Mom and Dad, I don´t know exactly how you came to the point where you both talked about testimony in your emails, but it is something that has been on my mind so much recently. The questions that Dad asked me were pointed and went straight to my heart. Zum Glück, not because I was guilty of a weak testimony, but it was a sign of the truth, the truth of the many things I have been going through the last weeks.
I don´t know exactly what I will think of my time in Stuttgart when I leave. My first transfer here had its difficulties, but they were rare and small. But the last 3 transfers have been SO HARD! Difficulties and frustration spotted with glimpses of happiness and bliss. The whole "success" factor comes in. I really appreciated Dad´s thoughts about success, how there is only One person we are trying to impress. I have had that always in my mind, and Elder Horlacher has quoted it often, too. So, thanks Dad for putting things simply and clearly for us both. I am very grateful that you went on a mission and have experienced at least mostly the same things that the normal missionary does. I wish we had talked more before the mission and throughout the past 18 months. But thanks for always being there anyways.
I don´t know how to describe the last weeks/months any other way than hard. Rough. Discouraging. We have seen miracles, because my God is a God of miracles. But it didn't ultimately change the circumstances. Just reminders that this is His work. I have had moments that were so much fun, and where I really felt love for the other missionaries in our zone and/or district, and investigators and members. And loving others makes me happy.
I have found myself being more caught up on doing everything in a good time than actually enjoying the time that I have with people! Now this is not always, because I have slapped myself in the face hard enough a couple times to remember to just be GRATEFUL!!! That helps, a lot.
Now, how does this all tie into testimony? Inmitten from my numerous thoughts and ponderings, I have decided that although my testimony is strong, I just don´t share it enough lately. I bear my testimony frequently, but I don´t want to be in a rush and just say the things everyone says, even if it is the truth. I want to mean it.
We´ve made goals to get more time just talking to people on the street. Doing the stuff I did in Landshut with Elder Allan, where I was happy and at least partly satisfied, and where we saw miracles happen, like Sympla and Bendito. Yeah, all that crazy stuff hasn't happened here, but I take Alma 26:27 to heart, knowing that if I bear the burdens of the last transfers with patience, it will all make sense one day. I believe that.
I don´t know why I have experienced the things I have. I don´t know why it has been so hard. But I hope and pray that I can make my testimony strong, and be ready to face life´s challenges, like Dad asked me.
I do not know what life will bring. Like I said, I need lots of help, a great wife and great friends and family, to make it through. I don´t know how I will do it all. I don´t know if one day I will lose my job, lose a loved one, experience the heartache of a straying loved one, but I DO know one thing. I know that the Savior will help me through. I know that it will all one day make sense. All the trials we endure will be made up to us. I know that my faith in Him will get me through anything. And with that faith that I have now, I am comforted, safeguarded against the coming storms of life.
There is so much confusion in the world, so many distractions from what is really important. So when the trials don´t stop, and the hardships continue, I will drink the bitter cup and move on. I am working on that as we speak. Now it's time to move on and trust in the happier days to come, and to make today that happy day. Thanks for your thoughts and your love, which means so much to me.
SO, some quick updates. R_____ has a baptismal date for the 23 of November! We are very excited for her. We also found a new investigator from a less active member. She is a member and her husband isn't, but he knows that one day he will be. Just loves wine too much. He is way cool and so ready, loves the gospel in his home. We are going to meet hopefully every week!
I hope you have a great Halloween and a great week! Find ways to keep your tesimonies strong, and share them. Trust me, that is essential.
I love you all!
Elder Jalen Gibbons