Also, yesterday was so awesome, because a missionary just reported back from his mission to Washington DC South, and we invited him along to join us as a joint teach. Sadly, the appointment fell out, but he stuck around with us and drove us around for the next hour. We asked lots of questions about his mission and what it was like to be home. Dennis Wloka, he is so cool! I would totally be his friend. Well, I am now haha. He did a year as an exchange student in Blackfoot, Idaho! Crazy :) He was excited when he learned I was from Idaho. He was serving an English speaking mission, but then he offered to learn Spanish halfway through his mission, and now he speaks Spanish, English, and German. I am jealous. I want to share a cool story that he shared with us. He was on an austausch with an elder who was younger than he was (at this time, he was only 4 months in), and he was in this elder´s area, and this elder was having a really hard time leading the area and doing all the things they had planned the night before. Elder Wloka had no idea about this place, so he kinda just had to tag along. Nothing was going right, and during dinner, Elder Wloka asked this elder if there was anyone in the ward there who was German or who served a mission in Germany. The elder said that there was one, so they went by on him. Elder Wloka rang the doorbell, an older man came out, and the man looked at him for a few seconds, then asked, "What is your name?" "Dennis." What is your father´s name?" "Stefan." And the older man turned to his wife and said, "I baptized his father on my mission." I don´t know the circumstances behind this man, I don´t think he was less active or anything, but how cool to meet the son of a friend you brought into the church, when the son himself is serving as a missionary, ja? The Wlokas had lost track of this family because they kept moving. It reminds me of the touching story from October 2011 conference, "The Opportunity of a Lifetime" from Priesthood session. These things really happen, because God has a plan for each of us :)
Anyway, things are going well in Stuttgart! R_____#1 continues to come to church, but then she asks the same questions we had just taught her the day before, and she isn't really going anywhere. She just makes very small steps. She just worries too much about us eating the food she makes for us and doesn't pay attention haha. She is so lieb. The members who invited us over every Sunday are going to pick her up on Saturday and bring her to a baptism for one of the kids in the ward! Hopefully she enjoys that. But I had a great idea this last week, and I want to buy R_____#1 a Primary songbook, so she can read the simple songs and learn through that! She loves poetry. And we all learned about the gospel through those songs, oder? Most of us at least haha. So I want to order that today. Just so you know.
Sadly, we had an appointment with R_____#3 on Saturday evening, and he even called half an hour early to make sure we were coming. But he wasn't even there--in his mind, I mean. He was wasted. Poor guy. I love him, but it was pathetic, just like alcohol can do to anyone. BUT, his friend was there, and was way interested in seeing our church and learning what we do. He was basically at R_____#3´s house to babysit him. And to smoke his cigarettes. Idk. His name is H_____, and he said he was going to come to church gestern, but he didn't. But we have his number and know where he lives. We will see. But really, this is all just proof that we need to find the elect through the members and other investigators. That is what we want to do this week. We find people during the week, but no one sticks to it. We need the members. They know people.
We taught the lesson yesterday in Priesthood, from Lorenzo Snow, chapter 19, about missionary work. Then we bore our testimonies in sacrament meeting, and the bishop even had Elder Horlacher and I come and do a door approach with him as he taught the Primary kids. We knocked, and came in, and he said he knew about our church because of the neighbors kids, who were so polite and nice. So we got some "face time" with the ward, as Dad would say. Maybe that also helped excite the members to invite us over.
We visited B_____ again, the less active guy from Portugal. He is so nice and says his door is always open to us. We asked him to bring his wife and his nephew (who lives upstairs with his mom and her boyfriend) to church with him, and we called him in the morning, but he didn't come. But his nephew, who is 9, is not baptized, and his wife is also not a member. I thought the wife just wasn't a big believer, but we asked her if she wanted to come Sunday, and she said yes! So B_____ just has to wake himself up and help his family experience the joy of the restored gospel. We are going to focus more on him this week, because we would love to activate him and then be able to teach his wife and nephew. But he must reignite his flame first, so he can support the others and help us. He is so cool.
Not much is happening with transfers, except two new areas being opened! The sisters in Göppingen are being whitewashed with 4 elders! And Ulm is getting 2 more elders too, those two being Elder Riser and a golden. And the Göppingen elders are also both training. And they are switching Elders Smith and Nicoll in Tübingen 2 with sisters, Sister Smith from Munich (with the friend in Mtn. Home) and a golden. Elder Smith is headed to KLAGENFURT!!! I am excited for him. So, we now have 36 missionaries, plus the Bensons = 38, in Stuttgart zone. Exciting :)
I am calling the last transfer, my 11th, the die Versetzung der Krankheit. Because I was basically somehow ill the whole time. And it was a pretty rough transfer both physically and mentally. But I am back now. :) It is a good feeling. I learned a lot, and take it as a testimony that the things I learn here and now will be a blessing in times to come. The quote Dad shared with me was perfect to describe the last transfer, I believe. That just means the gospel is true :)
OH, I have another Christmas wish. It is actually a German grammar book, called "Hammer´s Guide to German grammar," or something like that. It´s never too late to learn. The book is all red and yellow/orange. Otherwise, I love ties and such :) I don´t have so many anymore. And the rest is up to you, I guess.
Zum Schluß, I want to share with you my thoughts about studies this morning. I read in the basic Gospel Principles study manual a little bit, don´t know the name in Englisch, but in German it is Grundbegriffe des Evangeliums. I read about the gathering of Israel (because that is what I am doing, of course) and then on to the millenium and the first judgement and to exaltation. Honestly, I learned a lot of stuff I didn't know about the millenium. Everyone asks us about our beliefs about the 1000 year reign of Christ, because they don´t know if we are Jehovah's Witnesses or not (they talk about it a lot). Yeah, we believe in it. It will be cool! Then, reading about the judgement, it kinda just scared me haha. But in a good way. In that moment I had absolutely no desire anymore to ever sin again. Because there is lots we have to do in order to make it to exaltation and live with God again with our families. And it almost seemed overwhelming. Well, honestly, it was overwhelming. I don´t ever want to sin again, and I hate to know that I am weak and will make mistakes in my life. I had two thoughts, actually. First, that I can only do it with the Savior´s help. And second was actually that I need an awesome wife, so that I don´t have to do this alone. haha. I know it is possible, and I want those blessings with all my heart. So I will do my best and hopefully help others on the way.
The life of a true disciple of Christ is different. It is different, however, only because the world is under the influence of the adversary. In the heavens, everyone lives after the laws of heaven. And we are not alone in our efforts here on earth. The way of the world is not and will not ever be happiness. We know that, those of us who have that testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through the prophet Joseph SMith. That is why we share it with others! Everyone needs and wants it, whether they know it or not. So help them know! Share your tesimony about the blessings of the gospel, and show everyone in the way you live and react with others. You are all awesome :) I love you all so much, and I love my Father in Heaven and thank Him for the opportunity to be here. Always be thankful, it lightens the heaviest loads, I promise. I hope you have a great week. Don´t forget to pray! :9
Keep on smiling!
Elder Jalen Gibbons