Monday, May 5, 2014

The Last Email!

Mission tour conference with Elder Dyches of the Seventy.
These are all the missionaries at that meeting who are heading home soon.
 
Elders Curtis, Gibbons, Botcherby, and Sessions singing a
special musical number at the conference
 
Elders Hancey, Gibbons, and Allan
 
Hallo :) 

Well, I got a suitcase, but for free. So we can just buy a decent one at home :) F_____, an investigator here who loves the elders but just wasn't ready to meet with Elder Weston and I, we went out to eat with him last week, and I asked him where I could possibly find a decent suitcase. He went that evening to the Red Cross, where he volunteers, and grabbed a used suitcase that will get me home. For free! He is great! So no worries about the suitcase problem, unless I lose everything again haha. 

Also, I am excited to teach the Priests on Sunday, but I have no idea what the Come Follow Me program says, I have no copy of it. You´ll have to get me the manual or whatever. And I would love to go to Janet´s graduation on Saturday morning. I suppose we could discuss the topic more on the way. Or just talk about the mission. Schau ma mal.

We had lots of stuff going on last week, it was so much fun! Honestly the beginning of my birthday was just okay, wasn´t in a great mood, but then we got to go see all the other missionaries and do our finding day, and it was so great! Elder Allan and I had a blast, just like old times. And he even brought me a Dr. Pepper and some Rittersport and a little letter/poem that he and his companion wrote. What a great "Sohn" :) haha. He is a good kid.
 
It was a lot of fun as well at the mission tour. I think that picture you saw, Mom, was when Elder Dyches had all those stand up at the front who were at their last zone meeting. And then he asked us all to think for a minute about a one-word testimony of our mission experiences. I went first, perhaps that is when Sister Miles got the picture. My one word testimony was "overcome." And then yes, we sang for the musical number. No idea how that went. Haha. 

Then we had a ward hockey night on Wednesday night, and that was a lot of fun! I played on team Kärnten with Kevin Mauch and Br. Husz (GML) and a couple other members. We did really well. They were all impressed at my abilities, but so was I. I guess playing soccer and having tactic helps in any sport haha, even when playing with a stick in your hand. It was so much fun! When I would score a goal Maxim would freak out and be so excited hahahaha. Good times. And then Thursday was our ward trip, picnic thing. That was fun, we played soccer with some of the youth for probably 2 hours. F_____ was also there, the familie Barosch invited him. :) He is great, we got to go eat with him Saturday morning, too. And I sat by him at church. Elder Botcherby and I taught the second hour class on Sunday. It was a good last Sunday auf Deutsch. We got the time right at the beginning to bear our testimonies. And after that I felt only peace, and like Aunt Nikki wrote me last week, I finally felt an assurance that the Lord was happy with my work. I read Alma 5:7 as part of my testimony, and F_____ had me write it down for him, because it struck him inside. He also told Sister Barosch, who told us, that that was the most wonderful testimony meeting he has ever been in. I was simply humbled to know that for some reason or other, unknown to me, I was able to share a scripture that will hopefully lead F_____ the right direction. He thanked me after church for coming into his life. And I am thankful that he came into mine. So ist es. 

We also got to go teach Z_____ again at M_____´s place. I was really happy with how it went. I was worried at the beginning, but eventually Z_____ just opened up and told us about her spiritual journey. She has had it rough, but she said now that she finally sees a light coming into her life again. We get to meet one more time on Wednesday before I go.  I am way excited. 

Oh, we also got to build a bed this last week. Way fun. We started in our lederhosen, but it got pretty warm. But our room smells like fresh cut wood, it is nice. We went to the familie Zornig one last time, she cooked us steaks, it was great. And then they wished me all the best, and told me to remember that the Lord has a very special woman reserved for me hahaha. Very nice of them :) 
 
We have a full packed schedule this week, it will be lots of fun, and probably the quickest week of my life. So ist es. 

I know that the Lord Jesus Christ has made it possible for every single one of us to find peace, to receive strength, to push forward, and to attain all that the Father has. We didn´t sign up for this opportunity because it would be easy. but you and I, every one of us, although we don´t remember, saw great potential and joy in the chance to come to this earth. How can one know this? Believe in Christ, that He is, and that He created all things. He speaks to us today through His servants the prophets, and will speak to us personally depending on the strength of our connection with Him and our Heavenly Father. Trust in Him. Trust in His servants, and let Him witness it unto you through the Holy Ghost. We know all of this because the Prophet Joseph Smith was led by the hand of God to establish the fulness of the gospel on earth once again, after many years of darknes and confusion. I know he was a Prophet, and I believe what he taught. That is why I am here, and that is what I will continue to live for. Nothing can take from me the peace that I have felt and the love I have cherished as one of the servants of the Almighty God here in His vineyard. "Siehe, ich bin ein Jünger Jesu Christi, des Sohnes Gottes. Ich bin von Ihm berufen worden, sein Wort unter seinem Volk zu verkünden, damit sie immerwährendes Leben haben können." (3 Nephi 5:13). The Savior lives for us, and we must live for Him. 

And now, I finish my writings of the proceedings of the last two years.

Bis Aufs Wiedersehen :) lebe wohl

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, April 28, 2014

Birthday

I really liked the birthday slideshow, but it didn't work with the music, not on this computer, at least. But I enjoyed looking through the pictures, trying to see which one I was. I don´t know why I ever let my hair get so long, I look dumb haha. That was really fun, thanks so much Mom :) I will hopefully hear the music sometime. 

I got a call from Renate today, she wanted to wish me happy birthday :) But I got a card from Sis. Eagley first, and then Sister Hall. Thank them for me! Renate really wants to try and come to Munich to see us off, but I am not sure how that will happen haha. She is great. Otherwise, I don´t have any plans for my birthday. Yesterday was already great with Familie Husz, they sang to me and then I got to talk about Harry Potter with their oldest son, Elias, who is on the 3rd book but has heard tons of stuff from his friends. It was hard talking about fairy tale stuff in German haha. Saubergetränke= potions. Who knew? But then we went on a walk to a little lake by their house (manmade, but really pretty at this time of year, where the water is still clear). I like them a lot :) They gave me a book about Wien, things to see and do, and I told them Mom would be very happy. But it is auf Deutsch, sorry. 

The Salzburg zone is coming later today. We still have to get groceries and then we are going to C&A to see if Elder Sessions can find some new pants, since all of his are ripped and self repaired multiple times. He needs some new ones haha. That will be my birthday. I just realized that this is my 2nd birthday in a row where I am with Elder Allan. Funny haha. In preparation for our conference tomorrow, I read Elder Dyches' talk from October conference, it is really good. I am excited to see what we discuss tomorrow. 

Last week we finally met with that lady, Z_____, and it was really good! But we met at a member´s apartment, Br. Ferraz came with us, and we had a great discussion. I got a taste of what it must be like for Tyson, we walk into a very brightly decorated apartment with Spanish songs playing. And they all liked to talk a lot. Auf Spanish. The member, M_____, from Colombia I think, had her niece there as well, who should be a Mormon already, she thought very much like what we believe. They just really like to talk, so we didn´t get to talk much about the stuff we planned, and then three of the niece's friends came over, which resulted in more Spanish, and at this point I was really wishing I could communicate with Tyson and figure out what was going on. So we sat there with poor Z_____, with hardly any idea what was going on. But Z_____ and M_____ came to church again yesterday, and we will meet hopefully just with them on the coming Friday. Z_____ is so nice and really interested. She is good friends with M_____, and M_____ told her about how the church had helped her get through rough times and such, and Z_____ expressed her interest to learn more. That is how it should be done! :) 

This week we also have a ward outing on Thursday, a holiday, and we are going to go hiking somewhere just outside of Wien. Elder Sessions and I are debating about wearing our lederhosen or not. It could be way hot. Schau ma mal. haha.
 
There are actually lots of good things happening for us and for the zone leaders, and Br. Husz was really excited yesterday in our meeting. We are gonna keep things going! 

Have a good week, thanks for the birthday wishes! 

Love, 

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

Hey Familie!

How was Easter? We didn't do anything special. We did get a little bit of chocolate, though. Elder Sessions and I went yesterday to eat lunch with Br. M_____. He is the one we did service for a few weeks ago, carrying tons of bags of dirt upstairs from the kellar. He isn´t doing too well, healthwise or job-wise, but as we were planning what we wanted to discuss with him, what we thought he might need, the quote from PMG chapter 6, the section on Hope, came into my mind. Let us reach to lift hands which hang hopelessly down. And then when we started talking with him, that was exactly what it turned into. He wants a wife and a family, but it hasn't worked out yet. He is often sick and has no good work, which makes it hard to find someone and start a family overall, and he just works himself to death renovating, at his own cost, an old Lokal, cafe place (which is where we helped him move dirt). He said it was just too much. But I remember just sitting there, listening to him talk about how he still trusted in God, that was all he had left. And I just had, as a representative of the Savior Jesus Christ, the irrepresible feeling that I just wanted him to have peace, that it would be okay. We offered to give him a blessing, and he agreed, and I hope and believe that the Savior will give him peace, and continue to guide him as he learns more about God´s will. 

Sadly this week that appoointment with the referral lady fell out, but we made another appointment out for this coming Friday. Thank goodness it is through members, because otherwise we usually lose contact with people we met ourselves. Once again, members are so important! 

Today we are headed to the Easter lunch that the Ehepaar Strong are putting on for us, we are excited. Then we may be going with the Bishop and his family to their garden place out on the other side of the city. But we still aren´t sure, because they haven't answered our phone calls yet. 

Otherwise, this last week we helped a member move on Saturday. He is way funny and his family is way nice. We moved stuff from their old apartment to the new one, so that the wife´s sister could move her stuff into the old apartment. And we were just all over helping this family move. The wife is the only member in her family, but we met almost all her sisters and her brother and they were very grateful for the help. No one ever looked better at a move than wearing white shirts and ties :) haha. They gave us one of the huge pizzas they bought for dinner for us to bring home, and we had two people talk to us shortly just because the pizza was massive! If we carried pizzas around all day, more people might actually come to us and talk hahaha. But in reality, we have something of much greater worth than a huge pizza, and that is what we are trying to get across. 

I have to say, I am really enjoying brainstorming about "becoming." This morning I just had a ton of thoughts and during my personal study I spent my time writing them down and finding scriptures that went along. That is how I like to learn. If I don´t have any questions or any direction I want to go, I end up just reading the Book of Mormon and waiting for the Spirit to point something out to me. But the first situation is much better :) trust me. Ask questions, get answers, LEARN! That is what you are here to do. Take advantage of it. 
 
Well, I am running out of time, so I wish you all farewell until next week! I love you :)

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grüß oink!

Hey :) servus. Hope you all had a good week? I got an email from Jenn today, that was great :)

Is everyone excited for Easter?  I don´t even know what we are going to do to celebrate it. Well, I will think of Morgan on her birthday this week. Happy birthday Morgan! And anyone else who has a birthday. We are going to celebrate Elder Botcherby´s birthday tomorrow, because tomorrow is Maxim's and Sister Strong´s birthday! (Sister Strong is from the couple who run the YSA center). And Elder Botcherby´s birthday is Wednesday. That will be fun.

Maxim got baptized yesterday! It was way cool. He was so happy. He asked me to give a talk about the Holy Ghost. I hope it went well and that he understood. I focused more on the importance of the decisions he will make in life, and how the Holy Ghost will help him make the right choices. He is such a great guy. He stuck his arms up in the air triumphantly after he came back up out of the water :) and he is way excited to post his status or whatever as Mormon, and see what his friends think!  :)

We met with S_____ this last Tuesday, but sadly she didn't show to our other two appointments :( She doesn't have a phone, but she also won´t answer my emails. I hope we don´t lose her!  But at church yesterday a member brought a friend of his and we have an appointment to teach this lady and her son, and hopefully also the son of another member lady on Friday. That was a way cool experience. I was just standing there after the second hour class waiting to introduce myself to these new faces, and then the member starts talking to Br. Husz (the ward mission leader) about setting up an appointment with the elders. So he grabbed me, Br. Husz did, and set me up with them. Later Br. Husz came up to me  grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "There is the family we were praying for!" Like 7 weeks ago, when Elder Weston and I were at the Familie Husz, they asked what I wanted to do in my last ten weeks, and I said I just wanted to find a family, and asked them to pray with us! So we both got to see this come true :) That was actually a suggestion from Br. Ehlen, so thanks Bruder Ehlen! I am excited to see where it goes. 

I am grateful for miracles like this, because we work hard to find interested people, but we just haven't gotten anything out of it--this is the story of my entire time in Wien. But this is so much easier and more effective, having the members do the inviting (of course we still invite, too) because there is already a connection there. So thank you Heavenly Father for inspiring members to share their joy with their friends. May we all do the same! 

I am doing great, Elder Sessions is doing great, we have a lot of fun together. Dad asked how Elder Allan was doing, he is doing good I believe! He is still in his second area, which puts him at five transfers in each area he has served in (Landshut and Haag am Hausbruck). He is actually working now with my mission "brother" Elder Hancey, also trained by Elder Eaker. I will get to see them one more time before I leave, actually on my birthday, because all of Salzburg zone is coming to Wien for a mission conference with Elder Timothy J. Dyches on the 29th. But they are coming on the 28th. Happy Birthday me :) haha. And Elder Weston is doing well, as far as I know! 

Have a great week! I love you all. Thanks for your prayers and love.

Elder Jalen Gibbons
 
 
 

Conference!

With Elder Weston at Schonbrunn
 
 
 
 
 
Funny story about this picture! Those girls in the background were from Ireland, and they photobombed me pretty well! They were kinda following us around, the whole group, seeing there were like 8 well-dressed guys in white shirts and ties walking around a palace in Vienna, Austria. But Elder Weston and I ran into that same group of them the next night at the bahn station across the street. I walked past the group and they all started talking to each other saying I looked like someone they knew. So I stopped and asked, in English, where they were from. From Ireland! I asked if they knew where Idaho was, and a few of them said yes. They thought I was German. But then I asked if they had been at the Schönbrunn Palace Monday, and they said yes, so I said that some of them had photobombed me. The girls who did it kinda freaked out, so I showed them this picture, and they wanted to take pictures of this picture and also another picture with me. I gave my camera to one of their friends so I could remember the crazy story as well, but it didn't turn out well.  (See the next picture, that was them). Too bad. But, I told them we were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ, but they only knew who we were when I said "Mormons." (Sorry Elder Ballard). Well, I did use the real name. So I am good. So now the next time they see missionaries walking around, they will remember that one time in Vienna, Austria and one day will learn more about the church. Hurray! :)
 
With the Irish photobombing friends
 
Goodbye to Elder Weston!
 
Hello to Elder Sessions!
 
Nah servus, wir sind wieder da! Today is Elder Sessions´ birthday! And Sister Green, too! But we don´t know what we are going to do yet. We had to go spend 2 hours in the VISA office so Elder Sessions could renew his Visa. As I was there, I wept inside at the rudeness and indifference of humankind. Of course, it is not everyone, thank goodness, but there were some people who must have been having just rotten days. I cry inside to see how little people understand, they don´t see that losing twenty seconds while letting someone else copy something quickly DOESN`T MATTER! There are enough people who look for the bad in everything, we need people who love and forgive, just like we learned at General Conference this last weekend. My favorite story was from Pres. Monson about the flight from Anchorage (or somewhere in Alaska) to Seattle. The flight was redirected to a remote town to pick up a young boy who was severely injured. They determined that the boy wouldn´t live till Seattle, so the flight was detoured another 200 miles or so to the nearest hospital. Finally, hours behind, the flight made it to Seattle, where passengers had surely missed appointments or other connecting flights, whatever it may have been.  But not a single passenger on that plane complained. Rather, they cheered with joy as they heard news that the little boy was going to live. 

I learned two lessons from Conference, you could say, overall. First, that complaining and whining and anything of the like are for natural men. Are you a natural man or woman? Or are you a child of God? Just like was said in Conference, the people we are now (sadly, natural men and women) are NOT who we CAN be. We are sons and daughters of the Almighty God, what does complaining do for us? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Do you not see who we can become? Just a glimpse of who we really are (just like the talk from Randall Ridd) would change any one of us. To see the glory we are capable of inheriting, the world would change! I quote Pres. Kimball (who was actually also quoted a lot in Conference, I liked it :)): " If you could only see the vision I have!" As I watched Conference, especially the Priesthood session, I was so caught up in the spirit of hope and love at seeing just a little glimpse of the people we can be. People who don´t complain, who don´t belittle, people without guile or bigotry, people who love, people who serve, who think of others first, people who forgive. People like Christ. 
 
That ties in with the second thing I learned. Now I quote Lord of the Rings, Sam, to be exact, who is one of the best examples of a true, loyal friend. "There is good in this world ____, and it is worth fighting for." Put your own name in that line, and tell yourself that everytime you feel ready to just give up on the integrity and honesty of people. There is good out there, even if it seems to be just you. 

General Conference was great! Want to know something really cool? We were going by on some people from the ward with Bobi on Saturday afternoon, and then some guy stopped us and started being very rude and cussing us out. Told us we were "Mormon crap" and to "get lost," go try in some Middle East country to teach people, get out of Austria and out of his sight. That frustrated me, and I just walked off after a minute. Yeah, I told Bobi, "I wanted to hit that guy, but Jesus wouldn´t do that." And Elder Sessions was just light-years ahead of me and told Bobi, "We just have to forgive him, he may have had a bad day. Forgive and forget." Good thing Elder Sessions is here haha. But Bobi took it really hard. He said he just hated that guy, couldn´t believe how arrogant he was. Couldn´t stop thinking about it. (It´s not the first time it has happened to me, so I forgot it pretty quickly). But then we go to Conference, and Elder Holland speaks first. And what was his first story? Yeah, the mashed potato story. Poor sisters. But that was really comforting to me, knowing that I am in an elite group who get to be persecuted and mocked and rejected for my Savior. And later that night Bobi called and said he wanted to pray with us for forgiveness for this man. (He is 13!!!) So we knelt down and Bobi said a prayer over the phone. What a cool experience. Haha he was still upset about it all on Sunday, but he will get over it. What a stud. 

So yeah, things are going well! I picked up Elder Sessions on Thursday, sent off a lot of friends at Bahnhof earlier that morning, including Elder Weston. This transfer day was probably the hardest one I have had. I was really good friends with all the people who left (who I knew), but it was really sad because I am not going to see them again on the mission. I felt like I just had a hole in my heart the whole day. It is better now. Oh, the woes of getting old! Elder Sessions is way cool, though! We talk a lot about Landshut, since he was just there. He told me hello from everyone in the ward :) and guess what?!! Sympla and Bendito have been to the temple, and they will be getting the Melchizedek Priesthood in July! That is so awesome :) They are doing so well! I will send them a letter today with a picture of me and Elder Sessions. Aha, I will send you it, too. 

So there is a picture of Elder Weston and I, and the first one is Elder Sessions and I, and the last one was from Schönbrunn last week, which is a big palace with huge garden grounds, plus a zoo. It was way pretty. I have lots of pictures. 
 
Well, I bought my new suit, too! My birthday present to myself. :) You´ll see it when I get home. :P As for you sending a package, I wouldn´t worry about it, Mom. I can wait 5 weeks. I don´t know what I would want anyway. Or what I want at all for my birthday. Surprise me! :) Although ties are always cool. But I probably won´t be wearing ties anymore everyday. Whatever. 

Well, I hope you all look back at the things you learned from General Conference. The Lord has spoken through His servants, and what they have said will happen! If anything stuck out to you in the form of "Do this" or "DON`T do this" then follow their counsel! All we have to do here and now in this life is prove to God that we will do what He tells us to do. Obedient in all things. And that will help us tremendously in our strivings to become the people we can be. But first remember, a better world starts with yourself, eh? The Lord will always help you on your way. I promise. 

Have a great week, I love you all!

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, March 31, 2014

Transfers

Our album cover shot, from our morning jog
with Elders Orchard and Jones 

So, transfer calls!!! I will be staying in Wien 2, and so are Elder Botcherby and Elder Curtis! Elder Weston will be leaving on Thursday to Dornbirn, definitely one of the prettiest areas in our mission. Far west of Austria, on the border of Switzerland. And the German they speak there is..... a different language haha. Elder Weston is excited to start learning German all over again! (Really, he said it.) We listened to a little clip about the dialect, a member showed it to us yesterday, and it was pretty fun to listen to :) hardly got anything out of it. I will miss him tremendously, and the Spirit he has. Sometimes I wonder if I have learned everything here in Wien at an accelerated rate, due to his incredible ability to invite and discern the Holy Ghost. I have learned much from him. As for the cooking, we are trying not to think about what will happen. Hopefully I don´t lose weight due to malnutrition these next few weeks ;) haha. Don´t worry about us.

This last week was.... yeah, really fast haha. We had an appointment with Br. Caletka fall out, I was on tausch from Wednesday to Thursday, and we cleaned the church on Saturday morning with Sister Simic and Bobi and another new convert . That was fun :)  But yeah, we had that concert on Tuesday from M_____, the Russian investigator. He sang us a few songs. The first song he sang was "Ye Elders of Israel." Pretty cool. Sister Motto played "If You Could Hie to Kolob" on the piano, also really good. Elder Curtis played guitar and harmonica, "I Need Thee Every Hour" and Elder Seamons played "More Holiness Give Me" on violin. It was really fun :)  Bobi came with us. And Michi. And then, Br. Mauch showed up :)  All the Klagenfurt elders ran and gave him hugs haha. He was really surprised to see Elder Orchard there, too, since the assistants were here on tausch. Sadly, our appointment with C_____ was cancelled about two hours before, so we kinda just talked a bit with him. Then Br. Mauch drove me, Elder Orchard, and Michi and Bobi home. He liked those two a lot :)  They are good boys. And it was way weird sitting in the Mauchmobil again with Br. Mauch and Elder Orchard haha. But a really nice time. Until we said goodbye and Bruder Mauch told us to keep working hard the last __ weeks. That one cut deep. Haha. I love Bruder Mauch.
 
There are quite a few changes in the zone (going quickly back to transfers), but you don´t know anyone, I don´t think. But they are closing down the international ward sisters´ area, which is new. The reason I mention that is because they told us Saturday night that they were bringing one of their investigators to our ward, so we could meet her, and then this week they will hand her off to us! Yay, that makes me happy. She is a woman from Mongolia, who wants to be baptized. Her friend is a member of the Wien 1 ward, and is currently on a mission. Her friend told the sisters to baptize her friend when she left! Sadly, she didn't show up to our ward, we think it was probably the time change, but we will hopefully meet her later. Oh yeah, my new companion is Elder Sessions, he is working in Landshut right now! I am so excited to ask him about Landshut. He is in the same group as Elder Jones, so he goes home in August. He will probably be here until the end, as well. I have heard lots of good things about him. 

Oh hey, Michelle Sumegi got baptized yesterday after church! This is the family that the zone leaders are teaching, with the really cute kids who just love the missionaries. She just turned 8! 

We handed W_____ off to the Wien 5 elders yesterday as well. I hope everything goes well for him! He is really so cool, we hope that when he gets settled back into home things will be a bit easier.
 
Ah, I am running out of time, so I will stop here! Just realize that the Savior has the power to free us from anything that weighs us down, any trial or mistake or struggle can and will be overcome through His power, if you seek Him. He has given me strength and comfort to help me keep going over and over again, this morning even. 

I hope you have a great week, thanks for doing all that stuff with BYU classes. You´re the best :)

Love you!

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, March 24, 2014

Vienna Pictures

We went to the familie Meissner last night spontaneously,
and they had to get pictures of us with their
cool Kaiser-era helmets and beer stein things :)
 
The Stadtsoper; they have the City Opera Ball every year, it was a
couple weeks ago. I saw all the red carpets and stuff. I am sure there were a
number of famous people there. But also notice the sweet white
Lamborghini Aventador that drove by (to the left of the bus). I was actually
just trying to get the Lambo, but it worked out both ways, eh? ;)
 The car was going too fast haha.
 
The Austrian National library
 
 The Holy Trinity statue/pillar thing, not too far from Stefansdom.
Just in the inner city
 
The Kaisermühlen island, the seat of the United Nations in Vienna.
Pretty cool looking place.
 
Hofburg, home of lots of different art exhibits and such.
And the Spanish Riding School. And the treasury.
 
That, my friends, is a giant green egg with a ship in the middle.
Made completely of Marzipan. Look at the woman´s head to proportionately see
how big it is. Lots of interesting stuff in Wien :)
 
 
Hallo Familie!

Sorry about the short email last week! So ist es. I will get a couple pictures of our trip around Wien. It was a lot of fun. F_____ is really cool. A great guy. 

 2nd picture is. 3rd is  4th is

I will send another email with more pictures, don´t worry.

Anyway, a quick report on M_____ and W_____! M_____ took off on Thursday to Kur, so like a rehab kind of thing. He will be gone for a few weeks, I may not ever see him again. But we talked about scripture study, how it brings us peace and helps us have strength to get through our lives. I hope M_____ reads while he is gone. W_____ was kinda sleepy the last couple times we went, but we also introduced him to the Wien 5 elders, because when he gets back from his rehab, which should be in April, he will be back in Wien 5 area. Now that M_____ is gone, we will probably hand him over to the other elders. He is great. I hope he continues to learn more. 

We still haven't gotten ahold of M_____ (different M_____). :/ We´ll see when she is ready again. 

BUT! There was a cool miracle that happened. Of course there were also many little ones throughout the week, but it would take too long to tell you all. It is in my journal (by the way, I finished my 5th journal of the mission; unfortunately my set is still incomplete, as I don´t have numbers 1-3). Anyway, Kevin Mauch asked us last week, or two weeks ago, to try and get an appointment on Tuesday night, the 25th, at 8 o´clock, so his father can come with us, since he will be in Wien again :) But the thing is, we don´t have any consistent investigators, so we had NO IDEA who this appointment would be with, or whether anyone would even have time at 8 on Tuesday night. So we texted a few people, but no one was certain. So I sent a text to C_____, the man we met with who didn't want to make out an appointment, the same man who texted us asking if we had to be Mormon to make it to heaven. And he texted us back a day later and said that normally weekdays don´t work for him, but he could do it on Tuesday night. Way cool :) Plus, Tuesday night, M_____ (another different M_____), the zone leaders' Russian investigator, is doing a concert for all the missionaries in Wien. And the assistants, Elders Orchard and Jones, are also there for a tausch. So if Bruder Mauch Sr. is there with us, then me, Elder Orchard, Elder Curtis, and Elder Mohn (who have all served in Klagenfurt) are going to have a great time :) I am excited. 

This last week we started a 40 day fast, Elder Weston and I, where we did a fast from food for a day and used that time to listen to the spirit and write down every attitude or behavior or practice in our lives that drives away the Spirit. And then for 40 days we get on our knees every morning and promise the Lord that we will fast from those things on our list. So we did so, and I have felt much more confident, much happier, and more at peace with how things go. For the longest time I have been weighted down by negative thoughts, in the most part about myself and my many weaknesses. I didn't realize how incredibly powerful that negative influence was until I started fasting and set my resolve to stop it. It is a huge weight off of me. I feel much more in control of things when I wake up every morning and just pray and promise the Lord I will fix my mistakes from yesterday and do better today on those points on my list. So I will be doing so until the 29th of April, the day after my birthday :) 

Transfer calls are on Saturday! No idea what will happen. I´ll just wait. Anything is possible at this point. It will just decide where I am for the last transfer. You´ll hear from me next week! 

By the way, all the apartments DO have CO monitors and smoke detectors and such, they have to. These emission levels were measured from the big "exhaust pipe" that goes from the contained water boiler to wherever those gasses go. Yeah, still dangerous enough, but they just told us not to use it. And we´ve been enjoying warm water again. 

Crazy that almost the whole family can drive now. Have you fixed up the Sentra yet? I miss it. Stick-shift. I don´t like the green car, it has an attitude. Tyson can keep it. Or Nathan. Oh yeah, like I said, I tried printing off the driver's license extension thing again, but it wouldn't work. And the other one I wrote in blue ink before I read the "write in black ink." Whoops haha. You may have to send it again.

Thanks for dealing with all the BYU stuff, I really don´t have time to figure all that stuff out haha. I used my email time last week for classes, and I am done! Hopefully. 

Well, I hope you have a great week, that you get the chance to make someone else smile, and that you feel love and forgiveness from the Lord when you need it. I´ve been reading a lot in the Spencer W. Kimball handbook for Priesthood and Relief Society classes, and I really like how he thinks. I remember Dad saying he really liked Pres. Kimball, if I am wrong, then it was Pres. Benson. But anyway, Pres. Kimball and I think a lot alike. Or at least all of the things I have realized and learned about agency and such are outlined everywhere in his teachings in this book. Haha. Should have just read it sooner! But then it wouldn't have been such an adventure. It is a lot of fun :) lifelong learning.
 
I love you all! Have a good one. Or seven good ones. Whatever floats your boat!

Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hallo!

Sorry, I have been trying to figure out BYU stuff, looking at classes and stuff, so I don´t have very much time. We spent the day with Franz, who gave us a little tour of Wien :) It was actually his birthday, too! We went out to eat afterwards, it was a lot of fun! :) He is a great guy. I have lots of pictures of different things in Wien. But you will have to see them another time. 

Anyway, last week was good! The biggest adventure is still ongoing... we haven't had hot water since Tuesday last week. We have been cut down to birdie bathing in the sink with boiled water. The shower is FREEZING COLD! So I haven't showered. But I did get two warm showers when I was on tausch in Wien 3 last week :) That was nice. So ist es, I can´t complain. They are coming tomorrow to put in a new water boiler. I spent a couple hours last week talking to people in Geman about our water boiler and the problems we were having. They didn't teach me that stuff in the MTC haha. It turned out okay. One guy measured the gas exhaust coming from the boiler, and our CO levels were at 2083 mgm, when the legal limit is 80 mgm. Haha. Whoops. Darn missionary apartments. Lots of missionary apartments here in Wien have been having problems. Tomorrow we shall shower again :)

W_____ and M_____ are doing well! They still haven't read, so we read a bit with them. But the favorite part of my week was going to visit them on Sunday and seeing the Book of Mormon we left for B_____ gone. We had been there Wednesday and I wrote her a note and left it on the book on the table. And then it was gone Sunday, and W_____ said she got it :) Cool! Just waiting to see if she calls. That was fun! 

We got to play soccer on Saturday with Bobi and some other missionaries and Alex Zeilinger. Hat spaß gemacht. 

We had a good zone training meeting as well, one of the best I have ever attended :) We sang a song at a wedding party for a new convert, we met some new members from the ward list, and had lots of fun. Don´t worry about us!

Sorry that it is so short this week. Hope I helped a bit with the BYU stuff. Still don´t know how the real world works, but I still have time not to worry about that, thank goodness :) 

Wow, I am excited to have Dad as my bishop :) Haha that is so awesome since everyone loves Dad anyway. I always knew it was coming ;) Welcome to the next learn-phase of your life! The Lord sees that you are ready to move forward with faith. Und so wird es auch sein! 

I read Pres. Monson´s talk from last conference this morning, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." You should read it again, it is definitely for everyone, since we all have difficult times and need some consolation or somewhere we can go, someone to turn to. And we can always turn to our Father in Heaven. :) I love you all, have a good week!

Elder Jalen Gibbons 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Servus

 
The ice cream is back :) finally opening again!
 
Ja hallo! :)

What a week, eh? Last Monday our FHE with Family Simic fell out again, because they are sick :( It is so sad! But we went by still, and Bobi wanted to come out with us for a bit. So we took him with us as we went by on some people :) He is great. We were actually at their place again Thursday with the home teachers, and we gave the whole family blessings. That was great. Alex Zeilinger is their home teacher, and he really is excited for it :) (Alex is the chef that loves having us over, he is so cool!) We are going to go kick a Fußball around on Saturday with the boys and hopefully the home teachers. The other home teacher is Br. Handler, who brought a good friend of his from Chile to church yesterday. We want to make some food together, this Chilean man, I_____, and Elder Weston, and hopefully he is willing to meet with missionaries again :) He has actually been in and out of church for a few years, used to come regularly as well. He was way nice! 

Sadly, we haven't been able to meet with anyone from the finding day yet. We have made out multiple appointments, but many of them have expressed their disinterest and the others just won´t give us a specific time, just want us to call and see what happens. Working on it. We also got a call from F_____, who was one of the people the elders before us were meeting with regularly, I think, but he wouldn't ever make an appointment with us. He called us and we met on Friday! It was literally a "it´s not you, it is me" meeting hahaha. He explained why it was hard for him right now, and how he doesn't have time to meet with us or busy himself with it all. But he still reads in the Book of Mormon everyday, and he loves the elders a lot. He is going to take us on a walking tour of Wien next week, hopefully. That will be awesome. So we still have contact with him. Elder Weston gave him Ether 12:27 to read right at the end of the appointment, and he called back on Sunday during Sacrament Meeting to say "they were the right words at the right moment." Cool :)

M_____ and W_____ are doing great! They haven't given the Book or Mormon to B_____ yet, and they hadn't read it either, but we gave them the Restoration pamphlets last time, so it isn't so much to read and they get what we are trying to say. But the last termin was great, it was only 20 minutes, to the point, and they both gave really good answers and insights. We talked about the first 3 points of the Restoration, about God and Families and Prophets. M_____ is probably taking off to rehab soon, but we will keep visiting W_____. They are always so happy when we come visit them. 

Gestern we met another former investigator, T_____, from Nigeria. We met shortly with her and her brother and her niece, who was an adorable two-year-old. I took some pictures with her haha. We gave her info to the International Ward sisters, because she speaks primarily English and she is a doesn't always have a third man there for us. So ist es. After that we went by on a family on the ward list, who are from America. They weren´t aware that they were on the list haha. They haven't been to church forever, and said they won´t in the future. Their choice. But I mentioned how excited I was for General Conference, and the man said, "Do you know Jeff Holland?" I thought yeah, of course, he is one of my favorite speakers! And he said that Jeff Holland was his counselor in the Deacons Quorum way back when, when this man was the president. Crazy huh? :) 

Today so far we had an appointment with a less active, or inactive, I guess, and he didn't show. So we went by on some people and then went to help the zone leaders' investigator, M_____, from Russia, with English. :) He is hilarious. And way cool. He should be getting baptized in April or May. So, two missionaries in Vienna, Austria, from America, sitting at a university and helping a Russian man practice his English for a test later today. Doesn´t get better than that :) That is why we are writing emails so late. 

Probably my favorite quote from this last week came from the priesthood class yesterday. "Immer in Bewegung bleiben." Or, "Keep yourself on the move," or "keep on moving," roughly translated. I suppose it is like Dory´s "just keep swimming" which Mom has quoted a few times in emails. But what  the man said in church was that it is not so much about how fast or how slow you are going, rather that you just keep going. So ist es! I looked through my quote calendar from last year this morning, picking out my favorite ones, and recognizing which ones are true wisdom and which ones are the wisdom of men, and therefor falsch. They are all about Glück. Happiness. My favorite there was probably "Dont spend all your time looking for obstacles--maybe there are none there!" Just keep going! 

Zum Schluss, there was a really cool quote in the Joseph Fielding Smith handbook, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, at the end of the opening section in chapter 5, Faith and Repentance. It talks about counsel that Joseph Fielding Smith received in a blessing, or something like that. Maybe he gave the blessing to someone, doesn't matter. But it is the last sentence. Something like, "When you make a wrong judgement, then make sure it is always in favor of love and mercy."

Like I said last week, doing something on your own does certainly does not mean doing it alone. You are all in my prayers! I love you all!
Have a great week :)

Elder Jalen Gibbons
 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hello :)

The Belvedere, a palace in Vienna

Grounds at the Belvedere, playing with shadows
 
Faschingfest--a Primary kids' activity

Elders Weston and Gibbons doing a heavy-lifting service project

 
Hello Familie! How are you?

Where to begin last week.... we got some pictures on Monday from the Belvedere, where we go running when we go in the morning. But this time in daylight. It is very pretty. That is the first picture. And the second was also there, we had fun with shadows. Sorry Kate and Papa and Jacci,  I am not a professional. The third is the  Primary Faschingsfest we went to, it was way fun :) We did like a cakewalk thing, having the kids walk around the path of tape and stopping them and calling out a random number to see if anyone won. I think 5 of the kids at the end declared the Elders' station as being their favorite :) Score! Haha. It was pretty stressful sometimes, trying to rig the game so all the kids got candy... so ist es.

Last Tuesday we had a great time with President and Sister Miles and Br. Caletka :) They are so awesome. I got about five minutes to talk with Pres. and Sister Miles by myself as Elder Weston was helping Br. Caletka in the kitchen. They are incredible. They really enjoyed their stay in Wien, working with a lot of the missionaries. They drove us home after the appointment, and Elder Weston was asking Pres. Miles all sorts of questions about his work. Then I took the chance to ask them how they met :) That is a fun question. Sister Miles said that they were set up by a friend of hers. So I said, "Aha, so it was a member referral?" hahaha. They both agreed. I will miss them a lot in the future. 

Oh, we went to the Familie Husz last Monday as well, he is the GML (ward mission leader) and his family is so great. Their youngest son had chicken pox, but was as lively as ever! We found out our favorite Fußballer is Lionel Messi :) We are basically best friends haha. We got to know them, they looked at our family pictures and we feel much closer to them. I feel like I know the ward much better now, and feel at home. 

Oh yeah, we also had a service project on Tuesday, and we moved tons of bags of dirt and rocks and stuff from the kellar of a place and stacked them outside and upstairs. It was probably one of my favorite service projects, just straight hard lifting for two hours. My hands were dead haha. I will send a picture of that, too. 

We went to family Simic on Thursday. We played Simon Says and connected it to prophets, and how we need to do what they say. And if we don´t, we have to repent. The kids got a kick out of it. 

We also had a finding day on Saturday, in our area. As we planned this, Elder Weston and I, we had a lot of fun. We wrote out "Mission Alpha" and "Mission Omega" and the like on notecards, and said that the mission would be activated at the church when we prayed to start the finding day. And the mission would terminate at 15 Uhr. We had different targeted sectors (the different districts in our area) along with primary objectives (for example: Find.Teach.Baptize.Repeat.) and secondary objectives, such as: contacts wearing American sports memorabilia, with bonus points for anything other than Yankees or Chicago Bulls, because everyone wears that. It was way fun. I worked with Elder Aurich from Wien 5 for the 3 hours. We had fun and found some really cool people. I am excited for this week. 

Now the best part. I called all the people labeled as investigators in our phone, trying to set something up with them (the problem is, I don´t know any of them) and we got a call back from one who said he would love a visit in the hospital. His name is M_____ and we went to visit him on Friday. We got to know him a bit, and talked about how the Savior is there to help us. Also about building a firm foundation on Christ, that will get us through anything. He suffers from MS, so he is pretty weak, but he is just trying to make the best of his situtation. I admire that. We went back to visit him on Sunday, yesterday, and the older man in his room, W_____, joined us in our conversation. We talked about the people of Alma, how the Lord made their burdens light. And then we talked about Alma the younger´s conversion story, and the light that it brought into his life. When we mentioned light, W_____ stopped us and said he had a story to tell us, a story he doesn't tell very often. He proceeded to tell us that as he was 9, he got in an accident. And he almost died. He felt like he was being squeezed through a pipe, and at the end was a light. And this light was the most beautiful light he had ever seen, and he felt so good, he didn't want to go back to his crying parents in the hospital. It was something he hasn't ever experienced since then. And we told him that that light was from the Savior, and we can feel that light and love when we follow Him. And Willie agreed. He said he would give anything to find that light again, and we bore testimony that the gospel was the way for him to do it. 

This was a very special experience for me, considering the things I have gone through in the last bit of time. It was another experience where the Spirit was there and guided everything I said. I know it, because my German was the best German I have ever spoken in my life. I don´t know if I can say it was perfect, but it was the best I have ever spoken. It flowed, it was not just me speaking. My mind doesn't think that quickly or clearly. I will never forget that moment, sitting in a quiet hospital room in Vienna, Austria, with two men who didn't choose these circumstances in their lives, but who are doing their best to believe and be healed, to think positively. And the Spirit was there. 

And then their nurse walked in. She seemed to be a very nice daughter of God. Really, I am not being sarcastic. She opened the door and walked in the room and I am certain she was hit in the face by the Spirit. She certainly wasn't expecting that, or the two handsome young men sitting in the room there. (If I say so myself...hahaha). :) M_____ and W_____ asked if she wanted to stay and sit with us for 10 minutes, but she had to work. But it is okay, at the end, I left a Book of Mormon for M_____ and W_____, and I left another and told them that they had to give it to the nurse, B_____. We´ll see if they do it! That is how you get new investigators, you invite the Spirit so strong and then invite them immediately to share it with others :) Score! I feel like M_____ and W_____ are my best friends. We are going back Wednesday. 

And that is the story about how everything turned around for us. We have two awesome new investigators, lots of potential invesitgators to contact this week to try and meet, and we are just so grateful to have been blessed with it all. 

God lives, and He is leading this work. All the circusmstances that have led to me calling those people in the phone on that day, when he was in the hospital, have led us here. Man, He knows what He is doing. If I had called even a couple weeks ago, M_____ probably would still have been in Costa Rica on vacation, but he had a stroke and then got shipped back here so we could meet with him, and meet W_____, and so the nurse, B_____, could feel that Spirit when she opened the door. So ist es. 
 
I leave you all with a quote: "Doing something yourself does not necessarily mean doing it alone." I came up with that this morning.

I love you all, have a great week! :)

Elder Gibbons

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stake Conference

 
Hallo Familie! Und Andere! Seiet gegrüßt! 

We were walking home last night from an appointment with Familie Soucek, they are really great, and we found a cool statue. I will send a picture of it. We just thought, huh? Way cool. It is the same concept as the Living Christ statue at Temple Square, and the little description also mentioned the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro. It was right across the street from the zentral friedhof. And the weather has been beautiful the last few days, I am happier when the sun shines and the sky is blue. I guess it is kinda like Superman, gives me energy. Haha. But really. 

This week we just had Stake Conference, and it was really good! It was a broadcast to all the German speaking stakes in Germany and Austria and Switzerland. The speakers were Elder Schwitzer from the 70, and then the 2nd counselor of the General Relief Society presidency, and then Elder Bednar and Elder Hales. :)  They basically all had some connection to Germany. They kept talking about how much they love Germany, and I hope the Austrians didn't get offended... haha. They understand. They were all really good talks. My favorite was probably Elder Bednar. We were sitting in the English room, because broadcasts, like General Conference and stuff, are just not completely the same when translated (but the translators do a good job, not to take away from them, it is a tough job). Then Elder Bednar started his talk, and it took us all a couple seconds to realize that he was being voiced over. And then it all clicked in our heads and we hurried quietly into the German room to listen to Elder Bednar give his talk IN GERMAN!!!! It has been 41 years since he served in the South German Mission. It was so cool! And the members loved it. It was a great meeting.

We also had a meeting on Saturday which we all attended, where they spoke about missionary work and the vision for the upcoming year. The missionaries sang the prelude music. and they had a video put together from some videologs their missionaries from their stake have sent them. It was way cool. President and Sister Miles also came to our Pfahlkonferenz, and spoke to us, for their last time (in a Wien Stake Conference, I mean). (Pres. and Sis. Miles will finish their mission president service at the end of June this year.)  And on Tuesday, Elder Weston and I are going to visit Br. Caletka from the ward with Pres. and Sister Miles :)  They are spending their time until Wednesday here going to appointments with the missionaries. 

Last week on Friday we had an activity with the Young Men :)  Elders Botcherby and Curtis did a Schulung activity with the younger ones, and the two Priests did splits with Elder Weston and me. We had a couple families we wanted to go by on, at the  request of the gemeinderat (ward council), but one of them fell out. So we all went together, we four, and visited another famlily from the ward. The mother is a member but I don´t know if the kids are, and the husband is not. But we finally got in and were able to get to know them. It was great.
 
Oh, Elder Curtis is from Boise :)  We talk about Idaho often. So far we have no connections, except he was in Mountain Home once. Haha. But he is way awesome. We have had some fun times already, I have no worries about our apartment. Elder Weston is still doing great, too :)  He says hello. 
 
Why are all these great places closing before I get home? The candy store and the bakery. Darn it. So ist es. Buy me one last pomegranate Tootsie Pop, if you find one. Liebe grüße von mir. :)
 
I got an email from Bruder Ehlen this week, which was really great. He gave me some good advice for the rest of the mission. I love that guy, and Bruder Evans, too. I don't know if the MTC teachers understand how much they change our lives, get us started on the right foot of this incredible journey, but I will always be grateful for them. 
 
Ah, I am running out of time, we have to go shopping. I love you all, am grateful that Dad´s surgery went well, and I know the Lord watches over us. 
 
If you want to join the Wien Stake´s vision for this year, it consists of three points that we will all live. 1) Pray daily for charity and for opportunities to bring others closer to Christ. 2) Pray daily for the missionaries BY NAME and for the friends of the church by name. 3) Open your homes to the missionaries! Their slogan is "Living the gospel means sharing the gospel with joy." Pretty cool :) Come, join with us!
 
Elder Jalen Gibbons

Monday, February 17, 2014

Okay :)

First, I will send some pictures of the Zentral Friedhof here in Wien. We went jogging there this morning, because it is Elder Jones´ last pday here in Wien (I will tell you about transfers later). 
 
 Johann Strauss :)  Cool!
 
Beethoven (not actually buried there, just a memorial)
 
Mozart, also not buried there, he is actually buried in a
different smaller cemetery in Wien,  not too far from us.
But here is the memorial. 
 
4th: Brahms :)  Yeah, I have been there!
 
Well, it is cool to be in Wien. :)

So, first off, transfer news!  I am staying here with Elder Weston!!! But now the craziness comes in: Elder Botcherby is also staying, and getting a new companion, his third companion here as Zone Leader in Wien. Elder Curtis, who was half trained by Elder Orchard in Klagenfurt when I left Klagenfurt. He is cool :) and Elder Jones is going back to Munich! We have been worried about losing Elder Jones because of visa problems, he still hasn't received his Austrian visa. We were afraid they would have to take him away before he got detained and such for staying here illegaly haha. Well, the Lord had plans for him, because Elder Jones got called to serve with Elder Orchard as the new assistant! Should have seen his face when President Miles told him that hahaha. It was a total surprise because Elder Jones has only been zone leader here for 2, and normally they stay for 4. But we are excited for him :) He and Elder Orchard were trained by the same elder, too. So they are mission "brothers." They are going to do lots of good :) Man, when you get doing this for as long as I have been doing it, you get really excited for changes. It will be different, and it will be good. 

Anyway, last week was way fun in the catacombs! We weren't allowed to take pictures, so you will just have to come do it yourselves. I will take you up on the Vienna/Klagenfurt tour. Although, you also have to see everywhere else I have been.... I have to see it again someday. Someone from Mountain Home has to be called to this mission, so I can tell them all about it. I will probably cry when I hear about their call. Someone has to come see what I have seen. If you want to smell what I smell, just go stand in the smoker box at the airport. Nothing too special about that... haha. Anyway, back to the topic. The beginning of the tour was okay, we saw some coffins of dead archbishops, made of copper and airtight, some copper urns that have the entrails of some famous people preserved in alcohol (you could smell the alcohol, it was pretty gross thinking about it). Then there were some statues and broken stuff from WWII bombings, and the 1 ton bell clapper from Austria´s most famous bell, which hangs in Stefansdom. The bell also fell in the bombings and got destroyed, so they made a new one. Anyway, this was all cool and interesting, but all 7 of us 19-25 year old guys were thinking; "Come on, where are the bones?!!" Haha, and then we got them :) We saw some of the masss graves, where they have like 12.000 bodies that were just thrown in, yeah? There were lots of bones, and they had a couple decaying skeletons laid out on display for us. And then there was another mass grave, and these people all died of the bubonic plague. Sick! (Literally...) That was cool. History. And then there was a little room where they used to send criminals down to stack the bones like firewood. Looked very nice. Yes, we young Mormon missionaries were satisfied :) hahahaha. It was cool. 

We didn't get to meet with that guy who texted me, he cancelled on Monday and then never answered us again. We met with A_____ again finally, he kinda just disappeared for weeks. We talked about Jesus Christ and what He does for us, because A_____ just doesn't understand why any of this matters, I don´t think. But we finally found a point where he understood what we meant about sinning, doing things wrong, making mistakes, and we just told him that Christ takes the guilt and pain from us when we repent. Yeah, I basically thought some more yesterday about the fact that I love learning and teaching, but I narrowed it down a bit, thinking that I just enjoy answering questions, whether they be from me or from others. So when my investigators aren´t asking questions, what is the point? They have to use their agency to want to learn anything, and we just introduce the Restoration or God´s plan for us, and they have to ask questions about it, otherwise I feel like I am just trying to throw a sales pitch. And I don´t like that feeling of not-getting-anywhere. So I am looking for those with questions, because I have answers, and if I don´t, I will find them, and show them how to find their own through the scriptures and prayer and so on. 

I have two transfers left on the mission. 11 weeks. I don´t have time to speak English anymore!! One of my goals is to forget English (it won´t ever go away, I just won´t use it except as needed), or rather, speak only German. I also just want to change and get out of the slumps that I have been in. Yeah, like you said, there are good days and bad, but my overlying attitude and feelings were not much on the happy side. But I am changing, I decided last night to just change. Maybe that is what I am supposed to have learned from all this anyway. So I am just going with it. Wish me luck. Thanks for your prayers and love which have been constant through it all.  

This last week I had some thoughts about the phrase "Return with Honor." We learn in D&C 29:36 that honor is God´s power. Like I discussed last week, the coach´s honor for the rules of the game gives him repect and honor from those under him and around him. As I thought about this phrase that they throw out at us missionaries, return with honor, I realized what that could mean. God´s power is His honor, or His obedience. So when we want to return with Honor, we must learn now on our missions to be 100% obedient, so that we can do so for the rest of our lives and eternity as well. And then I thought back on all the hard times I have had so far on the mission, and I realized that I probably wouldnt still be here if I had not kept the rules and regulations of the mission, even when I just didn't understand sometimes. Sometimes, I looked at my situation and wondered why in the world I was even trying, why I was even here, but I did NOT ever just give up and become disobedient. Yeah, maybe sometimes I was keeping the rules out of duty, just so I wouldn´t feel bad putting on the nametag every morning, but I am trying to make obedience my quest, so that I may return with honor. That is why I am still here. 

I will begin a study this week about wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. I am excited. Some of the scriptures I found that sparked this idea were Job 28:28 (although that whole chapter is good), Ecclesiastes 1:18 (this one intrigued me, because who wants sorrow and grief? I will figure out the puzzle :) ), Ecclesiastes 7:12, usw. Basically, I looked at proverbs and ecclesiastes and it talks a ton about wisdom and knowledge and stuff. I will see what I come up with. Feel free to study along, let me know what ideas you have. Game on. :)
 
I love you all, hope you have a great week! Thanks for being awesome :)

Elder Jalen Gibbons

PS Someone sent this quote thing to Elder Botcherby. I like it :)
 
 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Servus

 
Hallo :) It´s Monday again. Surprise! 

Last week we had zone training meeting on Tuesday and zone conference the following day, Wednesday, and then the rest of the week flew by. Well, I could tell you a bit about last Monday, shall I? I bought new lederhosen. And they are actually WAY cooler than the ones I bought in Bayern. I will send a picture :) Elder Botcherby and I had a little "fashion show" that night to try on the things we had bought. It was fun. And today we are going as a district to take a tour of the catacombs beneath Stephansdom, the big church :) That should be way awesome! I am excited.

Tuesday the zone training meeting was also awesome, I was just so happy and felt like I was on fire, I was just having so much fun in roleplays and such, and I wish I was always like that. I don´t know what it was, exactly. But I noticed a big difference in the way Elder Weston and I taught together. When I was just happy and excited and having fun, he came right along with me, and would say what he could say in German and it just worked really well. I want to have that all the time. Especially since I didn't feel the same way the next day, or the day after that. I have seen the difference it makes, and now my quest is trying to figure out why I was in such a good mood, so I can reproduce it. I need it. The chase never ends, eh? Zone conference was still really great, found out it was my last zone conference. Wow. So we had Elder Orchard, Elder Botcherby, and I there, all from the same group, and this is our last round of zone conferences. Krass.

And on Wednesday night we took family Simic to a pizza, popcorn, and propheten party at the young single adult center. We watched "On the Lord´s Errand" about Pres. Monson. Made me want to be more like Pres. Monson. Mostly just in the recognizing-spiritual-promptings aspect. He is a great man. 

On Friday, since we are still trying to find interested people, I had a sudden idea. In our phone there are 105 numbers labeled as potential investigators--so people who gave their numbers to the elders and then apparently nothing more happened. So, I wrote a text and announced the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ had restored His church to the earth, and talked about the Book of Mormon being proof of that. And I asked them to let us know if they have interest. And likewise, in the case of no interest, they could let us know and we would delete their number from the phone if they requested. So. Out of 105 people, we heard from 3%. That is  3 people hahaha. And from those 3 people, 2 asked us to delete the number. One, however, called and we are meeting him today at the church! Yay!!!! That means that 102 people just didn't answer yet. So, in the end, it didn't really help clean out the phone yet, but we are meeting with someone today, so I am happy! After all, we did talk in zone conference about many different ways to find people.

The Simic boys had lots of fun at the temple! I think it went really well. Bobi, at our last appointment on Saturday, just bore his testimony to us. I could sense that he was...different. Like he had been touched by his time at the temple. I am very glad  :) Mariya had missed them so much, she worried herself sick while they were gone, literally. Well, Margarette is headed to Serbia in the next few days, so we will never see her again haha. But she really wants missionaries to come visit her in Serbia. I just don´t know if any missionaries are there. I am going to give the office the info for Mariya´s parents and let them figure it out. It is okay, the Simic family looked me up on facebook and sent me a friend request. So I will be able to find them easily. 

Well, I had some cool thoughts at zone conference, I don´t even remember how exactly I started thinking about it, but my question was this: what makes a good coach? Oh yeah! The assisstants were talking about sports, about how we as missionaries are here in the last minute of game play (the Lord is hastening His work, D&C 88:73, mark it up, you are living it now!) and hence I thought about this question. What makes a coach a good one? I thought, well, he needs to have played the game before. You don´t want the world's best chess player to come teach you how to play hockey, oder? (Granted, he may be really good at strategy, but that is beside my point). He has to have knowledge and experience in the game. With that knowledge and experience, he is able to see the whole picture. He has been in those situations before. He knows what to do. The coach, an honorable coach, knows the rules and regulations of the game. And HE LIVES THEM HIMSELF! And expects his players to do the same. He cannot tolerate disobedience (caused, of course, by the agency of his players) and will hold to the fixed punishment. If he tried to pull any strings, he would lose that honor and good standing as a coach, yeah? Get fired. A good coach loves the game, and he loves his players. He knows every one of his players. Their strengths, their weaknesses, and he knows where and when and how to use them to help them gain experience. After all, it is better when you shoot your own goal, rather than watching others score themselves, or having someone make you kick it where they want you to. When you score your own goal, it is your own experience, you are happier and excited that you made it so far, that your practice paid off. 
 
Yes, life is like a game of Fußball (or basketball, or hockey, or whatever you will), and our Heavenly Father is our coach. Alma 30:44, don´t you see how everything, even man made sports, point to the existence of an almighty God and Creator? Everything is a likeness of the plan that God has for us, and we have something like sports, even, to remind us how it works. Listen to the coach. Live how He lives and expects you to live. And one day, you can be a coach, too. 

I hope you all have a great week and score some awesome life goals, ja? I love you all :)

Elder Jalen Gibbons

PS Hope you like the lederhosen :) I do!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hallo!

Well, President Miles has got my ecclesiastical endorsement done, so I gues all I have to do is check out classes. How in the world did I get any priority for registration? Interesting. Now I have a chance to  get some of the classes I want haha. Anyway, that is an update on that. 

As for Mom´s question about the  trachten suit, I have basically given up. But I am actually going to buy lederhosen today :) Time is running out. I have that money from the whole VISA mishap, which Dad said I could just use for things I want before the end of the mission, so I am getting the lederhosen again. It is a must in the mission :) Nothing else says Alpine German-Speaking Mission as good ;) hahaha. Just on the temporal, material good side of things. 

On the spiritual side of things, yesterday was AWESOME! I had a great time at church, and I literally felt like the Spirit opened up my mind and I get excited to learn and figure something out, and let me tell you, the things I figured out about agency are still going through my head. I told the other Elders that I was busy unfolding the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, when they asked why I was so preoccupied with note taking and such. Haha, of course it is all just how it makes sense in my head, I am not receiving revelation for anyone other than me. You should see the notes in my planner, they are all over the place. I love the thrill of the chase, in this case chasing the truth of the gospel and the plan of God. It just makes me happy. Learning and such makes me happy. It is the same feeling I had when I rewrote my stoplight analogy last week, I am just much more focused and have more brain power. And afterwards I was exhausted, towards the end of the day. But my thoughts continued until this morning, when I made some connections that have eluded me until then, and things are still going. I love it. I could tell you all, but I won´t :) because the choices I have made in my life, which have led me to being here and thinking about these things, have prepared my mind for such things, which is why it means a lot to me. Maybe it is not what you need right now, or it wouldn't make sense to you. But when the time comes later, yeah, you can ask. I can´t really explain it over email anyway. But I testify to you that knowledge is light, and that God speaks :) and things make sense, I promise. The catch is, YOU have to make sense of them ;) Anyway, such things get me excited :) sorry.

Well, we werent able to do FHE with the Simic familie, because they all had a bad case of the flu. Dang it :( but they got better and we visited them on Saturday. The boys, Bobi and Michi, left today to go to their first temple trip :) I am so excited for them! They are such great kids. This family is incredible. They look for light and they grab hold of it and won´t let go. They tell their family who comes to visit, and I think at this point that is our best bet for finding new investigators. As Elder Weston and I walk around an ice cold city, we often wonder how nice it would be to have our schedules filled by the members. We go by on people who aren´t there, can´t get ahold of the people who we've found, and the only lessons we have had the last couple weeks were with the Family Simic (and Familie Sumegi, we went and taught them twice as the zone leaders were in Munich this last weekend, they are great). So thanks for letting me write about this, because that gave me a good idea of just teaching the family who have already heard so much about the church from Familie Simic. Super :) 

I get frustrated sometimes when I look back on a week and can´t really see what we have done. But I get over it :) We met with Christopher, for example, the texting guy, on Saturday, and it was a way good appointment, but he just said he wanted to study and he would contact us. It was good what we did, I feel we did the right thing, and listened to the Spirit, but they just have agency. Dang it ;) haha jk, we wouldn't be here if we didnt have agency. It plays a key role in all of the plan. So it is okay. We don´t have any investigators, but we are going to take that time and focus it on less actives and other members. The Lord is leading this work. 

Elder Weston and I are doing great! We just do our best at giving our best. I don´t know anyone who has a bigger heart, or who is so willing to learn (except maybe me, on the learning part... haha). He keeps us all fed, he keeps the atmosphere light, and his German has improved so much. He still doesn't like where he is at, but hey, step by step. I have no idea what will happen at transfers, but he really wants to have another transfer with me (aw, that is sweet). I stopped worrying and wasting my time thinking about transfers a long time ago, probably when I realized they were limited. We shall see what the future holds, but in the next two weeks, we shall see how much more I can learn from his example of love and his eagerness to become better and improve. He is a great man. 

Anyway, I don´t have much more to say. Don´t worry about me :)  Make good choices, for indeed, many choices are for our eternity. (See Decisions for Eternity, Elder Nelson, Oktober 2013 GC). And you will see how much more powerful you are when you make good choices and follow the Savior´s way of life, and then you shall have power over the fiery darts of the adversary. Law and order will always be more powerful than the chaos that Satan creates. :)  Your choice.  
 
I love you all, and wish you the best! Have a great week! Nice job on the date, Nathan! ;)

Elder Jalen Gibbons