Monday, November 25, 2013


Hey alle!
So, you can stop your wondering and worrying, RENATE WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!! :) Let me tell you how crazy this day was.
We planned out the times we needed to be on different trains and such to get to her new apartment, gather all the things she needed, and then go to the church so she could prepare herself and get changed. So, we get started off good, and then we were on the S-bahn when the speaker came on and said that because of construction work that day, the bahn was NOT stopping at the stop we needed. So we jumped off and asked ourselves what in the world we needed to do to get there, and how in the world we were going to get Renate and her friends back to the church. We ran over to the buses and hopped in one when the driver said he was going to the place we needed to go. As soon as we hopped in, he drove off! Let´s just say that the Lord has really good timing. So we got to Renate later than planned and had to call Elder Benson and ask him to go start the font, because we were going to be late. Then we had to walk to the Bahnhof in Obertürkheim where she lives, and wait for a bus back. Then we hopped on a U-bahn, and finally on one more to get to the church. The font wasn't very full, because none of us missionaries knew how to properly work the plug thing. But we figured that out, and then none of the lights in the font were working, and people were showing up late, and there were tons of reasons to let the adversary ruin this moment. But I didn't let it happen. I knew she was going to get baptized anyway, didn't matter if we didn't have light or if we had to start the whole meeting a bit later than planned. It happened! Elder Horlacher and I were both in the water, that is how Renate wanted it, but we needed it too, because she had some bandages and stuff wrapped on her leg wounds, and she really could not stand by herself. We both held her up the whole time. And the first time we tried it, her feet just popped right up haha. So, we told her we had to do it again, and she said "What??!" hahaha. Elder Horlacher said the prayer and I was on the other side, and I used some trick that I learned from Dad or from someone back home. I put my leg over her feet to keep them down, and then it worked! She did it! And she was confirmed on Sunday, followed by the Primary program, which was awesome. It was a great weekend. Renate had a few friends who came, and one of them gave us her info because she knows where our church is in her hometown, and she wants the missionaries to come visit her. She was so nice, C_____ is her name :) This is the Lord´s work! Because Renate was baptized, her friends are also so much closer to their Savior, when they just act on the things they felt. So cool!
Well, on to transfer news! I am going to Wien 2 Ward!!!! (Wien is Vienna.)  Back to Austria! And, Mom got it completely right, I am going to Austria and training! AND the trainers finally get to go to Munich and pick up their goldens and have meetings with Pres. and Sister Miles again :) I haven't been able to do that yet, except when Elder Eaker picked me up when I was a golden. I will be whitewashing this area, so that will be fun! But get this: I live in the same apartment as Elder Botcherby!!!!! :) And, I will be with Elder Botcherby (my MTC companion) and my golden in a drit (a trio) for the first week or so, because the new Wien ZL with Elder Botcherby is going to be..... Elder Jones!!! :) from my landshut district! But Elder Jones is staying in the office for a little bit to train the new secretary a bit more, so I get to work with my MTC comp and my golden for a week! I am so excited. Plus, Christmas and New Years in Wien with some of my best friends in my apartment, it is going to be so awesome!!!! The Christmas markt is going to be incredible!
But, transfer calls were on Thursday this last week, it surprised almost everyone! I got a text from Elder Davies in Offenburg asking where I was going, and I was thinking that he just wanted to make some guesses before Friday. I was writing him back when I got a call from President miles. BOOM, going to Vienna, training. I had had a lot of anxiety for these transfer calls, because I had no idea what would happen! So it was like ripping off a bandaid, just did it quick and it was a surprise. :) Just like I told Elder Orchard back in the day in Klagenfurt, he is going to Munich to be the new Assistant! I knew it all along, he is such a great guy. Elder. And when he tausches in Wien, he can come and hang out with my golden and I, and either Elder Botcherby or Elder Jones. I was just so happy after finally figuring out where I was going. I know it is where I am supposed to be. Sister Green is also taking another train ride with me, as she is going to Wien 1! This time she will help me keep track of my luggage, hopefully... haha. She is actually going to work with her MTC companion, so she is way excited. Elder Horlacher´s new companion was already 5 transfers in Stuttgart zone, and he is coming back as Zone Leader. Elder Hansen got his wish and is staying in the International Ward for Christmas. His new companion is from Sweden! Sister Smith is also training. And the Bensons of course are staying ;) haha. Elder Morrill from Ludwigsburg is going to be the new Zone Leader in Munich, and Elder Bartholemew is replacing his "father" as Zone Leader in Singen! We knew those two are great missionaries and would be great Zone Leaders. I love how President Miles does it, because he has a mixture of younger and older missionaries in his leadership councils. He is an inspired man!
I am going to miss all the awesome missionaries and friends I have made here in Stuttgart. Thankfully such relationships can last forever. I am so grateful for that. But I am excited for change. I think as I have been Zone Leader and I have known every transfer that I was staying, I just didn't feel like I do now, the rush of excitement for something new, really feeling like a missionary, bound for something new and adventurous. But I have it now. I will have two Austrian Christmases! And will probably stay in Wien until that dreaded last day. Unless I get to go back to Klagenfurt for my last two transfers or something.... would be cool. :)
So, next week you will hear from your Austrian missionary again! Going back to my birthland, but with a totally different dialect. And a MUCH MUCH bigger city. But it is all the same in the Lord´s eyes. I love being here. And I will love being there. And despite your awesome adventures in Morocco, which looks TOTALLY awesome, by the way, I wish you could be here, just to see what I see, and feel what I feel on the Lord´s errand.
I hope you have a great week! I love you all :) Keep smiling, especially when you are wearing shorts and t-shirts at the End of November. Happy Thanksgiving :)
HÄÄÄÄPPPPPYYYYY BIRSDAYYYYY MUM!!!!!! (say is like you are a German trying to speak English unsuccessfully :) ) Have a great one Mom, buy yourself something nice :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons
PS I will send pictures next week. Hopefully.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hallo :)

 Pais Family from Portugal
 Hedgehogs are everywhere!
Beautiful sunset
Hey, congrats Nathan on making JV! Just don´t injur yourself on your trip. Wow, the e button on this keyboard is really annoying. And now Kate has a decent camera! Jealous. I find photography very fun and interesting! I can´t wait to see pictures from the trip! Hey, we'll be on the same side of the Atlantic! Look at Tyson all alone over there. Sorry bro. Anyway, let´s get going, shall we? Ich hab wenig Zeit.
Okay, someone needs to send this picture to Uncle Steve :) This is Bruno, and his nephew Diogo, who both came to church this week because their mother/grandma was there :) I showed the grandma a picture of Steve and asked if she recognized him. She said she thinks that Steve was in their city at one time on his mission. (Portugal). That would be cool, eh? :)
The next picture is a hedgehog :) I have seen them all over the last couple weeks. They are so cool! And there is a Schwäbish sunset as I was on my way back to Stuttgart from München. SOOO PRETTY!
I want to tell a story. We went to R_____ on Tuesday, but we hadn't found a joint teach. We were going to cancel it, but decided we would still go, be obedient, and stand outside the door so we could just move things to the keller. So, we were obedient, and we ended up pulling down boxes from the attic. Then R_____ klingeled her neighbor, who came out and helped. He is a younger guy from China and helped us the whole time! He seems to know R______ pretty well. Well, we asked if he would like to come join us for a talk with Renate, because we needed a third man. And he agreed :) He asked tons of good questions, too, and we talked about baptism. So we got his number and we are trying to meet with him again, because he was interested in learning more about Christianity! :) WUNDER!!! Obedience brings blessings. I promise. And God promises, too :) Don´t take it from me.... haha
As we looked back last night on our week, it was basically totally different than what we had expected. But it was such a good week! Made me happy, and I am excited for this week. Today should be a great day. Transfer calls are Friday, I am pretty anxious to know where in the world I am going. Um, I never had the chance to go to the base to get luggage, it was just too crazy for a man from the military to take us on a Monday afternoon. But I have looked around, and I remember, just cheap stuff! Don´t worry. Yeah, it may well be my last week in Stuttgart. Crazy how time flies.
So R_____ will be baptized on Saturday! We are very excited. All the craziness about her move to Esslingen Ward can be taken care of after, for now, we are just fasting and praying that everything this week will be okay.
This week I want to work on being humble, so that I can be led better by the Spirit. Elder Bednar says in "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary" that anything we do as servants of the Lord that attracts attention to ourselves is essentially a form of priestcraft! I have read the Book of Mormon enough to know that that is not good :) He also said that because this is the Lord´s work, not ours, is has NOTHING to do with you or with me. I want to strive for more as a missionary and reach it because I am just doing the Lord´s will. That is what I really admire in the great missionaries around me. When I look at Elder Orchard, for example, he doesn´t do anything that glorifies himself. Same wth Elder Riser, and many others. And they are missionaries who are tearing things up! I want to be more like them.
We can learn so much from the people who are around us. I have learned so much about hard work from Elder Horlacher, about setting goals and staying focused on them. Er macht es wirklich gut. From the other missionaries I know, I always see something that I would like to develop more in my character. And of course, I try and develop the characteristics which our Savior possesses. That helps us to keep moving forward in life, to never stand still. And that is my direction right now! I encourage you all to pay more attention to the strengths of those around you, and spend less time dwelling on their weaknesses. We are here to build, not to break down. Don´t underestimate the influence for good you can have for others. We get more and develop more quickly when we spend our time in the service of others. 
I have to go now, but ich wünsche euch das Allerbeste! Have a great time on your trip, be safe, as for everyone else, be happy :) Don´t worry too much. Laughter is the best medicine.
Love you all!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, November 11, 2013


MTC Roommates Reunion:
Elder Botcherby, Elder Janis, Elder Gibbons, Elder Robins
Ciao! Yeah, that means hello and goodbye in Italien :) Can you imagine walking up to someone on the street and stopping them by saying "goodbye?" That's how it goes in Italy haha. Anyway, back to Germany!
LOOK! It is my MTC roommates! :) We all slept with our heads towards each other at leadership council so we could talk about all sorts of stuff on Thursday night. We talked for a little while... haha. It was great seeing Elder Botcherby again! He is still mostly how I remembered him, just no worries about German anymore, and basically just even more awesome than he was in the MTC 18 months ago. That is right, we all hit our 6 month mark on Saturday. What in the world?!!!
In our mission leadership councils, we spend the first night talking about the gospel. Sister Miles usually picks a Christlike attribute to talk about, and this time it was hope. So we led a huge discussion on hope, heard lots of stories and such. Then President Miles talked this time about the Atonement and repentance, and that was incredible! It helped me to have a lot more hope, because hope is rooted in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was really cool how that all fit in together; that is the gospel. The next morning we go through business, so all the things we have to talk aout in our zone training meetings, things that the missionaries have to know. For example, President Miles is opening up another day where we can go and email potentials and investigators throughout the week, for just an hour. He wants us to be able to be in contact with these people as much as possible, and send them cool links to and stuff. The zone leaders and the sister training leaders have been doing that for the last transfer, and tomorrow we will open it to the whole mission. It is pretty cool to see the inspiration that comes as a council. After lunch, we do training, so we do roleplays and such. Dad asked how we are trying to involve the members. We are doing it through family mission plans. We visit the members in their homes, talk about cool opportunities or experiences they have had, and then watch a short clip from the hastening the work broadcast, a clip that the mission made. It is all the missionaries singing "Hark all ye Nations" and then some of the talking, and then at the end it is the family who does service and invites friends and stuff. It brings the Spirit so strongly! Then we invite them to make their own family mission plan, for example in a family home evening. Then we will follow up and bring supplies and support them in their efforts! We have been trying to do this and perfect it almost this whole year. But this is really how the Alpenländische Mission München is going to push forward. I have had some awesome experiences so far. And the Stuttgart Sisters are tearing it up with the family mission plans. The idea is to support the members in inviting their friends to learn more. So what kind of things are they trying at home?
Interviews were great, we had a wonderful district meeting with Sister Miles, and then we switch out talking with President. He did not drop any hints about transfers, no haha. But, he asked Elder Horlacher how long we had been working together. "Three transfers," said Elder Horlacher. "Oh, so Elder Gibbons is in his 4th transfer as ZL?" Elder Horlacher, "Yeah." President: "Well, I don´t know what is going to happen, but stay on your toes." Hahaha so Elder Horlacher is kinda spooked, and I take it as President doesn't know yet exactly what is happening. Or he enjoys messing with our minds. Haha. He has like almost 300 missionaries in the mission, spread across 3 countries, and he has to do transfers for everyone and interview them all. It is incredible what he does. On my tausch with Elder Gubler in Munich (I was in Munich the whole weekend, donnerstag bis samstag) he spoke very highly and lovingly of President and Sister Miles. They do so much. I got the chance to sit and talk with Sister Miles for a few minutes at the mission home as Elder Gubler was having a temple recommend interview with President. She is so awesome. She takes lots of pictures from the mission and orders herself books with all the missionaries and different meetings and whatnot. And for the cover of the newest one, she put a picture of Wörthersee! In Klagenfurt :) I had a dream last night that I got transfered to Klagenfurt. I was pretty happy :) I shared lots of the things that you and Dad said in your emails last week, which I printed out. It fit perfectly with the things we talked about at MLC, it was pretty cool. 
Well, R_____ is doing so well! We met with her three times last week, I believe, despite the craziness. She is so excited :) and we watched a Mormon Message the other night and she sent it to lots of her friends. She had lots of pain on Sunday, and we had given her a blessing on Saturday, but she wasn't able to make it to church. BUT, one of her "friends" decided to come to church. This friend was there a few weeks back as the Bensons came with us to see R_____. He has been telling R_____ that she can't be baptized so soon, that she can´t let us rush her. R_____ always tells us about it, and it is hard for her. But, gestern he decided to come to church and fight his case. So he talked with the bishop, and told the Bishop how he has been searching for the true church for 10 years, how he is now with a different church, and that R_____ can't possibly be baptized so quickly. Thankfully, the Bishop told him what was up! He said that obviously this man should try some other way of searching, because whatever he is doing now isn't working. So he told him that R_____ had made the decsion herself, which she did, and then he said goodbye and left. I didn't talk to her friend, because I would have been too angry. But, R_____ called us after church and was SOOO angry with her friend, because he called and told her what he had done. She is not inviting him to the baptism, and she was totally fighting for her right to her agency :) She is so ready! We are finishing the few commandments we have left and the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end this week, and then she will be interviewed on Sunday or Saturday. We have lots to prepare for the service! That is next week!! 
We are meeting with A_____ tonight, whose wife is the member. Br. Finotto is coming with us :) then we are going to R_____ after that. It will be a good day. We found lots of people last week, and they need to become new investigators, if they know what is good for them! ;)  Haha we will see.
Um, I am running out of time, but I hope you have a great week! Know what is cool about the word "hope" in a gospel sense as compared to the world? Whereas the world's connotation has a sense of uncertainty, the word hope in the gospel means assurity, peace. Think about how you use the word hope in everyday life. I thought about the song "I hope they call me on a mission." Doesn't mean the same in the worldly sense of the word, does it?
Enjoy all that life has to bring! Choose to be happy. And rely on the Lord, because He will never let you down!
I know He lives, and He lives to silence our fears and take our burdens from us! :) No better reason to smile!
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grrrrrrrrr​üüüüüßßßß di, euch, Sie!

Hey there folks! I love you :) No, really!  :) This has been a great week, probably like the greatest week of my mission, pertaining to personal growth and change. I am happy :) I will explain later, first I have to spout my random thoughts from reading your emails.
Wow, Scott looks so good in an afro and cool moustache. Haha everyone looked like they had tons of fun on Halloween :) This was probably the first year in my life that I didn't even have a Halloween party (I was on a tausch, but I will tell you more later :) ) Also, that shelf of Rittersports in the photo you sent is NOTHING compared to the actual factory. But they had some good selection :) Does Marzipan exist in American cooking and or grocieries? I love it. And, the orange caramel one is way good, I bought it last week. But kakao mousse......wins by far. Like as far as I can kick a soccer ball compared to how far I can throw a baseball. And I can't throw. Um..... how tall are Nathan and Kate now? Cause Oscar was always shorter than we were, but Nathan looks like a huge person next to him. Sorry Oscar, I know how you feel now. Stop growing Nathan and Kate. Becky said last time she was in Mountain Home Kate was like 3 feet taller than her haha. I mog es nit!!!!! Hört auf damit! :) ich liebe euch. Was noch? .... snow?!!!! Ja, it has been just pretty rainy and what here. I am grateful for my coat. Works good :) and the other missionaries like it, so at least I don´t look like a freak!
Okay, I think that was it. Let´s get going with the week!
R_____ is so cool :) I love her. Yesterday we stood up with her in Sacrament Meeting and she read a little tesimony she had written, and invited everyone to her baptism on the 23rd. That is a miracle in and of itself, because when we tried to set the date, she had like every excuse possible to try and do it later. But the next day when we went to help with moving, she was talking about the people she was going to invite, and everything :)  She is doing it! And she has already asked Bischof if we can both be in the water with her, one just to help support her back out of the water. Man, I have to send you a picture of her! Sorry. So, that was way cool. And then, she was invited with us to a Sister´s house in the ward after church, for lunch, and that was great! And on the way home, she asked us for pass along cards and handed them out to everyone she saw. Some people still said no, but now she has a little taste of the things we have experienced for what seems like ages now. She is doing missionary work! That is a good sign :) We were with her earlier today, and helped pack some dishes and then began teaching the 3rd lesson, about the gospel of Jesus Christ :)  She loves us. And we always have members with us (unless everything falls out for joint teaches, like they did Saturday, and then we brought the other elders), so she can build relationships with them, since it is still so hard for her to know that we will go away eventually. But she is doing great, she just needs to not have too much stress, and we will finish the lessons and then she will be baptized!
Sadly, our appointment with A_____ fell out again this week. And then they didn't come to church. Schade. But we are looking forward to next time! Today we had interviews in Stuttgart, and tomorrow we have zone conference, and then President and Sister Miles finish interviews on Wednesday, and then Thursday we go to Munich for leadership council, and then after leadership council on Friday we have an austausch with the APs. Our week is pretty crazy! But we are excited. I get to see Elder Botcherby in two days!!!!!! :D
Okay, let me tell you about how I decided to be happy again and move on from the past trials and tribulations. I decided. :) pretty simple, oder? Hahaha where there is a will, there is a way. But of course, lots led up to it. Here we go :)
Had a tausch on Wednesday with Elder Piepenstock in Ludwigsburg. He is so cool! He is the German rugby player, if you don´t remember. His mother I think is from Honduras and his father is German. Anyway, he and I are like THE SAME PERSON!!! He is like my twin! In personality mostly. Yeah, Tyson can look like me, but he is also his own cooler self :) (love you bro-elder!) Did I tell you how Elder Piepenstock knows the same little rune schrift that I discovered in 9th grade? Back then I wrote notes in Mrs. Ayers' Englisch class with Chris, Ryan, and Tony. And Becky was the only other one who tried. Anyway, Elder Piepenstock was way excited when he figured that out. So he wrote me a note after our tausch and hid it in my bag. He told me I am the only person he knows who is exactly like him. I take that as a huge compliment, because he is the man! :) How he helped me so much was folgendes: we sat to eat lunch after district meeting (we were back at the Ludwigsburg apartment) and we were discussing einfach life. I don´t know how to describe it, but having a conversation with Elder Piepenstock was basically just like a constant testimony meeting. He is so powerful in testimony, and knows exactly how it has helped him in life. And we are so similar because we have been through the exact same trials of character on our missions, even though he is still "young." He told me how he knew how I felt when I told him all about the things I talked about last week, my struggles. And through that I knew that I wasn't the only one who had had to do this. He knew how I felt as well, and bore testimony of the Savior, who of course knows it all. Elder Piepenstock is so funny, but I swear, when he is about to expound the mysteries of the universe to you, he grows in stature and blasts you with the Spirit. I loved it :) We had a good tausch, and like I said, as I listened to his testimony about how it is possible to change, I thought about what Sister Smith had told us in district meeting about how her sister had just decided to change, become a new/better person. And it was sitting there with Elder Piepenstock that I decided to just do it. And then everything was so much easier. I was so much more grateful to be where I was. To know the people I know. To meet people I have never known, and may never see again. And when I was grateful, it was so easy to be happy and to bear my testimony. My friends and family, the Atonement is real. Don´t hold yourself back from it. I changed, and I feel so much lighter and better. Don´t ever doubt the power and ability of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
After we switched back on Thursday, it was still so easy to be happy. I am like a new person, but I think it is more like a new and improved version of me. So I am still me :) It was so much easier to love everyone around me, and that makes missionary work so much easier. I have been enjoying that for about 5 days now, and I pray every night that I can renew my strength and be able to do it all again the next day. Step by step.
Then I went away from Stuttgart again on Friday night, with Elder Chapman in Ulm :)  He is so awesome too! He is an angel, I think. Haha we were talking to each other on the train there, and I realized it was exacctly like I did with Elder Piepenstock. We were two 20-year-olds sitting on a packed train in Germany, discussing people´s eternal salvation. I love it, and I told Elder Chapman about my experience with Elder Piepenstock, and how much it meant to me. Really helps us stay focused, too. Well, we were talking and the guy across from us holds his phone up as if he is texting, but then his flash goes off really bright, for like 5 seconds, and we both pause and look at the camera, thinking "did he really just take a picture of us?" and then I think he realized it and tried to play it off, and Elder Chapman had to pause our conversation and hold our laughter inside hahahahaha. Sorry, had to be there :) But we got to Ulm, had some good time to talk to people, met a really cool guy and gave him a Book of Mormon. Then I got to see Elder Riser and his golden, Elder Geilman, at the apartment. In the morning we had like an hour to go and talk to people on the street, and it was way crowded because of a markt. And no one was interested in stopping, because of the markt. So we took off down a beautiful, picturesque side street and tried some more, no luck. Then, we had to head home, and I saw this older guy with a bright red scarf, and I just said "hey, I like your scarf!" as he rushed by. We kept walking and then I hear "Bitte?" so we went back to the man, he had stopped and was kinda confused. But then we told him why we were there ("why" is always better that "what" you are doing, it means more to them and to you) and then he told us that he thinks religion needs to be a bit more up to date, with the times, because the world isn't the same old world it was back then. Well, that was perfect :)  We gave him a Book of Mormon and bore testimony that we have modern day revelation and prophets and apostles who live and walk today on the earth. I hope he came to church. That was way cool :)
Hahaha I also told someone else today that his tie was cool, as we were walking towards our destination of lunch as a district, and he even took the time to turn around and say "danke, gleichfalls" oder "thanks, same to you!" :)  Makes things more fun.
So yeah, I was riding on the train with Elder Chapman on Halloween as the rest of my district was attending the Halloween trunk or treat from the international ward. I don´t even care :) Elder Horlacher told everyone there that his exchange companion was his new one, and everyone was sad and thought I had been transfered haha. Pretty mean. But I am still here!
So, the world is a brighter place, because I choose to see so. In reality, the winter is coming, and the clouds are gray with cold water and the winds remind me of good old zuhause. But I am in Stuttgart, Germany, because I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Get your own testimony of that, and see where it takes you ;)  Rest assured that it will be your guide through the eternities. I know it is true, because I am happy. I know how it is to be miserable. But these things bring me joy and hope and love, and that is proof enough for me that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. I know He loves you too.
I hope you have a great week! Life is so cool. Live it up, as they would say, but do it in the Lord´s way, and then it will last longer :)  Catch the wave. It is not ever going to stop. Enjoy it :)
Keep on smiling :) I am right there with you.
Elder Jalen Gibbons