Monday, November 26, 2012


Some photos of the Lavamund cleanup service day, 11/13/12:
Flooded Lavamund, Austria, where the rivers Drau and Lavant converge, 11/6/12
Lavamund townhall, 11/6/12
Lavamund gasthaus (restaurant/hotel) that Jalen and his district helped clean up, 11/6/12
The gasthaus, after the floodwaters receded.  The ground floor was flooded
to about halfway up the bottom row of windows--if you look closely you can see the
waterline.  Just beyond the gasthaus is a big pile of debris waiting to be hauled away.
Salvaging and stacking firewood from the flooded gasthaus:
Bru. Mauch, Jalen, and Sis. Stapleton
LDS Missionary Cleanup Crew with gasthaus owners (far left and front center).  You can see the flood waterline on the statue in the background--its bottom half was "cleaned" by the flood.
Elder Hall, who took most of the photos, standing in a room at the gasthaus
they'd cleaned out.  You can see the flood waterline on the wall behind him.
When the floodwaters receded, there was a 4-inch layer of  hardpacked residue left behind.
One of many Lavamund dumpsters filled with flood-damaged debris
The Red Cross provided lunch for the volunteers at a fire station.
Red Cross workers at the fire station

Grüß euch!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM AND YEAGER!!!! Hope it is a great one!
So, I am very excited that Carissa is putting her papers in! That is so cool! Next August, that means that I will have only 9 months left, holy cow. Well, when the time comes, let me know where she is going! I have a friend, Rachel, from BYU who just wrote me and said that she too was working on her papers! It is so cool to see how the announcement from General Conference changed everything dramatically! All the best to them!
Um, Mom asked last time for the Mauch´s address, so I'll send it. And I will have to look up the Suppersbergers address for next time, and I may as well send you the Bishop´s too. Does that work? haha. Speaking of addresses, what are Tyson´and Chris´ addresses? I should write them.
Also, so about the Christmas package that I will send home to you, would it be acceptable if it is a little late for Christmas? Cuz the Post here only takes cash, and I don't have enough on me yet (plus, I haven't had enough time to go shopping for stuff). But, I figured I could wait till all the sales after Christmas and then I will get stuff sent home ASAP! But I will write Will and hopefully send him something too, since he may have to wait... does that work? I am hopefully going to get my packages at Zone Conference on the 13th, and then we have a ward Christmas party on the 15th (since you asked what we were doing in the ward).
Well, the Buchteln things were pretty successful last week, they weren't as heavenly as the ones I got from Alice Kaiser, but they were still good! I will get you the recipe next week.
Well, this week was much like others-namely, looking for new people to teach. We had a district finding day in Klagenfurt though, and we found about 10 potentials! Sadly, we have contacted all of them so far, and only have about 2 appointments out of it (and one we have already met with, and he isn't going to become an investigator as far as we can tell :/ ). People can get excited and hopefully feel the Spirit, or at least something "different" about us when we talk to them, but then you try and follow up and they are always busy. But, it is necessary to "weed out" those who aren't going to do anything (sorry, that term sounds rather negative, but I don't know how else to put it) and then work on finding sincere people. But it was lots of good work, and we are going to make the best of what we have! It was cool though, because I worked with Elder Stapleton again on finding day, and we went to a building that Elder Eaker and I have tried to get into about 3 or 4 times already (there is a former investigator or less active or someone in there, but they never answer) but then Elder Stapleton leaned on the door and it was open! So in we went-- into a building straight out of "Inception"! It was so crazy, whoever designed it had a lot of fun. The best way I can describe it is floors within floors and staircases everywhere in random places. I got one picture of it, but you can't see the whole craziness. We had lots of fun going through it all :)
Oh, so I just wanted to point out that with the European style of writing the date, so day month year, the 21 of November was a palindrome! That will not do anything for you really, but now you are aware. Remember my Mother´s day talk when I talked about palindromes? Haha that was ridiculous.
Ach so, Thanksgiving! I had no idea when Thanksgiving was, but then the Halls invited us to eat Thanksgiving with them and some other ward members, and it was so good!!! They had a cranberry sauce, but it was actually cranberry-strawberry-apple-orange-raspberry (I know how to spell raspberry thanks to Shawna´s taffy :) haha)-delicious sauce! Homemade of course :) I think by the Bishop´s mother. So, my Thanksgiving wasn't the same, but it was better than the plan we had, which was nothing, because we didn't know when it was :)
Also, it made me think of mom this week when we found one of our minidisc things that has some Nickelcreek songs on it! I can't really see how they are not appropriate or anything, but they aren't exactly missionary-like. But we were going through the discs to see what we needed to get rid of, and we found it. So I went through to see the songs I knew, and then at the end, guess what I found? A German narration of the movie "The Emperor´s New Groove" :) That was pretty funny. I didn't know what was going on till it started talking about Llamas. So that was funny.
Well, I had a GREAT time in church gestern! Did you all? I realized that I should always have something to write on when I am at church (I´ve always done it in my planner since I have been here, but I never did it much before) because we learn so much! I mean, you probably knew that already, and I am just semi-slow, but I know now! Anyway, we had some great lessons gestern, and I got a lot out of it. So we first talked about Pres. Uchtdorf´s talk from October, "Of Regrets and Resolutions." We talked about three main points, namely looking back on life later and saying: I wish I had spent more time with those I love, I wish I had lived up to my potential, and I wish I had let myself be happier. (The last one is so true!!!!!!). So we kinda talked about what we can do in order to avoid those regrets later in life. So the teacher told us something. He said that every morning, at 7, you wake up and you have €86,400 in an account. HOWEVER, you CANNOT put it into a savings account, and you CANNOT spend it on anything for you yourself to keep. What in the world are you going to do with it then? Of course, some people got at the right answer, saying that they had nothing to do except help people! So, he explained the analogy to us. Every morning we wake up at 7, and we have 86,400 seconds in our day( I am just assuming that he is referring to a 24 hour period, from 7 to 7). Aha, does that start to click in your head? What do you do with your time? Are you going to look back later and have these regrets? Also, what brings you real happiness? Is it buying things? Because I am convinced that you don't have to be able to buy things to be happy, and we can experience a new kind of happiness in helping others find happiness. I like what Pres. Uchtdorf said in the same talk, he said, "Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts." We should be looking less at what our eyes take as happiness, and more at what the heart says. Stimmt, ge? Then I was reading the NT and came across Matthew 6:21. "For where your treasure is, there shalll your heart be also." What do we treasure in life? Is it those things that aren't going to last?Things that will assuredly bring regret? Go and read Pres. Uchtdorf´s talk, and make some resolutions as to what you can do better to see with your heart. (It´s coming up on New Year´s resolutions, eh?) I can testify that the things that bring us the most happiness, lasting happiness, are those things which make the heart burn, which invite the Spirit into our lives, which make others smile. In those moments, we get just a glimpse of how much our Heavenly Father loves us. I felt such feelings at church gestern, and I didn't want it to go away. So, we do those things which make us feel good, right? Hopefully that "good" is something that is constantly building us up, helping us become better. Otherwise, what worth does it have? And, as I heard in my class with Br. Mauch, he asked what one had to do in order to have the Spirit always by him? And one of the people said "He doesn't have to do anything. He has to BE something." Wow, I liked that! Be the best you can possibly be, and strive to be what your Heavenly Father knows you can be. And then you won't have regrets in life.
I know that life is hard, and it takes lots of effort to keep yourself excited and willing to learn more and become better. But I promise it is worth it. Don't lose a moment, because we don't want regrets later. Do what is worthwhile now, and you will have a multitude of happy memories to bask in later.
I love you all, and wish you all the best this Christmas season! It´s Christmas, so why should we ever not be smiling? :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hallo :)

Hallo everyone :)
So, I will NOT forget transfer news this time ;) however, it is accompanied by a story of frustration and anxiety, the likes of which you have yet to hear... haha not really, but we ourselves were pretty miffed (I love using that word, it´s from Calvin and Hobbes, right?). So, we usually get calls around 8. But we didn't, so we studied. Nothing until 9, even though everyone in our disrtict and the ZLs were asking where we were going! Nothing, at 10, or 11, or 12. What in the world?!! We were so excited/anxious/frustrated that we had no idea what we were doing! Finally, around 1:30, we figured out that they believed that we were staying together. Bwah! We didn't get a confirmation call until like 2. So, the not so new news is, we are both staying in Klagenfurt for Christmas!!! :) :) And like I said, the inner city is covered in lights and stuff that I haven't seen lit yet. Plus, they do have all the crazy Christmas market stuff going on (so I will look around, Mom). And, to add to the craziness of that, our entire district is the same! For 3 transfers, no changes. Elder Eaker has been in Klagenfurt for 5 transfers (7 1/2 months!!!). That is pretty crazy. But, it all may have a wise purpose in the Mission President (I would say the Lord, but He works through the President haha).
So, it is projected (not completely concrete yet) that our mission will have 90 new missionaries by the end of March! AND: Klagenfurt is projected to have two Sisters in Villach, and two more Elders in Klagenfurt (since our apartment is so big). THAT IS SO AWESOME!!! Then we wouldn't have to travel so much (because for real, we travel everywhere and we really DON'T have a ton of time in just our area, like Dad figured) and we would be our own little district! So cool!!!! We are excited. So, my address is the same, natürlich. I will be here till the New Year :)
Well, we did get to go do service in Lavamünd, and it was so much fun! Not cool that they were flooded, of course, but as Bruder Mauch put it (he is a civil engineer, Dad, and he is the boss of his own company) we were the FIRST missionaries ever in Lavamünd, Österreich :) They had no idea what the church was haha. We went with all the missionaries from our district, and the Halls went too, so there were 8 missionaries there to work! And they were SOOOO touched that we drove all the way from Klagenfurt to help (if you look on the map, Mom, find Wolfsberg east and north of Klagenfurt, then from Wolfsbereg go down and a little east, almost on the Slovenian border, and there is Lavamünd.) So, we worked at a Gasthaus (guest house or inn) and we totally cleaned out the garage and another wood-pile room. So, we stacked A TON of wood, and threw away a whole bunch of garbage. The fire department had it organized, and they fed us SO MUCH FOOD!!! It never ended!!!! The guy who lived at/owned the Gasthaus was thanking us profusely and apparently he was crying when Elder Riser was talking to him. (The thing was, I had NO IDEA about ANYTHING he was saying!) I don't know what he was speaking! It wasn't the language they taught me in the MTC ;) haha. So, we actually tried to go back on Saturday, but they were taking a break. So, no more work in Lavamünd. But I can say I have been there :)
Mom (or Dad, can't remember) asked if I had had a Best Two Years experience, where someone just came and talked to me and I talked right back at them: I do that everyday haha :) I am not perfect, and sometimes I have to have them repeat themelves, but I don't worry about not understanding anyone, really. It is a nice feeling.
Oh, so guess what I did this week? I gave my first blessing auf Deutsch! Boy, when the sister in the ward asked if we could give her a blessing, I was just thinking, "Shoot, this isn´t English! What do we do?" and I was kinda panicing (how do you spell that? :/ ) but, as she told us what was going on, I had a feeling of peace, and most significant just a love for her and her wellbeing. I know my German wasn't very good during the blessing, and I was kinda worrying about that afterwards, but she came to me on Sunday and thanked me again and told me she had written down things she had learned and it had strengthened her. I have a testimony that the Spirit works through servants of the Lord for the blessing of Heavenly Father´s children. It doesn't matter what language it is, or how well you can speak it; all you need is faith and to be worthy of the guidance of the Spirit, and you can see the blessings that come from your good works. That was a tremendous comfort to me.
I learned so much in church yesterday, and I loved something that Daniele said in his talk about "Hope for a glorious Resurrection." He did such a good job! He said that life is lesson (we know that). Then he talked about how kids will say that they don't want to go to school. And what he said was that it is so hard as parents to explain to the kids that they are sending them to school because they love their kids and they know it will help them. He said that kids think "Well if you love us, let us stay home and play!" Then, I was sitting there thinking about what he said, and I of course thought about our Heavenly Father, and how He must try so hard to tell His children why they need to do that, or why they need to go through that, experience this, und so weiter. (I mean, etc.) Then, after I finished writing that down in my planner, Daniele said the same thing I had just thought :) Cool how that happened, huh? Life is a lesson, and we don´t understand it sometimes. But we can't just say that I am going to stay home and not worry about that lesson. For the people who understand that and have faith in our purpose here on earth, namely why we are here and where we are going, the Plan of Happiness from God the Father, it is our duty to help those who are looking for answers. Talk to the missionaries if you have questions, eh? I know that we can find eternal, everlasting happiness through living the gospel of Jesus Christ, following His example. Try it out, and see if you don't feel something greater than you ever have before.
So, more business before I forget: we have already been invited for Christmas skyping with the Bishop (I want you to meet him, I will make him make an appearance, he is so funny :) ) but the question is on which day... Elder Eaker said that skyping on the 24th would be better for his family because he doesn't want to see all of his extended family and stuff, just talk with his immediate family. I don't even care if the whole family is there, it would be awesome regardless, and that's how we did it with Logan. So, it may, with permission from president which I am making Elder Eaker ask for, since it is his idea, be on the 24th (that is their Weihnachten here, after all). But I had to ask if that works for you? I don't know why we can't just do it on the 25th, but more information will be forthcoming. That is all.
Oh, I got a recipe from the Bishop's wife, Alice, on Saturday. Called Buchteln, and if you know McDonalds cinnabite things, it is basically that kind of dough, but filled with jam, and so much better. I am going to make some today. And I can make them when I get home, because I have German and English recipes. :) I will tell you how that goes.
Well, I want to write a short testimony, but I am doing it auf Deutsch :) Sorry you Google translators, it may not know many church words. Aber, ich weiß daß Jesus Christus unser Erretter ist. Er möchte daß wir wieder mit ihm leben, und er hat uns den Weg vorbereitet, damit wir für immer mit unseren Familien in Glücklichkeit und ohne Sorge und Bedrängnisse leben können. Sein Jok ist leicht, hat er uns verheißen. Wir haben so ein großes Zweck zu erfüllen. Und alles ist möglich durch Christus. Er liebt jeden von euch, daß weiß ich.
I too love each one of you! Always choose to be happy, and patient in your troubles. Never stop smiling :)
Gott sei mit euch bis Aufwiedersehen!
Elder Jalen L Gibbons

Monday, November 12, 2012

Liebe Grüß :)

Grüß euch! Wie geht´s alles in Amerika?
So, there were lots of questions about Christmas and whether or not it looks much like it or feels much like it-- it has just rained A LOT! There was a little dorf called Lavamünd or something that totally got flooded! So we may actually go there and help clean up as a big service project tomorrow. We are still waiting to get ahold of president so he can approve it. But yeah, it´s actually warmer than it was a while ago, but not really any complaints. I always worry about our mail getting soaked tho, because our mailbox stinks...ach so, staying with the topic of Christmas, I will get all of my packages at the next Zone Conference in Dezember. Speaking of which, I may not even be in this zone by then, because transfer calls are on Friday!! What the heck has happened to my sense of time?? Dad talked about me being ready to show the new guy around if I needed to, and yeah, I feel totally fine doing that. But I will let you know next week what the transfer news is.
So, sorry Mom, but I have to correct you in that Daniele is a ward missionary, not the ward mission leader. That is still Bruder Mauch :) who is still the bomb!! I love him. It was actually his idea that we try to go do service in Lavamünd tomorrow. And he would probably be there too. Also, Bonnie, Derek´s wife, is the one who cuts our hair. And she does it for free! I will have to have her do it again soon. And I will probably get it about as short as Tyson´s (I loved all the pictures by the way.).
And yes, I have a CD player in the apartment. Most of them do. And I was actually going to ask about some CD´s because I wish I had some Disney music. Like the song in Hercules, "I can go the distance," which is one of my favorite songs. Anyway, just a random thought. I don't listen to tons of music, but mostly because we don't spend that much time at home. But new music would still help.
Well, it was funny this week, because Mom sent me a copy of my own email, instead of Tyson's :) I just laughed haha. So, hope Tyson is doing okay!
So, the last week..... we did basically nothing in Klagenfurt, because we were never here again. We were in Graz for district meeting, and that was Monday too because we had to do a baptismal interview for a man in Graz. That was cool tho. So I did nothing for Pday. Then we made fried chicken and biscuits for a less active girl and her boyfriend, but didn't get to teach anything.. And Wednesday we went with the Halls to a big furniture store called Kika and bought me a new wardrobe (meaning a stand-alone closet, not a new set of clothes--they don't have many built-in closets in Europe like we do here), which we then had to assemble (and it looks good too ;) ) Thursday I was sent to Wien because Elder Eaker ended up going to the District leader meeting in Munich. I worked with an Elder in his first transfer, and we still didn't do much missionary work besides me talking to some people on the street. And, I have a testimony of the wonderfulness of cleanliness. The Wien apartment I stayed in was a mess (it is four people there, to some of their defense). So, I love being neat and in order, and that just made me want to do it even more! (I also thought back on the nightmare that was 3103 Heritage Halls when things got out of hand, which they did seemingly often...). So, being cleanly and neat is GOOD!! It keeps a load off of my mind. Our apartment is very nice, and I even got a sugar cookie candle from Kika for my desk :) It´s great here in Klagenfurt.
So yeah, it was cool in Wien though to have to be the one who understood all the people speaking German, because the Elder I worked with couldn't. So I went to a ward missionary meeting in a ward that I don't belong to, with a missionary who DID live there but had no idea what was going on. But I had lots of fun regardless :) I know Heavenly Father answers prayers, because I prayed to be able to understand what I needed to. He answers prayers! But remember that we only receive blessings according to our faith. So do what you need to everyday to strengthen your faith.
So we were in Wien until Saturday, and when we got back home we had to plan our coming week! Which we didn't finish until this morning actually.... and then Sunday we drove to Graz again to do another bapstismal interview with A___, the Egyptian man in Bruck an Der Mur who Elders Stapleton and Riser teach :) He is being baptized next Sunday! The cool thing was that I was there for the first lesson with him (and one other) :) So I feel like I got to take a part in it. We met at the house of a translator who spoke Arabic, who said all the things that A___ just can't say in German (which is actually everything.. haha). A___ talked about how he learns something new everytime the Elders meet with him, and they can't really even understand each other! The Spirit is certainly the real teacher. Now he is on his way, the "right way" as he puts it, to living in joy with his Father in Heaven. Language barriers can't do anything to stop children of God from coming to Him. The coolest thing was that G___, the translator, kept talking about "his missionary." The Leoben Elders will always be A___'s missionaries, and I am so happy for them. I just need to find the one who lets me be their missionary haha. I work every day to do that.
Annnnd, the news with W___... Dad talked about things being too good to be true, and he is right, in that we don't know what exactly W___´s motives are anymore. We are certain he is smoking again, even though we met with him Monday and Wednesday this last week, and told him he really had to convince himself to do this while we weren't there. But we no longer have a date because he told us he wants to do it on his own time, how he wants. Plus, we have realized this last week that he just thinks we are friends. He sends us random text messages about anything, and if we answer we try to see how he is doing Spiritually. But yeah, he isn't making any progress spiritually. He sent us a text the other day and told us to study up on "game theory" so that we could talk about it when we met together. We told him that we would not do that, that we CANNOT do that, and that we have no desire to do anything save it be to bring the Children of God closer to Him. So we haven't met with him since Wednesday, because of lack of time. And when we do meet with him, we are telling him straight out that we are Representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, The Living God. We have NO PURPOSE except for building others up and preparing them for baptism and to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It´s going to be interesting when we meet with him tonight. We have to see what he wants from us.
Anyway, it is such a great feeling to be that representative of Christ, because I can literally look anyone right in the eyes and say the Savior of all mankind has called me here to teach them about God´s plan for us. And I know that with faith, we really can reach people´s hearts and make their lives better. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that He is always there with us. He has the power to do anything for the blessing of His people, and we just have to exercise faith in that. He loves each one of us, and will never leave us. And that I can say as His disciple on this earth.
Till next week, alles Güte und viel Erfolg bei allem, was ihr macht. Hört niemals auf zu lächeln. :)
Ich habe euch Lieb! :)
Elder Jalen Lawrence Gibbons

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hallo wieder!

Well hallo again! This week we are once again at our internet cafe doing emails, because the internet wasn't working at the church. So, now I feel all rushed again haha. No matter. Plus, it´s pouring buckets outside and I have had to carry my little carry-on all the way to the church, because I didn't want it getting all wet. Now my arm is tired haha.
Anyway, we have a baptismal date for the 17th of November!!! But, now that you are wondering where the heck that came from, let me tell you about the rest of the week ;) haha
Actually, changed my mind, I will start with all the business. First of all, Nathan´s solo sounded hilarious! I can see him doing it well haha. Plus, my shirt that he is wearing in those pictures makes him look even better ;) Yeah, Nathan and Kate both look like they are doing fantastically! I'm glad the musical stuff was figured out and all of that. So, first off, it was suggested to me by Elder Eaker that when you send a package to Tyson you tape a picture of Jesus on the side so that people don't mess with it. At least that is what they did for his brother in Brazil. Superstitious people haha. But he said it worked, and I was just thinking about that with all that good stuff for Christmas. Also, another item for me, if possible, Just like Tyson, it would be awesome to have Zebra pens and pencils! I'm still using the mechanical pencil I bought at BYU and I love it (it is 0.5, small, which I like better). But yeah, if that is possible, then I would love you forever ;) (I kinda already do, no worries.)
Auch, you should make a new Skype account for me and send me the username and password, because I can't remember my own. Plus if you do it at home, then you can make sure we are both already contacts and then I don't have to do that here when the time comes. Danke schön :)
So, the week. We bought some American stuff on Monday, I got a vanilla Coke and a wild cherry Pepsi (so basically I was honoring JD and then the rest of the Gibbons family ;) ) plus some Raspberry poptarts. And some honey flavored gummy bears. Then I wrote Allie I think, annnnd that was bascially it. Tuesday was district meeting and finding day in Bruck an der Mur, and I got to work with Elder Riser. We didn't find anyone :( but we only had like 2 hours of actual work. So, it looked basically like we were in for another rough week. (They did find other potentials, with all the other missionaries; I don't know why, maybe I am just bad luck haha). Then Wednesday we rode home on a train with NO seats, so we sat in the space in between cars, by the WC. Fun. I got some cool pictures tho. Then we got home and we had another referral from Church Headquarters! So we went by on her, but she wasn't there. Then we went to the church after some more finding and helped with the Primary Halloween party. We put on a fun dry ice show, so water, dry ice, fog, and then you add dish soap and you can pop the bubbles and then fog comes out! We had way too much fun with it haha. And the kids loved it.
Thursday is when things started turning around! We got to go visit Frau K___, the single mother, and it was a good visit. Mensch (which means "man" as in "oh man!", Dad) I got to tell the First Vision for the first time out here, for some reason Elder Eaker has just done all the rest. But for real, if you want excitement and adrenaline, forget roller coasters and come on a mission and then bear testimony about the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Every single time it happens, and it´s something you may never have felt before. I just got excited and I probably started blabbering, but then Elder Hall (who was our joint teach) got excited too and started talking about the priesthood. So, it was awesome! But, sadly, now just isn't her time. But we are certain it will come. She is just too busy to come to church or worry about changing religions. Schade :(
But then we went by on the referral again, and she was there! She was surprised to have three (Post men, mail men) come and deliver the Book of Mormon. She had expected a package haha. She let us in and we introduced the Book of Mormon. She was in Iowa and did a tour of Winter Quarters in Omaha, but they had just run out of German Books of Mormon! She was SOOO excited to get it too! Then Elder Hall asked for a Bible so he could show her the whole "other sheep I have which are not of this fold" thing. And when he did, I saw her fold the page down like she wanted to go back and read it! So, I showed her in 3 Nephi 15 where Jesus says "you are the other sheep" and then she folded that corner down too :) Plus, she made us all sign her Book of Mormon! So we signed under Elder Hall´s testimony. Pretty cool. Sadly, she just got busy with work, so we couldn't make a return appointment, but we have her info and we are confident we will get a call from her soon ;)
Then we went to Villach and visited with Bonnie and Derek, who told us that one of his teammates from Canada wants to come join our lessons! SWEET!! Plus I got one of Derek´s hockey cards. It´s in my journal.
Well, Friday was the big day! We helped the Casellas move into their new place (by the way, we got to help give Daniele the Melchizedek priesthood yesterday, and set him apart as Ward Missionary, which he is so excited about!!! :) It was awesome, and he is the greatest guy ever) and we got a text from a man we don't know, saying he wanted to meet with us. So, when the ZL´s got here for our exchange, Elder McClellan and I went by on him to see what was up. Turns out he was a former investigator, from a year ago, and he had had a baptismal date but never went through. We haven't heard anything of him or from him. But we learned that he wants to change his life, in large part stop smoking, and he was thinking about how to do that when his thoughts turned to us! So, there we were. We were able to bear testimony about the Atonement and how it would help him, and we talked a little bit about the stop smoking program. Then, when we learned that he had had a baptismal date, meaning he had already learned about everything at least once from the missionaries, we decided to set a new goal for him! I was thinking maybe the 24th of November, but then he said that we could meet once, twice, three times a day, and that we could call anytime and he would be there in 30 minutes; so, I decided he could be ready by the 17th. The thing is, I feel like Captain Moroni, because I don't remember what was said by either me or Elder McClellan. But we knew it was right, and that if this man (name is V___) would seriously prepare himself, it will happen. So, we have thrown away all of his tobacco and lighters and ashtrays and we are going to help him clean some of the smoke smell out Wednesday. We have had a couple setbacks from Friday till Sunday, namely him smoking a "couple of cigarettes that we forgot" haha. But he started yesterday, when he came to church with us and even bore his testimony! (he just said he was glad to be back in the ward-- he knows some members already from a year ago). So, he contacted us. After a couple weeks of us working hard and not seeing anything, we got this miracle without doing anything, no effort on our parts. Haha the Lord was probably testing our faith. But yeah, that is the story of the baptismal date. However, if he has had a setback since yesterday, we will probably have to push the date back a week. But, I have faith. We have also given him a blessing with the ZL´s, and it was a great experience. I will keep you up to date of course!
Well, if you can learn anything from this last week, it is that bringing others closer to Christ gives you a happiness that you have never felt before, and it is lasting happiness! I don't remember thinking about myself once this last weekend. I was focused solely on helping others. And I WAS happy, joyful. The Gospel brings such joy, when you follow its teachings and try to be like Jesus Christ.
To answer dad´s question, which I just remembered, yes, I am the first up there after the bishopric member to bear my testimony every time. If Klagenfurt rememebrs me for anything, then maybe it will be that :) haha. but really, bearing testimony to anyone about things you know to be true is just exciting, thrilling! And I get plenty of chances.
So a quote that I got on the church program gestern: Jeder Mensch hat die Chance, mindestens einen Teil der Welt zu verbessern, nämlich sich selbst. (Every man has the chance to make at least one part of the world better, namely, themselves.)
Are you being the person you want to be? Are you being the person that God wants? Hopefully that person is the same, so do whatever you can to make it so.
The world is a beautiful place, and each day brings miracles, so never stop smiling and thanking God :)
I love you, til next week! :)
Elder Jalen Lawrence Gibbons