LDS Missionaries as Midnight Mass (with permission!)
Elder Jones and Elder Gibbons realizing the next train
doesn't come until 4 AM
Stockings on Christmas morning
The Familie Simic at their baptism!
With the missionaries
The Simic boys with the ward Young Men
Hey Familie :)
THE SIMIC FAMILY GOT BAPTIZED!!!!! I will forward an email from the bishop with pictures. He is a professional photographer, and his pictures are insanely beautiful. It was probably the biggest baptismal service I have ever been to. We were at the church from 1 to 8 yesterday. Pretty crazy. It was so awesome. I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and I feel that it went well. The greatest thing is that I will get to keep working with this family for a while, most likely. Transfer calls are this Saturday, I can't believe the transfer is already basically done! What in the world. But I will most likely get a tap through the wall in the apartment from the zone leaders telling me that we are staying as we are. And I am okay with that :)
Well, it was great talking to you all on Tuesday. It is always weird, sorry. It is just like when I do my emails, part of me feels uncomfortable talking to the outside world. And for real, I think about so much I want to talk about, but when we are on skype, it all just disappears. So I never know what to talk about. But I did still enjoy it. I have one question about the conversation. Was Yeager trying to tell me to date some Austrian girl? Because I was kinda confused, and then Logan yelled at me to stay focused and told Yeager to be quiet haha. But that just confused me even more. I thought Yeager just wanted me to find and teach some girl he knew. I am not that unfocused, okay? Hahahaha.
Wow, 2013 is almost done. I can´t believe it. I only have one more quote in my cool happiness quote calendar. Schade. But we went out with a bang, and there will be many more fireworks to add on to that tomorrow night. I am so excited. Cool thing is, it doesn't change anything, we are still here doing the same work :) We got two new investigators this week, one guy we found on the bus/bahn, and the other was a former. We have been trying forever to find these new investigators, and we got them! Last week was a great week. Looking back at the end of the week last night, we met many of the goals we set, even with the Christmas craziness! That makes me happy.
The midnight mass was pretty cool haha. I will send a picture of the missionary crew who went. We snuck into the line right at the front gates haha, the missionaries were the people right up front. Elder Weston was so tired, I think talking to his family drained him a bit as well. But it was great. Incense isn't my favorite smell in the world, but it is WAY better than cigarette smoke. I liked the singing a lot. I took the program with me, of course. Probably the only time I will ever be at a midmight mass in Stefansdom in Vienna, Austria. Legit. And then, at like 1.30 in the morning, we jumped on the train to get home, and then we had to jump off and switch trains, but we looked at the plan and the next train didn't come until 4 in the morning. And the train station was totally empty. I will send some pictures of that adventure, too. We had to walk home. Thankfully it wasn't too far. We actually met some Americans after the mass, on the bahn. One lady knew we were Mormons because of the way we acted, our aura. But she was upset and told us that the one thing she doesn't understand is why other people can't go into our temples, but we can go into theirs.... Elder Botcherby just told her that we do sacred ordinances in the temple, and one has to make themselves ready and live how God has commanded His children to live. Not saying that other people don´t live so, because many do; you just have to be a baptized member of the church.
We had a real Finnish Christmas meal as well, it was pretty good! Different. When I first saw the food, like fish sitting in water and some beet salad (which is good, I have just tried some nasty ones before) I was kinda worried. But I did fine :) The week went really fast. It was a good Christmas, we all opened our packages on Christmas morning. Elders Botcherby and Jones wore their lederhosen to open presents. I was jealous. But thanks for everything! Haha even some requests from last year made it this year. We are loving the Goldfish crackers. And the t-shirts are awesome. And the CD has saved our lives! I love that CD.
I hope you had a good one, and that your new year is incredible! Just think of the adventures over here in Wien :) and you´ll have to check and see how cold Wien is tomorrow night. Today is actually pretty nice. We wanted to go to the big cemetery today and find Beethoven´s grave, but I don't think we will get to today. But I will send pictures when we do. I think Strauß is also buried there. And probably a lot of others. Pretty cool, huh?
I finished my one remaining journal yesterday. Now I need a new one. That one lasted from the 13th of March this year until yesterday. But I hardly wrote in Stuttgart. I kinda gave up. I wrote the things that really meant a lot to me, at least. I am working on picking it up again. I just can´t figure out a good way to really capture the changes the mission has made on me. I think it is just something you would have to see in me, it would involve time with me. Some changes I probably am not even aware of, others I have worked really hard on. But, you can all wait till later to spend time with me, I am sticking around here. I know that the gospel changes lives. It has changed mine. And continues to do so. When I say change, I mean that we can overcome the natural man inside, and become a saint through the atonement of Christ, the Son of God. The atonement is the solution to ANY problem on earth and in heaven. I know it. And I loved a quote from a talk from President Monson that I read today in the Ensign you sent me (by the way, THANKS for sending me the General Conference Ensign, the mission is still waiting on them, and all the other missionaries want it really badly haha). Anyway, the atonement was the best manifestation of the love that God has for us. In Pres. Monson´s talk in the General Women´s Meeting, he said, "That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God´s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there." It is true, take advantage of it and you can become the person you can become. The gospel is a gospel of change. Life is a business of change, adaptation, and improvisation, and it is beautiful. Come on, 2014.
I love you all, keep on smiling till the end. Talk to you next year :)
Elder Jalen Gibbons