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