Monday, December 30, 2013

Schönen guten Rutsch!!!

LDS Missionaries as Midnight Mass (with permission!)

Elder Jones and Elder Gibbons realizing the next train
doesn't come until 4 AM

Stockings on Christmas morning
The Familie Simic at their baptism!

With the missionaries

The Simic boys with the ward Young Men
Hey Familie :)

THE SIMIC FAMILY GOT BAPTIZED!!!!! I will forward an email from the bishop with pictures. He is a professional photographer, and his pictures are insanely beautiful. It was probably the biggest baptismal service I have ever been to. We were at the church from 1 to 8 yesterday. Pretty crazy. It was so awesome. I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and I feel that it went well. The greatest thing is that I will get to keep working with this family for a while, most likely. Transfer calls are this Saturday, I can't believe the transfer is already basically done! What in the world. But I will most likely get a tap through the wall in the apartment from the zone leaders telling me that we are staying as we are. And I am okay with that :)

Well, it was great talking to you all on Tuesday. It is always weird, sorry. It is just like when I do my emails, part of me feels uncomfortable talking to the outside world. And for real, I think about so much I want to talk about, but when we are on skype, it all just disappears. So I never know what to talk about. But I did still enjoy it. I have one question about the conversation. Was Yeager trying to tell me to date some Austrian girl? Because I was kinda confused, and then Logan yelled at me to stay focused and told Yeager to be quiet haha. But that just confused me even more. I thought Yeager just wanted me to find and teach some girl he knew. I am not that unfocused, okay? Hahahaha.

Wow, 2013 is almost done. I can´t believe it. I only have one more quote in my cool happiness quote calendar. Schade. But we went out with a bang, and there will be many more fireworks to add on to that tomorrow night. I am so excited. Cool thing is, it doesn't change anything, we are still here doing the same work :) We got two new investigators this week, one guy we found on the bus/bahn, and the other was a former. We have been trying forever to find these new investigators, and we got them! Last week was a great week. Looking back at the end of the week last night, we met many of the goals we set, even with the Christmas craziness! That makes me happy.

The midnight mass was pretty cool haha. I will send a picture of the missionary crew who went. We snuck into the line right at the front gates haha, the missionaries were the people right up front. Elder Weston was so tired, I think talking to his family drained him a bit as well. But it was great. Incense isn't my favorite smell in the world, but it is WAY better than cigarette smoke. I liked the singing a lot. I took the program with me, of course. Probably the only time I will ever be at a midmight mass in Stefansdom in Vienna, Austria. Legit. And then, at like 1.30 in the morning, we jumped on the train to get home, and then we had to jump off and switch trains, but we looked at the plan and the next train didn't come until 4 in the morning. And the train station was totally empty. I will send some pictures of that adventure, too. We had to walk home. Thankfully it wasn't too far. We actually met some Americans after the mass, on the bahn. One lady knew we were Mormons because of the way we acted, our aura. But she was upset and told us that the one thing she doesn't understand is why other people can't go into our temples, but we can go into theirs.... Elder Botcherby just told her that we do sacred ordinances in the temple, and one has to make themselves ready and live how God has commanded His children to live. Not saying that other people don´t live so, because many do; you just have to be a baptized member of the church.

We had a real Finnish Christmas meal as well, it was pretty good! Different. When I first saw the food, like fish sitting in water and some beet salad (which is good, I have just tried some nasty ones before) I was kinda worried. But I did fine :) The week went really fast. It was a good Christmas, we all opened our packages on Christmas morning.  Elders Botcherby and Jones wore their lederhosen to open presents. I was jealous. But thanks for everything! Haha even some requests from last year made it this year. We are loving the Goldfish crackers. And the t-shirts are awesome. And the CD has saved our lives! I love that CD.

I hope you had a good one, and that your new year is incredible! Just think of the adventures over here in Wien :) and you´ll have to check and see how cold Wien is tomorrow night. Today is actually pretty nice. We wanted to go to the big cemetery today and find Beethoven´s grave, but I don't think we will get to today. But I will send pictures when we do. I think Strauß is also buried there. And probably a lot of others. Pretty cool, huh?

I finished my one remaining journal yesterday. Now I need a new one. That one lasted from the 13th of March this year until yesterday. But I hardly wrote in Stuttgart. I kinda gave up. I wrote the things that really meant a lot to me, at least. I am working on picking it up again. I just can´t figure out a good way to really capture the changes the mission has made on me. I think it is just something you would have to see in me, it would involve time with me. Some changes I probably am not even aware of, others I have worked really hard on. But, you can all wait till later to spend time with me, I am sticking around here. I know that the gospel changes lives. It has changed mine. And continues to do so. When I say change, I mean that we can overcome the natural man inside, and become a saint through the atonement of Christ, the Son of God. The atonement is the solution to ANY problem on earth and in heaven. I know it. And I loved a quote from a talk from President Monson that I read today in the Ensign you sent me (by the way, THANKS for sending me the General Conference Ensign, the mission is still waiting on them, and all the other missionaries want it really badly haha). Anyway, the atonement was the best manifestation of the love that God has for us. In Pres. Monson´s talk in the General Women´s Meeting, he said, "That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God´s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there." It is true, take advantage of it and you can become the person you can become. The gospel is a gospel of change. Life is a business of change, adaptation, and improvisation, and it is beautiful. Come on, 2014. 
I love you all, keep on smiling till the end. Talk to you next year :)

Elder Jalen Gibbons 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas :)

Hallo Familie :)
Okay, first things first. I will be on skype around 20 uhr here, oder 8pm. That puts you at noon, your time. And 4pm Tyson's time. So, I have 40 minutes with you, and then 20 with Tyson. I don't know how you want to do it, whether I talk to you, then to Tyson, or vice versa, but I just know it would be impossible to talk to you all at the same time. But Tyson knows, hopefully. I sent him an email as well, so he should get that in time.
So, be on skype maybe a bit before noon. I will let Elder Weston go first. We are skyping at a member's house, familie Barosch. I don´t really know them yet. But I will :) It will be great. I am excited!
Oh, Happy Birthday to Joseph Smith :) And Justin, ge? Hope they have great ones. How old is Joseph Smith now, 208? Not bad. We are going to a member family tonight, Elder Botcherby and I, and we will talk about Joseph Smith. So I got to read some of his teachings this morning in study. He was an incredible man. And a prophet of God. We need more people like him in the world. And of course, that is just a step on the way to becoming like our Savior, whose birth we are celebrating :) Frohe Weihnachten!
This week was fun, and cold. Some cool things happened, though. Ich erzähle euch mal...So, on Wednesday Elder Botcherby got a call from a Hungarian woman who was traveling through Wien and needed help getting from the train station to the international bus terminal across the city. So, we volunteered, because we had the time. So, we show up at the bahnhof, and who is it? Sister Feher, the Sister we met in the MTC, who learned English AND Finnish in her 12 weeks there (of course not perfectly) and with whom we talked very often when we saw her and her companions around the MTC. Sister Feher´s MTC companion was Sister Ehlen, Bro. Ehlen´s sister. So when I saw her, as soon as she turned around I said, "Sister Feher, I knew you in the MTC!" and she looked at my nametag and then we both commenced in remarking how crazy it was that we met up again in Vienna, Austria! That was so cool. Elder Botcherby flipped when I showed him the picture that night of Sister Feher and I. We accompanied her and talked the whole time in English! And in the MTC she was finding English rather difficult. She was traveling up to Frankfurt to visit her friend, and about 18 months later we met up again. Craziness :) I will send a picture of us.
Next up, we had an awesome Christmas conference! We did a white elephant which was really fun, and we played the chimes. There was one song with harmony, and it was way cool. At the end, Sister Miles bore her testimony about how we have the light of Christ in our eyes, and she showed us a slideshow she had made, with pictures of Christ mixed in with missionaries from the mission. That was really cool. Then President Miles bore his testimony about the Savior. The conference really helped invite the Spirit of Christmas. After that we went to Rathaus to carol, and we got a little crowd who loved us. Then some moms came over and were angry with us because we had been singing so long and their group of kids wanted to sing. Geez, Merry Christmas people, we had no idea haha. All of you, don´t be Mister/Misses Scrooge, okay? Danke schön. I will send you a picture of our time at the rathaus Christmas markt last Monday. I bought a sweet little lederhosen dude ornament, where you pull the string and his arms and legs fly up. I was looking for something that just said Austria, and that was it :) Now I just have to find my own lederhosen again...
Guess what? Familie S_____ is going to be baptized on Sunday :) We went to teach Maria on Tuesday last week, with Arnulf Schaunig, and she is doing so good. But she still smoked 10 cigarettes a day :( But we went back on Saturday, she had made it down to 2. And our joint teach, Kilian, who used to smoke, was able to help her a lot and encourage her to just stop. Elder Botcherby and I talked really quickly as they were talking, and we both had a good feeling that if Maria stopped smoking then and there, she could be baptized with her family next week. So we will hope and pray that she makes it, I know she can. And then those 4 will be baptized next week. We are so excited. :)
Guess who I got to talk to on Saturday evening? Sister Schaunig :) Elder Botcherby and I did a tausch for the day so that we could accomplish all the things we needed to. Martin, the man taught by Elders Jones and Abbot, was baptized and confirmed and then received the priesthood on Sunday, it was great! (He had special permission to do it so, so we did it!) Martin had invited Elder Jones and Botcherby to an opera that night to celebrate, but we also had a few appointments between the four of us. So Elder Weston went with Elder Jones, Elder Botcherby and I hit up the appointments and then got to go play fußball with some members and their friends. :) Oh my goodness, I will send another email with pictures from the new family I met on Saturday, the Su____ family, being taught by Elders Jones and Botcherby. Their two kids, 6 and 7 years old, are so awesome. I kept them busy on one end of the couch so that Elder Botcherby could have a good conversation with the parents. The dad was baptized not too long ago, and they are still teaching the wife. They are so nice :) Anyway, I love them. The kids gave me the biggest hug when I left, I knelt down so the 7 year old daughter, M_____, could put my scarf on for me (she liked it a lot and wore it the whole time, as you will see in the pictures) and then she asked if I would come to them on Christmas, and if she would see me again, and she gave me the biggest hug. She stole my heart. And then the son, R_____, joined in the hug and told me he loved me. Sometimes you just have to be loved perfectly by a child to let all the stress and the like melt away. That is what happened for me! So we went from that awesome family over to the S_____ family, two incredible families in like 2 hours. We are very blessed here in this area :)
Back to the beginning story, we were playing fußball, but we got to the place and the door was locked, so we called Arnulf, who is in Klagenfurt visiting his mother, to ask who we should talk to. And I asked if his mom was there. So I talked to her for a few minutes, it was great. I also got an email from the Casellas today, and they want me to come stay my last week with them in Klagenfurt :) haha. They said not to worry about permission, they are going to speak with the mission boss.....Heavenly Father. Good enough, I guess haha. Their kids are playing hockey now, he sent me pictures. I miss them so much. Man, I miss everyone. Oh, that reminds me, I have to wish Familie Auras a Merry Christmas :) I wish I had the emails from Sympla and Bendito, I will have to ask Elder Allan. Mensch, Renate sent me a package for Christmas! How nice of her. I kinda already opened it, because I didn't know what it was, but I will reopen it on Wednesday. :) Still like Christmas! We are also going to do a Bayerisch Frühstück on Christmas morning, with pretzels and weißwurst and sweet mustard. Gonna be great.
Anyway, I am going to see you tomorrow, so I will talk more then, of course. Now I will hör auf bis dann. But I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and I will wish you a Happy New Year next week. Enjoy what is left of 2013, ge? Meine Güte, where did it go....
I love you all, remember that the Savior does, too. Really, His love you can feel, you can find peace and joy. Don´t just talk about it or listen to others do so, make sure you take some time to think and to FEEL. I know He is there, He was born for us, and ebenso He died for us. The greatest gift of all. :)

Frohe Wiehnachten!

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hallo :)

Wow, I just watched the video that Dad told me about. I love it! I, too, have been doing my best but not always succeeding in feeling the Christmas Spirit. It is sad that that is the world today, just business and stress. But there is always time to serve. Like Pres. Monson said in the Christmas devotional, it is the Spirit of Christ when we but drop the last syllable. What could the world be if everyone felt this Spirit? Fröhliche Weihnachtszeit to all :)  Well, that video helped me out a lot. Thanks so much Dad. I recommend it to everyone. On, "What shall we give?" Such videos always remind me of who I want to be, and give me the will and the strength to work for it. And that is indeed the Spirit of Christ, the ability and strength that comes to us when we seem to be at our limit. It pushes us to be better. And it brings a peace absent in the world. I know Jesus Christ was born for us. He is truly the Prince of Peace, bringing relief and hope to the lost and the forgotten. But we cannot forget that we are ofttimes the means by which He helps those who are lost and alone. Think about those people this Christmas time, and figure out how you can help. 
This last week went by SO FAST!!! I just emailed you all yesterday. It is crazy. Christmas is almost upon us! So, we are going to be skyping on the 24th, it will be evening for us, and Tyson said he is pretty sure he will get permission to do it then, too. I would guess around 20 here, that is about 2 PM by you. Mmm, maybe let´s say about 19 here. Ah, I will talk more with the family we are with, maybe they only have like 1 computer. I will let you know next week. Wait that will be pretty short notice for Tyson. We will make it work. 
I want to share something that we learned in our ward mission correlation meeting yesterday. The assistant ward mission leader was there, Arnulf Schaunig (his mom in Sister Schaunig from Klagenfurt, who I love :) ). He had invited a friend to church gestern, and she came with! But even though she liked what was being talked about in the Sacrament Meeting, she had one question: why doesn't everyone pay attention, why are there so many people just messing around with their phones? Arnulf told us he was ashamed, because we know the truth and don't even appreciate it as we should. I remember Dad not letting us bring our phones to church back home-- thanks Dad! He also didn't want us just bringing our iPods, even though they had the scriptures on them. I will ALWAYS bring my hard copy of the scriptures to church, unless I am on vacation or something. We don´t often think that much about what people see when they visit our wards. Sometimes, sadly, people pay more attention to what they see, rather than what they may feel. I want to challenge you all to think about that too. Maybe you have self control and don´t play games during church, but prevention is the best medicine. We have to realize what we have, and be excited about it, and share it with others.  That is what Arnulf talked to us about yesterday. He also said many other inspiring things about the authority we have as missionaries. We are eating lunch with him before he goes home for Christmas, and I will send him with a note to his mom.
Anyway, church was great yesterday, and we got to watch the Christmas devotional. And the ward party was also really fun. We helped out a lot in the kitchen. And sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Oh, guess who I met yesterday, from the Wien 1st ward? Haha you don´t know him, but chances are sometime you will, he is going to the Idaho Twin Falls mission! Last I heard, Mountain Home is in that mission now, oder? I will come back, find him, and speak German with him. And teach someone in German with him. He is Michael Schmid. He has your information. He is flying to Provo today. That was so awesome, I wanted to meet someone from here who would go to Idaho!
Okay, where did you get that idea Dad? Because that would be SOOOOOOO AWESOME!!!!!!!! (Jalen and Tyson have been asking whether we were coming to pick them up from their missions, and Jeff proposed an alternate idea--since Jalen is being released from his mission 11 days before Tyson, maybe Jalen could fly to Argentina and serve with Tyson those last few days, and they could come home together.  Don't know if it's possible yet.)  I would do it in a heartbeat. It may be rather complicated, though, with permission to proselyte in Argentina or whatever legal issues, but I would totally do it. As long as they don´t ship me through Africa and steal my luggage again or something haha. Anyway, if you find anything more about that, let me know :)
The S_____ family are doing good! The boys always talk about their missions, being missionaries :) even if they want to be Elder Botcherby haha. Sadly, there was some more trouble with the father this week, and they sent him away again. And our appointments got cancelled, except for one, so it could be that at least the mom won´t make the date for the 29th. But she said in the beginning, we tell her when she is ready, and she is there. So we will see what happens this week. We just have too little time to teach everything since appointments didn't happen. And as for the father being gone again, the miracle still happened! He just let the influences of the world work on him again, and he is gone. God is still a God of miracles, and we still all have that wonderful gift of agency.
We are still trying to find the elect, those who will actually take time to meet with us. People are just way busy this time of year. We have one new investigator from Nigeria, but we will be giving him to the international elders this week. Oh, this weekend there is a baptism here in Wien, a man who was taught by Elders Jones and Abbott, while they were in Neuötting and I in Landshut, is coming down to Wien to be baptized :) I am going to witness. I met him a few times, his has been a long journey. I am so happy for him :) This work ist einfach wahr! Read 1 Nephi 13, I wish people would just understand how simple it is, the reason we have the Book of Mormon. But people stop at the sight of new scripture. Well, God still speaks to man, through His chosen servants. I bear my witness to that, that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord´s prophet on earth today. And Joseph Smith was the Lord´s servant in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ. The gospel blesses anyone willing to follow it, and Jesus Christ, our Savior, born for us, and who died for us, is always there waiting for us to come to Him. 
I wish you a blessed week, with much hope and love and peace. "Picture a Christmas in Vienna! Picture an Elder Gibbons here." (To the tune of the Primary song-- I may or may not finish writing the lyrics. Those were from the top of my head :) )
Keep smiling and serving!
Ich hab euch alle lieb!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, December 9, 2013

Frohe Wiehnachten!

Saying goodbye to Elder Eaker
Delicious schnitzel with the Eakers
Tie-tying party
We have been singing Christmas hymns for the last couple weeks, but the sad thing is that the German hymnbook only has a small portion. So we pulled out the two English books we have and sang "The First Noel" and "It came upon a Midnight Clear" and "I heard the Bells" and loved it :) We are so excited for Christmas! The ward Christmas party is this weekend, Saturday. :) So stoked! We didn't get around to checking out the Christmas markets last week, and today it is raining, so we will see.
Anyway, everything is going so great! So Dad was confused about whitewashing, that just means that both missionaries get transfered out of an area at the same time, and two more come in, who have never been there before. So my adventure is doing that, plus training a new missionary. I am having so much fun. The elders who were here were teaching family S____, and they are so AWESOME!!!! Their new date is the 29th of Dezember, but I think they could even do it sooner, if the circumstances allow. We have a schedule schon for when we will meet, and we have planned out the next appointments with what we still need to teach. I will send a picture of the last appointment we had. We had a tie-tying party at the end :) We all fit in that little room!!! Haha. Man, they are so ready, the mom said that as soon as she met the missionaries, she saw the light we had. And she knows she is now on the right path. She looked through lots of different churches, but now she had found it, and she is such a good example for her kids and her younger sister who has been living with them for a month. She will probably also be baptized, next year. M____ is the nicest lady ever, and the sons love us and text us almost everyday. And they have so many friends in the ward already. It is basically the PERFECT situation, and we are just blessed to be here and keep it moving forward.
We saw a HUGE miracle on Saturday, that was the appointment in the picture. When we got here to Wien and read the records for the family, and also heard from the other missionaries a bit about them, we read about the kids´ father. He didn't want them to go to church, he wouldn't let them, and was basically against all of it. But then the father moved out one day, and the family´s progress took flight! Now they are where they are. After our first appointment on Tuesday, we were just flabbergasted by how ready this family is. The only thing missing was the father--they aren't a complete family. And we want families to be eternal. That was basically the only thing not right in this picture. Then, we get to our appointment Saturday, and the dad is there. The other missionaries didn't like the father, because he had pushed so much against them and the family. But then the mom told me that he had showed up at their house on Saturday morning and said that he wanted to come to church and learn with them. WHAT???!!!! The mom then said that he had seen how the kids had changed, what good it had done in their lives, and in the family life, and he wanted to be part. So the ENTIRE family came to church yesterday, and all of the boys, and the dad, had nice shirts and ties on, the ties we had showed them how to tie yesterday. We are so blessed to be here and take part, because we really haven't done anything for this. The other Elders were just doing their best, trying to fulfill their responsibilities, and now there are so many people involved and so many lives have been touched, both missionaries and member and investigators. Wow.  So that is Familie S____, I love them so much. One day the sons will go on missions and bring their light to everyone else in their missions. Meine Güte. So cool!!!!!!
Another cool miracle from last week. On Monday, the guy sitting at the computer across from me got up to leave and couldn't find his wallet. That was too bad. But then we are sitting on the Bahn on Wednesday, and Elder Weston points him out and says "Hey look, it is the guy from Monday." As soon as I saw him, I knew he was going to get out where we were getting out, and we were going to talk to him. He actually jumped out one before, but we were standning by the door, so I checked my watch, and then we jumped out and asked him if he had found his wallet. He hadn't, but we gave him something with much more worth ;) he took the Book of Mormon and we are going to call him this week to see how he likes Alma 34. What are the chances of seeing the same person again in Vienna, a city of 2.5 Million people??!! We had to do it :) That was way cool.
I got to see Elder Eaker later on Wednesday too :) His parents picked him up over here, and he was in Wien, and he called me. We met him and his parents in the city, and then they took us to go eat. It was great talking to him again, and Elder Weston got to see his trainer´s trainer. I had a schnitzel filled with ham and mushrooms, it was so huge and was delicious. Man, it is crazy how much we change on missions. I love Elder Eaker and have so much respect for all that he taught me and for the man he is. I hope he has a great time at home and that he keeps himself busy haha.
Okay, really quick, about the skype in two weeks. You have to send me my info again, I lost it. And I have of course 40 minutes with the family, but I also have permission to talk to Tyson for 20 minutes! So the hardest thing is the timing haha. Just had to throw that in before I forget.
Man, Elder Weston is so awesome! We have been eating so good this last week, eating like four kings for €70! I have had meatloaf, beef alfredo, tortelonni, bbq chicken wings, and last night we ate scones. Fresh scones. With homemade honey butter. All compliments of Elder Weston. Yeah, we go running a couple days a week, in the morning. And our frühsport is pretty good! I am excited for this week, because Elders Jones and Botcherby were at mission leadership council this last week, and they bartered with the German elders for a few packages of maultaschen, like schwäbish (Stuttgart area) ravioli, except special and so delicious. They don´t have it here. Naja, don´t have to worry about food. We are working together on German, we have to start from the basics. But he will get it with practice and more practice. It is way crazy how we are almost the same person, but totally different as well. We have some great conversations about the things we have learned and how we learned them and why we are here, etc. Meaningful conversations. I am grateful to have him. He is so ready to share with everyone, and he listens and does his best just to serve. He will do great.
Well, we are excited about this week. Lots going on, and lots to do. I am just doing my best to love everyone like the Savior would (and does). Makes everything so much better, more meaningful, more enjoyable, and more memorable. The Lord does so much for us, just like Dad told me, He is there to calm our troubled hearts and silence our fears. I know it, too. And there is no better time to feel His love and devotion than this Christmas time! Enjoy it, love it, and spread the joy around.
Have a good week, give your best, and smile. :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS I just noticed that my nametag is not on my coat in my picture with Elder Eaker. It was still on my sweater, sorry. I do always wear it :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Dezember

Renate's baptism
Missionaries with Finotto Family in Stuttgart

International Bazaar

With Elder Weston

Wow, goodbye November. What in the world? It´s okay, we still have ONE MONTH left in this year. I have been all over the place in just this year alone.

Greetings from Vienna! Apparently one of the most desired destinations in the world. I love it a lot :) The last few days have been pretty crazy, trying to figure out what is going on in an area we have both never been in. We stopped in Munich on the way to Wien, and I picked up my golden on Wednesday night. The trainers were all supposed to tell them something about their area, and then about an investigator, and then President would say who worked with who :) But when it came to me, I just said I had no idea haha. But that was okay, because like 4 or 5 of the other missionaries there had either just come from Wien 2 or had already served there. And they all love it :) and I do too. We met the ward yesterday, and they are so awesome! Plus, there is a family here who is going to get baptized, and we are meeting with them tomorrow. It is a mom and her three sons, but she also has a 4 year old daughter, she just can´t get baptized yet. I met them at church for the first time, but I love them so much! I sat with them in Sacrament Meeting, and the kids were all asking when we were comnig this week:) They are Serbian, I think, but have been in Germany for a long time. 
So, Elder Jones actually came with us with transfers, so we aren't doing a crazy drit thing, but it has been way fun so far. Hahaha, I suppose I should tell you about my golden! He is Elder Weston, from American Fork, UT! Just like my other "son" :) Oh, and guess what, really quick? Elder Allan is ALSO training for the second time, so I saw him again on Wednesday :) I now have two "grandsons" on the mission. Hahaha. Funny family history. Elder Weston is so great, his blows people out of the water with his testimony. We have had lots of fun just talking to people. Church was a bit much yesterday, as it is for every golden, and he was pretty shell schocked. But it was good :) He is so excited and grateful to be here, and ready to do whatever we need to do. AND...... he loves to cook!!!!! We have eaten very well the last few days, and shopping today will be exciting. We are all blessed, Elders Botcherby and Jones and I. Oh, Elder Botcherby says hello :) We keep looking at each other and we are surprised that we are back together, in the same place at least haha. So much fun. We are going to check out some Weihnachtmarkts tonight, we are so excited. 
Saying goodbye to Stuttgart was.... okay. I learned a lot there. It was really hard on me, but on Wednesday, the day I left, I finally got my answer.  For so long I was just so confused and wondering what I had done wrong, why things were so hard. But then Chris´ email, from like the end of November, was kinda the Lord´s icing on the cake, the seal on the letter. Chris shared a quote from Pres. Monson. "Never let a problem to be solved become more impotant than a person to be loved." Looks kinda like my thoughts from my email about testimony, oder? At least I was on the right track.
Well, I don't have much time left. I forwarded some pictures of Renate´s baptism, hope you got it. I will send a couple more. Also, a picture of Elder Weston and I, in front of the India exhibit at the International Bazaar. We went and did service setting everything up. It was so cool :) You see all the bottles of jam on the Great Britain table? Yeah, I moved it there :)
Anyway, have a great week! Love one another! It makes you happy. And remember, the Lord´s ways are not ours. He knows what He is doing, so trust Him. I love you all :) Hopefully the bitter winter freezes a smile on your face :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS. Sorry that Dad is falling apart. I told him to be careful ;) Hope he gets better soon! Love you Dad!
PPS. I tried to get you into my mission experience, but you didn't have to go lose your luggage! Well, I know how you feel. Really. But it is okay, clothes can be replaced.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Hey alle!
So, you can stop your wondering and worrying, RENATE WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!! :) Let me tell you how crazy this day was.
We planned out the times we needed to be on different trains and such to get to her new apartment, gather all the things she needed, and then go to the church so she could prepare herself and get changed. So, we get started off good, and then we were on the S-bahn when the speaker came on and said that because of construction work that day, the bahn was NOT stopping at the stop we needed. So we jumped off and asked ourselves what in the world we needed to do to get there, and how in the world we were going to get Renate and her friends back to the church. We ran over to the buses and hopped in one when the driver said he was going to the place we needed to go. As soon as we hopped in, he drove off! Let´s just say that the Lord has really good timing. So we got to Renate later than planned and had to call Elder Benson and ask him to go start the font, because we were going to be late. Then we had to walk to the Bahnhof in Obertürkheim where she lives, and wait for a bus back. Then we hopped on a U-bahn, and finally on one more to get to the church. The font wasn't very full, because none of us missionaries knew how to properly work the plug thing. But we figured that out, and then none of the lights in the font were working, and people were showing up late, and there were tons of reasons to let the adversary ruin this moment. But I didn't let it happen. I knew she was going to get baptized anyway, didn't matter if we didn't have light or if we had to start the whole meeting a bit later than planned. It happened! Elder Horlacher and I were both in the water, that is how Renate wanted it, but we needed it too, because she had some bandages and stuff wrapped on her leg wounds, and she really could not stand by herself. We both held her up the whole time. And the first time we tried it, her feet just popped right up haha. So, we told her we had to do it again, and she said "What??!" hahaha. Elder Horlacher said the prayer and I was on the other side, and I used some trick that I learned from Dad or from someone back home. I put my leg over her feet to keep them down, and then it worked! She did it! And she was confirmed on Sunday, followed by the Primary program, which was awesome. It was a great weekend. Renate had a few friends who came, and one of them gave us her info because she knows where our church is in her hometown, and she wants the missionaries to come visit her. She was so nice, C_____ is her name :) This is the Lord´s work! Because Renate was baptized, her friends are also so much closer to their Savior, when they just act on the things they felt. So cool!
Well, on to transfer news! I am going to Wien 2 Ward!!!! (Wien is Vienna.)  Back to Austria! And, Mom got it completely right, I am going to Austria and training! AND the trainers finally get to go to Munich and pick up their goldens and have meetings with Pres. and Sister Miles again :) I haven't been able to do that yet, except when Elder Eaker picked me up when I was a golden. I will be whitewashing this area, so that will be fun! But get this: I live in the same apartment as Elder Botcherby!!!!! :) And, I will be with Elder Botcherby (my MTC companion) and my golden in a drit (a trio) for the first week or so, because the new Wien ZL with Elder Botcherby is going to be..... Elder Jones!!! :) from my landshut district! But Elder Jones is staying in the office for a little bit to train the new secretary a bit more, so I get to work with my MTC comp and my golden for a week! I am so excited. Plus, Christmas and New Years in Wien with some of my best friends in my apartment, it is going to be so awesome!!!! The Christmas markt is going to be incredible!
But, transfer calls were on Thursday this last week, it surprised almost everyone! I got a text from Elder Davies in Offenburg asking where I was going, and I was thinking that he just wanted to make some guesses before Friday. I was writing him back when I got a call from President miles. BOOM, going to Vienna, training. I had had a lot of anxiety for these transfer calls, because I had no idea what would happen! So it was like ripping off a bandaid, just did it quick and it was a surprise. :) Just like I told Elder Orchard back in the day in Klagenfurt, he is going to Munich to be the new Assistant! I knew it all along, he is such a great guy. Elder. And when he tausches in Wien, he can come and hang out with my golden and I, and either Elder Botcherby or Elder Jones. I was just so happy after finally figuring out where I was going. I know it is where I am supposed to be. Sister Green is also taking another train ride with me, as she is going to Wien 1! This time she will help me keep track of my luggage, hopefully... haha. She is actually going to work with her MTC companion, so she is way excited. Elder Horlacher´s new companion was already 5 transfers in Stuttgart zone, and he is coming back as Zone Leader. Elder Hansen got his wish and is staying in the International Ward for Christmas. His new companion is from Sweden! Sister Smith is also training. And the Bensons of course are staying ;) haha. Elder Morrill from Ludwigsburg is going to be the new Zone Leader in Munich, and Elder Bartholemew is replacing his "father" as Zone Leader in Singen! We knew those two are great missionaries and would be great Zone Leaders. I love how President Miles does it, because he has a mixture of younger and older missionaries in his leadership councils. He is an inspired man!
I am going to miss all the awesome missionaries and friends I have made here in Stuttgart. Thankfully such relationships can last forever. I am so grateful for that. But I am excited for change. I think as I have been Zone Leader and I have known every transfer that I was staying, I just didn't feel like I do now, the rush of excitement for something new, really feeling like a missionary, bound for something new and adventurous. But I have it now. I will have two Austrian Christmases! And will probably stay in Wien until that dreaded last day. Unless I get to go back to Klagenfurt for my last two transfers or something.... would be cool. :)
So, next week you will hear from your Austrian missionary again! Going back to my birthland, but with a totally different dialect. And a MUCH MUCH bigger city. But it is all the same in the Lord´s eyes. I love being here. And I will love being there. And despite your awesome adventures in Morocco, which looks TOTALLY awesome, by the way, I wish you could be here, just to see what I see, and feel what I feel on the Lord´s errand.
I hope you have a great week! I love you all :) Keep smiling, especially when you are wearing shorts and t-shirts at the End of November. Happy Thanksgiving :)
HÄÄÄÄPPPPPYYYYY BIRSDAYYYYY MUM!!!!!! (say is like you are a German trying to speak English unsuccessfully :) ) Have a great one Mom, buy yourself something nice :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS I will send pictures next week. Hopefully.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hallo :)

 Pais Family from Portugal
 Hedgehogs are everywhere!
Beautiful sunset
Hey, congrats Nathan on making JV! Just don´t injur yourself on your trip. Wow, the e button on this keyboard is really annoying. And now Kate has a decent camera! Jealous. I find photography very fun and interesting! I can´t wait to see pictures from the trip! Hey, we'll be on the same side of the Atlantic! Look at Tyson all alone over there. Sorry bro. Anyway, let´s get going, shall we? Ich hab wenig Zeit.
Okay, someone needs to send this picture to Uncle Steve :) This is Bruno, and his nephew Diogo, who both came to church this week because their mother/grandma was there :) I showed the grandma a picture of Steve and asked if she recognized him. She said she thinks that Steve was in their city at one time on his mission. (Portugal). That would be cool, eh? :)
The next picture is a hedgehog :) I have seen them all over the last couple weeks. They are so cool! And there is a Schwäbish sunset as I was on my way back to Stuttgart from München. SOOO PRETTY!
I want to tell a story. We went to R_____ on Tuesday, but we hadn't found a joint teach. We were going to cancel it, but decided we would still go, be obedient, and stand outside the door so we could just move things to the keller. So, we were obedient, and we ended up pulling down boxes from the attic. Then R_____ klingeled her neighbor, who came out and helped. He is a younger guy from China and helped us the whole time! He seems to know R______ pretty well. Well, we asked if he would like to come join us for a talk with Renate, because we needed a third man. And he agreed :) He asked tons of good questions, too, and we talked about baptism. So we got his number and we are trying to meet with him again, because he was interested in learning more about Christianity! :) WUNDER!!! Obedience brings blessings. I promise. And God promises, too :) Don´t take it from me.... haha
As we looked back last night on our week, it was basically totally different than what we had expected. But it was such a good week! Made me happy, and I am excited for this week. Today should be a great day. Transfer calls are Friday, I am pretty anxious to know where in the world I am going. Um, I never had the chance to go to the base to get luggage, it was just too crazy for a man from the military to take us on a Monday afternoon. But I have looked around, and I remember, just cheap stuff! Don´t worry. Yeah, it may well be my last week in Stuttgart. Crazy how time flies.
So R_____ will be baptized on Saturday! We are very excited. All the craziness about her move to Esslingen Ward can be taken care of after, for now, we are just fasting and praying that everything this week will be okay.
This week I want to work on being humble, so that I can be led better by the Spirit. Elder Bednar says in "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary" that anything we do as servants of the Lord that attracts attention to ourselves is essentially a form of priestcraft! I have read the Book of Mormon enough to know that that is not good :) He also said that because this is the Lord´s work, not ours, is has NOTHING to do with you or with me. I want to strive for more as a missionary and reach it because I am just doing the Lord´s will. That is what I really admire in the great missionaries around me. When I look at Elder Orchard, for example, he doesn´t do anything that glorifies himself. Same wth Elder Riser, and many others. And they are missionaries who are tearing things up! I want to be more like them.
We can learn so much from the people who are around us. I have learned so much about hard work from Elder Horlacher, about setting goals and staying focused on them. Er macht es wirklich gut. From the other missionaries I know, I always see something that I would like to develop more in my character. And of course, I try and develop the characteristics which our Savior possesses. That helps us to keep moving forward in life, to never stand still. And that is my direction right now! I encourage you all to pay more attention to the strengths of those around you, and spend less time dwelling on their weaknesses. We are here to build, not to break down. Don´t underestimate the influence for good you can have for others. We get more and develop more quickly when we spend our time in the service of others. 
I have to go now, but ich wünsche euch das Allerbeste! Have a great time on your trip, be safe, as for everyone else, be happy :) Don´t worry too much. Laughter is the best medicine.
Love you all!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, November 11, 2013


MTC Roommates Reunion:
Elder Botcherby, Elder Janis, Elder Gibbons, Elder Robins
Ciao! Yeah, that means hello and goodbye in Italien :) Can you imagine walking up to someone on the street and stopping them by saying "goodbye?" That's how it goes in Italy haha. Anyway, back to Germany!
LOOK! It is my MTC roommates! :) We all slept with our heads towards each other at leadership council so we could talk about all sorts of stuff on Thursday night. We talked for a little while... haha. It was great seeing Elder Botcherby again! He is still mostly how I remembered him, just no worries about German anymore, and basically just even more awesome than he was in the MTC 18 months ago. That is right, we all hit our 6 month mark on Saturday. What in the world?!!!
In our mission leadership councils, we spend the first night talking about the gospel. Sister Miles usually picks a Christlike attribute to talk about, and this time it was hope. So we led a huge discussion on hope, heard lots of stories and such. Then President Miles talked this time about the Atonement and repentance, and that was incredible! It helped me to have a lot more hope, because hope is rooted in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was really cool how that all fit in together; that is the gospel. The next morning we go through business, so all the things we have to talk aout in our zone training meetings, things that the missionaries have to know. For example, President Miles is opening up another day where we can go and email potentials and investigators throughout the week, for just an hour. He wants us to be able to be in contact with these people as much as possible, and send them cool links to and stuff. The zone leaders and the sister training leaders have been doing that for the last transfer, and tomorrow we will open it to the whole mission. It is pretty cool to see the inspiration that comes as a council. After lunch, we do training, so we do roleplays and such. Dad asked how we are trying to involve the members. We are doing it through family mission plans. We visit the members in their homes, talk about cool opportunities or experiences they have had, and then watch a short clip from the hastening the work broadcast, a clip that the mission made. It is all the missionaries singing "Hark all ye Nations" and then some of the talking, and then at the end it is the family who does service and invites friends and stuff. It brings the Spirit so strongly! Then we invite them to make their own family mission plan, for example in a family home evening. Then we will follow up and bring supplies and support them in their efforts! We have been trying to do this and perfect it almost this whole year. But this is really how the Alpenländische Mission München is going to push forward. I have had some awesome experiences so far. And the Stuttgart Sisters are tearing it up with the family mission plans. The idea is to support the members in inviting their friends to learn more. So what kind of things are they trying at home?
Interviews were great, we had a wonderful district meeting with Sister Miles, and then we switch out talking with President. He did not drop any hints about transfers, no haha. But, he asked Elder Horlacher how long we had been working together. "Three transfers," said Elder Horlacher. "Oh, so Elder Gibbons is in his 4th transfer as ZL?" Elder Horlacher, "Yeah." President: "Well, I don´t know what is going to happen, but stay on your toes." Hahaha so Elder Horlacher is kinda spooked, and I take it as President doesn't know yet exactly what is happening. Or he enjoys messing with our minds. Haha. He has like almost 300 missionaries in the mission, spread across 3 countries, and he has to do transfers for everyone and interview them all. It is incredible what he does. On my tausch with Elder Gubler in Munich (I was in Munich the whole weekend, donnerstag bis samstag) he spoke very highly and lovingly of President and Sister Miles. They do so much. I got the chance to sit and talk with Sister Miles for a few minutes at the mission home as Elder Gubler was having a temple recommend interview with President. She is so awesome. She takes lots of pictures from the mission and orders herself books with all the missionaries and different meetings and whatnot. And for the cover of the newest one, she put a picture of Wörthersee! In Klagenfurt :) I had a dream last night that I got transfered to Klagenfurt. I was pretty happy :) I shared lots of the things that you and Dad said in your emails last week, which I printed out. It fit perfectly with the things we talked about at MLC, it was pretty cool. 
Well, R_____ is doing so well! We met with her three times last week, I believe, despite the craziness. She is so excited :) and we watched a Mormon Message the other night and she sent it to lots of her friends. She had lots of pain on Sunday, and we had given her a blessing on Saturday, but she wasn't able to make it to church. BUT, one of her "friends" decided to come to church. This friend was there a few weeks back as the Bensons came with us to see R_____. He has been telling R_____ that she can't be baptized so soon, that she can´t let us rush her. R_____ always tells us about it, and it is hard for her. But, gestern he decided to come to church and fight his case. So he talked with the bishop, and told the Bishop how he has been searching for the true church for 10 years, how he is now with a different church, and that R_____ can't possibly be baptized so quickly. Thankfully, the Bishop told him what was up! He said that obviously this man should try some other way of searching, because whatever he is doing now isn't working. So he told him that R_____ had made the decsion herself, which she did, and then he said goodbye and left. I didn't talk to her friend, because I would have been too angry. But, R_____ called us after church and was SOOO angry with her friend, because he called and told her what he had done. She is not inviting him to the baptism, and she was totally fighting for her right to her agency :) She is so ready! We are finishing the few commandments we have left and the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end this week, and then she will be interviewed on Sunday or Saturday. We have lots to prepare for the service! That is next week!! 
We are meeting with A_____ tonight, whose wife is the member. Br. Finotto is coming with us :) then we are going to R_____ after that. It will be a good day. We found lots of people last week, and they need to become new investigators, if they know what is good for them! ;)  Haha we will see.
Um, I am running out of time, but I hope you have a great week! Know what is cool about the word "hope" in a gospel sense as compared to the world? Whereas the world's connotation has a sense of uncertainty, the word hope in the gospel means assurity, peace. Think about how you use the word hope in everyday life. I thought about the song "I hope they call me on a mission." Doesn't mean the same in the worldly sense of the word, does it?
Enjoy all that life has to bring! Choose to be happy. And rely on the Lord, because He will never let you down!
I know He lives, and He lives to silence our fears and take our burdens from us! :) No better reason to smile!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grrrrrrrrr​üüüüüßßßß di, euch, Sie!

Hey there folks! I love you :) No, really!  :) This has been a great week, probably like the greatest week of my mission, pertaining to personal growth and change. I am happy :) I will explain later, first I have to spout my random thoughts from reading your emails.
Wow, Scott looks so good in an afro and cool moustache. Haha everyone looked like they had tons of fun on Halloween :) This was probably the first year in my life that I didn't even have a Halloween party (I was on a tausch, but I will tell you more later :) ) Also, that shelf of Rittersports in the photo you sent is NOTHING compared to the actual factory. But they had some good selection :) Does Marzipan exist in American cooking and or grocieries? I love it. And, the orange caramel one is way good, I bought it last week. But kakao mousse......wins by far. Like as far as I can kick a soccer ball compared to how far I can throw a baseball. And I can't throw. Um..... how tall are Nathan and Kate now? Cause Oscar was always shorter than we were, but Nathan looks like a huge person next to him. Sorry Oscar, I know how you feel now. Stop growing Nathan and Kate. Becky said last time she was in Mountain Home Kate was like 3 feet taller than her haha. I mog es nit!!!!! Hört auf damit! :) ich liebe euch. Was noch? .... snow?!!!! Ja, it has been just pretty rainy and what here. I am grateful for my coat. Works good :) and the other missionaries like it, so at least I don´t look like a freak!
Okay, I think that was it. Let´s get going with the week!
R_____ is so cool :) I love her. Yesterday we stood up with her in Sacrament Meeting and she read a little tesimony she had written, and invited everyone to her baptism on the 23rd. That is a miracle in and of itself, because when we tried to set the date, she had like every excuse possible to try and do it later. But the next day when we went to help with moving, she was talking about the people she was going to invite, and everything :)  She is doing it! And she has already asked Bischof if we can both be in the water with her, one just to help support her back out of the water. Man, I have to send you a picture of her! Sorry. So, that was way cool. And then, she was invited with us to a Sister´s house in the ward after church, for lunch, and that was great! And on the way home, she asked us for pass along cards and handed them out to everyone she saw. Some people still said no, but now she has a little taste of the things we have experienced for what seems like ages now. She is doing missionary work! That is a good sign :) We were with her earlier today, and helped pack some dishes and then began teaching the 3rd lesson, about the gospel of Jesus Christ :)  She loves us. And we always have members with us (unless everything falls out for joint teaches, like they did Saturday, and then we brought the other elders), so she can build relationships with them, since it is still so hard for her to know that we will go away eventually. But she is doing great, she just needs to not have too much stress, and we will finish the lessons and then she will be baptized!
Sadly, our appointment with A_____ fell out again this week. And then they didn't come to church. Schade. But we are looking forward to next time! Today we had interviews in Stuttgart, and tomorrow we have zone conference, and then President and Sister Miles finish interviews on Wednesday, and then Thursday we go to Munich for leadership council, and then after leadership council on Friday we have an austausch with the APs. Our week is pretty crazy! But we are excited. I get to see Elder Botcherby in two days!!!!!! :D
Okay, let me tell you about how I decided to be happy again and move on from the past trials and tribulations. I decided. :) pretty simple, oder? Hahaha where there is a will, there is a way. But of course, lots led up to it. Here we go :)
Had a tausch on Wednesday with Elder Piepenstock in Ludwigsburg. He is so cool! He is the German rugby player, if you don´t remember. His mother I think is from Honduras and his father is German. Anyway, he and I are like THE SAME PERSON!!! He is like my twin! In personality mostly. Yeah, Tyson can look like me, but he is also his own cooler self :) (love you bro-elder!) Did I tell you how Elder Piepenstock knows the same little rune schrift that I discovered in 9th grade? Back then I wrote notes in Mrs. Ayers' Englisch class with Chris, Ryan, and Tony. And Becky was the only other one who tried. Anyway, Elder Piepenstock was way excited when he figured that out. So he wrote me a note after our tausch and hid it in my bag. He told me I am the only person he knows who is exactly like him. I take that as a huge compliment, because he is the man! :) How he helped me so much was folgendes: we sat to eat lunch after district meeting (we were back at the Ludwigsburg apartment) and we were discussing einfach life. I don´t know how to describe it, but having a conversation with Elder Piepenstock was basically just like a constant testimony meeting. He is so powerful in testimony, and knows exactly how it has helped him in life. And we are so similar because we have been through the exact same trials of character on our missions, even though he is still "young." He told me how he knew how I felt when I told him all about the things I talked about last week, my struggles. And through that I knew that I wasn't the only one who had had to do this. He knew how I felt as well, and bore testimony of the Savior, who of course knows it all. Elder Piepenstock is so funny, but I swear, when he is about to expound the mysteries of the universe to you, he grows in stature and blasts you with the Spirit. I loved it :) We had a good tausch, and like I said, as I listened to his testimony about how it is possible to change, I thought about what Sister Smith had told us in district meeting about how her sister had just decided to change, become a new/better person. And it was sitting there with Elder Piepenstock that I decided to just do it. And then everything was so much easier. I was so much more grateful to be where I was. To know the people I know. To meet people I have never known, and may never see again. And when I was grateful, it was so easy to be happy and to bear my testimony. My friends and family, the Atonement is real. Don´t hold yourself back from it. I changed, and I feel so much lighter and better. Don´t ever doubt the power and ability of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
After we switched back on Thursday, it was still so easy to be happy. I am like a new person, but I think it is more like a new and improved version of me. So I am still me :) It was so much easier to love everyone around me, and that makes missionary work so much easier. I have been enjoying that for about 5 days now, and I pray every night that I can renew my strength and be able to do it all again the next day. Step by step.
Then I went away from Stuttgart again on Friday night, with Elder Chapman in Ulm :)  He is so awesome too! He is an angel, I think. Haha we were talking to each other on the train there, and I realized it was exacctly like I did with Elder Piepenstock. We were two 20-year-olds sitting on a packed train in Germany, discussing people´s eternal salvation. I love it, and I told Elder Chapman about my experience with Elder Piepenstock, and how much it meant to me. Really helps us stay focused, too. Well, we were talking and the guy across from us holds his phone up as if he is texting, but then his flash goes off really bright, for like 5 seconds, and we both pause and look at the camera, thinking "did he really just take a picture of us?" and then I think he realized it and tried to play it off, and Elder Chapman had to pause our conversation and hold our laughter inside hahahahaha. Sorry, had to be there :) But we got to Ulm, had some good time to talk to people, met a really cool guy and gave him a Book of Mormon. Then I got to see Elder Riser and his golden, Elder Geilman, at the apartment. In the morning we had like an hour to go and talk to people on the street, and it was way crowded because of a markt. And no one was interested in stopping, because of the markt. So we took off down a beautiful, picturesque side street and tried some more, no luck. Then, we had to head home, and I saw this older guy with a bright red scarf, and I just said "hey, I like your scarf!" as he rushed by. We kept walking and then I hear "Bitte?" so we went back to the man, he had stopped and was kinda confused. But then we told him why we were there ("why" is always better that "what" you are doing, it means more to them and to you) and then he told us that he thinks religion needs to be a bit more up to date, with the times, because the world isn't the same old world it was back then. Well, that was perfect :)  We gave him a Book of Mormon and bore testimony that we have modern day revelation and prophets and apostles who live and walk today on the earth. I hope he came to church. That was way cool :)
Hahaha I also told someone else today that his tie was cool, as we were walking towards our destination of lunch as a district, and he even took the time to turn around and say "danke, gleichfalls" oder "thanks, same to you!" :)  Makes things more fun.
So yeah, I was riding on the train with Elder Chapman on Halloween as the rest of my district was attending the Halloween trunk or treat from the international ward. I don´t even care :) Elder Horlacher told everyone there that his exchange companion was his new one, and everyone was sad and thought I had been transfered haha. Pretty mean. But I am still here!
So, the world is a brighter place, because I choose to see so. In reality, the winter is coming, and the clouds are gray with cold water and the winds remind me of good old zuhause. But I am in Stuttgart, Germany, because I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Get your own testimony of that, and see where it takes you ;)  Rest assured that it will be your guide through the eternities. I know it is true, because I am happy. I know how it is to be miserable. But these things bring me joy and hope and love, and that is proof enough for me that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. I know He loves you too.
I hope you have a great week! Life is so cool. Live it up, as they would say, but do it in the Lord´s way, and then it will last longer :)  Catch the wave. It is not ever going to stop. Enjoy it :)
Keep on smiling :) I am right there with you.
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, October 28, 2013


Mom and Dad, I don´t know exactly how you came to the point where you both talked about testimony in your emails, but it is something that has been on my mind so much recently. The questions that Dad asked me were pointed and went straight to my heart. Zum Glück, not because I was guilty of a weak testimony, but it was a sign of the truth, the truth of the many things I have been going through the last weeks.
I don´t know exactly what I will think of my time in Stuttgart when I leave. My first transfer here had its difficulties, but they were rare and small. But the last 3 transfers have been SO HARD! Difficulties and frustration spotted with glimpses of happiness and bliss. The whole "success" factor comes in. I really appreciated Dad´s thoughts about success, how there is only One person we are trying to impress. I have had that always in my mind, and Elder Horlacher has quoted it often, too.  So, thanks Dad for putting things simply and clearly for us both. I am very grateful that you went on a mission and have experienced at least mostly the same things that the normal missionary does. I wish we had talked more before the mission and throughout the past 18 months. But thanks for always being there anyways.
I don´t know how to describe the last weeks/months any other way than hard. Rough. Discouraging. We have seen miracles, because my God is a God of miracles. But it didn't ultimately change the circumstances. Just reminders that this is His work. I have had moments that were so much fun, and where I really felt love for the other missionaries in our zone and/or district, and investigators and members. And loving others makes me happy.
I have found myself being more caught up on doing everything in a good time than actually enjoying the time that I have with people! Now this is not always, because I have slapped myself in the face hard enough a couple times to remember to just be GRATEFUL!!! That helps, a lot.
Now, how does this all tie into testimony? Inmitten from my numerous thoughts and ponderings, I have decided that although my testimony is strong, I just don´t share it enough lately.  I bear my testimony frequently, but I don´t want to be in a rush and just say the things everyone says, even if it is the truth. I want to mean it.
We´ve made goals to get more time just talking to people on the street. Doing the stuff I did in Landshut with Elder Allan, where I was happy and at least partly satisfied, and where we saw miracles happen, like Sympla and Bendito. Yeah, all that crazy stuff hasn't happened here, but I take Alma 26:27 to heart, knowing that if I bear the burdens of the last transfers with patience, it will all make sense one day. I believe that.
I don´t know why I have experienced the things I have. I don´t know why it has been so hard. But I hope and pray that I can make my testimony strong, and be ready to face life´s challenges, like Dad asked me.
I do not know what life will bring. Like I said, I need lots of help, a great wife and great friends and family, to make it through. I don´t know how I will do it all. I don´t know if one day I will lose my job, lose a loved one, experience the heartache of a straying loved one, but I DO know one thing.  I know that the Savior will help me through. I know that it will all one day make sense. All the trials we endure will be made up to us. I know that my faith in Him will get me through anything. And with that faith that I have now, I am comforted, safeguarded against the coming storms of life.
There is so much confusion in the world, so many distractions from what is really important. So when the trials don´t stop, and the hardships continue, I will drink the bitter cup and move on. I am working on that as we speak.  Now it's time to move on and trust in the happier days to come, and to make today that happy day. Thanks for your thoughts and your love, which means so much to me.
SO, some quick updates. R_____ has a baptismal date for the 23 of November! We are very excited for her. We also found a new investigator from a less active member. She is a member and her husband isn't, but he knows that one day he will be. Just loves wine too much. He is way cool and so ready, loves the gospel in his home. We are going to meet hopefully every week!
I hope you have a great Halloween and a great week! Find ways to keep your tesimonies strong, and share them. Trust me, that is essential.
I love you all!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, October 21, 2013

Griaß oink

Hello :)
Hey, I learned a bit of Spanish this week and used it with the ladies who come to English class! "Sie(they); como estas?" + "Ich: moi bien, y usted?" = Sie(they): really impressed!!! :) math. Makes sense.
I have a list of things I have to tell you about! But first, when it is still possible, I have another Christmas wish. Just the Best of EFY CD from 2011, Believe.Hope.Endure. Awesome CD. Um, anything else that I need to NOT forget.... I am going to try and contact someone from the American ward today who could take us to Panzer to go to the BX and get cheap luggage. I must say, it is pretty great not to have to worry about going over the weight limit anymore hahahahaha. But I still want new lederhosen, otherwise I won´t be able to properly distract Elder Orchard when he plays basketball gegen BYU. And they are awesome. But I dont want to buy them in Baden Württemburg, Bayern or Austria wäre cooler. Anyway, random thoughts....
Okay, on to business. :) I learned a new soccer trick! It is the around the world move, where you spin your leg around the suspended-in-midair-yet-still-under-the-influence-of-gravity ball and keep going :) but I added a reverse orbit on it. So, one time around clockwise, then tap it and go back around counter clockwise. I was pretty impressed. Yes, I know everyone can do that,but I hadn't ever succeeded. Now, don´t just think I spend all my free time with a soccer ball. Here is the story behind it (it is actually a pretty sad story, teilweise, so feel free not to read it): We had decided with the Sisters to do a fußball activity on Saturday morning, because they have a couple investigators from Venezuela who play (they played with us one pday, it was fun) and we had R_____#3, who was excited to play. But, the Venezuela guys cancelled, so the sisters didn't come, but R_____ was still very excited about it. So Elder Horlacher and I went. And R_____ showed up. Wasted. He tried to do a rainbow kick and face planted. Then Elder Horlacher gave him a ball in the air, a little bit out of reach, and R_____ ran full power into the metal fence, and was lying on the ground for five minutes groaning. We told him before, when he showed up, that he was in no  condition to play, but he insisted. It was actually impressive what he could still do even when he was drunk. So anyway, I tried just a few tricks, learned that new one, and everything we both did, trickwise, was SO COOL for R_____. That is that story. If that teaches anyone anything, how about NOT RUINING YOUR LIFE WITH ALCOHOL! I am pretty done with the alcohol problems. We told R_____ that his life is a mess. And that if he wanted help to change, he can call us. So, we dropped R_____ for now. I still love that guy, just like I loved K_____, but they have to make the decisions themselves. But the rest of us can learn from them.
Anyway, sorry to sour things up! Let´s continue. I also have something for Mom: I cut 1/2 cup of cold butter into a cookie mix, old school style! So with two knives and no machines! Thought you would like that. I made a peach crisp. Twas lecker! I saw a guy this week with his hair spiked like Alfafa. And gestern we watched Handel´s Messiah being performed by a live choir, auf Deutsch, because Sister Wells was singing with them :) And then danach, Sister Wells introduced us to one of her friends. She is so awesome! And we love all the kids, too. So that was cool!
OH, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLAKE AND KENZIE! Hope you have/had great ones! I can't believe how old you guys are ;) haahahahahaha.
This week was great! We had so much in store, with members' families and such, and a couple were great, and then others fell out, or didn't go as we had planned. That is life. Br. Kiefer had invited us to dinner and invited a friend to come meet us too! But the friend had no interest, although he was nice. Wanted to be free from the commandments and standards in the church, because then he is more free! Too bad it doesn't work that way... BUT! Br. Kiefer wasn't phased and is ready to try his other friends now. That is what we need from every member on the planet earth! Not eating appointments, necessarily, but excitement and involvement. After that termin, we asked him to come to R_____#3's with us! On Wednesday R_____ was sober, and we took him on a tour of the church! Also didn't turn out how we thought, because R_____ told us it was just too much, and he was actually happy with how his life was. He also told us he wasn't interested in the church, just in our friendship. So, like I said, we were ready to play fußball with him Saturday and visit occasionally and just always invite him to learn more, but then Saturday happened (from story). Schade. BUT, the Wells are awesome and are working on their own mission plan, and keeping Elder Andersen´s promise from April conference in their minds. And then we went to Handel´s Messiah. We got to talk to some older people there about our work :)  Then the Schaals had us for dinner on Saturday, at a good restaurant, and we got to know them better! Next time we will do the family mission plan :) As I was sitting there in a Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai restaurant talking with a woman from Quito, a man from Germany, talking about missionary work and life, I was just grateful :) that I could do it! That I am here. And their son, Philip is going to Berlin, and he is always excited to see us. He gave the class in church yesterday, and it was actually way good! He will do great.
R_____#1 is now our only investigator! But she came to church with the bahn by herself, we just picked her up at the station we get off at. She is great. I forgot to buy the Children's Songbook last week, I will do it today. She has come to church for the last 8 weeks. We taught tithing on Tuesday with the bishop, and she read us a poem she wrote to the ward, and that actually had lots of good indicators as to where she is testimony wise. She calls herself the newest Sister in the ward :) Cool, eh? She just has to learn the lessons and get baptized. She will do it!
I am excited as we are trying to focus our time on finding the new investigators we need. We have found some cool people in the last couple days, but we want to step it up. Instead of working so hard on getting so many appointments as possible (which is still great), we want to have the appointments to where we can take some time on the streets getting there. Rather than running to catch the latest possible train or bahn or bus to get to our destination. It will just be a matter of good time management, which Elder Horlacher wants to work on. It should be great!
Hey, I learned last week that ELDER BOTCHERBY is the new ZL in Wien! So I will see him FINALLY in 3 weeks :) I am so stoked! And Elder Allan is now in Haag am Hausbruck, in Austria. I always told him he was headed to Austria :) He did well in Landshut! I hope I get to see Elder Eaker before he takes off home at the end of the transfer. That means, though, that I have to get tranfered through Munich Hbf. We will see.
Naja, I am running out of time! Just know that I am so grateful for your prayers and occasional thoughts and your faith. This is the Lord´s work, and we get to take part. Take advantage of it :) Love it, live it. You can find yourself much better when you lose yourself.
Have a great week! Hope you all get healthy! Viel Spaß in Seattle if you make it! I was there more than a year ago on the way to Amsterdam. Crazy :)
Keep smiling!
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS--Hey, I heard that Drew is engaged! That is way cool! Congratulations!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Last Stuttgart transfer

Guten Tag! Another transfer closes and the new one begins! I am staying here with Elder Horlacher in what is, presumeably, my last transfer as ZL in Stuttgart. Man, so schnell vorbei. We are way excited though, because the coming week should be awesome! We had a mission fast yesterday that I think I mentioned already, to get the members into the lives of the investigators, and vice versa. And yesterday at church, EVERYONE was asking us to come over and visit them in their homes, which has NEVER happened to me. We made member appointments for this week and on to next week as well. We are way excited, because this week we'll be bringing the concept of our family mission plans to the members :) One family invited us over after church for every Sunday! Their daughter just got married to an RM who served in this mission, and their son just got called to the Berlin Mission :) So we think they are excited to get the missionaries over. That was really an answer to our fast.
Also, yesterday was so awesome, because a missionary just reported back from his mission to Washington DC South, and we invited him along to join us as a joint teach. Sadly, the appointment fell out, but he stuck around with us and drove us around for the next hour. We asked lots of questions about his mission and what it was like to be home. Dennis Wloka, he is so cool! I would totally be his friend. Well, I am now haha. He did a year as an exchange student in Blackfoot, Idaho! Crazy :) He was excited when he learned I was from Idaho. He was serving an English speaking mission, but then he offered to learn Spanish halfway through his mission, and now he speaks Spanish, English, and German. I am jealous. I want to share a cool story that he shared with us. He was on an austausch with an elder who was younger than he was (at this time, he was only 4 months in), and he was in this elder´s area, and this elder was having a really hard time leading the area and doing all the things they had planned the night before. Elder Wloka had no idea about this place, so he kinda just had to tag along. Nothing was going right, and during dinner, Elder Wloka asked this elder if there was anyone in the ward there who was German or who served a mission in Germany. The elder said that there was one, so they went by on him. Elder Wloka rang the doorbell, an older man came out, and the man looked at him for a few seconds, then asked, "What is your name?" "Dennis." What is your father´s name?" "Stefan." And the older man turned to his wife and said, "I baptized his father on my mission." I don´t know the circumstances behind this man, I don´t think he was less active or anything, but how cool to meet the son of a friend you brought into the church, when the son himself is serving as a missionary, ja? The Wlokas had lost track of this family because they kept moving. It reminds me of the touching story from October 2011 conference, "The Opportunity of a Lifetime" from Priesthood session. These things really happen, because God has a plan for each of us :)
Anyway, things are going well in Stuttgart! R_____#1 continues to come to church, but then she asks the same questions we had just taught her the day before, and she isn't really going anywhere. She just makes very small steps. She just worries too much about us eating the food she makes for us and doesn't pay attention haha. She is so lieb. The members who invited us over every Sunday are going to pick her up on Saturday and bring her to a baptism for one of the kids in the ward! Hopefully she enjoys that. But I had a great idea this last week, and I want to buy R_____#1  a Primary songbook, so she can read the simple songs and learn through that! She loves poetry. And we all learned about the gospel through those songs, oder? Most of us at least haha. So I want to order that today. Just so you know.
Sadly, we had an appointment with R_____#3 on Saturday evening, and he even called half an hour early to make sure we were coming. But he wasn't even there--in his mind, I mean. He was wasted. Poor guy. I love him, but it was pathetic, just like alcohol can do to anyone. BUT, his friend was there, and was way interested in seeing our church and learning what we do. He was basically at R_____#3´s house to babysit him. And to smoke his cigarettes. Idk. His name is H_____, and he said he was going to come to church gestern, but he didn't. But we have his number and know where he lives. We will see. But really, this is all just proof that we need to find the elect through the members and other investigators. That is what we want to do this week. We find people during the week, but no one sticks to it. We need the members. They know people. 
We taught the lesson yesterday in Priesthood, from Lorenzo Snow, chapter 19, about missionary work. Then we bore our testimonies in sacrament meeting, and the bishop even had Elder Horlacher and I come and do a door approach with him as he taught the Primary kids. We knocked, and came in, and he said he knew about our church because of the neighbors kids, who were so polite and nice. So we got some "face time" with the ward, as Dad would say. Maybe that also helped excite the members to invite us over. 
We visited B_____ again, the less active guy from Portugal. He is so nice and says his door is always open to us. We asked him to bring his wife and his nephew (who lives upstairs with his mom and her boyfriend) to church with him, and we called him in the morning, but he didn't come. But his nephew, who is 9, is not baptized, and his wife is also not a member. I thought the wife just wasn't a big believer, but we asked her if she wanted to come Sunday, and she said yes! So B_____  just has to wake himself up and help his family experience the joy of the restored gospel. We are going to focus more on him this week, because we would love to activate him and then be able to teach his wife and nephew. But he must reignite his flame first, so he can support the others and help us. He is so cool.
Not much is happening with transfers, except two new areas being opened! The sisters in Göppingen are being whitewashed with 4 elders! And Ulm is getting 2 more elders too, those two being Elder Riser and a golden. And the Göppingen elders are also both training. And they are switching Elders Smith and Nicoll in Tübingen 2 with sisters, Sister Smith from Munich (with the friend in Mtn. Home) and a golden. Elder Smith is headed to KLAGENFURT!!! I am excited for him. So, we now have 36 missionaries, plus the Bensons = 38, in Stuttgart zone. Exciting :)
I am calling the last transfer, my 11th, the die Versetzung der Krankheit. Because I was basically somehow ill the whole time. And it was a pretty rough transfer both physically and mentally. But I am back now. :) It is a good feeling. I learned a lot, and take it as a testimony that the things I learn here and now will be a blessing in times to come. The quote Dad shared with me was perfect to describe the last transfer, I believe. That just means the gospel is true :)
OH, I have another Christmas wish. It is actually a German grammar book, called "Hammer´s Guide to German grammar," or something like that. It´s never too late to learn. The book is all red and yellow/orange. Otherwise, I love ties and such :) I don´t have so many anymore. And the rest is up to you, I guess. 
Zum Schluß, I want to share with you my thoughts about studies this morning. I read in the basic Gospel Principles study manual a little bit, don´t know the name in Englisch, but in German it is Grundbegriffe des Evangeliums. I read about the gathering of Israel (because that is what I am doing, of course) and then on to the millenium and the first judgement and to exaltation. Honestly, I learned a lot of stuff I didn't know about the millenium. Everyone asks us about our beliefs about the 1000 year reign of Christ, because they don´t know if we are Jehovah's Witnesses or not (they talk about it a lot). Yeah, we believe in it. It will be cool! Then, reading about  the judgement, it kinda just scared me haha. But in a good way. In that moment I had absolutely no desire anymore to ever sin again. Because there is lots we have to do in order to make it to exaltation and live with God again with our families. And it almost seemed overwhelming. Well, honestly, it was overwhelming. I don´t ever want to sin again, and I hate to know that I am weak and will make mistakes in my life. I had two thoughts, actually. First, that I can only do it with the Savior´s help. And second was actually that I need an awesome wife, so that I don´t have to do this alone. haha. I know it is possible, and I want those blessings with all my heart. So I will do my best and hopefully help others on the way.
The life of a true disciple of Christ is different. It is different, however, only because the world is under the influence of the adversary. In the heavens, everyone lives after the laws of heaven. And we are not alone in our efforts here on earth. The way of the world is not and will not ever be happiness. We know that, those of us who have that testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through the prophet Joseph SMith. That is why we share it with others! Everyone needs and wants it, whether they know it or not. So help them know! Share your tesimony about the blessings of the gospel, and show everyone in the way you live and react with others. You are all awesome :) I love you all so much, and I love my Father in Heaven and thank Him for the opportunity to be here. Always be thankful, it lightens the heaviest loads, I promise. I hope you have a great week. Don´t forget to pray! :9
Keep on smiling!
Elder Jalen Gibbons