Monday, January 28, 2013

Hallo :)

Elder Eaker, Jalen, Bru. Mauch, and the Halls
Elder Orchard and Jalen eating Mongolian BBQ, courtesy of the Halls
Jalen in downtown Klagenfurt (?)
Jalen after a self-haircut  :/
with Elder Orchard
I love Austria!
 MTC buddies' reunion at a training meeting in Vienna
Bowling champs
Beautiful Austria
Hallo :) Wie geht's euch? I am typing on the Halls' computer, which is therefore an American keyboard, with the y and the z in the right places, and no umlauted letters, and I am a little confused haha. But, their internet is much faster and it saved us from the almost non-existent internet at the church. So I am always eternally grateful for the Ehepaars :) Anyway, Marcel is going to Berlin!!!!!?????? OH MY GOSH, I am as excited hearing about all of my friends as I was opening my own call!! I can speak German with her now! She should write me, and I will write her a letter in German so she can practice haha. That is so cool. And Marcel's older brother served there too, when Kyle Hall was there. How cool is that? Mensch, I love missions and missionaries and missionary work and being and doing all things missionary :) :) :) There is nothing like it in the entire world! You should all try it sometime.
So Hawaii treated you all well, I hope? That was a really cool story about finding that author's wallet! (Jeff found a wallet with lots of cash and credit cards under a shelf in a store and went to some trouble to find the owner and return it--turns out it belonged to an author featured on Oprah's book club list--she was so happy and grateful to have it back!) Way to go Dad! I just don't understand how someone could find a wallet and then take money or whatever, and not just KNOW that the right thing to do is to give it back, how someone wouldn't think about how happy the owner would be to have it back! It is just right. And we see the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God, who have faith and confidence that they can and that they do do the right things. Read Mosiah 2:41, ge? Think about it, the blessings the gospel brings. How else can someone live with such hope, such confidence in life? I echo some words which Elder Orchard said to me gestern about his life, namely, that I too have had life way too good. Born of goodly parents, a wonderful family, brothers, sisters, cousins, amazing friends, and through their examples, all of YOUR examples, I am who I am today. The gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives, changes people themselves. And no matter how strong the winds of life are blowing, they are blowing in the right direction. Nicht wahr?
The Gospel is true, and we know the blessings that come from it, and yeah, sometimes our karma just doesn't seem to match up, eh Dad? Who needs karma, we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Hope Nathan is feeling better after getting rear-ended holding so much pineapple in his lap haha. Not too spiny, hopefully? What were you doing with that pineapple, bringing it home? How did you manage that? (We got rear-ended by another tourist about a mile from the airport as we were bringing our rental car back before we flew home. Nathan was holding a 40-lb. box of fresh pineapples on his lap at the time--we brought them home for family and friends.) So how was that new hotel compared to the other one?  I love that other one.
Well, Dad asked about transfers, and I have nothing I can say yet haha. I didn't get any hints from President in Interviews, all he said was that Elder Orchard and I were two fireballs and that is exactly what he wanted. :) I am okay with that haha. Hopefully we are living up to our potential. We do have a new baptismal date with.... ah, I can tell you later ;) As for the futsal tournament, is takes place every year and apparently is something very big here, people from all over Europe come. But it is okay because we can't play with them anyway, when they are playing for points and stuff, just to avoid getting too competitive. I don't want to spend the rest of my mission with an injury or anything. IF I stay here, then I will go and play around on the side, juggle a ball, and just be there to support and hopefully get some missionary work in :) I will just come and play in the tournament after my mission, eh? I will get a little American team :) haha.
Dad asked about if I listen to the BYU speeches that Tyson and Chris always talk about: my question is "how do they do that?" Do they drive in cars a lot or what, because I have no time where I have any means to do that. Except maybe at night, and we have listened to a few talks we have on minidisc, but those are done and we have no means to access any BYU speeches. So no, I haven't been able to listen to anything they talk about haha. I would love too, I love talks. We have some awesome ones in the apartment. Otherwise we are just too busy planning and figuring things out. Sorry that I can't rejoice together with you all...
So, bowling was really interesting :) and hilarious. Dad talked about the Austrians showing up with their bowling shoes, and I just laughed, because bowling is NOT something the Austrians do very often :) Also, Daniele had a really interesting technique, I have a video of it. You'll just have to wait another 18 months. Elder Orchard won overall, with a total score of 256 in two games, I got 2nd with 237. We won comfortably haha. But it was so much fun! My first bowl--STRIKE! But then it all went downhill, till the next game. They said (the men in the ward) that the missionaries are always way ahead. It was so wierd to be bowling on a mission, in Austria haha. Sadly D___ never has much opportunity to do things with the ward, he is so busy with hockey and games and practices, training. Villach is tied for second I think in the league, they played the number one team last night, we'll see how it went tonight, when B___ makes an American dinner for us!!! :) Oh, and we are going to D___'s game on Thursday!!!! It is going to be so cool!!!!!! :) I will buy some kind of VSV fan gear or something. Maybe a toaster that burns the VSV logo into the bread? ;) was denkt ihr?
Okay, I just read Mom's email, it wasn't here yet, and Hawaii sounded awesome! I am proud of Nathan branching out and getting interesting foods. That is how one can make things adventurous. Good work :) And you always mention things that Tyson and I have done and which I can't remember, like all the things that Nathan and Kate do in our honor, like Nathan and Curran putting straws together at Kimo's--but it sounds like something I would definitely do :) I am excited to go zipline around Hawaii next time, that sounded so cool! But yeah, I can make do with the Alps for now. Plus I can look one direction and see the Italian alps, the other direction and see Slovenia, try that in Idaho, eh?
Well, I can give an update on how our week was then! Monday like I said we thought we were going bowling in Graz, so we headed to Leoben and then drove to Burck an der Mur, and missed our train by a minute. The next option wasn't too bad, but then it was 30 minutes delayed. We figured we could maybe just go to Graz and play fussball in the church gym, and Sister Holmstead and I were the most excited about that (by the way, I figured out that she is a Real Madrid fan, enemy of Barcelona haha) but then that train was late. So instead, we four elders went to the Bruck "church" and played ping pong, which was really fun. We played around the world, regular, left handed, doubles, doubles sitting down, singles sitting down, and my favorite was doubles freestyle, where Elder Orchard and I were volleying back and forth behind our backs and between our legs and stuff and then we could slam it on the other side :) We had more fun than the Leoben elders haha. Then we stayed in Bruck, did district meeting and a finding day there on Tuesday, then we were finally in Klagenfurt again! Wednesday we had a termin with E___, a man from Italy who we found Elder Orchard's first night here, and that was cool. Then we just did some finding before the bowling activity. Thursday then we did an exchange with Leoben, and I worked in Klagenfurt with Elder Riser. It was really good! We had an AWESOME appointment with D___ and B___, it was so cool. We followed up on how things were going with Word of Wisdom, and he is doing so well, he has stopped drinking coffee which is a big step. We told him that we were so glad that he had done that, and hoped that he had seen the blessings from that, but of course we had to follow up on the rest of the Word of Wisdom too, so we asked how he was doing with not drinking alcohol, and he said that those two weeks he had tried it, he had done well. And then Elder Riser asked us to read Mosiah 2:41 together, and B___ started reading but then couldn't finish, because the Spirit was so strong and she started crying. D___ looked at her and said, "She is passionate about her religion, and I like that." So D___ finished reading, about the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments. And after that we sat there and just enjoyed the spirit that was there, for a little while. And we were able to bear testimony about the blessings that come from the commandments. And I asked D___ if he was willing and ready to take the next step and to fully live the Word of Wisdom, and he said "Yeah, I can do that. I don't have that struggle with the church anymore." I saw him change. I saw him accept the Word of Wisdom, accept the challenge to give up everything and follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been able to meet with them since I got here, in August, and I have seen how the gospel and the spirit have changed his desires, have strengthened his testimony. He is a different man than the one we tried to commit to the Word of Wisdom in December. Wow. That experience changed my mission, my life, and I know that the honest seeker of truth can overcome any obstacle with the help of the Atonement. It is something that I haven't really seen yet in anyone with whom we meet, because most of them we struggle just to find time to get together, let alone to get them to keep commitments. But I have been so much happier since then, because at least I have been some small part in helping D___ come closer to Christ. I can't wait to see them again today, I love being with them, just talking about the gospel.
Also, we FINALLY met with M___ again last night, it has been about three weeks, and each appointment till then he cancelled. And he called about half an hour before the appointment time and we were so afraid he was cancelling! But he just pushed it back 30 minutes. Thank goodness. And it was such a wonderful appointment, everything just went so smoothly! It was incredible, we just talked for 90 minutes about the gospel, faith, repentance and baptism. It was just a discussion, not just us trying to teach someone something. It was cool, when talking about faith, M___ said that it brings a feeling of fulfillment, and we read in Alma 32:28 about the seed, which grows and enlarges our souls, brings enlightenment, and all the scriptures we used just melded perfectly with what M___ needed and what he thought. And we talked about baptism, and committed him to prepare himself for the 3 of March, and he said that it was something he could definitely see himself doing, and he agreed to meet with us 3 times a week to help him prepare. He even said he will definitely think about coming to church, and praying, and all those things that we have wanted him to do before but which he didn't. We are so excited for him! I have known him since Elder Eaker and I found him, and things have never clicked so well as they did last night, he was actually like quoting things we had taught him already and just putting puzzle pieces together, it was so cool!! he is looking for the right religion, and has a good heart and intent. We are so excited!
Sadly we never got to meet with R___, we kept trying to call and it didn't work. So I went by with Elder Riser and got his NEW phone number, he had gotten a new phone. And he hasn't prayed yet or read :/ so the goal for early in February was just a goal, it will most likely be pushed back. Otherwise, he is still very open and cool, and we will see where we get with him.
Church was just awesome gestern, we taught the young men (all two of them haha) and also the middle class, second hour. That was great. It was we two missionaries and then everyone else in there was over 50 haha. We asked them about their birthdays and what their favorite gifts have ever been, then asked them when the Lord's day is, and what gifts we can bring Him. It was great.
Well, I know that I always marvel at how much Tyson writes, but this email is definitely longer than usual, just because we have more time. It is nice :) I can even attach some pictures, in another email probably. But yes, the work of the Lord goes on, and there is nothing greater in life than the joy that we can have. Even when you walk around a relatively empty city for almost 6 hours on a Saturday, at -6 degrees, like we did last Saturday, we are happy :) and our smiles are still defrosting ;) haha. There is nothing more glorious than the blessings of the gospel, I know that.
Do everyting in your power to keep the Spirit with you. HE is the comforter, and a friend, and you will be happier with Him around, it is impossible not to be. Make sure the Savior has your heart and your faith, because then you will see blessings never dreamed of. Let us all press on in the work of the Lord, wherever you may be. It all starts with a smile.
I love you all! Have a good week. :)

Elder Jalen L Gibbons

Monday, January 21, 2013

8 Monate vorbei!

Grüß euch, can you believe that the 16th was a third of the mission, gone, past, forever?! Nein nein nein, I don't know what is happening! It should slow down. But the weird thing is that since Elder Orchard and I are always doing something and don't have time for things like journal writing (I am almost caught up! Just two days behind...) it seems like we do so much and I can't tell if time is taking forever or if it is going fast. It is already week 4 of the transfer! Oh no! I will probably leave Klagenfurt in a couple weeks... I don't ever want to leave, but I also do want to leave. We shall see, though, so don't worry about that. So, we had a pretty crazy week! I totally forgot last week, as far as I remember, to tell you we were going to Wien for Interviews with President! So that was really cool, and we did a big exchange with all the Elders in Wien. I got to work with Elder Davies, the Elder from Sandy who knows my roomate Alex Burton! He is a great missionary and we had an hour out on the street on Tuesday night, so we decided to see how many people we could find. So we went out, and then Elder Davies got super excited when we saw on a projector at the subway station that Utah Jazz beat Miami Heat haha so he was just super pumped. Wien is much different, I felt like we were just handing out flyers for stuff, we were trying to just give cards to people who had "keine Zeit" oder "Kein Interesse." BUT we found one person who took a Book of Mormon and gave us his info then another person we gave a book to but then his streetcar came :/ But it was really fun, and I asked Elder Davies for advice, just as an older, more experienced missionary, and what he said was exactly what I needed, about things I have been trying to work on anyway. That was a little tender mercy for me! I also got to spend the night talking with Elder Janis haha I see him everywhere! He is finally out of Stuttgart and now in St. Polten, outside of Wien. I am the only missionary in our MTC group who has stayed in one area so long! Elder Janis and Robins both had 4 transfers in their first areas but they both just got moved. Pretty crazy. I love Klagenfurt. But yeah, talking with President was great, he is such a wonderful man.
Um, before I forget, I was wondering if you guys could find a way to get me a cool WdR ring? Elder Davies had a cool one (not like one of the 50 cent CTR rings) and he said he got it from Deseret Book, who does it through Ringmasters or something. That would be super cool :)
Um, damit ich nicht vergessen, ich versuche euren Fragen zu antoworten.... OH MY GOODNESS!!! MATT IS GOING TO SOUTH KOREA!!!!!! HOLY COW I AM SO HAPPY!!! I AM SO HAPPY FOR HIM! Oh wow, that is the greatest thing I have ever heard! Man he is going to do work in Korea!!! Oh man, that is so awesome!!! *Ahem*, sorry for that interruption. Twas for a good cause. :) Oh man, I can't say how cool that is!
Here is a question, almost all the mssionaries I know are having their parents come and pick them up at the end of the mission, and I have no idea what exactly our familie's plans are on visiting our missions sometime, since there are two of us... Picking us up isn't really a realistic option, but someday I will have to go visit Argentina. Just a thought. Then after my mission I can come back and play in the big Futsal tournament Bruder Mauch is doing in February! That would be so awesome!
We got to eat Chinese buffet again on Friday with Sister Schaunig, and we talked with the less active family who works there, and the Halls have an apointment with them tonight, where both the mom and the dad will be home!! Awesome. Sister Schaunig rocks! She offered her proofreading help for their studies and papers they have to write! Also, this week we were given a book by C___ (the man who contacted us on the bus our first pday), and we don't know where he got the book, but it is a book that Sis. Schaunig made a couple years ago about all the conversion stories of most of the people in the ward! It is so cool, I want my own copy which I will keep forever. They have some young pictures of some members who are now older, like the Bishop's dad, and it is just so cool :) haha. And yeah, I would say our fellowshipping efforts are going well! Gestern, Vasilli invitied us to go eat at his house again on Thursday! We didn't even say anything to him, he just asked us! I love this ward :) Plus, I am so excited for our Preisthood activity on Mitwoch!!! Guess what we are doing??? We are going bowling! Haha something that is apparently pretty American, none of the people here are very good, they say. We shall see. Hopefully they don't make Elder Orchard and me look better than we are haha. But guess what we are doing today for a district pday? Going to Graz and going bowling! So we get to practice. Bowling twice in one week in Austria! Crazy cool, eh?
Well, Wien took up a lot of time, but Thursday we had 4 appointments planned, back to back! We met with C___, who is such a goof haha. He is great. We taught the Restoration. And man, Dad asked if I felt that the Spirit was manifesting the truthfulness of the things we teach, and I can say, once again, that I have never felt such a fire as I do everytime we quote Joseph Smith´s account of the First Vision. With C___ and with R___, I didn't break eye contact at all, and I told them that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. There is nothing else like it, ever! Try it sometime ;) But yeah, we then met with R___ after C___, and we set a baptismal date for the 10th of February!!! :) We asked if he had read, and he had read 2 Nephi 31, and we asked if he prayed, and he said that baptism doesn't really mean anything to him, but that he should probably pray about it, eh? He said that to us! And we bore our testimonies about the importance thereof, and Elder Orchard read 2 Nephi 31:13 (I think) and it was perfect! And he agreed to set that goal! So all he has to do is pray sincerely and he will feel the Spirit, and we know God has promised answers to those who ask, so we have no doubts. He just needs to pray! We also found some new investigators this week, did lots of "0" introductory lessons, and we have 8 investigators I think, more than I ever have had in the last 5 months. Crazy! We are always busy. It is great :) Sadly, M___, the young man, just can't find the time to meet with us, so it has been two weeks. He cancelled I think 2 appointments last week and at least once this week. And we have been wanting to give him the baptismal date. Ach, that irks me! If he can't find the time for us.... we´ll see. He is going to call us tomorrow.
Other than that, the weather is cold! And we have lots of snow, but it rained gestern and it is kinda just sitting around on the sides of the street. But it should snow more this week, apparently. Oh, our appointment last week with D___ went well! Bruder Korak was great, and we had a good discussion about what the Gospel has done for all of us. And, D___ and B___ said that they are going to get us tickets to one of D___´s games!! Which is crazy because they are now in the 2nd round getting to playoffs and everything is crazy! I am totally getting some VSV gear! :) I must, D___ is a good friend.
We get chances to talk to lots of people on the street, and we just stay busy and time flies by while simultaneously dragging out like molasses. Missionary time, it is crazy. The work goes on, as always. Yesterday they had a speaker fall out, so guess who they asked? :) Yep, the missionaries! We just both had the chance to bear testimony about Joseph Smith:) perfect! Of course, I tried to write some things down, then stood up and everything disappeared. :/ Always! I don't know what language I was speaking, for real. It was rough on me. But I had some members come up to me out of nowehere during the Potluck afterwards and they said I spoke really good German and they really liked my testimony, and that we do good work. Well, thanks Heavenly Father for putting so many wonderful people in my life! It was a good experience nonetheless.
I must go, but I will be so happy knowing that Matt is going to Korea and that Kody enters the MTC this week. Life is so good, who can say otherwise (don't let yourself say otherwise, either). We are so blessed. I am so blessed to have a wonderful family and fantastic friends, and to know the people I know. You are all a blessing to my life. I hope your trust in God continues to grow each day, and I know that He loves each of us. Always find reaasons to smile. :)
I make an end.
I love you all!
Fare thee well.
Elder Jalen Lawrence Gibbons

Monday, January 14, 2013

Leise rieselt der Schnee...

Grüß oink!! That is apparently what the Südtiroler people say, so down where Elder Orchard was before he came here (northern tip of Italy, part of their mission). That is "grüß euch" in their major dialect haha. And yes, that is prononced like a Schwein. Anyway, how are you all? I am doing fantastically, except...the snow has returned!! Unexpectedly, at least for us, since we have no weather reports or anything. So we ran to seminary this morning in about 3-5 cm of snow, with the snow still falling! And it is still going as I type, and we still have to get home... haha. We have both never done anything like that, running to church in the snow, wearing shorts and light jackets. (I brought warmer clothes in my backpack with me, no worries.) So once again, Österreich is beautiful and white! Cool that you had snow at home, but how ridiculous is it that they didn't cancel school??!! I hope no one was injured in the travel to school. Mensch, even the Base gave people the day off? Well, nothing stopped us from getting to seminary this morning!!!! It was a lot of fun, I have seen how our relations with the youth have grown, in that I hardly ever talked with them when I first got here, mostly because I would have no idea what they were saying (although the girls speak English very well), and it was also something that Elder Eaker and I just never did. But as with yesterday at church, we could spend a whole day talking to any single member of the ward, they are all so cool and I love them all. It is great to have an excited Elder Orchard there who asks lots of good questions, which has allowed me to learn even more about the members! Our desire to become more a part of the ward is taking off! Yesterday the Bishop´s wife, Alice, asked if we would come to dinner at their place after church, even though we ate there last week haha. :) I am glad they like us enough! But we had already been invited to the Suppersbergers, so we just have another eating appointment with the Kaisers :) I love that family! And every family here in the ward! We also wrote little notes to give to some members that we chose the day before, and they liked that a lot, we just said what we appreciated about them and thanked them for their example. We gave a note to the oldest lady in the ward gestern, she is 91! And she loved it so much! It´s the kind of stuff I like to do, to take the opportunity to thank people for what they do, let them know people do notice their hard work and efforts, and Elder Orchard is right there with me. It is a blast.
Anyway, thank you Mom and Dad for always sharing what you have learned, either through the week or in preparation for something. But how cool is it that we can just spend so much time (well, as much time as it takes to write an email once a week haha) to just talk about how the gospel applies in our lives. It is everywhere, in everything we do, we can see how blessings come to us, we can try and put together the big puzzle of how things work out the way they do, and in the end, we just sit back and are amazed at how many "coincidences" there are in our lives. Like that story about Elder (Chris) Hall´s end of the year baptism? That was so cool! And I have some cool things to share with you from this last week as well. When you take time to look and think about how the Lord is slowly putting things together, you can´t do anything but wonder at His power. Ist das nicht herrlich?
So, last week, as I have mentioned, was fanastic! We spent Pday, a part of it, in the city, where we printed off pictures of some things, and bought our companionship ties, and we even bought suspenders :) Haha I have never worn suspenders, but they are a lot of fun! ;) So we went to Graz the next day for district meeting, met the new Sister who Sister Homestead is training, and then did about 2 hours of finding there. And we wore our new ties and suspenders haha. But travel to Graz and back was our day. Not much else accomplished, no time. But Wednesday! Wow, that day was so awesome! We have set some pretty high goals for how many people we wanted to find, and also Books of Mormon to give away, and also lessons taught. We also called a LOT of people, trying to set things up and whatnot. But we started the day by studying, then cut that a bit short because we had to go get Elder Orchard anmelded in Klagenfurt (sorry, don't know the English word for anmelden--I'm guessing something like "registered") and after that we contacted around downtown for a little while, and we stopped at the DM store because Elder Orchard didn't know where his SD card for his camera was!! He thought he may have left it at the store on Monday when we printed off pictures. So we stopped by, and Heavenly Father answered our prayers that we could find it, they had it in a drawer for him! Wonderful. Then Regina Schaunig took us out to lunch, which was wonderful, and we escorted her back to her car in the mall parking lot because she told us that it has had a lot of problems starting and such. So we prayed that her car would start, and first attempt, nothing. But then we prayed extra hard and the next time it started! So prayer number 2 answered :) After that we talked with lots more people, and tried to go by on a referral from Wien, who has a falsch address, so we couldn't give him his Arabic BoM. :/ BUT, later that night we met a man and talked with him, and we asked if he knew the BoM, and he said that German wasn't very good for him, and we asked what would be good? And guess what he said? Arabic! So I pulled one out of my backpack and gave it to him :) (Crazy how the Lord could have been "pulling the strings" so to say in having a man contacted in Wien want a BoM, but not being able to find him, sadly, but then that same day meet a man who actually did need it!). So that was really cool :) Then, we were walking towards the church and Elder Orchard said, man we are a little behind on our goal to find so many people, and we didn't have much time. And within five minutes we talked to two people who gave us their information and said they would like to meet with us. Sadly, of course, there are some people who give fake numbers and stuff, not everyone we find is totally honest, but we have had some good appointments with people we have found in the last two weeks! Like on Thursday, we had a couple appointments with people we met contacting, and that was good (we also had some Wednesday, apointments I mean) and we just had a great couple days, we were very blessed and happy. Then all of our apointments fell out the next two days haha. So ist es manchmal. No worries. We have seen what can happen when we just do all we can.
So, update on investigators, which is kinda the same as last week. I think all of the lessons we had this week were with people we had just barely met, so it was a "get-to-know-you-here-is-what-our-expectations-are" kinda lesson most of the time. M___ cancelled on us twice!!! He is so cool, but if he can't find time for us, and if we don't make progress next time we actually meet, then we can't keep going with him calling an hour before and saying it won't work. It is driving us crazy, because we want to set a baptismal date with him next time! So yes, we can see how hard the adversary is working to prevent a son of God from fulfilling his potential. So we won't drop him right away because he has potential, but we need to see how willing he is to keep commitments next time. D____ we are meeting with today, so we shall see how things are! Frau K___ also dropped our appointment because her daughter was sick (so a good enough reason) but she only ever has time like once a week! Es ist schade. But, we have lots to do, we are always busy with something, which is totally different than my last 5 months. I am still a day behind in my journal, have been since Elder Orchard got here, we are just always busy! I can't believe how much time I had before, to write in my journal at night. Crazy. But I like this better.
So it was a good week, Wednesday being very cool, and we also baked some cookies this week! They were a chocolate chip cookie recipe and we used a chopped up Oreo Milka bar for the chocolate, and gave cookies to some families and people we met with. We spent Saturday, the whole day, doing service and such, painting for Bishop´s sister, and moving a heavy iron oven for Br. Sander. That was nice. But back to the cookies, they were so good! And in making the cookie dough, we realized how unhealthy they really are. You notice such things as a missionary, when you can't go play sports all day like you would at home. Haha.
Oh, I got the emails you sent me--Christina is going on a mission??!!! That is SO COOL!!!!!! I am so excited for her, she will do great and it is the greatest experience of your life!
I love all the time we have to study on the mission! It is really a special time where you can just dig everything out of the scriptures that you can find! I spent a whole study time last week studying in the Book of Mormon, and I only got from 1 Nephi 8:1 to verse 12! 12 verses in a study session haha. But I would like to share some things I learned from that, because it was great. First, just something cool that only works in German in verse 5 or something, where Lehi says that when he followed the man who told him to follow, he beheld himself that he was in a big field; in German, I like one phrase in there, namely, "Als ich ihm folgte, wurde ich gewahr". As far as I can translate that, it would be, as I followed Him (Jesus Christus), I became aware. Aware of where we are, aware of the surroundings, aware of our potential in life, or aware of our lack of obedience even. That is up to us. But I liked that a lot. If that isn't exactly what that really translates to, at least I learned that haha. But what I want to share is when Lehi talks about partaking of the fruit, and that they were sweeter than ANYTHING he had ever had. That sweetness, he said, was a joy that filled his soul, like he says in verse 12, and the cool thing is what happend after anyone experiences this love and joy, indeed, that one who has experienced such wants others to have it; Lehi looked immediately for his family. A cool, natural reaction, eh? So I thought about that, about where I am in that process, and of course I am finding others with whom I can share the joy I have, the joy that has brought my family so close together and blessed our lives tremendously. And I asked myself what we could do to always rememeber that joy, what to do to remember the first time we knew that the Savior was there for us, and I found Alma 5:6 to go along with that question. And Elder Orchard gave me the best, most obvious answer when I posed him the question. he said that we just had to keep eating!! Keep eating the fruit, it is a love that we can experience everyday if we just take the time to do the right things. Duh, Elder Gibbons! Haha I was thinking way too hard. So my advice for this week, and the rest of your lives, is to keep eating! Do what you need to to be reminded of how much the Savior loves you. And it will come.
And to finish, a cool quote I heard yesterday at church. Roughly translated ( it was much cooler in German, but still really cool): "Many small things add up to perfection. But perfection is no small thing."
I know that this church is true and that following the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to return and live with our Father in Heaven, and with our brother Jesus Christ. We have been shown the way, and we have the chance to be examples for others along this path. With God, nothing is impossible. I liked the quote Dad shared with me, from Julie B. Beck, about the ability to receive and act on revelation. Without it, we cannot succeed. But we know what we must do, and we know it won't be easy all the time. But it is worth it.
Have a great week, keep on smiling (sounds like the cold can just freeze it on there for you ;) ) Remember whose children you are. :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hallo! :)

Happy New Year! Hope it has gone well so far. :)
So, mensch, we had the COOLEST New Years ever, in my entire life so far! We went to the Familie Korak in Köttmansdorf and we ate and talked and we also watched the film called "Errand of Angels," about a Sister missionary in the Vienna Austria Mission, written by the same guy who did "Silent Night." It was really good, and it was eerie to me with how real it was. It was stuff I have done so many times already! You should watch it.
Anyway, we went to the place where Bruder Korak grew up and launched off fireworks (not the Elders of course, we just watched :) ) and they were so cool! Basically all their fireworks are the ones that are illegal in Idaho. Plus, I don't think we have ever really done fireworks on New Years, just like sparklers and confetti poppers. But, the best part was the last part. We drove up the side of a mountain a little before midnight, and we parked up there by a Gasthaus and we had a view of the whole valley (we didn't see the ones on Wörthersee, we didn't know if they actually had any for sure). But this valley has the Drau river that flows through, and it was covered in fog (the river was) and then there are just tons of tiny dorfs. Well, the Gasthaus about 30 feet below us lit off a bunch of fireworks that exploded really just right above us, like 5 to 10 meters. That was so cool. Then, the fireworks all through the valley started, and it was so cool!!! Everwhere you looked, there were flashes of light. And some of them didn't clear the fog, so the fog lit up, otherwise they would be a blurry streak and then break the fog and burst. So the whole valley was foggy, but where we were you could see every star in the sky, which I haven't done for a long time! And the moon was so bright! I took a short video of the fireworks, and it really just looks like a war zone. It was the greatest thing I had ever seen, definitely unique. I am grateful the Koraks took us up there--they had never even done that themselves, they just thought it could be cool! So we had a great time with them.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent saying goodbye to the district and then members of the ward. We had two eating appointments on Wednesday, before we went to pick up Elder Orchard on Thursday. We ate so much! The Bishop made schnitzel, and then Sis. Suppersberger always cooks so well and so much! After eating with the Suppersbergers we sang songs while Sis. Hall played the flute. I have sung a lot here, I have a lot of fun :)
Thursday we rode to Salzburg, then to Innsbruck, where I picked up Elder Orchard! I didn't get to see Elder Robins though, and now I may never be able to :/ except we may be able to go back for a baptism soon, because Elder Orchard served in Innsbruck first, then went to Brixen. Then I could see Elder Robins :) we´ll see. So, I welcomed Elder Orchard to the craziest district in the mission, said goodbye to everyone and we headed home.
Elder Orchard is just always excited, I don't know how he does it! And he is always smiling! It is a wonderful example for me. We talked about our stories the entire trip home, for 4 hours, and then we got settled in, and for his first day in Klagenfurt!... we did weekly planning haha. We set up a few appointments for next week, like Frau Kofler and such (yay!) and then we had a lesson with a less active woman from Mongolia, they just can't come to church because of work. I had never met her before, until Elder Eaker and I went by and set up the appointment. So that was good, the Halls came with us. And, the lady would like us to come back and visit her every Friday! Sweet :) the Halls have been trying that forever, but no luck till now :) Plus, the lady´s sister isn't a member, so maybe we can get things going. After that, the Halls took us out to eat, and we ate at a Mongolian BBQ thing (much better than the American ones though :) ). It was basically the same idea as the ones we know in the states, but this is a sampling of the meat I ate: a real steak!!!, venison, shark, Elder Orchard and I split a muscle (maybe he means mussell?), lamb, rabbit (which was weird...), AND kangaroo! Which was pretty darn good! If my kangaroo leather cleats were meat, they would be quite tasty ;) Haha, I can't believe I made a cleat joke on myself. So that was our welcome for Elder Orchard to Klagenfurt, and then we went walking through a ghost town downtown. There was hardly anyone out! BUT, Elder Orchard rocks and we found two awesome potentials :) Obviously we worked together, but he knows how to street contact!! He found 108 potentials in Brixen while he was there. I have only ever filled one potentials list (in the back of the planner) once! And I mean just one page, so like 19! Crazy. And because Elder Orchard is so excited and just genuinely cares about people, they talk to us and we´ve set up so many appointments for next week. We have 7 planned appointments with people, and then lots of stuff that we can do for the ward as well, moving stuff and whatnot. He is so good at just talking to people that I have even learned more about the ward, just because he asked them. All I ever knew was from when I talked with them and what Elder Eaker told me. I am hoping that I can learn a lot from him, and I know I have already. Plus, he plays guitar, so it makes our hymn singing for study so much cooler. And, he loves Nickelcreek! So we have listened to our little minidisc player thing like 6 times already. My favorite song is "When you come back down." It´s been stuck in my heard. Good stuff.
We had dinner with the Bishop again last night after church, spezle and goulash, one of my favorites! Got to play with the kids. Good way to get to know the new missionary. I told Alice (the Bishop´s wife) that they filmed High School Musical at Elder Orchard´s house and she thought that was so cool! Then I learned that Elder Orchard had always tried to hide a picture of himself in the set haha but they always found it!! That would have been hilarious hahaha. And he told them about Zac Efron and his girlfriend always kising on the couch in front of everyone, and I learned the German word for making out haha. But don´t worry, I will never use it, promise! Just a funny word.
Now, I will answer your questions before I forget...sorry that I miss them sometimes. The weather has been really warm the last few days. Gestern was beautiful! I don't understand it. January is supposed to be the coldest, but I think the weather is waiting to trick us and then hit us hard. That´s my theory. Also, thank you Familie Draper for your Christmas package, all the candy and the card! Ganz lieb von euch :) And... oh yeah, Feredyoun is a member, he was baptized about 13-15 years ago. but his is a sad story, I may have mentioned before, but he can't go home to Iran because he is a Chrstian now. The Elders weren´t really supposed to baptize him, and now he hasn't seen his family in 15 years. But he is such a cool guy, and we always talk more now, which I enjoy :) If he talks to you, then he feels comfortable around you, and I would certainly hope so after the last 5 months :) Is that all? Keine Anung...
I am glad Nathan´s birthday went well, although it´s too bad they cancelled the stake dance at home. Not that I would have cared, I never had a thing for dances anyway... haha some people could attest to that! :) And poor Kate, what a trip down to New Mexico, eh? That sounds rough haha (Kate spent a week in New Mexico visiting some family friends, but everyone got sick at different times.). I'm glad she had fun anyway.  I hope you still have some good memories about it, I am sure you will laugh at the thought later on :) those are sometimes the best memories!
Hey, just got the picture of Alex! Thanks for sending that, looks like he is doing well!
Well, Elder Orchard and I are super excited to get things going in Klagenfurt, to become more a part of the ward, be there for as much as possible, so we aren't just the elders they see on Sunday and at meetings. We want to be more a part of the lives of the youth as well, so like we did this morning, we want to run to church and be at seminary at least once a week. Also we are gonna try to organize some activities to do, we thought it would be so fun to go bowling with the youth, or with the elders quorum haha. It´s totally an American thing. We are going to make lots of chocolate chip cookies for people, leave notes and stuff, and just do fun little things like that to show that we appreciate the ward members and what they do. That is the stuff I really like to do. :) So it should be lots of fun. Maybe Elder Orchard will teach me some guitar basics, so that I can at least play along to most songs when I get home (with much practice, of course) but that will make our Christmas songs that I have so much better :) I want to get a few recipes from some members too, for some food. I am bringing the culture home with me, at least foodwise and entertainmentwise. I will probably skip the whole skinny jeans and summer scarfs, if that is alright with you. (I know that's fine with you, Dad ;) ) haha.
So, I would like to leave with a quote. I heard it yesterday, and it says. "Fortschritt ist das Werk der Unzufriedenen." Pretty cool huh? Haha just kidding, it means roughly that progress is the work of those who are not satisfied. We talked a lot about goals, specifically a goal of getting the ward to give us a referral every single week. Of doing missionary work and making the ward grow and become excited about it. It was fantatsic, Br. Mauch did it :) He is the coolest GML ever! (Ward mission leader.) You can interpret the quote different ways, but what we talked about was if we were satisfied with the numbers we had at church, we calculated it and figured out that we Preisthood holders of the ward make up 0.08% of the population of Kärnten. That is not much, not at all. Are we okay with that, with these our brothers and sisters from our Heavenly Father not knowing what the purpose of life is, not knowing to where they are going and from where they came! So, we must do something NOW, not tomorrow, to reach these people, to be missionaries, and to bring these people the greatest gift of all, eternal life. That was the subject from priesthood class gestern. It was super.
And also, a cool thought I had, building off something that Elder Orchard mentioned in study. He talked about 1 Nephi 2:9, where Lehi wishes that Laman were as a river flowing unto all righteousness. And my companion said that a river only goes one way. It can´t decide to reverse the flow spontaneously. Not possible. Therefore, we must choose which direction we will go, whether to Christ or not. And then I thought, well, what if someone jumps into your life, enters your current, so to say? They are going to be brought along, eh? Therefore, your example and your good works, your love and service DO have an effect. Maybe we can't see it ourselves, and I have had struggles myself to see if my work was doing anything really (and that is not a good feeling), BUT if the laws of heaven have limits and rules just like the physics of this world, then people will be carried closer to salvation just by being in our presence (if we're living as we should), taking part of our lives. Mensch, every time I try and write my spiritual thought I always learn something for myself. I thought about the people being brought along, but just now as I was typing I thought about the whole physical laws and spiritual laws. Wow, that is something that should help me a lot, if I keep my focus right. Thanks to you all for helping me teach myself!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy school and work and the normal stuff after the holidays end. But remember, the spirit of Christ should be with us all year long. Work hard, be obedient, don´t ever give up on anybody, on something, whatever it is. Without faith that men can change, then how can we change ourselves.? Men can change, you can change, I have changed, and no one can deny that. If you have been touched by the Lord, then ask yourself what that love meant to you, and accept that you never will, and that you never should, be the same. Men´s hearts may fail, but the Lord is on our side.
I love you all, wish you all the best! Keep smiling and doing your best to change for the better that part of the world you can--namely, you!
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS--Hey, I forgot to mention how the investogators are doing! So we met with D___ again on Wednesday, and it was the first time we had seen them for a month! We were kinda worried, but he is doing really good! He has totally given up coffee! Which is great because he used to just do that before every game. And we spent most of the time just catching up, seeing how things were going. Our next big focus is going to be getting him focused back on baptism! We still have no idea when B___´s parents are coming, but we heard now that B___´s dad doesn't want to come, and we are just thinking "What? You are supposed to be baptizing your son-in-law so he can take your daughter to the temple!" So hopefully they can come. M___ we finally met with, and had a good time. But he hadn't read or prayed yet, and he still won't come to church, says he wants to go step by step, but then of course he has to actually do the reading and praying. We are meeting with him tonight again. Other than that, we talked with the other M___, the older one, last night, and we have an apointment this weekend. Plus we just found so many new people this weekend that we can potentially have a lot more investigators. We have been so stretched for time that I am still a day behind on my journal :/ but that is okay. We have fun. That is all I had to say :)
Tschüß! Ich hab euch lieb--Elder Gibbons