Monday, August 27, 2012


Grüezi liebe Familie und Freunde!
Hey Mom, so you keep asking about emails and stuff and I always forget (like Tyson's emails and whatnot), so I just have to say that I never have enough time to read them all haha. It was much better when you sent them to me in the mail. Tyson did just send an email to me that I got today, and it was shorter, but yeah, I am always rushed on time when I do this. So I emailed him back already, but I still have you guys and president, with about 30 minutes. So wie so (anyway) do you print off all of our emails (the ones you send and then mine)? That would be awesome to have in a scrapbook or something. But yeah, I love my emails and have no way to print them off :( so I read them about once and then forget about all the cool stuff. So, could you do that, if you haven't already? Danke sehr.
So, this week was a tough one. We got Federica´s confirmation yesterday in church, and then NOTHING! Not a single lesson, not a single investigator, we didn't even give out a Book of Mormon! Elder Eaker was not happy. At all. But it was mostly with himself, thankfully not me. You know what, I feel okay. I know I can work harder and do better, and I know that the Lord will bless us for making ourselves better each day. I look at this as a friendly reminder to try harder everyday, to push myself until I am comfortable being uncomfortable. And that is what I plan on doing. We really worked hard this week too! We visited every single person that we found on our ward Mission Saturday, and we went by on tons of formers, less actives and potentials. But we just had a rough week, not much success out of it, except for an appointment this week. So, it is much like life anyway! We hit those patches, but with more meaningful scripture study, more heartfelt prayer, and deeper commitment to serve others and forget yourself, anyone will be blessed with strength to overcome. It works for missionaries, and it will work for you.
I am very glad that I sounded so excited last week haha. Once again, I can't print things off so now I can't remember what I talked about. I think if I had them all in a scrapbook like I said earlier, I could go back and read them someday and remember exactly how I felt that day, or that week. Mensch, I am grateful that my memory is blessed enough to remember things well. Haha, speaking of that, I can go somewhere for the first time in Klagenfurt and then remember how to get there any other time after, but Elder Eaker gets all confused with directions and then doubts me (until I prove him right ;) ) That is always fun.
Thanks for all the pictures from the reunion! I was so excited to get my shirt and complete (almost) my photo album. I still have two slots left for anything. But, that made my day to get mail.
I got my VISA last week. That was really exciting as well! Of course my picture looks like I am a serial killer, but at least I am an officially VISA-ed one ;)
 Oh mensch, transfers! I am staying here with Elder Eaker, but Graz is actually losing the Elders and getting two sisters! Then another area by Graz that was closed is opening again with an elder and whoever he is training! I hope it is someone I know from the MTC. That would be so cool to have someone I know from there in my district. So I am pretty stoked!
This last week I really started speaking more German. I realized that I spoke too much English, and that didn't really show the love that I have for German. It started slow and rough, but now it is much more natural. And I can really understand better too! So that was a highlight of our otherwise unsuccessful (in my companion´s eyes) week. No big worries here, personally.
Well, I gave my second-ever blessing this last week. But it was in English again haha. It was for Sister Hall, who hadn't been feeling well. But mensch, that was still freaky! Came out of nowhere and of course my mind just blanked. But thankfully I don't have to rely on myself, and that was about the only comfort I got haha. Twas enough, nonetheless.
 We fixed my companion´s bike finally! So we have been riding around more again, including yesterday in the rain, the result of which was getting soaked (even tho I thought that the coat I had on, from the apartment, was waterproof; proved otherwise). That was really fun. It only makes my wife prettier, geh? (geh means "right?"). ;) (There's a missionary tradition that says the more you tract in bad weather, the more beautiful your wife will be!)
So last night we stopped by the Halls and they made us come in, and then they made us let them feed us, and then wouldn't let us say otherwise! They turned on the MoTab´s pioneer day special, which featured Katherine Jenkins from Wales. Mensch, it was so good! And I realized, again, that I am more sensitive to the Spirit through music and videos, and especially the two together! I also sing a lot when riding my bike around and stuff, cuz everything is so much more fun to sing auf Deustch haha. Then it reminded me of Mom and Kate chastising me because I wouldn't sing in the car with Kacy haha. Sorry Kacy... :)
Well, this email seems really scatterbrained and short to me, and I don't like it! I always try to have some main spiritual thought, since it is my call to help lift others up! I don't know if you ever get much out of it or not, but I can try nonetheless. (I've used that word twice today--not bad). I was glad to see Kody is excited about them (Jalen's and Tyson's mission emails) haha. And yes, tell me as soon as you know where Logan is going!!!!!!! Meine Gute ich bin so begeistert!!! (My goodness I'm so excited!) And Kody as well, whenever he knows.
So, a couple quotes to end ( I really love quotes).
First, the Great Paradox of Man: Man is nothing compared to God, yet we mean EVERYTHING to Him. Mensch, think about that one for awhile. God loves us so much, but we know that it is because He wants us to become like Him. So, live up to your potential, eh?
Second: Ein Gramm gutes Beispiel gilt mehr als ein Zentner Worte. ( one gram of good example is worth more than one hundred kilograms of words). Always set a good example, but also try and keep your words thoughtful and meaningful. I read in the Bible today that fools utter everything on their minds. So, be wise, what can I say more?
I love you all, and am immer dankbar für eure Unterstützung (forever grateful for your support). Remember your potential as children of a loving Heavenly Father. Always be good and never stop smiling :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hallo! (tut mir Leid daß es spät ist)

Hallo wieder Familie und Freunde!

So we were late to do emails today because we actually went hiking! The Supersberger family from our ward invited us in church yesterday. We hiked Dobratsch in Villach, and it was so freaking beautiful! Utah doesn't have anything on the Alps! I took about 88 pictures of the hike: mountains all around, flowers, with the people we hiked with. It was fantastic. I am a little burned, but I did put sun screen on! I just missed some spots. Could be much worse. Anyway, I tried to get really creative with my pictures, see how much of a photographer I am, and I got a couple of real cool pictures of flowers. (Yeah yeah, I am sure someone is making fun of me by now) But my favorites were these cool purple flowers, shaped like bells. So, since I am not exactly sure how to send pictures home, I guess everyone will just have to wait ;) sorry. You could no doubt look the mountain up, there were lots of people hiking. There was a church at the top, a pilgrim church, where every year a group hikes all the way up the mountain to the church. And it is 2167 meters! So twice as high as Mountain Home, if my calculations are correct. (Mensch, that just made me think of Magic School Bus, the blond girl whose name I can't remember!) So we got back to the Supersberger house and had really good food, then the grandma made me finish off the chocolate ice cream. And it was CHOCOLATE! Good stuff. I guess I should explain the family a bit. Bruder Trippel is the grandpa, and he is married to Sister Supersberger. But then her son, Bruder Supersberger, has his wife and three kids in the same house. We hiked with two of his kids and his wife, along with one of Bruder Trippel´s sons. It was really fun. So that was our day today! Finally did something picture-worthy for Pday.

So, to clear something up for Vater (Dad): when I juggle I do have my companion with me haha. I don't just go outside without him, I promise. I was told at In-field orientation in the MTC by Pres. Brown that the two biggest reasons that missionaries get sent home from the field are 1) leaving their companions; and 2) inappropriate opposite-sex relationships. Trust me, I am not going to break either of those. Or any rule, for that matter. Pres. Miles is big on being obedient und dadurch (um... that means something like "and through that;" some things are so much easier and simpler auf Deutsch!) being happy. I made a commitment in my first interview that I would be 100% obedient. I won't break my commitment to him, or to myself. But I have also made a commitment to the Lord, just by wearing this nametag. I am not breaking that either. So, no worries.

Elder Pack from my MTC district sent me an email today! Man, I got my district so into soccer that he bought himself a brand new Germany jersey! I am so proud of him :´) haha. Speaking of soccer, we finally played this week! Twice. On Pday and then for Frühsport Thursday morning. And everyone I have played with now enjoys playing soccer! Elder Eaker even pulled some Nike Tiempo Classics out of his closet that he found, and polished them up (literally haha). He is a big fan now, and he is taking one of the soccer balls we found in the keller with him throughout his mission (and his new cleats). I am rather content now. I am not completely incompetent with a ball yet, so that is comforting.

FEDERICA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!! Mensch, her smile when she came up out of the water hit the roof! The same with her husband, who baptized her. It was also the first time I have seen anyone kiss in the baptismal font... haha. It was so great, and then afterwards she gave her testimony in Italian and her husband translated. Plus, their 8 year old son Marco said that he wants to be baptized next month on his birthday, instead of waiting like they planned. So now we have a whole new officially-members family in our ward. And we had a potluck afterwards with everyone. We have potlucks a lot actually. I am not complaining!

Guess who we met at Sacrament meeting gestern? (Yesterday, but gestern is easier to type.) A new couple from Spokane, Washington. The husband is playing hockey in Villach, and has a two year contract there! And the wife was born in Twin Falls!! So we discussed our Idahoan roots. Her family´s name is McGinley (or something like that) and also Walker (extended family probably). But yeah, the wife is the member and her husband is not. BUT he has met with missionaries and is reading the Book of Mormon. It was hilarious, when we asked who they were, the wife said "I am the actual member. HE isn't yet." And then she gave my companion and me a very expectant look haha. So, we look forward to visiting them when we can! Plus, she cuts hair... But her husband was so cool, and he really seems to plan on being a member, but I look forward to helping him in any way I can. Who wouldn´t want to be baptized in Österreich?? We also want to tell him to decide to be baptized in a lake or river.... but we shall see haha. They will be here for a long time tho, so we decided to try and teach them German, because they don't know any. And they loved that idea.

Oh, we had my first Zone Conference this last Thursday! It was so awesome! It was fun to be with the AP´s again, I love Elder Carter. And also my great Grandpa Elder Sanderson, the new AP. (Elder Sanderson trained Elder Eaker´s trainer, or "father" as missionaries call it.) Oh, Elder Harris, one of the ZL´s bought an entire Lederhosen outfit! Shoes, socks, suspenders, shirt, and all for 200 euro! That is so cool. That is definitely on my list for things to buy. I figured I could totally pull it off with blonde hair and blue eyes, and hopefully the german accent I will have in two years. The cousins would love it, oder? But the conference was great, and Elder Orchard and I got to bear our testimonies. I also got to talk to him a lot on the way to the train station. It was really good to talk to someone as "young" as I. We are good friends from the MTC anyway.

Well, I had no preparation for this email, so I am trying to think of some cool quote I have heard... I will get back to that. So, I am officially starting fresh with no investigators! We have ones we have met before but we can never get ahold of them. When we do, though, we are going to figure out if they are serious or not. But, it is a little intimidating, having to find someone brand new, who we don´t know. But I am also very excited to see someone all the way through their conversion process, to be there for someone when they change their lives and try to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I taught Federica, yes, but she was already prepared to be baptized before I got here. Therefore, I have a lot of work to do, and I look forward to it. And to finish, I want to share something that I have been thinking about in the last few days. I have started the Book of Mormon over in German, and I really liked reading 1 Nephi 4, the verse where Nephi says that " as surely as the Lord livieth and we live," we will not return to our Father until we have done everything he has asked us to do. (Paraphrased, obviously). But I thought about that from a few different perspectives. One, I am not going to come home until I have accomplished my purpose in these 2 years. That is a given, oder? But, I applied it to any other calling as well. Indeed, you can just apply it to life in general. We WILL NOT return to our Father in Heaven until we have done what He has asked. Be it callings or just living the commandments, it is not possible. Becasue we cannot return to live with Him if we haven't done those things. We can't go to live with God if we don't keep the commandments, if we don't fulfill our callings. But in this verse, Nephi has an attitude that we should all have. He doesn´t want to go back becuase he loves his Father and doesn't want to disappoint Him. We should do these things because we love our Father. As much as we must do them to have any chance, let us take the higher attitude in being obedient. Either way, NOT doing what he asks only ends in misery. So I really liked that scripture. It is also so cool to read auf Deutsch and understand!

So I have got some mail, from Allie and Shawna, at the apartment address. They won haha. But I got 2 more nametags at ZC, and now I have 6 for some reason... I don't think I am supposed to.

Anyway, I need to go. I love you all and wish you all success in whatever you do. Never stop working hard and never stop smiling :)

Elder Jalen L. Gibbons

Monday, August 13, 2012

I don´t remember what week it is... 4?


Okay, I am going to try to answer the many repeated questions that I seem to be missing each time haha. So, Elder Eaker is from Rome. Haha, but really, Rome, Georgia. Gotcha! He is not far from Atlanta. He is a great guy and works hard, also keeps me working hard. Dad asked what our routine is. So we study personally and then German (2 hours) and then we have the 12 week program, which means for the first 12 weeks in the field we have 2 hours of companion study. So we do that every day. Then we have Lendkanal that we walk rather regurlarly, just to contact. We are invited pretty frequently to members´ houses, so that is nice. We do lots of street contacting, and dooring in different areas. That is basically it. It is much quicker with bikes now, but still, we travel a long time. It goes quickly though. So, Thursday is 3 months for me! I am done with 1/8 of my mission. What the heck!!? That is crazy, and quite a motivation to work even harder and become a better missionary every day. The key word there is BECOME. We can all hope for things and have goals, but until we BECOME the person we want to be, our goals will forever stay goals. That is what I am working on.

And yes, it is just us two here in Klagenfurt. In fact, we are the only two in Kärnten (the entire state). Our apartment used to have 4 tho, so it is nice and big. I like it haha.

Okay, so last week we went to Graz from Monday to Wednesday. We got there and it was super hot! I was told we were going to go to the Arnold Schwarzenegger museum thing, so I was super excited and had my camera and everything! We got to the desired bus stop and then realized that we had an hour before the bus got there. So Elder Monson decided we were going to start walking! So we walked in the hot sun for about 20 minutes, then stopped at another bus stop along the same route to see when the bus came. It was stop #3, out of a line of 20 or so stops. And we were trying to get to the END of these 20 stops. So they decided to just walk back home. I was a little miffed (haha my favorite word from Calvin and Hobbes). So we walked home, and then the other elders decided we were going to play monopoly! (by the way, it was very nice outside...) and after a while I was the only one that Elder Eaker hadn't destroyed yet. BUT I am tired of just sitting inside and doing nothing every P day (there is your answer Dad, nothing on P days) so I said, hey I'm going outside to juggle your flat soccer ball. Which I did. Hey, you are going to like this. Guess what I got from the Graz apartment?.... Barely used pair of Nike Tiempo cleats! For free! Knew you would love that haha. I don't think I will bring them home, but I can carry them around. I tried them already but I don't quite have the touch down yet. Oh, I had some fantastic lemon and strawberry Eis in Graz. I know Dad likes the lemon. (Zitrone)

Just a random fact, I figured out that my swatch matches my adidas F50 clothes I bought in Frankfurt a few years ago.

So we had an exchange in Graz, and I spent an hour and a half in the church waiting for an appointment (once again, I am bugged by use of time) but I finally just sat at a piano and tried to see how much I could play. Sorry Mom, not much. Almost have the introduction to "A Childs Prayer" haha. I also wrote the German words for Army of Helaman, A Child's Prayer, and I Feel My Savior's Love. Mom talked about using songs to keep oneself focused, and I can already attest to the truth of that. Every day I am singing A Child's Prayer in my head, almost instinctively. I also say D&C 4 a lot, along with other scriptures. I am really working on getting rid of all distracting thoughts, since I need to be totally focused on my work. So those songs and scriptures help. Good idea Mom!

Oh man, I found "Inheritance" (Eragon series) auf Deutsch! I almost bought it, but I would have to carry it with me and never read it. So I will before I come home. They also have "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Pretty cool.

I went to my first PFK meeting (PEC) and felt totally useless haha. No idea what is going on. My understanding is better, yes, but mostly with simple things... They can't just rocket off and hope to have me understand. I am working on it...

So, I took a picture of Vogl street the other day, for Becky haha. Well, it was really Voglgasse (alley or something). I have a few pictures of funny signs too.

Okay, Federica is getting baptized next Sunday!!! We have everything planned, and we are all so excited! We are getting in contact with her every day, cuz Satan will no doubt throw everything he has at her to change her mind. That is NOT happening. It's great that she already has Daniele, who is basically just AWESOME!! That will help a lot. I will take pictures of course. Leaving their house the last time, we actually got to ride home in pouring rain. It felt really good. But it was also a little chilly on bikes. I like the rain here.

By the way, I cleaned our kitchen over the weekend. Everyone else (the Graz elders were here) was playing, you guessed it, card games! So I did something else. Oh, fun times. But yesterday I found a big Adidas outlet store, so I have something to do next week! Today we just plan on playing sports with Graz, who are coming for Federica's baptism interview. At least I will finally be outside and playing sports. Except everyone else wants basketball. They may be playing with three people... bwahaha.

So something I listened to this last weekend was Troy Dunn´s "Life is a game of Football". You should look it up and listen to it. I actually heard it way back when Bro. Peterson was my Sunday School teacher. That class was probably Tyson, Logan O, me, Sydney, Carissa, and Christina! But he talks about life as a game of football (obviously) and his excitement and enthusiasm is just contagious. What I got out of it was what he said about teamwork. We are really at "war" with the evils of the world. People may not recognize that, but anyone who believes in God and is somewhat religious knows that there is good and there is evil. Anyone can look around the world and see the terrible things that are happening, and wonder what is going on. How do we fight it? How can we hope to overcome it? Well, we have the answers. And Troy Dunn lays it out rather simply. LDS or not, whoever reads this, I would invite you to listen to it. We are a team, everyone against the evil influences of the world. We have our team leader, Jesus Christ, who we know will win in the end. We need to do what Elder Holland talked about, and just figure out which team we are on. (Thanks for that quote Becky). We know who wins, so why, why would you do anything to push yourself away from that team? Anything the world offers is not worth it! Yeah, Satan's influences are powerful, but we have teammates who can help us block. Bishops, leaders, parents. But we also need to realize that we too may need to be blocking for someone else. Someone, a friend who is getting rubbed into the dirt. What is your responsibilty? Listen to him talk (Dunn) and think about that. It is great. We want to get to the homecoming party, but we want to do it together, with those we love, as a team. Choose your team and stick to it.

So, a quote before I must go: The Missionary Motto--Obedience is the price. Faith is the power. Love is the motive. Spirit is the key. Christ is the reason. Joy is the reward.

Remember the reason you live the way you live. Remember why you love those you love. Don´t look for faults in others, or even in yourself. You will come to know your faults anyway, and then you strengthen them.

I love you all. Never stop smiling :)

Elder Jalen L Gibbons

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6, 2012

Hallo meine geliebte Familie! (spin-off of Pres. Uchtdorf´s classic Priesthood meeting greeting haha)

Wow, I have no idea where this week went! Yeah, the first two weeks were rather slow, trying to get adjusted and whatnot, but then this one just took off. Okay, Mom had like a whole paragraph of questions and I really try to remember them all, but I always miss some haha.

Okay, Klagenfurt is the only ward in the whole state of Kärnten. There used to be a ward in Villach (you should look Villach up, it is beautiful) and the building is still there, but it belongs to a company now. They sold it and combined the wards. But ours is now the only ward, with about 80 members or so. Not very many! They are great though. Our Bishop invited us for dinner, and we talked for a while and played with the kids. It really bugged me at first, because we learn in the MTC that appointments should only be max 45 minutes. Then my first appointment in the field, with the Cassela family (yes, Federica is Mrs. Cassela) went 3 hours! So I asked my trainer and he said that it is actually rude to not stay... so, I am still trying not to go 3 hours, but I can stay a while. I actually saw the old building in Villach yesterday, we went there to visit our Ward mission leader, Bruder Mauch, and also stop by a family he wanted us to visit, a less active family. So we were riding our bikes through beautiful little dorfs, with pretty mountains. It was basically the bike ride I had imagined before the mission lol. Next to a river, tiny road, even rode through a little neighborhood that had cattle or goats or something. I actually enjoyed the smell, coupled with the sights. Saw a big castle up on the hill, but didn´t have my camera :( oh well, we will go back.

So, Salzburg was great! I got to see Elder Orchard, who is in Innsbruck, and who gets to go to Italy once a week! He is the only other golden in our zone, so I loved getting to talk to him. It was comforting to see that I wasn't the only one struggling with dialects and whatnot. But we had to leave the leadership meeting early to catch a bus to catch a train. The church building is way out in nowhere, so we drove through a lot of town getting to the train staion. But, I didn't recognize anything :( I tried to see stuff, but oh well. We stayed with the ZL´s and then went right back home the next morning. On Wednesday we just went contacting and such, and on the way to our lesson with Sonja, who just got baptized, we walked past an African man on a bench, and we just said " Hello!" well, "hallo" I mean. Then he asked "Wie geht´s?" so we stopped and talked to him. But, he didn´t speak German! He said hello in German so we stopped, then we spoke English. And, we met with him on Saturday at the church, gave him a tour, and did the first lesson with him. He is already Christian, and he is from Niger. He is so nice, and wanted a Book of Mormon, but we didn´t have an English one with us on Wednesday, so we gave it to him Saturday. We thought he would come to church, and I was excited to translate for him (or try to haha) but he didn´t come :/ schade... But we will keep meeting with him and keep inviting him to come. His name is Mosa, and he is probably around 21 I think. Super nice guy.

We met with the Cassela family on Thursday and Friday, and those were great lessons. Man, they are so cool! And Daniele (the dad) is totally the next Bishop! He is so strong in his faith in Christ and it always strengthens me to meet with him. And Federica is just as awesome. She is getting baptized in 2 weeks! We also met with a young man named Edward, who is really funny and open to what we teach, and he also has a funny giggle that he does all the time. So, we gave him the first lesson, and he said he would be baptized once he knew the Book of Mormon was true! So great! Oh, Mosa said the same thing too. We call that the soft baptismal commitment. Next time with both we will set a date hopefully.

Yeah, we walk a lot, and now we ride a lot, and my legs hurt haha. And my rear end also hurts from riding the bike. It has been a while.

Oh, I saw a sweet KTM mountain bike at the bike shop, and it was orange, black, and white, so I thought of Mountain Home! DOn´t know how much it cost, but I just liked looking at it. It was so cool! So, Malcolm always wanted me to go to the KTM factory, but I don't know where in my mission it is. But tell him there are lots of cool KTM bikes around, and I think of him! It's so cool that Bro. Freer is the new YM president! Good for him! That will be great for the guys. Also, Bro. Ogaard in Elders quorum! That will be good too!

I'm glad the reunion was so fun! It sounds like there was lots to do, and I look forward to getting together in the future, wherever it is.

So last week dad told me about talking with Elder Perry, and how he said to the leaders "Don't lose a single one of these boys!" and dad expressed his regrets in the boys he had "lost" from his group he was over. I was reading in Mormon a day or two later, and Mormon knows how dad felt. Or maybe it's the other way around haha. But Mormon 3:12 talks about how Mormon had led and loved all the people in his army, despite their wickedness. He loved them and wept for them. So I thought that it was cool that Mormon, from BoM times, knew how it felt, just like you do dad. But you can always take pride in the men and boys you influence now, because everyone who knows you wants to be a better person. And maybe someday I will be as great an example as you. Don´t worry about anything.

Hey, does anyone know how to contact Matthew Webber? I need to talk to him haha. If possible, could someone who gets this email, who has his number, text him and get his address and then get ahold of my parents so they can send it in my email.   Mom, Dad, watch out for that for me please. I want to see what he is up to! So I am calling him out ;) love ya Matt!

I finally got mail from leadership training. Got 2 new nametags, I don't know why, and then mom's letter with the SD card. So I have it. Also got Jessica Tindalls letter, and she has my reply on the way home since Saturday, I think.

Today we are going to Graz, where our Distrcit leader lives. They have the Arnold Schwarzenegger museum there haha. I don't know if we are going today, but sometime.

Okay, I have to email president now. But, a quote from President Heber J. Grant: A man´s wealth consists of the number of people he loves and blesses, and who love and bless him." I am so extrememly wealthy, according to that, and I am so blessed to have all of my wonderful family and friends supporting me. Maybe sometimes even thinking of me ;) but really, I wouldn´t be here without you.

Be safe, always smile, and make the most of every moment!

I love you,
Elder Jalen L. Gibbons