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