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


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


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