Monday, August 26, 2013

Das rote Haus...

Hey everyone, our house is red! :) I like it a lot. Nice color choice, Mom, Dad, and Kate! (Sorry Nathan, heard es war dir egal). My denglish is really bad. But we still speak only German to each other, Elder Horlacher and I! That is almost a whole transfer in our mission language! We are proud of our efforts. But we still aren't pros, so don't worry about us going through the pride cycle. Moroni warned us about that. 
That castle was pretty cool, eh? Ludwigsburg is about 15 minutes from Stuttgart with the S-bahn. We´ll have to go back someday. It was way fun. And Sister Kleiner was the one with dark hair and no nametag in the picture. Her name is Elke, but I told her that I would probably always call her Sis. Kleiner haha. I still don't know what I am going to do at home when I see all my mission friends, the Elders and Sisters. Probably just call them Elder/Sister whatever. 
Wow, guess what? Transfer calls are this Friday! I have been in Stuttgart for two transfers now, almost. That means I only have two more! Crazy. We are expecting lots of success in the coming weeks, we have a new baptismal date this week! He is Victor, he comes from Nigeria, and he is so cool! His date is the 28 of September. And we still have Kai on date, but we just haven't heard anything from him, because this treatment place is so streng. We pray for him and wish the best for him. Thanks for your prayers. We have 4 new investigators this last week (gefunden--sorry, that English sentence just didn't seem to end right without a verb at the end...). Okay, I will write that one again. We found 4 new investigators last week! Now we have so many! And it is really hard to find the times we can meet with them, because everyone has a different schedule! And this week we are headed back to Munich again, so that takes away two whole days. We are trying to squeeze appointments in wherever we can. Because we want these friends of ours to make progress and learn more!
Hey, Logan would be proud of me, I figured out the Arabic numeral system. We have a man who speaks simple German and has an Arabic BoM, so now I can find scriptures easier. I think it is pretty cool. Never thought I would have so much experience with other languages. I love it. 
This week we were off and on with the weather, some days hot, the others, like yesterday, were wet and cold. I am totally not prepared for winter, I just realized. I will get my package on Wednesday in Munich, so then I will need to be talking to you about my winter shopping, ja? So, till next week on that. 
We got some surprise referrals from members and from a new investigator this last week! We met a woman from India who is Baptist, and we talked with her about Christ. She says it as "coming to the Christ" with an Indian accent haha. So cool. AND, she has a friend from Egypt who wants to become Christian, and she told him, on the same day we met her, that she had met two men (us!) who talk with people about Christ, and they (we) could surely help him better than she could herself. Well, that´s what we do, oder? :) Then, with Mila, the girl from Ukraine, we started a sudden English class, which was actually a member family´s idea. The members are a couple who want to go on a mission soon. And the husband is so great (well they both are), but he was the one who ordered the PMG and promised to give us some work in the future. And he gave us a referral already! Members make it SO MUCH EASIER!!! We hope to start an English class now, with the members helping it will go better than if we tried on our own. But yeah, Anwat, the less active member from Thailand, is friends with Mila, so he helps us out when he can, joint teach and stuff. What better for a less active member than coming on joint teaches? :) We hope to meet with Mila today and talk more about the BoM. 
I had an exchange with Elder Jerman in Heilbronn this last week. It was so awesome. I went to a place I had never been before, and was just so full of love and excited to meet people. I was way happy! Maybe because I hadn't walked the streets and had any rude contacts before, I just had a better attitude. I want to do that everyday. Elder Jerman is awesome, I want to be more like him. He is humble, ready to work, ready to learn, and a great example to me. He is a good friend of Elder Allan, since they were in elementary school! They came out in the same group. Wish someone would come with me to this mission.... haha. I´m not bitter. They can just all be jealous ;) 
We were invited over by the Bishop tonight! It should be way awesome. They are a great family. Our bishop is so awesome and is perfect for the ward. The Lord knows what he is doing. Every leader that you raise your hand to sustain is there for a reason, so, like Elder Holland said, don´t get all upset at people´s imperfections. "All God has to work with is imperfect human beings-us!" What good happens when we complain about how other people handle their responsibilities? Nothing good, as far as I can tell. WE are there to strengthen one another, and it is scary how easily Satan can get us to gossip and to talk about others. We are the people of God, we don´t need any of that! If these people are anything like me, then I am perfectly aware of my weaknesses, thank you very much. Don´t need more than myself and the spirit to work on that. 
Well, I don´t know where that all just came from, but I hope it helps a little, just to realize that we are always at war with the adversary, and that he has many many ways to sneak into cracks and break us apart from the inside. But we can´t afford that. Be better. Be more loving. Be more like the Savior, that is our goal anyway! Study PMG chapter 6. That is scripture just like the Bible and the Book of Mormon. And God will speak to us through His words! 
I love you all, I hope you have a good week. Enjoy school, sports, whatever you do. Be safe. Don´t breathe in too much smoke. :) Keep smiling!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sorry, a bissl spät heut....

Reunion with the Andersons, from Landshut
(with Elder Horlacher)
with Sister Kleiner, from Graz, Austria
Castle in Ludwigsburg
Fairy tale gardens--Rapunzel's tower
with Elder Horlacher
Hallo Familie! It´s a bit late, ja freilich. It was way cool and weird to see Elder Freer at the MTC with a nametag!!! Wow, he is just a little guy, right? I bet that is what his parents were thinking. He is going to do awesome. I love to see growth, to see how people change and grow in confidence and strength in the gospel. And thanks for the pictures from Tyson! Who is that family, just one he has been teaching for a while? That is totally righteous! (Elder Horlacher is a good movie quoter, so that was an attempt at the Incredibles' "That was totally wicked!" except missionary appropriate ;) ) haha. 
I am so sorry that this will once again be short. er. We went to the castle/palace today in Ludwigsburg, with the Ludwigsburg district! It was so fun! We didn't go in the castle, we just went to the fairy tale gardens! It was awesome! Totally worth it. I love being with other missionaries, especially the ones we don't see as often. Then we get to show them our love. I love being a missionary. I say that every week, I feel like, but that is because I still feel the same way every week :) ich bin so dankbar für das, was ich diese Woche erleben durfte. Ich erzähle dir a bissl...
We had so many awesome miracles this week! With Heavenly Father´s help, we found 22 potentials! That is normally how many the APs find. Positions have nothing to do with it, just showing you it was a good week. The thing was, we were just busy, and doing what we were supposed to be doing, and there were people in our path put there directly by God. Can't be any other way. 
On Tuesday, we wanted to find someone, and we asked a lady for help. Then a young mom came by, and offered to walk us there! So we talked the whole time we walked. And told her what we are doing, etc. After about an hour, probably, she invited us to dinner on Thursday! Potentials usually don´t invite you to eat haha. But it was way cool. We went and ate and talked about the BoM and the family. They wouldn't give a good time to come back tho, schade. We will see them again, and/or call them. Then, we found a girl from Ukraine, and she came to church with us on Sunday, and she really liked it. Said she would come back! And we are going to start meeting with her. She actually knows one of the less active members we work with! And that member had told her about the church and invited her to come! Now she did :) Then, we met with that same less active member on Saturday, and he had invited another friend of his over, a mom who has three daughters and wants to come to church and teach her children about God, the right way to live. We will be meeting with her now too. :) MIRACLES!!! All over! Missionsarbeit, servus! I live for it. Well, I live it, more accurately. 
We got two referrals too! One from the office, but one from a member I don´t even know! Heavenly Father is just blessing us greatly. 
Our problem now is just getting ahold of our investigators so we can meet with them. We found 5 new investigators last week, and one more today, so we are really planning well with time. We have to. Because, like Dad asked me about, we do tausches with the district leaders, (exchanges, I mean), but they are not always the younger missionaries. We would love to exchange with everyone if we could, but there is a small problem. Travel time. Trains. Don´t hear much about them in America. To get to the places we would really like to work, at least an hour to an hour and a half. But we are trying to visit a finding day from each district so that we can work with everyone on those days. We talk about it and pray about it every night and day. 
There is lots to do! One day again, I will be able to slow down and explain more about how life is going. But for now, I like it, things are rolling forward. If I keep working harder, that day may not be until I get home. So, just know that I love you and that the Lord is leading His servants in this great work. Have a good week, keep smiling. Bis nächstes mal!
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS some pictures from today :) Rememeber Sister Kleiner, who was waiting for her VISA in Graz as I was in Klagenfurt? I saw her again today :) She had surgery on her foot, which she injured in Wisconsin. That was way cool, after almost a year, to meet again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Schönen guten Tag!

Schönen guten Tag!
We are doing emails at the Young Single Adult Center today. The district wanted to come together and play some games. Right now they are playing board games and card games, but I am looking more at the ping pong and billiards....we will see. We had a good lunch today with the Ehepaar Anderson :) ja, from Landshut. They drove here this morning to see us and take us to lunch, since they know Elder Horlacher and me from Landshut. It was a lot of fun! 
We got to go visit Kai on Saturday, he is currently in his Entgiftung place, getting away from alcohol and hopefully cigarettes. The dumb thing is that we are only allowed to visit on Saturdays and Sundays. And we have to call the place, talk to Kai, and make sure that he tells the people to write our appointment in. It is pretty strict, but that is a good thing, to keep these people safe. But he is doing well, I believe. Hard to have contact with him, because it all has to go through the office. The other Kai we haven't seen for a few weeks, because he cancelled on us twice in a row. We are trying to see if he is ready to take things seriously. Otherwise, we have just been finding a lot of people. Dad asked how the zone was doing finding wise and such, and sadly it isn't too good. We have an awesome zone, but the thing is, it is an incredibly young zone. There are missionaries being trained by missionaries who are only 3 or 4 transfers old. It is cool, the responsibility they step up to, but they also don´t have tons of experience with different situations on the mission. We had Zone Conference this last Friday, which was really great, but we will be following up on lots of things to make sure that people are applying what they learned. Elder Horlacher and I have decided that we want to visit at least one finding day for each of our other 3 districts in the mission, so we can go and just work incredibly hard and help them find and learn how to find and to be excited and believe in and work miracles! I don´t know what else we can do. We have exchanges with district leaders, but besides that, we don't see or work with any other missionaries, except to sit in rooms for meetings. I don´t know, we will see how that goes. We need to be doing a lot more as a zone if we want to reach our goals set for the year. 
Dad also was interested to know what kind of goals we talk about at the leadership councils. I don´t really know what to tell you, we talk about lots of different things. President Miles´ biggest thing is really pushing less active and inactive work. His vision is no more planned tracting and finding, no more finding days. What he wants is us to fill the days with appointments, and in between them, going by on members and less active members and working with them. That is his vision for the missionary work here. And we aren´t super close to that yet haha. Lots to do. But the leadership councils are very cool. 
This week was spannend, we had two big zone meetings, and in between a couple austausches. We are really working and hoping to improve our work and efficiency in our companionship. We want to be a good example for the zone. 
Well, I have another cool miracle story for this week! We received the information of a potential investigator from the Waiblingen Elders, and we found some time to go by on him on Saturday, but it was pretty crazy trying to get out to him. We made it, though. We klingeled, but no answer :( I was writing a note to leave behind, and then he came out! He was very excited! We only had about 15 or 20 minutes till our bus came, aber we talked about the restoration briefly. Then I got his phone number and we promised to see him again soon. As we left, he told us that he had been worried that the other missionaries had just played a joke on him, telling him that other missionaries would come by on him. Wow, a reminder to take this work seriously. I got a text from him a few minutes later, thanking us for coming by, and saying next time he would make breakfast for us. I texted him and said that we were happy to be there, and knew that our message would bring him closer to God. He replied back and said that he really wanted to find his way back to God, because he isn't going the right way now, and he said that maybe God had sent us, as helping angels, to guide him there. (Just like Alma 18: 33-34). So I promised we would be there. And asked if he would come to church. We got a ride for him, and he showed up in slacks and a white shirt, and stayed te whole time! We talked about developing talents in Sunday School, and how we have benefitted from the talents of others. He raised his hand and said that he had been blessed by the talents of the church´s missionaries, because he was here at the church! The members just helped him out the whole time, too. It was awesome. One of the speakers then shared 2 Nephi 31:17-20 in Sacrament Meeting (PERFECT!!!! :) ) and this man, Daniel, only had two questions after the meetings. 1) What is the Book of Mormon compared to the Bible, and 2) what is up with baptism? Perfect questions, right? I am excited for that next appointment. 
Miracles happen, and this week, I am ready to call them down, as Elder Holland says. We must hasten the work! Don´t forget the part that you play in that, as members. I love Elder Holland´s quote from PMG, chapter 1, about commitments and stuff. They are the most important path they will ever travel, and YOU are the one who knows it. So be bold, and warn of the consequences of sin, and promise the blessings of happiness in this life and in the world to come. Share your testimony of the Atonement and how it has given you strength in the last few weeks. And then tell me how it went next week! That is my commitment to you. I´ll do it to.
We cannot just touch one single life in our efforts to bring about the Lord´s work. When you drop a stone in the water, there isn't just one ripple! The people who you touch will be inspired to go do the same with others. Don´t be afraid. Here is a good motto: if you are scared, do it. How else will you learn? Do someone a favor, and show them how to be happy, by living what you believe.
I know the Lord has great expectations of you all. Don´t stop short of your potential. Das dürft ihr nicht tun. Onward and upward, everything will be alright in the end. 
I love you all, have a great week, fun at school whenever that starts, and be good!
Keep smiling!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, August 5, 2013

Too lazy to think of a title, but not too lazy to write this

Hey, grüzi wohl! Hier sind wir wieder, am Anfang einer anderen Woche. 
Schönen guten Morgen! I was pleased to read about the cool youth conference and all the stuff you have taken part in this week! Memories, life´s greatest treasure. Hopefully you are making good ones! Bad ones are pretty easy to remember, sadly, but the good ones will bring a sense of fulfillment in life. Your choice. 
It´s verrückt, that the third week is already here. Last week we had lots of good times in Munich for our leadership council! The soccer for Frühsport on Freitag is always a good highlight! Was lots of fun. Then the police showed up. It was funny, they asked who was reponsible for all 30 of us here, and we all kinda thought, "Well, we all kinda are..." haha. They told us some neighbors had complained that we were too loud. Schade :( why doesn´t everyone else just wake up at 6 and do sports like us? ;) haha. 
But we had some great meetings, and I love seeing friends and meeting the new people. Something I learned at this meeting was a pretty crazy coincidence. I was talking to Sister Woods, who is the Sister Training Leader in Wien (along with Sister Harman, the Ogaards' niece, we talk about Kody everytime haha) and I asked where Sister Woods was from. She said Springville. I said that my grandparents live there. She said their name was familiar. Then I asked if she knew Elder Botcherby, my MTC companion. She said that he went to her high school. Then, she said that Elder Botcherby had dated her sister, and then EVERYTHING came back to me! I had talked with Elder Botcherby in the MTC about his girlfriend´s family, and then I wondered how in the world I missed that connection with Sister Woods! Now his girlfriend´s older sister is in the same zone as him haha. Pretty cool, oder? 
Overall, it was a great meeting, where we counseled together about how the mission can change and how we will reach our goals. The Spirit is always so strong there and inspires us as we look at the progress each of us has made. That is the gospel, improvement and progression. Thank goodness that we have such an ability, in and through the Savior Jesus Christ. 
I want to tell you another cool story about K_____ from yesterday, a miracle. I couldn't get ahold of him in the morning, his phone was off, and then he didn't show up to Sunday School :( so I just told Elder Horlacher that we had to pray real hard that K_____ would wake up RIGHT THEN and come to church. But I never saw him. We went through the opening song and prayer, did the Sacrament, then it was time for the testimony meeting. The young men who were at EFY last week bore their testimonies, and that was great. Then some members went, also great. Then I went after Elder Horlacher, and as I got up there, I saw K_____ sitting in the back with Elder Horlacher. MIRACLE! I bore my testimony, then sat back down. Few minutes later, K_____ walks up to the pulpit. He said, direct quote (from German to English), "This is my first time as a member of the ward, although I haven´t been baptized yet, to stand and speak to you." Wow, then he talked about meeting the missionaries and the strength he received, the love he had felt. It was Hammer! There were even more miracles than that that I saw yesterday, but that is all I have time for. 
I know my emails are rather short and quick compared to past emails. We are just busy! Of course I still write, because I love you :) but I know you will be okay, the Lord watches over you. But my duty is to bear my witness of the Son of God, and that I will do whether by email or on the street or at the pulpit. 
I know He lives, and that He has all power and understanding. Our fears are wiped away by His powerful hand, the temptations of the adversary are nothing compared to the light that He brings and the joy He freely gives. He expects so much of those who He loves so dearly, and He will do all He can to help us reach our potential, to overcome our stumbling blocks, and to return to Him with our families and with the friends we have invited to come closer to Him. All we can do is invite, and live the gospel. Do that and I promise you will be happy. The Lord promises that you will be happy. If you aren´t, then you are doing something wrong :) how simple!
Have a great week, and Mom, I will let you know when I get the package. And no, we haven´t had much contact with the Portuguese family, we are working on it! We have lots to do. 
I do love you all and wish you an uplifting week! Be good, be happy, and smile. :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons