepared for Paul on Monday wasn't taught till Saturday--and on Saturday the teachers decided to do exchanges, so Elder Botcherby didn't even get to teach Paul with me. I taught with Elder Birkinsha, our district leader. It was funny, because so far my companion and I have had a hard time getting to know our investigators (like what they do and where they work) because we try to make whatever small talk we have tie into the lesson. And we aren't very good at just conversing yet. But, Elder Birkinsha didn't know Paul at all, so I got to find out about him too! It was funny, because Bruder Ehlen is very good at not breaking his role as the investigator, but when asked what his work was he did a little "time-out" and looked at me to ask if he had already shared where he worked. So I said no and we kept going. Then we talked about the importance of prayer, and Paul didn't understand how God could answer everyone's prayers. He believed that God hears them all, but he's not so sure about answers. So, naturally, he brought up Bruce Almighty! (Yeah, no surprise, huh? hahaha) Just about how Bruce hears all these prayers but just tosses them aside. Thankfully, we were able to say that God DOES answer every prayer, but maybe not in the way you want Him too. That was such a cool experience teaching with someone else, and when we finished and everyone came out, everyone was so happy and excited about how well things went!  But Bruder Ehlen was also very happy, and I think that happiness transferred into his investigator roles, because he usually never talks, but he was all smiley and talkative. Everything is so much more enjoyable and rewarding when you make yourself happy! And when the joy comes from bringing people closer to Christ (even fake investigators) then you can't even imagine how much greater it was for me! And I get to do this for 2 years! I don't want to waste that.
Last night Bruder Ehlen talked about how the mission will have the highest highs and the lowest lows of our lives. At least I know that if I do my best and have faith in Christ, I will be able to get back out of those lows. Bruder Evans shared a quote yesterday afternoon from Pres. Monson: "The future is as bright as your faith." I hope I can make my future bright, and hopefully shed some light on others' lives as well. Because this is one light that will never dim or go out, not unless we choose to turn it off. But who likes to live in the dark?
Bruder Ehlen also shared a story about a missing pen on his mission. It was a special pen, and he found it eventually, in the washer. Yeah, in his whites haha. He tried everything to get the stains out, but nothing worked. (I bet you can see where this is going, eh?) He finally found some ink remover, which did the job he had been trying to do for two weeks. Naturally, he related that to the power of the Atonement, and did it very well. It made a lot of sense, of course. We know we can't do anything without Christ.
When talking about how much easier it is to teach people when they teach themselves (the reason for inspired questions) Bruder Evans shared a story about 12 college students he taught on his mission. He went in at a college dorm and found 12 guys sitting there smoking. So they opened the door and all the students were trying to blow the smoke into the hall so they could talk. But, Bruder Evans (then Elder Evans) taught them, and one student just didn't believe anything. However, this guy's friend, sitting next to him and taking puffs from their smokes said, "No way man, this totally happened! Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ, man! It's true!" It was very comical when Bruder Evans told us the story, but it is truly much easier when people can teach themselves or their friends. There was another story about a woman that had been taught by the missionaries for a long time. When Bruder Evans went, she told them about a dream she had, with a bright tree surrounded by lots of darkness and a rod or something that led to the tree (unreal, right?!) So the elders read 1 Nephi 8 of course! It is so cool how the Lord will prepare people in numberless ways to hear your message. And you need to be absolutely focused so that you can pick up the Lord's hints. I can't remember if I shared this or not, but when talking about the Book of Mormon one night, I was talking about Mormon 9:31, where Moroni says that we are supposed to learn from their mistakes and not make them. Then Bruder Corey was talking with us and he shared something I had never thought of before: think of how hard it must have been for Nephi to engrave into a book (that the entire world would one day read) that he killed a man. Wow. That obviously was not a mistake by Nephi, because the Lord killed one wicked man so that many people could live righteously, but that was still very hard for Nephi to do.
One last cool thought, and it is one of Elder Barr's crazy analogies (well, he just shared it with us): so sometimes in life we feel that we are just going in circles, doing the same things over and over and not getting anywhere. But, that all depends on our perspective on our lives. He told us that if we look the right way, we realize that while we are going in circles, we are actually slowly making our way up a big spring. When looking down vertically on a spring, you just see the circular motion, no? But look at it from the side and then you see Heavenly Father's eternal perspective for us. Pretty cool huh?
So, we had a devotional from Sister Sheri Dew (Pres. and Chief officer of Deseret Book) and it was so great! I shook her hand afterwards! I have the notes in my journal, but I have not the time to share much now. Just know that all is well here and I am doing my best to be as happy as I was on Saturday night, because I want to feel that every day for the rest of my life. But it takes some work, for sure. I know you can all choose to be happy as well, so do it!! It's no good to allow yourself to have a bad day when you have complete control over how you want to feel! So choose wisely. It is also pretty fantastic when you make others happy as well, and forget yourself. Try it out sometime. As Sydney wrote me in her letter: Changing lives = freaking spectacular. And it is.
I love you all and you are in my prayers. Be safe and smile!
Love Elder Jalen Gibbons
P.S. for tradition's sake, soccer is as good as always ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week 4 accomplished!

Guten Morgen!
Okay, last week I was late for breakfast by about 20 minutes, and even though the lines are great towards the end, my whole district finished way before me haha. So this time I should be right on time. We tried to do laundry at our early time today and NOTHING was available! Ich haße laundry here! (the German word for hate looks cooler). So now we have to figure out some other time to sneak in there.
I got a letter from Logan yesterday! It's about time he responded to the letter I sent 6 months ago ;) haha jk Logan, it was awesome! I showed everyone the Armenian "Jesus the Christ" card he sent with it--it is a weird looking language!
So yesterday I scored a hat trick in soccer finally! But the best part was when I rainbowed it straight over Elder Guymon (my Zone leader who is really good). It was the fußball highlight of my day haha.
Brother Ehlen was sick yesterday, so we had a sub who served in Hamburg/Berlin. That means we didn't get to teach Paul :/ naja... (whatever/oh well). We learned a lot about the Berlin mission, because the Berlin half of my district was so excited to hear about their mission instead of our beautiful Alpine Mission ;) So the teacher spoke in a bunch of weird accents, like a deep and slurred Saxon, as well as the hard-sound Berliner accent. The guys in my district loved it! We learned that way up north the people start using some Skandinavian mannerisms, like saying "Ja" while they inhale. I cannot do that! I automatically breathe out when I speak haha. Elder Taylor is really good at it though. The best thing was the sub's faces that he made when saying different things. It was almost comical.
So the fireside Sunday night was Stephen B Allen again, the missionary department guy. He told us that he speaks quite often, since we just saw him two weeks ago. This time was so relaxed and fun, he just showed us all the really old Mormon Message commercials that are pretty cheesy. But he pulled the one-liners out of every one and applied it to our work as companionships and missionaries in general. I have the notes in my journal, but one of the ones I liked was "Being yourself is being great!" or "It's not who you aren't, it's who you are." Very applicable in all aspects of life. I've heard those things for many years, but it helps to reapply it every so often. This is the guy who always asks first if anyone has received a Dear John letter yet, and he makes them stand up. So Tyson probably told you already, but we got to stand up because he asked who had a sibling serving, and then if the sibling was in the MTC haha. So i turned around 3 rows and pointed at Tyson. I sat behind Sister Ehlen, Brother Ehlen's sister, and we just talked with her and her companion, Sis. Feher who is from Hungary! Sis Feher has a German boyfriend, so she knows some German, and she speaks Hungarian, and she is going to Finland! Plus she didn't know ANY English before the MTC, but she speaks it so well already! The gift of tongues is so true! After the fireside we stayed to watch the Testaments, because it is Elder Taylor's favorite movie (actually 2nd favorite, his first is Knight's Tale). He wrote down all of the great quotes and yesterday he asked Bro Evans to translate them for him haha. But, my favorite part was right at the end, when Helam (the dad) is asking his son to describe the Savior to him, because he is blind. Then Jacob is just telling him how wonderful He is, and mourning that it is his fault that his dad is blind. Then the Savior comes and pulls Jacob aside, and all he says is one word: "Helam." How the Savior said that one word showed how much He cares for each of His brothers and sisters (us). Of course, Christ healed Helam so that he could see Him, and the end of the movie is just looking at Christ's smiling face. He loves each of us more than we can comprehend. Out of all the people in the city square in the movie, Christ found his brother Helam and granted him his one lifelong wish of seeing the Savior.
Sis Feher sat in front of us during the movie, and she had a translator with her. The guy turned around and apologized for it probably being kind of annoying, but we didn't mind. Elder Botcherby told me afterward that this guy got a text from his wife (most likely) saying "come home." So he replied "Soon babe. Jesus is coming." (The movie was almost at the part where Christ appeared to the Nephites at the temple). That was funny.
Brother Evans told us last night a few traps to watch out for when we get to Germany on our first day, things that senior companions might pull on us (they hadn't happened to him, he was just making them up haha). One was not to fall for getting a Kaiserschnitt haircut! It means a C-section haha. I also learned a cool quote from a dragon off of Skyrim, of all places. (Elder Taylor's brother sent it to him; Elder Taylor and Robins turned out to be hardcore gamers, like World of Warcraft aand such haha. Reminded me of Ben!) Anyway, this wise old dragon said, "Discipline in the lesser aids in denial of the greater." Meaning, discipline in the lesser trials and tribulations of your life will aid in denial of giving into the harder ones. Look what you can learn from video games, eh? Oh I didn't have to speak in Sacrament this week! Score! It was on the Holy Ghost. But Elder Robins spoke haha. It was funny, he was looking for a scripture and couldn't find it, and he said "Was die heck!" which is a phrase that I coined!! I was so proud of his usage, and he didn't even break character up there! Only our district got it haha. Have I told you how excited I am to have the potential to learn Swiss Deutsch? It isn't a big chance, since my missions isn't specificallly Switzerland, but Bro Ehlen speaks it so well and it is like singing a song while talking! It is totally different then the High German they teach us here. I really hope I get a chance to learn some of it.
Anyway, to end with a quote by Pres. Thomas S. Monson: "There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. Are we doing all we should?" I am trying to do everything I possibly can, but I know it's not enough. None of us can measure up to our full potential without Christ, so seek to go about your business with Him always by your side. Be safe and always smile! I love you all!
Elder Jalen L Gibbons

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

P-Tag 3

This has been a pretty crazy week! At least I think it has, because everything seems like it has just melted together. It happened yesterday, just like always I guess (since we decided everything happened yesterday). So the "older" districts are leaving this morning. It is so crazy how we have come to love and respect them so much, and we have only known them for 2 1/2 weeks. I guess our intense games of soccer helped out a lot haha. We were down on their floor last night taking pictures and such, and giving hugs. By the time I got back to my room it was already 10:25, and I had five minutes (according to the rules) to get everything done. I didn't get to write in my journal, so I have to do that today. I also have quite a few letters to write, so pdays never really seem free to me haha. So my roommates talked til past midnight last night! Once again, I was trying to sleep, but I can't do that well when the guy on the bottom bunk talks so loud and laughs every five seconds. So I am really tired, once again, and we had to get my companion to get out of bed a couple minutes after 6:30. Fun times I guess. Elder Robins and I are the only ones in our room who do laundry every week, so we went straight there in the morning and then came here to write emails. We aren't supposed to do it til 10:35 but that is way too crazy.
So Elder Botcherby and I have taught Andreas (Bro. Evans) 3 times I think, and we got him to read the Book of Mormon and pray for us. We have taught Paul (Bother Ehlen) about three times as well I think. They have all gone well enough. Elder Botcherby kinda froze up when talking about Jospeh Smith and the Restoration yesterday, and he was mad at himself after that. I did my best to help him out, and hopefully the things I said worked. Teaching is so fun haha.
So the fireside on Sunday was Bro Doty and his wife, and they are serving in Salt Lake in the Missionary Department or something. Sis Doty talked to us about prayer, and listed off ten things that someone told her about the advantages of prayer (compared to cell phone coverage and data plans and such). It was very good. Then her husband talked about the many healing miracles of Jesus Christ. We stayed after and watched the new Jospeh Smith movie, and I sat next to Tyson haha. Twas fun. The other day at dinner I saw Tyson get up from his chair to get something, so I ran over there and took my glasses off and slipped in to his seat. Elder Johnson noticed obviously, but the rest of his district had no idea it wasn't him haha. Then when Tyson came back he looked kinda confused, and his district finally realized it was not him sitting there. And then my district, who were a couple tables away started saying, "Oh wow, there are two of them!! That's crazy!" Of course they all know, but they try to get other people to notice.
I am so excited for Chris to come in! Tyson and I talked to Alex on Sunday and Alex said he had a couple missionaries coming into his zone that were going to Carlsbad California (but English Speaking). So I told him Chris was Spanish speaking, and Alex obviously didn't even remember that lol. So we have no idea where he will end up. Alex has been here for 2 weeks now I think, so he is going to be in Florida in no time! I was thinking last night about how nervous/excited I will be on the night before we fly to Germany. All the older guys leaving today were so happy and excited. We don't get the new German elders for another 3 weeks, so we will be all alone for a while. But we want the newbies to feel the same way about us as we did in 3 weeks about these other guys.
So I feel like I have typed nothing, and I only have 9 minutes left! I hate this whole timing system. I can't remember all the questions people ask me, so I promise I will do my best to answer those in personal letters. Sorry for not writing you individually Nathan, I will do that today. Kate too. I am just trying to think of all the cool things that happened this week (which is really hard to do when every day is combined with the one before).
Soccer at gym time isn't the same, without all the other German-bound elders. We have a few consistent elders who come play with us, but our district basically dominates, even if we are split onto different teams. Elder Pack, the one we were worried about because he hadn't got any mail the first few days, is a big hustler on the field! He touches the ball more than anyone else. Yesterday he got a cross and kicked it out of the air, straight to the far post and into the top corner. He has found a good skill I guess, always working hard on the field.
So the other day my former district leader Elder Taylor was telling us about a few competitions he and his friends had come up with: Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon vs. Cap. Kirk and the Enterprise; Luke Skywalker vs. Blastoise (a pokemon); A jedi vs. a ghost type pokemon (since they cant be hurt by physical attacks); and the best one, that my district argued about for almost an hour, was an Earth-bender vs. an Air-bender ( from the Avatar show). They got way into it! It was really funny to here them all geek out about their opinions, drawing pictures on the board and stuff lol. But then Elder Hansen blew up on Elder Janis, because Janis was being pretty straightforward in saying an air bender would win. Thankfully I was out in the hallway when that happened, but I could feel the tension oozing out of the room. Elder Janis has never done anything to Hansen, and that is the problem. We are trying to work things out. Thankfully everyone seems to like me and I do my best to talk to any of them when they need to talk, so I have not made any "enemies" haha. I plan to keep it that way. Oh, my favorite quote of the week: "Earth-bending to dubstep would be the sickest!!" haha sorry mom and dad, you will just have to ask a teenager about dubstep I suppose.
Anyway, I am out of time. The learning/teaching is still going well, and I love progressing in my meager German skills. I love being here and look forward to continue in this same schedule for the next 6 weeks haha.
I love you all, and hope you are all safe and happy. If you are not happy, then make it happen! haha. Life is too good to spend your time in anger. Love you!
Elder Jalen L. Gibbons
P.S. Hello ladies at work! Miss you :)