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 ;)