Monday, July 30, 2012

Hallo liebe Familie und Freunde


Wow it has been a crazy week! last night i wrote a list of the things i needed to tell you about. and yeah, i gave up on the shift key, so bear with my terrible capitilization. anyway, ahh i hate that word (the y's and z's are switched on the keyboards there), we went shopping for groceries last week and i got nimm2´s (a candy kind of like starbursts crossed with fruit gushers that our family loves)! just as good as i remembered. i also bought myself a soccer ball, and i had some time one of the days last week to go outside for a little bit. i still got over 100 juggles at least three times, so i didn´t feel too bad haha. good old soccer stories like the MTC! Also, i found some cologne in our mirror cabinet that no one uses, and i am keeping it because it is Lamborghini!!! If it smelled horrible i would still keep it because it has the Lamborghini emblem. But it actually smells really good. I don't plan to use it as a missionary, but i will bring it home with me for sure. So, dad, i have bought two things with my credit card: a cheaper swatch for 50 euro and then i had to pay for my VISA with the card too. so that 100 euro for the VISA should be reimbursed. i have the receipt.

So last pday we walked around a lot and went inside one of the churches. they were working on the organ, tuning it, and it sounded horrible haha. But it was a beautiful church, in the eerie old-century-Catholic-cathedral-way. We also got contacted by a drunk guy--always a good time... not really. I can understand a lot more, but still not much. Elder Eaker is great and just takes over in rough situations. He speaks well, and can understand the Käntnerisch accent.

So the Casselas, the Monday/friday family comes from Italy (might have already said that..) but we had pasta with them and it was fantastic! The father´s parents were there and they don't speak german. so we had german Italian and english going around, and everyone was confused haha. His parents aren't members, but they are okay with his church membership. However, the wife´s parents are against her baptism, but i learned something cool about her. She asked the missionaries when she could be baptized, not the missionaries asking her. So she is doing it, and we are helping her. Pretty cool. We also heard Daniela´s story (the father) about his life without faith and then with faith. it was a great strength to me to see his change, to hear how much he loved the Savior. The Savior changes people's lives, and I am a personal witness. The family was happy that I knew Diadora haha (my cleats) and Danielas father´s favorite team is Inter!! Score times 2!

We had a fun time trying to get registered, and we walked all the way across town to find the building and see it was closed at noon. So we went back and figured everything out, and my VISA is done in two weeks. We had an exchange on Tuesday with our zone leaders from salzburg. We found so many cool potentials!! We are trying to contact them still and meet with them, but some were just totally prepared! My companion went to Villach (west of Klagenfurt) and they found a family from Armenia! So when i bring logan back here he can talk to them maybe! We then did a long service project at a ward family´s house. Took 3 hours moving stuff from one house to another. They come from Moldova and speak russian, english, german, and Moldovian. Pretty cool. We also had a moth invasion in our kitchen! So we had fun with that, and also de icing our freezer... good times. Elder Eaker got 3 letters in 3 days last week! Two from a girl who totally likes him, and he was very pleasantly surprised haha. I was happy for him. Oh, i also showed federica where i live, and where tyson is serving in argentina, and just some other cool places I have been--she had a geography map book. So we have a room called the Room of Requirement in our apartment, i may have mentioned it. but i went thru and found tons of stuff. i found a Sternfahrer von Catan game (star travelers from catan). so i thought of our family gametimes. But apparently it is different. I also currently have transformer sheets on my bed, which are really cool haha.

Church was so great yesterday, and my talk went well i think. But i learned so much that really brightened my day. Then after church a huge storm came out of nowhere and we were stuck inside. We talked about how awesome it was to be on missions and about our families and such. We also talked about the Atonement and the Miracle of Forgiveness, and Elder Eaker said something i loved: It´s not about why you come on your mission; it is about why you stay. So i will have that in my brain a lot. I stay because I know that Christ can heal us, and that all our fears and guilt and sadness can be swept away. I have experienced it myself, and I want others to do so too. Also, when listening to my iPod this morning, i heard Homeward Bound. And the line that stood out to me was "Set me free to find my calling, and I will be homeward bound in time." So thinking about my family and friends and what my calling is, what it can be, what i will learn, i was sincerely touched. I send you all my love, and my testimony that I know Christ lives. He has changed my life, healed my wounds, swept away my fear, and I am ever in His debt. Always be happy, never stop smiling, and find the miracles in your life. They are there. I love you!

Elder Jalen L Gibbons

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hallo Austria!

Servus! (sehr-voos)

Well, our plane rides were actually not too bad, but of course i couldn't sleep much. Ah, it is really weird typing on a Deutscher computer. The shift button on the left is super small and I keep missing it. tut mir leid. Anyway, (wow I am not going to type that word again. The y and z are switched and it is hard to reach) Klagenfurt is so cool! Oh, München was cool too, but what I saw was not anything I saw two years ago, as far as I remember. We just walked from the airport to the S bahn station (which was actually right under the airport) and then rode to the stop where we got off and walked to the mission office building. Of course, we had some BoMs to give away on the train, but I failed :(... haha I did talk to a nice older woman the first time, with Elder Hansen. But then Elder Hansen was feeling really sick like he might throw up, so we went to talk to the APs. Elder Carter was talking (with Elder Botcherby) to a Korean woman. The woman did like massage therapy on Elder Hansen's hands and back and neck and then got some water out of a bottle and blessed him in the name of Jesus Christ. It was a cool and funny experience. We got to the mission office and of course everyone was just so tired! We were allowed to stand up to stay awake if we ever needed to, so people did during the presentation by President and Sister Miles. The funniest thing was Elder George, who managed to fall asleep while standing! I looked around at everyone headbobbing and such and I couldn't stop myself from laughing haha. I have been there before (jetlag), and it was nice to see some other people going thru it as well. We did some roll plays and then walked to the Mission Home for dinner which was spetzel or something like that. It was good, with hamburger sauce on top. Just a noodley thing. We had a meeting together with all the trainers, and each trainer stood up and said something about their area and about an investigator. Then when they were done, Pres Miles said Elder .... You are working with this trainer! So everyone got up and hugged their trainer and then sat with them. The first one to go was the trainer in Bern Switzerland, and the newbie who went there was a German elder from Hamburg. Yeah, he already speaks German. And we have heard that maybe Switzerland will open up next year. We shall see.

OKay, church was great yesterday, and I got to introduce myself. A lady came up afterwards and said "I need to make sure, did you say that you had 9 months of German training?" so i said, "no it was 9 weeks." She was amazed and said I probably spoke better than her. Which I denied, but thanked her anyway. My problem is comprehending what people say haha. It is getting better.

We have walked about 8 hours nonstop in the last two days. Just ringing on doors and talking with those who pass by. We actually got kicked out of a building by some old lady who had no authority to do so. That was exciting haha. We have been eating aókay too, and today we are going to buy more groceries.

So we have a family that we teach every Monday and Friday. The father is already baptized, and the wife is getting baptized for sure on August 18th. So we go and teach them, and then they always feed us. On Friday they fed us some presswurst, which was carrots and ham and other things all in gelatin. Yeah...interesting. And then she had good rolls in the oven to warm them, and when I asked if there were more rolls she needed to take out, she thought I pointed to the presswurst, so she gave it to me again and I took more.... But it was good. Their two kids were so fun. So we go back there tonight and teach again.

Well, everything is going great! My trainer is awesome and I have a lot that I can learn from him. I haven't been talking much in appointments and such or on the street just because I can't understand much haha. But I am working on it.

Oh, I think maybe Sis. Miles sent you my address, but just in case: Maria-Platzer 2/1 Klagenfurt 9020 Austria. However, there might be some more numbers, so I will make sure to get it right next time. Thanks for all your prayers, and you are all always in mine. Be safe and never stop smiling! :)

Love you all,
Elder Jalen L Gibbons

PS I did not get my SD card yet. But I will let you know.

PPS I had my first donner and fanta last week!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Elder Gibbons has arrived in Munich, Germany!

Elder Gibbons is headed to Klagenfurt, Austria for his first assignment.
He looks pretty happy about it!

With President and Sister Miles

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ach du meine Gute!!!! (oh my goodness)

Hallo!! Guten Morgen.

Okay, first off, I have a box that I will be leaving with mine and Tyson's temple clothes and a bunch of Tyson's letters. So, Mom and Dad, you need to get ahold of grandma and Grandpa soon, because I will be leaving that today.

I woke up at 5:30 to help Tyson get his stuff down to the travel office. Haha he woke up at about 5:30 too!! His alarms (or apparently the alarms of his roommates) didn't go off. So an exciting morning! We said goodbye and then he went to the bus. It wasn't too hard this morning, but last night when thinking about it, while we were singing "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" no less, it was a weird feeling. But, all is well, and he is still in the US for now haha. His mail won't take too long.

Next up: Travel Plans. So, we have to be at the office at 8 am tomorrow. Flight from SLC to Amsterdam is Delta Flight 232 (11:15am Tuesday, arrive 8:15 Wed). Flight from Amsterdam to Munich is Delta flight 9564 (departs 9:30am Wed and arrives 10:55am Wed). They charge $75 as I believe I said, and I will just pay that with my debit card and keep the receipt. Elder Botcherby has a phone card for me, since his mom sent him about 4 haha. I can call in SLC I'm sure. Wow, I just had major deja vu...have I written this exact thing before? I don't know anymore haha. Yeah, we are Delta the whole way. And I am basically all packed, except for the stuff I use today. I am doing laundry right now.

Okay, thanks for all the emails! I can't print them out right now, because I am in the laundry room this morning. But I think I could later if I need to. Or perhaps you guys just print them out and put them in a scrap book. I don't know how you do it.

That is so exciting for Jacci and Chad!!! Hallie/Hally is a great name. I am glad that she could be born amid these hard times. I am so excited for them!

Last night, our fireside was Jenny Oaks Baker!! It was very cool and interesting. Elder Barr loved it of course. There was a part when she was playing "I Know that my Redeemer lives" (my favorite Hymn!) and she was playing like two parts at once! It was a single-person duet.

Mom, I got your last letter, and was glad that Brad's funeral went well. I hope the Lord is always comforting them. I pray for them daily.

Dad, we have actually talked a lot about working with members (as I probably mentioned before). But Bruder Ehlen actually told us to be the first ones to bear testimony on fast Sundays. He was promised while he was there, that if he and his companion went up first and bore testimony about missionary work, the rest of the meeting, all the other testimonies, would be about missionary work. And he said it worked every single time. Bruder Ehlen was really good at working with members, and I hope I can be too. We will probably get to introduce ourselves next Sunday, in some random German ward. That is weird to think about haha.

So, I got to speak yesterday! It was on the Atonement, and the meetings before sacrament went long. Therefore, I had 5 minutes to prepare. The one time haha. But I think it went good. I didn't even say all the things I wanted to, but I felt as though I was talking for too long, so I ended. Always be prepared!!!

I have a few letters to write before I take off tomorrow. So Ben, Sis. Eagley, Allie, and whoever else is expecting a reply will get one later this week. But I won't be here anymore haha. How exciting. I hope all is going well for you guys! All my friends and family. You are always in my prayers, and I appreciate your support.

Well, I have a lot to do today. And I will be sitting for a long time tomorrow... I am excited to talk to people and be fed on the plane! I do love the Delta biscoff cookies ;) But I am going to Europe, and will be there for the next 22 months. How lucky I am, and I can't wait to serve those in my mission. I don't know where I will be headed, but when I see that first person on the street who I know I have to talk to, I will think of your support and love and then try to bring this person happiness they have been lacking. I love you all so much! Tyson will be great in New Mexico too. Be happy always, and when anything is holding you back, change it now. Never stop smiling :)

I love you--Elder Jalen Lawrence Gibbons

Sunday, July 15, 2012

MTC photos

Elder Gibbons got an MTC companion as goofy as he is!
Elder Gibbons smelling the famous MTC "cream soda" tree
(It's true--we researched it and found out that old Ponderosa Pines
give off a cream soda/butterscotch/vanilla smell--who knew?!)
Elder Gibbons' MTC district
Three MH Fourth Ward Elders:
Gibbons, Hall, and Gibbons
The Three Amigos, going their separate ways for the first time
since 3rd grade! (Elders Chris Hall, Tyson Gibbons, and Jalen Gibbons)

Two Elder Gibbonses getting ready to say goodbye (for the first time
in their lives!) at the MTC

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One Week Left!

Hallo Everyone!

Okay, so it is crazy to think that in one week I will be flying to Germany! And here are the Plans: 11:15 flight out of Salt Lake, and straight to Amsterdam, Netherlands!!!!! Meine Gute that is such a long flight! We don't arrive in Amsterdam until 8:15 Wednesday morning. Then we have the flight to Munich at 9:30 I think. So not much time there. But yeah, I am so excited! But not to be sitting on a plane for that long. This week is going to be totally crazy with packing and orientation on Friday, and I think we were going to start packing a few things later today. I just noticed that I am really good at capitalizing like every other word, at least the nouns. But that is German, not english. Sorry for my mistakes.

Okay, I can't remember if I ever told you, but 3 weeks ago my watch broke. The 3 hour marker fell out and would wedge in my second hand, so my time kept stopping. Then I tried to change the time once, and the knob just fell off! So, I have been going off the few clocks around here for 3 weeks (but I am used to it. I am always busy doing something anyway). It was a good watch, but rather useless now. So, I figured I could just wait for Germany and get something, or you could send me one this week. How about I will just wait unless you send me one this week. And if you don't, just let me know in my next email (which will be Monday) that I should just buy one there. It doesn't have to be a really nice one. I even thought that a cool Adidas one like nathan's would be pretty cool. Just something that keeps time haha. And if it has an alarm, even better. So, that is your choice. Oh, really quick, I already sent you guys my letter for the week, but I also wrote Logan Olaso a letter. Will you make sure to give that to him? Thanks! I am so excited for Stephen and Ossie! they are going to do great!

Okay, we had a sub for Bruder Evans on Saturday, and he spoke English since he only knew Italian. He told us that Italian is a very feminine language, and he thinks that German is probably one of the mannliest. But we talked about a lot of good things. The coolest thing he did was to draw us a diagram. A timeline with 24 sections. It represented our day, but also our mission. 1 hour of any activity during the day, he said, will turn into a month in the field. Therefore, we must NOT waste our time. It also showed that compared to all the day's activities, the actual missionary work (while being most important) is a small portion, about 1/4 of this timeline. But everything we do before the actual work is necessary to make the work part effective. So that was really cool.

Oh, all the Independence day stuff was great!! I played soccer in the morning and got elbowed in the eye by some guy who doesn't play soccer, so my eye was appropriately red, white and blue for the weekend. I hope it didn't make the missionaries I hosted on Thursday uncomfotable. I thought it was pretty fun though. Anyway, we had another fireside thing, where they did a flag ceremony and a Judge talked to us about how important it was to have this country in order to exercise our own freedom of religion. He said something cool that I wrote down, which he got from some church sign somewhere in the world. "The best reason to do right today is tomorrow." How true! I like quotes haha. Then we were told not to return to the residence until the fireworks were done, which means we went to bed at 11:30. But I finally found a decent spot to see, and I even found Tyson and Chris somehow. They were wondering what their girlfriends were doing haha but I just wondered what all my friends and family were doing. It was weird, but leaving in a week makes me even more proud of this country. I don't get to do that again for a while.

I have learned so much from Bruder Ehlen and Bruder Evans here. Yesterday was really good too. Bruder Evans talked to us for awhile about door to door, and what struck me most was that "Every single person you meet when going door to door deserves your very best effort." It is a message that will change their lives forever and bring lasting happiness, so why wouldn't we? No excuses. He also said that "the fire that is in your hearts the first day in the field never has to go away!" It is important to have that love for all the men and women we meet, and do our best to help them and bring them happiness. We taught Paul (Ehlen) last night, and it went so well! We talked about a few of the commandments, and related them back to his will to be obedient and be baptized and whatnot. He was really into it, and he just kept smiling at us. I felt like it was an awesome lesson, and we even hugged Paul afterward! Haha but that was our last time teaching Bruder Ehlen :( sad. We have two times with Evans this week tho. That should be good. I can't wait for Monday evening, when our teachers show us their pictures and tell stories and talk about the culture and stuff. It is going to be a quick week.

Well, I have hardly any time left. I didn't even get to read all of the emails, but I printed them out. I am very sad to hear about Bro. Christiansen though :( I never knew him much either, but I knew he was a good man, and he will be missed. What a comfort it is to know that we will live again, and one day their family will be together for eternity, and be truly happy. We are ever indebted to Jesus Christ, yet He is so patient with us in everything. He understands us, He knows us, and He will wait as long as it takes for us to come unto Him. I do my best everyday to have Him by my side, to keep Him in my mind. And I have been so blessed because of it.

I love you all! And hello to all the newly-added email recipients! I believe Dr. Lingel, Noyces, Shawna and Allie, Tiffany, and Sis. Jensen. Hope life is going great! If you don't think so, then make it happen :) The Lord loves you and He can do more with your life than you ever could alone. Don't squander your eternal potential. Keep growing daily.

 Elder Jalen L. Gibbons

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2 Weeks Left!

Hallo Familie! (und Freunde)

Well, I really can't think of anything much cooler than seeing 10 of the 12 Apostles at our Devotional last week! You seem to have heard a lot about it, so I will refrain from droning on about it more. It was rather uncomfortable camping outside the doors for 4 hours, but it was worth it in the end. Kind of like life, huh? If we do what is right, the end goal is more than worth it. But, we will go through many uncomfortable and trying times. How blessed we are to have so much help at our convenience!

So last Saturday we taught Bruder Evans (Andreas) and I was just so out of it. I didn't prepare as much as I would have liked to, and when I got in there I couldn't finish a single thought. I would say something simple and then stare at the floor because I couldn't figure out what to say, so I would just say "Ja..." and then thankfully my companion took over for me. I had maybe three good thoughts in there, in a half hour. So, it was NOT a good experience for me. I came out feeling rather down, because our lesson the day before with Floyd und Friedrich (Janis and Robins) didn't go well either (but that is because Elders Botcherby and Robins started laughing and then the situation went downhill). That morning was just not a good start, and my German was killing me! However, I decided sometime after that that I would just learn from it, that I hadn't prepared nearly enough and that we hadn't really gone through the lesson together in our companionship, so we made goals to not do that again. The second half of the day I was much happier, and people actually noticed it! I figured that I might not have been myself for a couple days, just because of my lack of success. But being happy is much more rewarding, and everything is that much better! So make the choice every day that you will learn from mistakes and do your best to think about others instead of yourself.

Okay, there was my not so fantastic weekend, but last night we got to teach bruder Ehlen (Paul). And it was awesome! We actually prepared, yes, but when we got in there we just talked with Paul, really got to know him. The whole day we had actually heard (from Bruder Evans and Bruder Ehlen) that it is important to teach people, not lessons. (That was the fundamental we were working on.) And I was sitting there and I realized that I had been focusing too much on going in to our investigators and trying to push through the concepts I had down on my paper. I mean, we have had a couple appointments that went really well and we just had a cool spiritual discussion, but I wanted to make it like that as much as possible. While thinking about all these concepts, I also realized that I want to be the missionary, the elder, that all the investigators are comfortable speaking with. I pictured myself meeting with a real investigator and just having a good time, being able to laugh with them, having them trust me enough to tell me about themselves, and just being there to listen AND most importantly, apply some gospel principle or doctrine that could really help them in their life. That was my vision for myself, and that is what I am working on. They don't care how much I know until they know how much I care. I have always prefered listening over talking, and I should be listening to the investigator as well as the Spirit. I will have to talk about the important things of course, but as Elder Holland said, we need to listen! He promised that no matter what the investigator says, if you are listening and following the Spirit, you will find some point that you can highlight and relate to the gospel. So there is my goal! Anyway, we went in to meet with Paul and we answered a question he had had last time about where we go after death. So we read Alma 40:11-12, talking about all spirits returning to live with God, and then how the righteous spirits are received into a state of happiness and joy. So we asked him if he had a desire to be one of these righteous spirits, and he said yes. So we told him how we have been given so many things like the scriptures, prayer, prophets, our parents, all these things have been given us to help us choose the right. I read Mormon 9:31, which says that we are supposed to learn from the mistakes of the Nephites and people of the Book of Mormon, and not make them ourselves. Then we told him an analogy about how our mothers told us not to touch the stove because it was hot. But what did we do? We touched it and burned our hand, learning it through experience. However, if we listen to the words of the scriptures, the words of our parents, the examples (good or bad) of our friends and family, we don't have to make the same mistakes ourselves. So that made sense to him. Then, as planned, we wanted to get to know him more. He was a referal from Salt Lake, where he had visited and put in a requesrt for a Book of Mormon. So we asked him why he went to Salt Lake, and also why he kept inviting us back. We asked what it was that he wanted from us. And he really opened up! He had been trying to change his life, because he had had some unpleasant experiences and realized that he didn't want to be that person anymore. His church wasn't helping him, but he heard about ours and decided that we helped more. Oh, before I continue, we asked him about baptism the last appointment, but he hadn't decided yet. So, last night we talked about how baptism and repentance could give him a new beginning, a new life, to forget about all past mistakes and get a clean slate. And he loved that! We set a date for a month (yes, it won't really happen anyway) and he is commited to getting baptized! Elder Botcherby and I couldn't stop smiling haha and we kept telling him how blessed he would be and how excited we were that he could change his life. Paul really believes that Christ can change his life and make him better, and he wants Christ by his side, as well as the Holy Ghost there to guide him. I am so happy that we could bring him to this point! I was really trying to see Paul as an investigator, not as my teacher, and I think it actually worked. When Paul was telling us his story, I was actually so sad for him. I can't empathize with him, but I could bring him to Someone that did understand him. "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?" (D+C 128:22 I think). I am so grateful for this opportunity, and if I have learned anything in the last few days, it is that the best experiences come after the hardest lows. Rememeber that!

I love you all!

Elder Jalen Gibbons

PS we hosted and it was a lot of fun, and we get to do it again this week, but on Thursday since Wednesday is July 4th. I am excited!

PPS yes we have a fireside thing on July 4th, and Elder Barr is actually playing the fiddle in it! We have heard we get to watch the fireworks too! and yesterday we heard jets flying over. It has been a long time since i heard that. Almost like home ;)