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