Monday, February 25, 2013

Mir ´ren boarisch, und du?

Haha Hallo liebe Leute! Did you like my Bayerisch subject line? I saw that on a sign the other day, and remember what I told you about Bayerisch being okay? Well, I hadn't heard people speak their REAL Bayerisch haha. It is insane! But it is just like Kärntnerisch I suppose, I had to really concentrate when they spoke that, but most of the people don't speak serious dialect very often. Although, there are at least two men in our ward here who speak so. One is just crazy Bayerisch and Elder Stokes told me that no one knows what the other guy speaks haha. Lustig lustig, tra lalalala... (that's part of an Austrian song Jalen sang for us when we skyped with him at Christmas) (Sidenote: I wish I had a guitar. I practiced the chord fingerings on that broken guitar in our apartment last night, the guitar without any strings. Just not the same effect for some reason... :/) Anyway, what I think is cool/interesting about Bayerisch is that they say "mir" for "wir" (we). And "mir" is a real 1st person pronoun, so it is just weird. It makes me laugh.
Anway, how are you all? A wunderschöner Monntag Morgen, oder? It certainly isn't here, everyday had been cloudy and I swear it has snowed almost every single day. But it is like the usual Mountain Home snow, it doesn't last. We had one day with clear skies, and it was FREEZING! Haha I hate how that works.
Oh, hey, I have to say happy birthday to Richard! Well, it was the 21st, I am a little late, but it comes with the only-writing-once-a-week contract. Hope he had a good one. Also, in other developments, do we have a member of the Gibbons Family who served in Fresno, California with an Elder Ferraz-Leite? The young girl who got baptized gestern, her father saw my name and told me he had a companion in Fresno named Elder Gibbons, and I said "Oh, cool!" then he said he was from Idaho! Well, that significantly increased the probability of me knowing him! Haha. So yeah, that would be cool if I could make that connection with him, because sadly, this girl's father is inactive. Man that makes me so sad that returned missionaries fall away! It is NOT supposed to be like that! It was sad not being able to see her father baptize her and confirm her. But it was great to see the support of her mom´s family there, and some of her dad´s family. What else do I have now...oh yeah, if you want to see a picture of the Landshut branch president, recently turned Stake president (that is why the stake president was at the service project, he was the branch president a little before I got here, so he knows all of these people pretty well, it is a pretty tight-knit community), then look at the Oktober 2007 Ensign, the article entitled "For the strength of You," and you notice that all of the youth are German! Like German pamphlets and sitting in front of the Frankfurt Temple, etc. Then the picture of the family on the walking path, under all the trees, is him! That was of course 5 years ago, but I know them! Haha. Pretty cool :)
So, I believe you asked about ward boundaries and what stake we are in, and who is in the district.. So yes, Elder Eaker is now my Zone Leader, we are part of the München Zone, therefore part of the München Stake. Our district is Elder Stokes and I in Landshut, and for the most part I believe we stay in Landshut, although the area is bigger; just like the situation in Klagenfurt, Kärnten, but not as big, If I am correct. And we do have bikes apparently, but they are broken and in the kellar, and we just use public transportation for the most part. Although we may have to just fix them up when it gets warmer. Sister Pingree and Sis Lin are in Passau, which is right on the border of Austria, literally right on the border of Salzburg Zone. They also have a bigger area. Elders Niedens and Nicoll are in Neuötting, same situation with the area, basically every area in the mission is rather large in comparison with the size of the area in which we actually spend time working. So ist es, with only 145-some-odd missionaries. But not for long, of course ;) That is cool that Shannon was called to the Adriatic, she would be a neighbor to Klagenfurt in Slovenia and such. And she would probably see Derek and Bonnie on some of their travels haha. But yeah, she will do what she needs to do, and what the Lord wants her to do, I am confident in that. That is life, eh?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mentino the Andersons, but we haven't seen much of them because he has been sick the entire time I have been here! Apparently he has never been so sick in his life. but it is just a bad cough. He has medicine now. And you know what never even clicked in my head? That Elder and Sister Zaugg were Ethan´s grandparents! I met them at the single adult center my first time in Wien! How did that not get into my brain? Haha. But yeah, they just left. Crazy "coincidence."
So, we have Zone Conference tomorrow! I am excited. I am really excited to see Elder Harris again, I love that guy. He was my Zone Leader in Salzburg for 4 of our 5 transfers as I was in Klagenfurt. Now he is AP. Plus I get to see the rest of the Zone, that is always fun. Sister Miles will definitely take pictures, and Elder Stokes has made sure that we will look good for the meeting. So we are wearing our Trachten suits to zone konferenz. That will be fun.
Sounds like Nathan and Kate´s musical is pretty fun! I don't know where they got the courage to do stuff like that, but I guess I never really tried, or it never interested me (that is my excuse anyway ;) haha). Although I feel like I would be able to do anything if I could still pop my teeth out and laugh at how ridiculous that whole situation was. I should have whacked myself in the face much earlier perhaps! Hahaha. If I could speak at graduation in my toothless listhp, I could dance around in a musical, oder? Imagine that :) I am glad that they are branching out and doing cool stuff, enjoying their time at school. We have a cool family if you ask me! Well done Mom and Dad :) I love you guys.
I must ask, do you have any requests for your package that I will be sending to Justin? I already decided that I will probably send some of my multitude of letters over there, in which case I may send two packages. But it is so much cheaper in Germany, meine güte! I could send you chocolate and Nimm2s and whatever else you want, in one of the boxes we get that has 20 Books of Mormon in it, and 5-10 kilos is only €22 to the EU! Which England is a part of, so it better count for them too. So that is 5-10 kilos of things you want, and maybe I will just send a shoebox of letters. Geht das? So, tell me what you want by next week, so I can see what I can do and get the package sent. Ja? And Mom and Dad, you should talk together about the German CTR ring, since Mom said she found some cool ones and Dad hasn't found anything. Alles in Einsamkeit, ge? ;)
Elder Stokes and I had some really good experiences this week, where we actually had time to go finding and I was able to work with him in bearing testimony to these people. Plus we had two lessons wthis week, with investigators who they had a hard time getting ahold of, and they were both really nice and friendly! And the lesson with the girlfriend of a less active member was really cool, we talked about repentance because she didn't know how "confessions" worked with us :) haha. And Elder Stokes and I were just working off of each other and the Spirit, and afterwards I was just satisfied with how it went, and I knew that this has the potential to be an awesome transfer! I am thankful for the reassurance and peace the Spirit gives us, and I know that we all can feel that, regardless of where we are in our lives.
So far, finding potentials hasn't been as successful as my transfer with Elder Orchard in Klagenfurt. But we are working hard to find these people and to give them the chance to become better, to have their burdens made lighter. We found a really interested younger man who asked if we were Catholic or Evangelisch, and we said neither, and he was just interested to hear about this new religion, especially after we summarized the Restoration, that God has restored His true church on the earth and that He speaks through porphets once again. See, people are being prepared! No one can say otherwise! I love Alma 13:24, about angels preparing people in the land. And who knows, maybe YOU are someone´s angel? Is everything that you are doing and saying and thinking going to help someone recognize Heavenly Father´s love and make them want to come closer to Him, to know what YOU know? I hope so. It is our sacred responsibility to prepare ourselves first, and then we can lift others higher.
I have been studying in PMG chapter 10 the last few days, and that is exactly what I have learned, that we have to do things first before we can invite others to do likewise. It says, under one of the sections (sorry, can't remember which, they are all too good) that by doing these things ourselves, being examples for those we teach, we have more power in our invitations and commitments. Oh, it is under inviting people to make and keep commitments. Makes sense. It doesn't say exactly that, but that is what I remember and how it stuck out to me. Study it yourself! But my studies have reinforced the importance of our own progress and learning as a strengthening factor in helping others.
Also, we have been asked to think about love when we read in the BoM every day, since we are doing that as a mission. And I have noticed a recurring factor in the last few days. I am reading in the Isaiah chapters in 2 nephi, and I hate to admit, sometimes I still read a chapter and get to the end and then think, "What in the heck did I just read?" Mensch, I hate how I do that. But having a theme to think about overall at the end of your reading has really helped me, I look back and ask what I learned about love from these chapters. But, what I have noticed in the last few days is a relationship between fear and love. I kept writing my summary about what I learned and I always wrote something about how proof that the Savior loves us is that He takes away our fear. In the chapters from Isaiah it talks a lot about what will happen to the wicked, and yet we don't fear any of those things, or we don't need to, if we partake of the love of the Lord and do what is right. So my thought was this, that love and fear cannot coexist. But then I thought, well, what about when the scriptures always say that we need to fear God? What I figured is that we fear the justice of God, knowing that we are imperfect and make mistakes. But once again, that is only something we have to fear if we AREN'T doing the right things, if we aren't repenting. On the other hand, we can find happiness and love in following the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, just show your love by keeping the commandments, stated pretty simply and straightforward in John 14:15, and you will feel the love of the Savior lifting your burdens and constantly reassuring you that He is there. Just be happy :) Here is a quote from my calendar: Glücklich zu sein ist eines der besten Mittel, ein guter Mensch zu werden." so, "Being happy is one of the best methods to becoming a better person." (from Eugene O´Neill). It is so simple! Be happy. Everyone is looking for happiness, so show them that it is to be found! It is real. I know it is.
Oh, guess what? I bought a German Calvin and Hobbes book last week, I finally found it! And I read it all last week for German study haha. Learned some new conversational words. But, I realize how Calvin actually talks about a lot of the questions answered by the gospel of Jesus Christ, like existence. I never noticed when I was younger, probably because I wasn't trying to give said answers to people haha. But I want to end with a quote from Calvin: "Ich finde, wer am Ende des Tages keine grünen Knie hat, sollte sein Leben ernsthaft überdenken." So, "I find that those who don't have green knees at the end of the day should seriously rethink their lives." In the situation, Calvin just finished a bath but still had grass stains all over him. So, take his advice, and enjoy life! Be adventurous and make things exciting. Don't wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect. It is worth it. :) Keep on smiling.
I hope your week goes wonderfully, and that you learn lots and that you come closer to your Savior.
I love you!
Elder Jalen L. Gibbons

Monday, February 18, 2013

Liebe Grüß aus Landshut

Hallo liebe freunde und Familie, grüß euch!
Well, Dad, you typed out the pronunciation perfectly, Lands-hoot. I got here though and learned that the Elders call it Land-shut. I can't do that, it is just Landshut haha. Well, I have been here only a few days, but it is a very pretty city, all the coloful houses and buildings in the altestadt are cool. They also have a church here, St. Martin´s kirche, which apparently has the tallest brick tower in the world? Cool, eh? If you look up pictures of Landshut, it is basically the tallest building. We are on the island of the city, in between the Kleine Isar and the Grose Isar, and I realized last week that I totally forgot to give you my new address, even though I had it! So: Elder Jalen Gibbons, Kirche Jesu Christi HLT, Zweibrückenstrasse 717, 84028 Landshut, Deutschland. Just vertical, of course. And yeah, I didn't get your package and stuff. So, Elder Orchard will find a way to get it to me, I will just have to wait. He has to give me our Klagenfurt District t shirt (Elder Stapleton and Elder Riser decided to make t shirts for all the members of Holmstead´s camp, as we so fondly named our district :) after Sis. Holmstead, that is. So they are putting nicknames on the back of them, apparently mine is "The Tactician." As to what that entails, I don't really know haha. I will figure it out.) as well as my D___ R___ jersey, so it will all find me eventually. I shall try my patience! Shouldn't be too hard.
Well, here I am in Bayern! I miss the mountains. A lot. But it is still pretty, and the branch here is awesome! Well first, I got to say goodbye to some people on Monday and Tuesday last week, in Klagenfurt I mean, and we had another great dinner with D___ and B___ on Tuesday night. Then I finished packing and cut my hair on Tuesday night, because we left in the morning. Sister Schaunig (Regina) said goodbye to me on the platform at Bahnhof (train station, I mean). The Halls said goodbye after dropping us off at the train station. And Monday like I said was spent getting things done, and we also had a great lunch with the Kaisers, the Senior Kaisers, so the Bishop's parents. (That is what I meant by Kaiser Sr., a couple weeks ago.) So I said goodbye to them as well. Then we had another lesson in Villach with a less active guy, and it was actually much better than the last one, we established that we would help him regain a testimony if that is what he wanted, and he said "okay, why not?" Better than talking about how much he hates communism haha.
Then, Wednesday we got to Munich and I said goodbye to Elder Orchard, and Elder Eaker and I got to do some work together :) just like old times. We actually spent some time at the young adult center and I practiced the songs that Elder Orchard gave me the guitar chords for: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and "Now Let Us Rejoice." And I got them down pretty quickly! I wish he had given me more. But, I have no guitar to practice on :/ I will just have to find opportunities and practice when available. So, I can kind of say I can play a couple songs on guitar! That is more skill than I had two weeks ago :) I stayed the night with Elder Eaker and Elder Young, the other ZL, then also Elder Hansen, from my MTC district :) It was good to see him. Then we spend almost all day at Munich Bahnhof on Thursday, watching the luggage and whatnot. I got to meet my replacement in Klagenfurt, Elder Curtis from BOISE! I don't know him, but way to go Idaho! They will have a good time. Hopefully Elder Eaker and I can go back for M___´s baptism, but we don't know yet. That would be awesome. The train ride to Munich was about 5 hours, and then another hour to Landshut about. Yeah, thank goodness I wasn't traveling by myself, because my bags would have been a feat.
On Saturday we spent the whole day at a service project. The stake president, who lives here in Landshut, picked us up and I met a few of his kids, who are funny, and we helped the Branch president in Neuötting move. There were lots of people there helping and the work was good and went quickly! They were very grateful for our help :) Plus I got to see the district before district meeting, and Sis. Pingree and I said hello after a month or so haha. But the district is going to rock! We are going to tear this place up and find those people ready for the gospel. I am excited for the privelege to love and serve them, even more so that I have met them all now :) I can feel more love already for those around me now that I am responsible for their welfare. It should be a fantastic learning experience for me. We also went back to Munich on Saturday and did a district leader training meeting with the zone leaders. That was fun too. So yes, I do have training meetings and such, Dad. It should be fun working more closely with them. Zone Conference is in a couple weeks, wait, next week, and we are going to wear our Trachten suits :) We wore them to church yesterday, and all the members liked mine more than Elder Stokes' :) but not that that matters... haha.
Mom asked how the difference is between dialects or accents, and I really don't have much of a problem. To me it is like they are speaking hoch deustch, which isn't really true, but it seems easier to me compared to Kärnten. Interesting. Of course I haven't really heard their Bayerisch accent/dialect yet, so that may throw me for a loop. But so far no troubles there :) But church was great yesterday, I feel like I did okay putting names to faces, and for some reason these people just seemed like good friends already. You better believe I have been praying for help loving all of the people around me, because I need all the support I can get to know what the people in my district need, how I can help them, or just to be able to show my love with everyone I talk with, for the ward especially. And it is bizarre, because there are a lot of members who remind me of people I know. Like there is a Sister whose daughter is getting baptized next week, and she reminds me of Aunt Jenn :) and the stake president reminds me of the blonde guy in that movie "The Hometeachers." And Sis. Zacherl, who spoke yesterday and to whose house we went for dinner, reminds me of Marcel! (Hey, did I tell you I got a letter from Marcel? That was cool.) It is just weird, it is a weird sense that I somehow know these people already. I have no problem with it :) Oh, the Andersons, the Ehepaar (senior couple) here, had us for dinner on Thursday night, which was great :) I like them, they are funny. Plus they have an exotic strawberry Fanta over here that is Fanta-stic (hehe ;) ). I got to play some guitar over there as well, Elder Anderson played us an Old Swiss folk song. I understood a little bit :)
But yeah, the ward is great (it is actually a branch, but ward is easier to type, plus they still have about 60 people who come on Sundays). We went to the Zacherl family for dinner, and they looked at our pictures and such, we ate dinner, then played a game, they were awesome! Br. Zacherl is hilarious, and Sis. Zacherl is so nice. They have a daughter, Marisse, who llikes to steal our nametags during church, but she gives them back. All in all, I had a good first few days. We haven't had a ton of time for just good old finding or anything yet, but that will be this week.
Elder Stokes haha, he is pretty funny. He is great, knows the scriptures well, and is a nice guy. The members like him, and he knows what is going on around here.
So I replaced Elder Smith, the one I knew my first transfer from Graz, and I am sure the ward liked him. I haven't really had any problems with the members going on and on about missionaries who were there before. I just do my best to leave a good impression myself. Most important is that the ward is more willing and ready to help us in this great work. The relationships with the members are crucial. If I can leave a place and leave behind a ward with an attitude like that, then I am happy.
Oh meine goodness (as I said on accident this last week haha), that is all the stuff going on over here. Cool that Nathan and Kate are still doing alright, despite twisted ankles and such. I hope their musical goes well. Awesome that Kate is playing soccer too. :) As far as I know there aren't any soccer players in my district. But I do want to see if we could do some kind of district sport day on a pday. We shall see. What is up with Kenzie and Morgan both dating Jake's? Haha and one is a premissionary and the other just returned. What are they thinking trying to confuse us all? ;) Tell them hello for me :)
Well, I don't know what more to say now. News-wise, at least. I am living and happy and enjoying our tiny little one room apartment after living in the palace of Klagenfurt. It is cozy, I guess.
Um, I shall send some pictures, maybe. Let´s see... nope never mind, it doesn't work. Surprise haha. Elder Orchard has a SD card reader. That worked, but just plugging the camera in doesn't. Sorry. Now that I think about it, what do you think of me having a hard drive to back up all of my pictures onto? I know you want me to just send the cards, and I may do that, but just in case. I don't know, Elder Orchard bought a huge hard drive for like €50. I don't know if I could find as good a price. Just a thought. I would hate to lose my pictures. I have almost filled up the 8 GB one! I have about 800 photos left. Also, have you found anything out about a cool WdR ring? I would submit that as an awesome birthday present. Better I say it now before I forget.
Naja, now for me to come to an end. May I quote Sis. Zacherl, something she said in her talk yesterday that stuck out to me. She said that Heavenly Father rewards His children with progress, not always with perfection. We should not be dissatisfied with not being perfect, it is our nature. But we can come to know and understand and eventually reach our potential through the gospel. For me personally, I have wished that I had understood something much quicker, or that I was able to do something much quicker, or easier. But I forget the satisfaction that comes from looking back at how far I have come through the process. Joy in the Journey, like Pres. Uchtdorf said. Those guys know what they are talking about ;) We are so blessed, are we not? Look at where you are in life, look at the experiences you have had and the things you have learned, the progress you have made throughout your entire life. There is a loving Father in Heaven who is guiding each of us in some way or another, when we allow it, of course. And by following His guidance, we will have that sense of fulfillment. It goes with a quote I have in my calendar with quotes about happiness. "Die wahre Freude am Leben ist, für ein Ziel gebraucht zu werden, das man selbst als wichtig anerkannt." -George Bernard Shaw. Not quite sure how to put it so eloquently (wow, that is a cool English word) in English, but my best translation would be "the true joy of life is taking part in reaching a goal that you know is important." Much cooler in German, but you guys just don´t undestand... Anyway, look at our goal, the purpose of life, to return to live with our Father in Heaven. How great our joy should be when we work together and do what is necessary in order for us to reach that goal, and for us to help others to reach it. Everyone wants to feel like they belong. You do! You belong to a divine heritage, to a place more beautiful than the world, to a Father who loves us all. If you do your best to do your part in reaching the goal, then you will be happy with life. Happy with who you are and who you are becoming. It is simple :) So, exercise your faith and do something. I know that we can receive a feeling for how much God loves His children, and I know it is possible to overcome any feelings of guilt, envy, shame, dislike, through the Atonement of Christ. I have seen people change. And the first most important changes should take place in the person in the mirror. We are not perfect, but we can become better people.
I wish you all the best and a wonderful week, have fun at school and work and whatever else you do. Remember who you are, what you have learned, and that the Lord loves you. I love you all as well :)
Oh, happy belated Valentine´s Day! I spent mine in a train station and forgot a million times that it was the 14th. That means Happy Birthday to Shelby Henrick, if she somehow reads this.
I love you all! Keep smiling.
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wünderschönen Guten morgen!

Hockey game!
Best second-hand store finds ever!
Well hello everyone! How was your week? I hope Chris and Easton and Papa all have great birthdays this coming week! And today, in Papa´s case. My week was pretty spannend, exciting, crazy! I suppose the biggest news would be transfers, eh?...
So, I am being transferred to Landshut, Deutschland! North of München (Munich), and I don't know anything about it haha. But, I will be serving there with Elder Stokes, in his last transfer on the mission! (I am "killing" him, as we say.) He is from Australia! It should be a lot of fun, I LOVE Klagenfurt and the people here, but I am excited to go and love other people as well. So ist Leben, ge? Just keep going, and keep smiling. In the words of the song that Elder Orchard is working on: "Life goes on for a little while--might as well do it with a smile." :) In Landshut I will be serving as the district leader, and the other missionaries I have the opportunity to serve are Elders Niedens (I think from Germany) and his trainee, Elder Nicoll. Plus two Sisters, Sister Lin, and.... Sister Pingree, again! From Graz, who is now in Passau. I will know at least one person already when I get there! I am excited, Sister Pingree is a great missionary, and Sis. Lin was actually one group ahead of me in the MTC, so I have met her too. I am excited to serve them and learn from them. There is also a senior couple there. Yahoo, senior couples rock! :) I will miss the Halls.
Now, Elder Orchard is staying here in Klagenfurt, and he is training!! His golden will be growing up in the BEST place of all! He is very excited! And I am excited for both of them. I said goodbye to so many people at church yesterday, and it was very nice. But the hardest for me was when Federica came up to me and, in her broken German, told me that I was very special to her for playing a large role in her repentance and baptism, and thanking me. It´s a good thing she was able to restrain herself from crying, because I would have lost it haha. I am going to miss them all! But I have a lot of addresses and emails and such, so even though I am leaving, I am not sad. I love them, and I know that God loves them, and He will watch over them even if I am not there to do it! We shall see each other again. I also got a hug from Bruder Mauch, and that was a special treat, only to Elders leaving the ward. And guess what?! Bruder Mauch´s knee isn't hurting him anymore, and I totally could have played soccer with him sometime! But oh well, I will learn from him later haha.
Okay, before I continue, I have some business. I got a letter from Chris Hall and he asked me for Logan Dicus´ address and also Kenzie´s address. If you could send me those, then I could have them as well! haha. But with packing and doing so much stuff, I am still a week behind on my journal and I have almost no time to write letters. I am doing what I can haha. I did get the Spauldings' package, thank them for me! It was a nice surprise :) I still don't have all the Hawaiian stuff yet, I am praying for today or tomorrow, otherwise I will be waiting even longer.
Next item, do you know how much I have in my debit account? Becasue I want to just send a package, and I could just send it to Justin in England since you'll see him at the end of next month, but I need cash for the package. I would also need Justin´s address too, of course. I could just withdraw as much cash as needed to send the package.
Um, next, something cool I found. We did Bible predictions with the Leoben Elders over the phone, where you open to a random scripture and then you have the others interpret it to what it means for your neyxt transfer, and my scripture was Jeremiah 5:13-15. See what you think, interpret it as you will. haha it is just a fun game. But they did predict I was leaving, especially when Elder Orchard´s scripture said that the wind was blowing the grass away or something. But Elder Orchard's scripture (Isaiah 40:8-10 I think) totally said he was getting a golden and training! It is funny to see how things work out. Well, back to the cool thing I mentioned above, I kinda got off track, but I got a ton of presents from Elder Orchard´s parents in his Christmas package which he finally got. When his parents sent it, they thought it was going to Elder Orchard´s old companion, but then it got lost. And so I got everything. They sent us each a stocking with wrapped gifts, all with scriptures on them. We had to read the scripture and guess what it was, it was really creative and entertaining. We got deodorant and the scripture was the one in Alma, "to me he doth not stink." Haha we got that one right. But the coolest scripture was D&C 112:7, which is just the perfect Alpine German-speaking mission scripture, with many lands, in the mountains haha. I thought that was cool.
Thanks for the pictures of Tyson and Chris, holy cow I laughed for 5 minutes when I saw how exhausted Tyson looked! Haha that reminds me that Landshut is a bike area supposedly! I have never been that beat though. By the way, I will send you a picture of what we bought on pday last week, I think you will love it! I am so excited for it :)
Shall I report on our investigators? Well, with MB___ the biggest problem is him actually understanding what we are talking about, just like I think I talked about last week. He just nods and says ja all the time, but he doesn't get it. So, Elder Orchard will have to work on that. And I haven't seen MA___ since Wednesday, because there was a misunderstanding on the time of our Friday appointment. But he is also doing well! We finished the plan of salvation, and he thinks it is really cool. And he prayed for us, by name too (haha he said Gibbons and then asked if he said it right) and it was just the perfect prayer! Seriously. I am sad that I probably won't be able to come to his baptism, but we don't know the logistics of that, so I can't say anything about that. He is doing well. We had a very important meeting with C___, in which we figured out a problem that we have not considered yet. SO, we can work on that! I was able to give him a blessing, and I am always grateful for the guidance of the Spirit. Otherwise, Elder Orchard is taking over the work and he will be a great help for these people. It goes on.
So, Nathan is starting tennis soon, eh? My advice.... I will skip the obvious and just say that he needs to work on the right form :) and work really hard. And have fun! What is Kate going to do? Anything sportwise? I hope they have fun with the musical. Sorry that I can't magically appear at it for Kate, like last time haha. My goodness, that was almost a year ago!! BWAH!! Mind, blown!
Well, the other computer isn't working, so I need to let Elder Orchard talk to his parentss, and by that I mean write his email, on this computer. So ich muß mich abschieden. But I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that we can all feel His love for us, and that we can also become better people through His Atonement, and feel that same love for others as well. It is true, es ist wahr. I know that from the bottom of my heart, because I love these people so much. And then I looked at the picture of my family and just thought, "Man, I have been loving them like that my whole life! I should do a better job taking advantage of that." Loving others brings joy. And joy is what we want in this life. This gospel is a gospel of joy, of love, of peace, and we can experience all of that through living it. Just do it. Try it out. Put your trust in Him, and you will not be left alone.
Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers, and know that you´ll be in my heart. I love you all!
Keep on smiling :)
Elder Jalen L. Gibbons
PS-So the pictures are with Derek after his game, and then the other is the legitimate Austrian Trachten suits that we bought at a second-hand store. Mine was €30!!!!! New ones cost like thousands! It is totally my homecoming talk suit :) all I need now is a hat like Elder Orchard's, and like Nathan's! Cool, ge?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Guten Morgen!

Guten Morgen! I am still waiting on mom´s email at the moment, but I can answer some of dad´s questions while I am at it! Well, first of all, transfer calls aren't until this Friday, they are always the last week. So I have no idea what is going on yet, but I don't worry about it till it comes. I suppose I could explain the whole hierarchy of transfers a bit, for my mission at least, but here is what we look for: if the zone leaders call you then you know you are staying where you are at. If the APs call, someone is being transfered somewhere else, and President Miles only calls if you are training, or if you are being given a leadership role, like zone leader or district leader. So, we shall see who calls this week!
Yeah, it seems to be that every single church building over here has a ping pong table, and the Austrians are actually pretty good at it (Tischtennis). I have never been able to play anyone, because even though we have two tables in the kellar of the church, we don't have a key to the kellar, and there aren't even any balls. Dumb. That was the first ping pong I have played so far, in Bruck an der Mur that pday. Holy cow, this is week 6!!!! I have no idea where the last 5 weeks went :/ But it is crazy, and I am still not caught up in my journal (it is rather annoying to have to write about a day that was a few days past, trying to remember all the cool things that happened). But I am almost there! We are just always doing something, planning, studying, whatever. I don't know where the time goes. I appreciated all the time I had at night to write in my journal when Elder Eaker was here. Those days are, however, gone. No matter, we set another baptismal date this week! With MB___, the younger man from Egypt, for the 10th of march! It was cool, because we hadn't heard from him in a while, because he told us he was getting a new number, but he didn't, and everytime we went by, he wasn't there. Then on austausch, uh, exchange, Elder Orchard and Riser met a girl who was there who said he still had the same number. So we called him and he asked us where we had been! Haha so we finally met with him again and taught him the restoration. That is exciting. What is cool is that our ZL´s told us that just this last week alone we doubled the baptismal dates set with people, in our zone at least. They are pretty excited haha.
Well, Dad asked about the hockey game. Yes, we did get to go, we had to get permission from president but he just asked if we had already been to a game yet, so we said no, and he said he thought it was a wonderful idea to go and show our support to D___! So we went on Thursday, and it was really cool! Sadly, they lost 1-0, and B___ wasn't very happy because she said that it was one of the most disappointing games she has ever seen. But to top it all off, the refs called off 2 goals from VSV, and the fans were NOT happy at how ridiculous they were. But after the game we got to go back into a VIP room and we talked with B___ while we waited for D___. We also checked out the fan shop, but they didn't really have anything, but what we decided to get was even better :) We gave D___ and B___ money so that they could buy us D___ R___ jerseys, so now I will remember my time with D___ forever! We are super excited! Haha B___ told us that D___ was worried that we were going to spend our mission money (for food and stuff) on VSV gear. But no it was our personal money. What other cool reminder can you have from someone who has become a great friend on the mission, than to have his team uniform? Oh, we also ate with them last Monday, and guess what we had? Ribs!!!! Oh man it was heavenly. We realized that I have been the longest missionary D___ has ever had, we have been meeting almost weekly since August last year, and I have been to every single appointment, except for one! Like I said in my email last week, D___ has become a very good friend, and I am glad I was able to get to know him and that we could both grow through our interactions with each other. And no, his plan is now to just get baptized at home when the season is done here. I am not worried, he is great. B___ told us at the game that she thinks he is finally there, to the point where the gospel is something that he really wants for him and for his family. He did what was necessary to gain his testimony, we were just along for the ride :)
Well, that is super cool that our ward will have 11 missionaries out at the same time! I can't wait to see where they all are headed! We were talking (Elder Orchard and I) about how there are going to be WAY too many missionaries here in our mission for it to stay one mission for too long. One mission president for 230 or so missionaries, spread out so wide, it just wouldn't be sane. But, we hope that neither of us are still here if they decide to do that. Nothing of course that we say is set in stone, we were just thinking about it. So cool that there are so many missionaries!
Dad, your tradition every morning sounds pretty good, I hope it goes well for you! I realized early on in the mission how much strength and power came from the Book of Mormon, and I decided that I needed to read in it every single day. I have rarely missed the chance since then. What you said about our actions, the things we do showing our willingness to act on our faith, was cool because I believe Elder Orchard shared a similar thought about that verse a couple weeks back. We have to do something to strengthen our faith and return to Heavenly Father. We talked to some Evangelische Freichrist people last night, they are the people who say that they are saved through Christ´s grace. The lady even told us a couple times that "she hoped she would see us in heaven someday." She said she believed in Christ, that He suffered for us, and she would be able to go to heaven because of that. We were just flabbergasted (haha funny word) afterwards, just not understanding how someone would be satisfied with that, with just saying they believe and then not having to do anything else. How can they be satisfied without all the blessings that come from LIVING the gospel? Or a better question yet, where does their satisfaction come from when they don't necessarily follow the teachings of Christ? I don't think there is any satisfaction, lasting satisfaction that comes without the blessings of living the gospel. I am sure that they were really good people, but they just don't understand :/ das ist ja schade.
Hey, that is awesome that Christina is also headed to Korea! Man, that is so cool, I bet she is freaking out! I have three friends in 3 different Korean missions haha. You have to keep me updated on where everyone is heading, for sure. We´ll see who else can find their way over here across the pond! And thanks for the picture of Tyson, he looks alive and well, I look forward to reading the story in his email! Hopefully I can send him one back in a few weeks!
MA___, by the way, is just loving the gospel! He is eating it all up, it makes sense to him. He talked about how he had been looking for the true religion for a long time, and he pointed to the Book of Mormon and said that he had found it. Plus, we taught about the WoW the other day, and we got a totally different reaction than we expected--he said, well yeah, all of those things are unhealthy! He is already living the Word of Wisdom, except for coffee, and he said he was done with coffee now! Holy cow, that makes things easier :) so that was nice. Daniele was there with us, and it was great talking about the plan of salvation. And MA___ just kept saying that these were things he had thought about before in his life. He is truly prepared, and Daniele was also influenced by how prepared he was. He said that seeing someone on the same path that he took just made him so happy :) What a stud, both MA___ and Daniele! We also had a good member lesson with the Kaiser Sr.s, and we did the restoration with them, inviting them to pray and get another confirmation about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, because it is a wonderful gift that we can learn over and over through the Holy Ghost that something is true. And when we finished Sis. Kaiser asked when we were coming back for the next lesson! :) Perfect. I love these people!!!!
So, I can expect a package then, eh? From Jenn and from Hawaii? Awesome! I don't have your Hawaii postmarked letters yet, but for sure this week. And you calculated correctly mom, although transfers will be the 14th. Although it could be the 13th, but that would only be if I trained. But I don't guess or think about transfers, I will just take it when it comes. ;) Makes it easier.
It was a good week overall, we did an austausch with Elders Stapleton and Riser, and we had some good lessons. We are just working on being able to meet with all the new people we found, so that we can fulfill our purpose and invite them to come unto Christ. Elder Stapleton said something really cool at our district meeting on Tuesday, that the purpose of life is to gain access to the Atonement of Christ. And of course, through that, we do the things necessary to receive God´s greatest gift of all, eternal life with Him. Like Dad said, we have to do things. But doing things is much more fulfilling than sitting around, ge? Tuesday was actually filled with a bunch of scripture puns and laughter at district meeting, and I was just so grateful that I am able to know all of these wonderful people, who I would never have met if I weren't here. My favorite line was from Elder Hall, when we all got back to the church after finding, and he said "Many are cold, but few are frozen." Haha it makes me laugh as I type it. The mission is the greatest thing ever, the most efficient way of learning the things that Heavenly Father needs us to learn, all in preparation for the rest of our lives. And we build friendships here that will certainly last a long time, eternity even. You want real world experience? Be a missionary! You can never regret it if you do it willingly and you are ready. So how do we prepare ourselves? A quote I heard from Elder Stapleton again, from Elder Holland. Elder Holland, in response to many missionaries and people saying that Preach My Gospel was created to convert people, said this: "This book (PMG) was created to convert YOU!" So, my friends who are preparing for missions, and even those who are not, know PMG and the principles inside it like the back of your hand, it has everything needed to be truly converted to Christ. For those going on missions, make sure you know it better than I knew it! Don't waste time. The time on the Lord´s errand goes so fast, you want to use it all efficiently.
Well, the time ist wieder vorbei, und ich muß jetzt gehen. Ich hab vieles heute vor, und ich bin ganz begeistert für die nächste Woche. I know that the gospel brings happiness to everyone who will accept Christ and follow Him, and that true satisfaction comes with a clear conscience and a pure heart. Jeus Christ leads His people today, and He has prepared the way for us to overcome anything in our way. Just trust in Him, and come what may.
I love you all, have a fantastic week!
Elder Jalen Gibbons