Ja, hallo! Wie geht´s euch?
So, first off. We are going to Bishop Kaiser´s house and we plan on skyping at 7 pm here, which I would say is 11 am there. That is our plan! Thank you also for all the packages and letters and such that I got at Zone Conference! I got a letter from Sis. Eagley (actually I got two!), from Adriana Garcia, from the Halls and from Chris Hall, from Mom, from the Burgesses, and so on. And I am writing Sis. Eagley back today, so she can expect that sometime :) It makes my day to get notes from the ward, and mail in general! Today will probably be devoted to writing a ton of letters, because I have fallen behind. All of my presents are sitting on our table surrounding a little nativity scene that we have, I have some pictures of them :) My first missionary Christmas, it should be lots of fun!
Well, all of your Christmas activities sound exciting and exhausting! I am glad to hear that the ward party went well! Ours did too! :) Michael and Herr Marschnig came, and we just sang lots of songs, had musical numbers from the kids, had the Weihnachtsmann show up and give the kids goodies, and watched a film about the ward´s 2005 Christmas Party. Then afterward, Br. Mauch came over to us and we sang some Austrian Christmas songs, and we got to practice our Salzburgerisch accents, which was tough, but so much fun! That will always be such a fun memory, two American Elders trying to sound like they are from Salzburg, singing along with members of the ward, but all in the spirit of Christmas. And it was even better because Br. Mauch was playing the guitar along with us! I want to be able to play guitar :/ It would be so fun to sing those songs when I get home, because I kept the packet of songs! :) Prepare yourselves for Christmas 2014 ;) so that was a great time, and Herr Marschnig told us that he had lots of great impressions from his first time spent with the ward. Michael also enjoyed it as far as I know. The cool thing was that Michael introduced himself and said he was studying with us :) So he knows what the purpose of meeting with us is then! We can't wait to keep meeting with him and help him understand how much God loves him and to understand what God wants for him. Sadly, neither of the two came to church yesterday :( we just need them to come to church and then things will be that much better! It´s one of the hardest things for us, getting them to come. But luckily Michael lives like 5 minutes away from the church! We will get him next week. Herr Marschnig was able to come to the party because Br. Mauch is awesome and picked him up :) I love br. Mauch :) Yesterday we ate with his family after church and he and I were kicking a soccer ball back and forth, quick, precise, one-touch passes. He is amazed that I am American and can do that haha. Too bad he can't play because of his knee :/ Oh, we sang some more with him last night too, after dinner :) great times!
So, this last week.... on pday we walked around the shopping area of the city, and I was looking for stuff that I wanted for christmas, for the money you have allowed me :) thanks for that by the way. Thing is, I have NO IDEA what I want! We looked at so many stores and I have no idea. Elder Orchard told me to get Lederhosen at Zone conference, and that is something I have been pondering, but I don't know a good place for that in Klagengurt. So I have no idea.
Tuesday was a lot of fun, we went to Sis. Schaunig´s house and painted for her :) She fed us VERY well too, it was so good! That was our day Tuesday, a big service project. Then English class. Wednesday was spent passing out invitations to the ward party for Saturday, and then we traveled to Salzburg. And guess what????!!! I got to walk around the Altestadt, and I finally found where we were two years ago!!!! :) Mozartplatz, where we rented the segways, and then we walked along the river to the apartment later, and I found the spot where Nathan and Tyson crashed :) it was so cool seeing it again. I have pictures! But it was dark, so they aren't great. We spent Wednesday evening to Friday evening in Salzburg, because we did exchanges there. Zone Conference was very good, and I love seeing all the other missionaries, and President Miles. I learned a lot from it, but the biggest thing was a reminder to me about maintaining my freindship with the Savior. We played the chimes too, the pipe/bell things mom has, as a pause for conference. That was fun :) Plus, I have a place to stay when we come back to Europe whenever :) Rememebr the Müller family I told you about, who gave me their card and invited me to have Thanksgiving with them sometime, or just to stay with them? Well their son is in Brixen (italy) with Elder Orchard right now, and he is so cool! We had a lot of fun together, I think maybe because I told him I had seen his family ;) and he said he hadn't for awhile haha. So, he wants me to come hang out with him after the mission.
I also saw during my Salzburg adventures, a lake that apparently is filmed in The Sound of Music :) got pictures of that too. It was very pretty, it had snowed a lot. But now, like here in Kalgenfurt, it is way warm for no reason :( so ridiculous. Sorry the weather isn't fantastic there either. But just think of Tyson frying in Argentina and then it is better. Sorry brother! :)
I am glad Nathan and Kate are enjoying all the stuff they are doing. I don't know why other schools are so dang good at their sports, but welcome to Mountain Home, where you get a lot of experience playing against such schools. I am still proud of it, no matter what success or lack thereof I saw. Keep playing hard Nathan, and Kate, just keep enjoying what is left of dance. Do well in school! That is very important.
Anyway, I have had a good week, a week full of experiences that have made me excited to go and just work, despite the tough situations and rough experiences with people who aren't ready to change yet. The people are there, for sure. What is it, when the going gets tough, the tough get going? I'm trying to be like that haha. Heck, I am trying to be like Jesus, nothing was ever all bright and dandy for Him. but He knew His purpose, and He knew that He loved us, and He gave His life for you and for me. There is no better time to feel that than now. A cool quote I heard in church yesterday, from Johann von Göethe: "Das, was du tief im Herzen hast, kann niemals verloren gehen." If you have the Savior and His love in your heart, deep enough that it cannot be removed, then ponder what you can do to help others receive that. Remember how His love came to be there, how you felt that first time you KNEW that He was there and He calmed your troubled heart. Don't ever forget that feeling. Think on it often, because "oh how quick to forget are the children of men." Don't let anything so precious be taken from you, or better put, don't let yourself give such stuff away, or treat it lightly. Because we all make our own choices.
I know that Christ loves each and every one of you, and if you can't feel that, or if maybe you never have, kneel down now and ask to feel it. It will come if you do so faithfully and sincerely. I, too, love you all, and if you can't feel my love, than you will just have to write me and tell me what to do better, eh? ;) I´ll be here.
Say Käse and smile :)
Elder Jalen Lawrence Gibbons