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