Monday, March 25, 2013


Transfer Day
Jalen in his Derek Ryan hockey jersey
Derek got the team to autograph it for him
Well, what a ridiculous week! The first half was rather uneventful, much packing and such by Elder Stokes, who had so much stuff that he had to send some packages all the way to Australia haha. Hopefully he passed the weight limit at the airport, although Elder Harris told me that his flight into England was late, and that he got stranded there and had to stay the night there. Poor guy, now his dream of going to church as a missionary on 3 continents is shattered. Hope all is well though.
But, I went to Munich on Thursday and got to see lots of missionaries and say goodbye to the ones headed in different directions, or home. And then I finally was told who my companion was, Elder Allan from American Fork, UT! He is awesome, he worked as a salesman for some company before the mission and is so ready to just talk to people and such. His German will just get better and better with all of the practice, so even if he isn't too confident now, there is no worry. We got home on Thursday, dropped his stuff off at home, and then took off and went to talk to people and did some doors, and found a man, with whom we met this morning! He was really nice, and he just needs the answers to the questions of the soul, which we can provide through the plan of salvation :) But we had some good experiences, even though it is FREEZING once again!! Stupid weather. We walked around for 1 1/2 hours yesterday in a freezing wind, but it was a lot of fun. He is so ready to just do missionary work, and he does it, then asks if he made any mistakes, then continues on. He just has to develop his ear for understanding the people haha. So does everyone, oder? Elder Allan is apparently a state chess champion, or was crowned so in elementary school. He turned 19 his second day in the field, Friday, so he just graduated in 2012. I will send a picture or two, because I finally have all my photos backed up on my thumbdrive, and I bought a card reader thing that makes it so much faster.
I am glad you enjoyed the package! And... I don't think I have your Klagenfurt stuff yet. I have not received anything from Hawaii, no packet or anything. So, don't know what to do about that. Elder Orchard brought me stuff that I had there, like Derek´s hockey jersey (which is totally AWESOME!!!) but I can't remember any package from Hawaii, and he said he never saw it. Maybe I got emails or something from while you were in Hawaii, but I just don't know. What was the package anyway? Maybe my mind is just blanking.
Oh, we also had some eating adventures this week. On Friday we went to Herr S_____'s house and he invited us to eat with him, which we did. So we went inside and there was a huge piece of meat sitting on the table, and he cut up good bread and shaved ham off of this hunk of meat, and he also had salami. The meat was special ordered from Italy, and it was so good! We also had green olives filled with almonds, pretty good, and some kind of paste-spread made out of duck and pig liver and such...tasted like tuna. He gave the rest of the jar to Elder Allan haha. But, I can also now say that I have eaten Caviar!! It was okay my first shot, with some mayonnaise with it, but then he made us take a big scoop and try it by itself. Pretty...fishy... then to end, he put a TON of it on a piece of bread with some butter. Oh boy, I ate a lot of caviar. But otherwise we were kinda disappointed, because he just thinks we are friends basically. He knows what we do as missionaries, but he just lets us do it and he doesn't have any interest to change. Schade. Otherwise, in the last few days we haven't been able to meet with any of our investigators, but that is because we just can't get ahold of them. We will be happy to go find more people, and Elder Allan and I will do so! I never want to be in the apartment for as long as I was when Elder Stokes was sick. So we will get lots of good work done :)
I am loving the experience of training, grateful for all that I am learning, especially now that I am still district leader (which we finally figured out haha). It gives me even less time to think about myself, and I am satisfied with that. I will let you know how things are going, and hope to have lots of great experiences to share with you in the next little while.
Thanks for all of the pictures, that Harry Potter thing looked so cool!!! And the fortress. Too bad you didn't get to hike down the cliffs. That doesn't happen everyday. I see you are enjoying weather that appears similar to mine at the moment. Yay, we will endure together! Say hello to everyone for me :) And Janet and Chad, welcome to the European Fanta bandwagon! It´s good stuff! By the way, Dad has some prettty cool shoes. What are they? And it is weird seeing Nathan wearing all of my clothes.
But anyway, I have like no time. I was trying to write quickly to some of the members in Klagenfurt, plus Derek and Bonnie and such. So this will be rather short, but I will end with my thoughts on the Lord´s answer to Alma´s prayer in Mosiah 26 (or 27, can't remember exactly). Alma was just given the new "calling" of having to judge all the people committing sins and whatnot, and he surely felt very uncomfortable and inadequate and overwhelmed. So he turned to the Lord, and the last half of the chapter, verses 15-32 I think, are His answer for Alma. I love how he tells Alma that he will have eternal life. That is coming from the Lord, but no doubt through the Holy Ghost. And that same Spirit can talk with us, and we can receive such comfort from the Lord. I also like how the Lord reminded Alma about how blessed he was, because he believed on Abinidi´s words and that he was a tool in the Lord´s hands. And His admonition to Alma was to simply serve Him, and gather His sheep. Think about how you receive answers to prayers, and remember how blessed you are for such an opportunity.
I know that the Savior lives and that this is His church on the earth today, led by Him though His servants the Prophets. The Book of Mormon is true, and the truth can be felt and learned and confirmed by the Spirit. It will touch you so deeply that it can never go away, except through neglect. Make good experiences everyday, and thank your Heavenly Father always.
I love you all! Till next week, keep smiling :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, March 18, 2013


With Elder Stokes in their authentic trachten suits
Munich Zone, February 2013
Einen schönen wunderbaren guten Tag! Except for the rain here today, and the really cold weather last week, I am alive and well :) Oh, hallo everyone.
Well, the first news then would be transfer news, eh? That is right, today is technically the start of the new transfer, although all the transfers and such will happen on Thursday. Hmm, so where do I begin?... Sister Pingree (yes, Dad, she was the one I stacked wood with in Lavamünd, tall, dark hair) and Elder Stokes are going home, via Munich. The day is coming very quickly for them. So, as for the district, Elder Niedens will be headed to Wien to be DL, and Elder Jones, who was in Innsbruck, and whom I know from Salzburg Zone, will be joining Elder Nicoll down in Neuötting. That should be exciting. Sister Lin in staying in Passau, and a Sister Garrett is coming to join her. Sis. Garrett was in the MTC with Elder Nicoll, so they are both young. And Elder Jones is a couple younger than I am, so I am now the second oldest missionary in the district! When talking about age, of course, I am referring to time in the mission field. Just to clear that up... Sister Lin is only a transfer older than me, and I knew her in the MTC. So, cool. I am now older than most of the missionaries in the district. :/ that´s not how it is supposed to work, I was supposed to be the young one forever! Haha. Just kidding. And, some crazy, exciting news! Elder Orchard is coming to Munich, to be Zone Leader with Elder Eaker! I don't know what is up with all the people in Klagenfurt coming to Munich Zone, but that is how it has gone so far. So, that means that first, my first two companions in the field are now working together as Zone Leaders, and second, that Elder Curtis, who Elder Orchard trained for only one transfer, will finished being trained by Elder Orchard´s companion from the MTC, Elder Root. Pretty crazy, huh? That is already three Elders from my group in Klagenfurt for almost a year. I myself have no idea who my companion is, because right now he is sitting in the MTC packing, probably wondering about the craziness of the next few days. Yeah, so I am training someone brand new! Holy cow, I am so excited! I can't wait to pick things up and get things moving here in Landshut! This last transfer was just crazy. So, that is my honor for at least the next transfer, and I will let you know next week of course who my companion is :) SO, that is transfers!
Now, I have a few "Bitte´s" for you. Could you have the young men from the ward/stake, who are preparing to go on their missions, write me an email and tell me about how things are going for them? So I am talking about Tyler (so cool, that he is headed over to Tyson´s VISA wait area! He is gonna love being a missionary.) and Malcolm and everyone else. Hey, tell the girls too, Christina and Anna and Sydney and Danielle, I want to hear about their feelings and attitudes towards this huge, life-changing adventure they are about to embark on! Man, I love being a missionary :) except that I have the hardest time typing that word, "missionary"... anyway.
I have had some crazy, out of nowhere feelings this week while contemplating, and they were kinda another little wake up call. Well, to better explain, I had a dream last week, or maybe the week before, where I was home from the mission and it just seemed like a dream to me, all the things I had done and experienced. I believe I mentioned said dream last week. Maybe. Can't remember. But this week as we were driving on the Auto bahn with a member to go help someone move, I was just thinking about alll the thigs I have learned and who I have become, and it was just the most uncomfortable feeling ever, I just felt what it would be like to go home and have these whole two years just be like a dream I have had. Bwah, I don't know how to describe it, but I did not like it. So, I am doing my best to make everything my best effort and to really work work work until I am tired and exhausted, and then work some more. I don't want to feel that again, not ever. Make the most of everyday! Don't waste any time on trivial things! It´s not worth it.
Okay, this week was already a bit better than the last, in that we had lots of things going on. On Tuesday we went to Munich to have a zone training meeting with the ZLs, and that was really great. We started off by watching some Mormon Message from Elder Holland about staying in the lines, or in bounds, or something like that. He was talking about moral cleanliness, and he said that if you went on your mission and were not worthy to do so, the words you would try to speak would choke in your throat. Man, I love Elder Holland! It was from his talk in Priesthood from October 2011, where he singed our eyebrows a little bit, like a coach would :) He rocks. That reminds me of a quote from Pres. Monson, where he says that our best friend is a clean and clear conscience, and he says that nothing feels better than knowing that you stand in our appointed place worthy to do so. There is really nothing like it! And anyone who goes on a mission will feel that, and they will know either that they are doing what is right, or that they need to switch some things up.
Elder Eaker also had a really cool quote that he probably thought up, or got from something, but it is an excellent question to ask yourself when you are preparing to go on a mission. "Are you going on a mission to be a missionary? Or are you going on a mission to become an returned missionary?" Wise words. There is so much to learn and feel and experience on the mission, things indescribeable and sacred and humbling, and I have felt very strongly this week that I would not be the person I am if I had not come out here. It was a feeling that I felt and recognized very clearly while sitting at church gestern and pondering all the wonderful things I have seen and heard and taken part of. My mission has changed me in a way that nothing else could. Nothing. What an opportunity!
Wednesday we had district meeting, and then I did an Austausch with Elder Young, Elder Eaker´s companion, and that was a lot of fun. I bought him some gelato, and some for me too, of course. It is so good, that place down the street from us! I love melon flavour. Thursday we ended the Austausch and then did a finding day in Landshut. We had lunch and then went to work, and then a miracle happened! We all went our separate ways, and Elder Stokes and I went by on the newest family in the Ward, the Hopfs, and asked them to pray for us since we had 6 missionaries working in Landshut at that time. Then we could report back to them what happened. So, after that Elder Stokes and I walked for about 40 minutes, and only saw 4 people :( so I was kinda downhearted, because I didnt know what we could report from our side. Thank goodness for the Sisters and Elders, because they did a lot of good work! The Sisters are just incredible and had a guy take a BoM for his girlfriend, who he thought would be interested in the church. Then, as we all got to bahnhof again, Sister Pingree just said hallo to a lady, and the lady stopped her and said "Ich brauche deine Kirche. " or, "I need your church." WHAT?! That is awesome! When does that happen? Not on a day-to-day basis haha. Not yet, since we obviously aren't faithful enough ;) The lady knew the church from Congo, and she speaks ok German, but French is better. We hope to bring her a French BoM in the next few days, and then see what we can do for her. We were telling that story in church, and I saw some of the members making jokes together, rubbing their fingers together like all she really wanted was money from us. Come on people, don´t make such a mockery of the hand of the Lord! That´s what I wanted to say. Doesn't it talk about in the BoM all the people who deny that the Lord still works wonders? I hate how people take such wonderful experiences and can treat them so lightly, even members. The adversary has many ways to deceive us, and the only thing that will keep us straight is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He still works in the lives of His people today. He does, I have seen it! In my own life and in the lives of others. But that was the cool experience from Thursday. Otherwise, we spent the weekend trying to find a washing machine (we do have a washing machine now, hooray!) and moving people into homes, and our numbers this week were almost as bad as last week :( there was just no time.Even though what we are here for is to help people, the helping we did was not the helping I had hoped for more time for (if that sentence made any sense at all...). Once again, I am just super excited for this next transfer!
Well, look how boring I am, I have nothing else to tell you really... So, I will answer your questions! So, Elder and Sister Anderson were not at Zone Konferenz because he was still sick, so sorry Mom, they weren't in the photo. And Dad remarked that my trachten suit has no collar, which is correct. That is the traditional Austrian style, you see! And I have received a multitude of compliments on my suit, even more when I wore it gestern to church, since Elder Stokes wanted to wear them his last Sunday. As for my hair, I suppose that came from me cutting my own hair. (I commented that his hair isn't as spiked up in front as it used to be.) I cut it all to the same length, and then Elder Eaker trimmed the sides for me. But I am getting my hair cut today by the branch president´s wife. Thank goodness! It is getting long again. Got to look presentable for my new companion! And the email change is worldwide as far as I heard. Pretty cool.
Um, I have some advice for Nathan: Dad can do anything (sports-wise) he wants to, and he does it well! Figured you would have seen that by now haha :) There is no reason to be surprised at how well he can play anything, because he just can. Makes lots of sense, eh? (Jeff and Nathan played some tennis together Saturday, and Nathan's comment was "I had no idea Dad could play tennis that well!") Make use of his skills! I am sure he enjoys it too.
And I have not received all the stuff from Klagenfurt yet, Elder Orchard gave it all to the APs. I hope I can pick it all up on Thursday, including my Derek Ryan jersey and such :) I emailed him last week to ask about all that stuff, and he emailed me back this week and said that he should have just brought it all personally since he is joining us in Munich! Haha, too late. I should get it soon enough. Oh, I got your package mailed off! Hope it makes it okay. As for my birthday, it is the last day of this transfer! So if you were to send stuff so it got to me on time, it would probably work fine. Hey, do you have the abilitly to send another thing of Milkduds? :) I am still rationing out the box from Christmas. That would be cool :)
Ach so, ich müß jetzt gehen. I hope Nathan has fun with drivers ed, and Kate with soccer. And you with all the stuff you are doing, work, piano, at home, whatever. Remember what the gospel has done for you, and how it will help us find peace and happiness in life, no matter what comes. Remember also, "Wir dürfen mehr sein als wir jetzt sind." " We may be more than we are now." It is possible through righteous living and through trust in the Savior.
I love you all and wish you all the best! Keep on being awesome and smile! :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons
P.S. Levan (Elder Smith rather) knows how to take a bath, eh? haha :) (Their friend arrived in Korea for his mission a month or so ago, and on his first day there, all the new Elders were introduced to the Korean public bathhouse experience. His description was detailed and amusing.)

Monday, March 11, 2013


Hallo! I hope your week was fantastic! Mine was rather boring and bland, because my companion was sick the whole time. So to shortly describe my week, I sat in the apartment a lot and had LOTS of time to read the scriptures and the Liahonaa :) yay!!!.... not. Ah I have been going crazy! The apartment is so small!! And I sat in there for much longer than I ever wanted to :/ But I still got some stuff done, so I wasn't just a couch potato haha. Except the apartment isn't even big enough for a couch...
My day so far has not really been how I planned it, becuase to top things off this week, the washing machine broke! So we were working with a member this morning to see about getting it fixed. So on Friday we went to the Ehepaar Andersons and did all of our laundry, because we had nothing else to do. So I got to play some more guitar while I was over there. The tips of my fingers are still numb haha. But I love it! I just looked through the Children´s Songbook and sang songs while trying to play them. It is a lot of fun! So I am sure Dad could fulfill his dream of sitting around with all his grandkids and playing hymns and such with them.
Otherwise, the things we DID do this week were a finding day in Neuötting on Thursday, an Austausch with the Neuötting Elders, and.... well, a district meeting haha. Last Pday I sat at home and wrote a couple letters, got the package ready to send to Justin. I will be sending that today. As well as the letters I wrote last week, because my companion didn't feel well enough to walk up to the post office. District meeting on Tuesday went well. We had an incredible lunch from Sis. Anderson, it was meatloaf, but some of the best meatloaf I have ever had! I don't know why. Plus some heavenly M&M cookies. For the austausch, exchange, I was working here in Landshut with Elder Niedens, who is training Elder Nicoll (that is why he is seemingly new in your memory Mom, because Elder Nicoll is somewhat new in the field). Elder Niedens is from Montana, and he is really funny. We got a picture with our Germany jerseys :) He doesn't play soccer, but he had one anyway! He is on the way towards loving Fußball hehe... haha that just reminded me that all my friends used to say I had an evil laugh when playing soccer. I totally forgot about that :) must be because I knew the cleats I was wearing were a bargain, eh? ;) haha. Oh, and the weather was fantastic, I walked around in just a white shirt and tie, no jacket I mean, for a couple days! I was so happy :) It is now a little bit colder, and it rained gestern. But that is okay. Finding day in Neuötting was still cool, I worked with Elder Niedens and a member from their branch. He was an older man, very nice. Well, we tried to give some cards away on the way to the place where we were going to door, and there was one older woman who said no to us, but then knew the member and they talked for like 10 minutes. And guess what? The street we were going to, the street that the Spirit told the Elders we should visit, was the same street that this lady lived on. We started dooring the street, and the people weren't very nice at all. I hate it when one person speaks for the entire street. There was a guy who said to just forget this street, no one wanted to hear anything. I think he knew that I didn't care what he said, we were going to do it anyway, because he kept telling me and I just smiled and said "schönen tag noch!" :) So, we kept going, and then the member said that the next house was that lady he talked to earlier! So he wanted to ask her if we could do any service or whatnot, and they talked for a long time with Elder Niedens and I standing there. But it was awesome because the member bore his testimony about the restoration and Jospeh Smith, and the priesthood power, and how it has brought so much joy to his life. She said she was too busy with her own problems to listen now, and proceeded to list off a lot of things she was dealing with. The whole time I was just thinking "Okay Heavenly Father, you sent us to this street, and right now You are looking down on this house. What does she need right now?" and I thought about that and then thought about a talk I heard from John Bytheway, an experience he shared from his mission in the Philipinnes, where they were trying to teach about the restoration and the older man just kept asking distracting questions, and at times was not concentrating at all. Eventually they figured out what the man´s eternal questions were, namely, where do we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? The man also had questions about why there is evil in the world, or something like that. So I thought about this woman´s problems she was listing, and the only thing that could make them all make sense was these questions, in short, the Plan of Salvation. So after she went inside, I wrote those questions on a card and bore my tesimony about finding the answers to those, and about God´s plan for us. What was cool was that she has a Sister in Orlando. I told her we were just there, and she said that she usually just goes down to Cocoa Beach when she visits, and I said "Well, I basically lived there! (very nearby, Satellite beach of course)" and then she mentioned that she had a sister in Argentina who has since passed away, so I said, hey my brother is there right now. Haha, crazy connections, yeah? So that was my finding day experience, and it was cool to see how the Lord prepares people. I am grateful that Elders Nicoll and Niedens payed attention to what the Spirit spoke to them. The Spirit really does guide those who have faith and who pray for His guidance.
Friday was spent, as I said, doing laundry and then weekly planning, and then Saturday was a big day! It was the day set apart by president for everyone in the whole mission to just clean out their apartments. Get all the junk out. So, we still studied, but then we got to work! I worked until 8 or so at night, from about noon-isch, and I enjoyed it! It may not look much better, but knowing that you did clean makes it just seem cleaner and neater to you. Although I still havn't been to the keller downstairs... probably should have hit that up too. Oh well, I will work on it. That was Saturday.
Sunday was another baptism in the ward, followed by eating! And then we missed the bus, and I wanted to walk home just so I could move haha. But my companion didn't want to go all that way, which would have taken a while, yes, but we weren't in the apartment and it was incredible!! Haha. So we walked along the busline until we were able to catch one. But the cities over here are dead on Sundays, so there weren't a lot of finding opportunities. Schade.
What a week, oder? Yours sounded much more exciting than mine. I can't believe Nathan is doing drivers ed! When did he get old enough? Mensch. Does that mean the Sentra will soon be rapaired, if not already? I would love to drive that when I get home... *hint hint*. I am glad they are both enjoying their sports and such. Don't talk too much about me at tennis, eh Nathan? Don't want to end up like me. And Kate is loving soccer, and her own cleats! Funny how something becomes cool as soon as everyone else likes it, ja? (Kate finally got her own pair of women's cleats--no more hand-me-downs from her brothers! She wasn't that excited about them--her choices were somewhat limited--until her teammates all loved them.) Gotta be careful there, what the world thinks is cool is not always good. Look, the gospel can be derived from any real life situation, see? I love it :) The gospel is true!
Oh, and as to how I remembered Shelby´s birthday, it is on Valentines day... that was pretty easy to set firmly in my brain haha. And, for Happy Birthdays, Fröhlicher Guburtstag Jacci, Max, Cameron, and Will! Late, but nevertheless still there :) Hope it was awesome! Wow my reign of 19-year-old terror is almost at an end! Heilige Kuh! So for those CTR/WDR rings, I think it is awesome! I love it already. I would say probably the large. That would be cool :) that is, if they have large still for my tiny fingers. I can't remember if my ring size is 7 or 7.5... Well, this is really funny, but I suppose you could ask Allie what size her fingers are, because we had the same size fingers haha.  Hello Allie, if you are reading this! Thanks for having the same size fingers as I do! What are friends for? Haha. So, back to the point, I like the large. If not that, then the regular. We´ll see. well, you will see. I won't. Yet.
Bytheway, John.... haha thanks for the pictures of Elder Ogaard and Elder Crockett! Oh boy Dylan is having the time of his life, eh? Wait, does he get home soon? Holy cow, how much longer does he have left? Meine Güte. I bet he is shaking things up over there in Canada! And now Elder Ogaard has joined the club! Congratulations Kody! He is going to have a blast up there in Sweden.
Hey, guess what? The area presidency just sent out a memo through President Miles saying that we are now allowed to email friends on Pdays!! I will have to go read it one more time, just a moment... "Missionaries are to write to their families each week and are also authorized to communicate by email with friends, priesthood leaders, and new converts." Well that is totally new! It is from the General authorities and area presidencies. That is really awesome! Now we have longer for emails! So, I can write emails to friends at home! That is ridiculous. You should let people know that, eh? Of course, forewarn them that I only have so much time, and it doesn't guarantee a super lengthy answer..... but that does NOT nullify the real letter writing! Haha. But yeah, exciting new news! I shall see if I have any new email correspondents next week.
Um, I don't have much more to say about things over here. We have a couple appointments set up for this week, and we are finally able to go outside and find again! Hopefully that will help things pick back up. Because I have been so bored and feeling so useless this week. Not a good feeling. I have felt through some experiences, that happiness, real happiness, only comes through living the gospel and is felt and confirmed by the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I wasn't talking to people and bearing testimony, and so I felt the spirit slipping away at times, because I wasn't focusing hard enough on the right things. When sitting in a one-room apartment for hours/days, I started just losing focus. And I felt it when I got to church gestern. I go to the Relief Society every week before meetings and bear my testimony about things that are happening, about the joy from missionary work, and I got there on Sunday and just felt empty. It was not a good feeling. I tried really hard to keep the Spirit with me during the week, honestly, but it was hard sitting at home for so long. So ist es. So, thankfully I was able to bear testimony about the mission plan the branch president had passed out, and I know the Spirit was there because I was able to say those things with confidence. I don't know how I ever lived a life feeling so empty without the Spirit. There were certainly times where I wasn't really focusing on that. But I don't like that feeling, and how grateful I am that I have the gift of the Holy Ghost to be with me always. According to my faith and my efforts of course. So, if any of you feel like you are missing something in your life right now, strive to recognize, through the Spirit, how you can make some changes and be happy. It is possible. And I can bear testimony again and again of the power of tesimony itself. The Spirit speaks truth, confirms truth, and if you speak the truth, the things you know, He will sustain you. And there is nothing better in life than feeling and knowing that you are NOT alone. Trust me on that one. And you can trust your Father in Heaven on that one, too.
I need to pull things to a close, and so I bid you all farewell! Oh, I bought a 32 GB thumbdrive today, so I can hopefully back up my pictures on there. Plus I have some talks and such. There you go Tyson and Chris, I am on the bandwagon. We´ll see when I ever have time to listen to them now haha.
I hope the week is filled with adventures and that you are all happy and safe. Never forget what the Lord has done for you, and never forget all that He still does. He lives and loves me, and you, to the end. Just like I love you all!
Keep on smiling :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, March 4, 2013


Oh my goodness, what have I done this week? So much stuff going on, and now it is gone forever! Mensch, I wish we had had more time to just go and find people, but we were just all over the place. A 5 week transfer just makes EVERYTHING crazy! But we still found a couple people when we spent all day Wednesday dooring, and we also had luck and found out the reason for Landshut having a Russian branch of Jehovas Witnesses.... we found their homes! Haha. It was good, one of those days where you come home and are beat, but for a good reason.
Well, to start off, I enjoyed Google Office´s attempt at translating Dad´s email into German. It was terrible. Haha. I was trying to read it in German like it was, but I realized it went much better when I just read it and translated it into English, trying to read it and translate it instantaneously into what I thought Dad would be trying to say. Sorry Dad, it just doesn't do very well. But it was pretty good practice for me, translating it in my mind, so it was not fruitless! And I will gladly accompany you on some excursions into other lands and help you out with whatever German skills I have. That means we are visiting my mission sometime, right? Haha. Logan wants to too!
Well, I don't know what to say about the pictures of Nathan and Kate... I was caught somewhere between laughing and being astounded at how freaking different they look. Stop growing!!!!! What happened to Baby Kate? Or the Nathan who just sat in his room and read? They are making me feel like I was increadibly boring haha. Ja mai, so geht es. Hope they are enjoying everything. I bet everyone loves them at school and such. They sure are easy to spot.
Sonst.... I can't think of any other crazy things at the moment. So, let´s talk about Zone Conference, eh? (Why do I say that, "eh?" I don't think I ever said that before my mission... I think it must have been the "ge" of Kärntnerisch, now I am just using the same kind of filler words, interjections, as you will. You should be proud that I came up with that word, interjection, because I feel like my vocabulary has been destroyed and replaced by somewhat boring Denglish. That´s why I want to buy a thesaraus auf Deutsch, to make my speech more colorful, and not in a bad way... back to the story now.) Zone Conference was awesome!!! I had the greatest time. Everyone LOVED the trachten suit haha. I wasn't even THAT excited about it when I bought it (and I was pretty dang excited, so I am trying to emphasize how much all the other missionaries loved it). I feel bad, because Elder Stokes got his whole getup on, his shoes, pants, socks, cufflink shirt, vest and the jacket, and it cost him A LOT of money. And mine was €30... But, Sister Miles loved them as well (Pres. Miles said I looked great in it :) ) and got a picture of us after the meeting. But, that is not important!! If I could only let you feel the spirit that I felt at Zone Conference. It was one of the best meetings I have been to. I saw President and Sister Miles and all those who spoke to us in a different light. I saw them on their knees, praying so hard to know what they needed to do to uplift us missionaries, struggling in mighty prayer to Father in Heaven that they might know how to inspire us and help us become more successful. I saw them doing the same thing I have been doing, praying for the help of the Lord, because they and I cannot do this alone. I don't know how to lead and inspire my district, I don't know what I can do to help them have more faith in their efforts, and I saw them with the same questions, but on a MUCH larger scale. It was a testimony to me about inspiration, about prayer, and about the empowering gift of the Atonement. It made me want to listen to what the Spirit was telling me personally, I want to become better at recognizing and following His promptings, and I know it is possible, because the leaders of this mission are some of the most inspired and loving people I have ever known. The APs, Elder Sullivan and Elder Harris, what a picture of power! There are two men who know what God expects of them. I want to be a missionary like them, to have such power and such a strong Spirit. I love being a missionary!
We talked about planning and also about real growth. About how we need to make sure converts experience the joy of repentance fully before being baptized, and to have the biggest goal of conversion as being getting to the temple and making more covenants with God. We also heard from Pres. Auras about his vision for the stake of Munich, and especially how we can work better with the ward council and better support them in their goals for the work. (Because we as missionaries are here to build and strengthen the wards in which we serve. We are not in charge of the missionary work in the ward, the Bishop is.) We also had a senior couple from Switzerland there, he is a counselor in the mission presidency, and I heard him speak a little bit of Swiss German! Wish I could learn it. But they were awesome, they gave a presentation on the things we need to do to have success. He also spoke with power and with plainness! Plainness I have heard a lot about because I just finished 2 Nephi, and Nephi loves plainness. But it is true, the things we need to do are written plainly before us! There is a way to return to Heavenly Father, and it is taught to everyone, from kids in Primary till the day we pass away. It is simple. But this man from Switzerland, Elder Gysler, he was great. I talked with his wife afterwards and thanked her for what she said, for her testimony, and she asked me if I was German, kinda eyeing my suit. But I told her I was from Idaho, and also told her about my family. She was very nice. I thanked Elder Gysler as well when he came up. During their presentation he just bore testimony and let us think about what the Spirit was telling us. I can see him being a great story teller. And the spirit was there.
We did roleplays as well, like always, and the pressure was on when we had to do one with President and Sister Miles! Haha just kidding, it was not bad at all. A really good experience. It is easy to talk about things you know to be true.
Afterwards, I hung out in the kitchen with Elder Eaker and Elder Harris, drying dishes, and also with the Sister from Elder Eaker´s home stake. She asked me where I was from, and I said Idaho, and she said I had some kind of accent haha. I don't know if that means Idahoan accent, or if it was just some weird accent because I had been switching back and forth between Deutsch and English all day. Interesting. She also said I looked familiar, and we figured out that we were both at BYU, but couldn't find any classes in common. Maybe she saw Tyson. The compliment on my suit probably came from a German Sister who is waiting for her Visa to go serve in Washington DC, south I think. I figured if a real German liked it, then I chose wisely. But all in all, the Spirit was there at the meeting, and I loved it. I wish every moment of everyday could be that way, with so many missionaries and such a strong spirit. Oh, there was a great testimony meeting too, where the new missionaries and the ones who are leaving bore their testimonies. One of them, Elder Pitts, who is going home in a month or so (he was the one who trained Elder Botcherby), told us about how he aways wanted to go to the mission in which his father served, and he prayed every night since he was 5 to go there. And the Lord answers prayers, because he is here.
We had an exchange, I went to Neuötting with Elder Nicoll, and that was a lot of fun. We had a great conversation during study about the work, and about how easy it is to lose faith and get discouraged, because he feels the exact same way I did when I was new out here. It was good to talk and help each other recognize the comfort of the Spirit in our lives. Then we had a finding day in Passau on Saturday, and for some reason I just loved that place! I don't know if it was just my attitude that day or if it just reminded me of memories from our trip to Germany (a classic old city along a river, lots of people, etc.). But I was so excited. A large part of it may well be that it was a gorgeous day! It was warm and sunny, I had to carry my coat on my arm around the city for the whole time. I have worn my coat almost everyday for months! Spring is coming :) But I had the chance to work with two young men from the Passau branch. Johannes and Lukas Sagmeister, Johannes is 19 and almost done with his mission papers! I am so excited for him. And Lukas is turning 18 later this summer and will head out on his mission too! So, I got to walk around the inner city with these two for almost 3 hours, talking to people and trying to find some potential for the Sisters who serve there. It was great, I talked to A LOT of people, because I was then the only one with that duty as a missionary haha. But after a little bit, I turned to them and encouraged them to try too. So Johannes asked if I had another Book of Mormon, and he talked to a couple people. Lukas said he just wanted to watch and learn from me, but he helped out when we actually talked to someone. We talked to a lot of people, most of whom said "keine Zeit" or "kein Interesse," and there were many people who just wanted nothing to do with us. But I got much better at talking to people and just being kind and courteous, even to those who were big jerks. And, it was all rewarded. We found a couple people and got their information, but the best was a lady that Johannes stopped in the busy downtown (Johannes is just awesome, because I never even dreamed of talking to people on the street like we do before I was a missionary, but he is already doing it, practicing, like he told me he needed to do. What a stud!) So he stopped her and she talked with us, asked a few questions, and we wanted to give her a Book of Mormon, and so Johannes bore his testimony about how the BoM has brought him joy in life, and then he and I raced to find Moroni 10 haha. I won :) but I let him keep it up, and he shared verse 4 with her and then bore his testimony again, and I was able to bear testimony, and it was just awesome! He was so excited to tell the Sisters about our work when we all met back up at Bahnhof, and the Sisters were so proud of them and what they did. They told me good job haha, but I hardly did anything. So I got a picture with them, my two companions. And Sister Pingree told me last night that they both bore testimony about missionary work in testimony meeting yesterday :) Yes!!! That is success in my book, I was glad to accompany them on having such a good experience with real missionary work. Awesome :)
I bore my tesimony first again gestern! Hopefully I can keep up my record, because if I don't get up there immediately then who knows what excuses I will find to not stand up. I have done that my whole life (find excuses not to get up there) haha. Then we ate dinner with the Hopf family, who have been in Landshut only a week more than I have. They are great, and I feel like we should have lots of opportunities to work with them. Sadly Elder Stokes hasn't been feeling too well, and it peaked gestern after dinner, and so he laid in bed and I got lots of time to study for myself. It was great though. I love reading the Liahona´s and realizing how much I relate to some of the stories in there. The words of the prohpets are true, that I know.
Well, to end, I would like to share my thoughts from study gestern, when I finished 2 Nephi. I loved 2 Nephi 33:10-11, where Nephi invites people to decide whether or not the words of the Book of Mormon are from Christ. He says that they are, bears testimony that he was commanded of God to write them down, and says later that if people do not believe the words he has written and follw them, they will be spoken guilty at the last day. Well, aside from the power of Nephi´s testimony, I had this thought. Nephi said that we will all stand face to face with him at the judgement bar of God, and we will know that he was commanded to write those words in the Book of Mormon. I thought, that when I stand at the judgement bar of God at the last day and look at all the people I met and taught on my mission, or throughout my life, they will also know that I was commanded to bear testimony of those words which Nephi wrote. So, will I have fulfilled my duty? I would certainly hope so. It was like a variation of the quote from Pres. Eyring that I love, but it was a good reminder for me. And I hope it can inspire all of you to bear your tesimony of those things which mean the world to you and your families, every chance you get.
A quote then, from Pres. Gysler: "Wir dürfen mehr sein als wir jetzt sind." To the best I can translate it and have it sound somewhat profound, he said that we are all allowed to become more than we are now. Think about that. Only with the Savior can we do so.
I love you all and hope you continue to smile and see the Lord´s hands in your lives. He lives and is there.
Elder Jalen Gibbons