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