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Monday, December 31, 2012

     Well, another year is already passed by. It is kind of weird to me to think that most of it was spent wearing a nametage and in a totally different country, but those are the kind of events and epiphanies that really make life interesting. These last two weeks (since I really did not include much last week) were a roller coaster of events. Much of our time here in Prenzlau is in supporting this tiny little branch, and so it makes one really feel the love of Christ in the service of our fellow men.      Well, last week was just a regular mission week. We had a really high number of appointments since everyone did not want to meet this week. Our main investigator is doing wonderfully. We taught her twice last week, and both times she had great questions and was honest about her feelings. We presented to her the Word of Wisdom, and so she is going to test it until New Years. We also had an appointment with a man in Agermuende, a nearby and fairly small town. He is very interested in the gospel and our church, and has been searching for a religion that he actually agrees with. We will start doing regular meetings with him hopefully in the coming weeks. Oh, yeah, and we lived through doomsday on the 21st, so that was also nice.      But this week was something a bit more special. It was one of the best Christmas seasons that I have ever had, and the German traditions just added to the excitement. On Christmas Eve (Heilige Abend), we went to one of the older members that is in a nursing home, Donald, and talked with him about our favorite things of Christmas. Usually when we stop by, he does not talk very much, but on Christmas Eve, he seemed like a totally different guy and was very responsive. On Christmas day, we had an eating appointment with the Missionary couple here, followed by another one at a member's home. She served us roasted duck and klöße, which are little balls that are pretty much the hybrid of potatoes and mashed potatoes (they are good, especially with a nice sauce). Her non-member family was there too, so we had a great chance to open them up a bit more to our message. Then, I went to the Missionary Couple's apartment once again and we called our families, which was certainly a highlight of the day. And then, on the second Christmas Day, which the Germans like to celebrate since it is another day-off, all of the missionaries in our district went to a few members in Prenzlau and the nearby area, Eberswalde, and sung Christmas carols to them.       As far as the changes coming up with Transfer calls: there was quite a few of them. First of all, we have two brand new zones that were created in order to receive all the new missionaries that will be coming in. Next transfer, we will get 17 Sisters and 14 Elders, and so president told all of the Sister missionaries that they should expect to be training. As far as the area here, I will be staying in Prenzlau and will be training a new missionary. I will be picking him up on Thursday in Berlin, so I have no idea who it is yet. It has really humbled me to get anemail byresponsibility like that, and I have no idea how to train in an area like this, but it should be fun.      Well, that is all the news that I have right now. My address will stay the same for at least another six weeks, but most likely twelve. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, und dass jeder wird ein guten Rutsch ins Neujahr haben ( and that everyone will have a good 'slide' into the New Year). Talk to you next year!   - Elder Eric Gibson   Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mission Tour- Weekly Letter

This last week was really nice. The work picked up a bit from what it has been the last few weeks. My companion and I were able to get out our first new appointment in over a month, and so we are really excited about seeing him on Tuesday. We are hoping that the work here continues to increase. This week was also special because we had a General Authority come to do a Mission Tour. It was president Richards of the European Area Presidency, and he is a really great man. I have to agree with a comment that my brother Jacob made about his own Mission Tour experience: It is just 4 hours of someone telling you all of the things that you are not doing well enough, but that it is one of the most edifying experiences that a missionary can have. He focused on Christs' parable in John 15 (I would recommend doing a thorough study of it no matter who you are. The analogy and structure of the chapter is amazing both rhetorically and poetically). I really enjoyed his teaching style and it made me want to refocus myself as a missionary. Our investigators are doing well. The ones we are teaching right now are fairly interested and are keeping the commitments we give them, which is all a missionary can ask for. We are hoping to make out a baptismal date with one later this evening. She said our last meeting that every time she opens the Book of Mormon she finds exactly what she needed. So cool! Seems like life is getting pretty busy in America. I am hearing quite a bit of news about everyone in the family. You are all in my prayers and in my thoughts! Germany is getting excited for the Christmas season and people are starting to open their hearts to the message that we share. I hope everyone has a great 4th advent.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 21st Birthday Eric

Hey, so first off I just wanted to say that I am sorry that this letter is a day late. We had a few appointments set up for yesterday, and so we decided to change our P-day to today (which I have now complaints about, since I turn twenty today). But I managed to squeeze some time in for my family somewhere in the week... We had a pretty good week last week. The snow has been coming down in waves, and there is easily as much as in Colorado, and so I definitely feel at home. The only bad news with the weather is that no one likes to be out in it, and only people that have work to do WANT to be out in it, so our number of new appointments has dropped quite a bit. Last transfer, we could manage to make out about 2-3 new apps during the week here. I don't think that we have gotten an address or number from someone in well over three weeks. That always really sucks, especially since that is what the majority of missionary work consists of. If we do not have new apps, then we stop having people to teach. The good news is that our investigators have been pretty solid, which is the miracle of the transfer. We are helping one of them, a 30 year-old lady, realize the true miracle of being able to repent. She thinks that it is just an impossible quota that God set up and patronizingly asks us to be able to achieve in this life. Fortunately for her soul and mine, it is quite the opposite, and it is one of the truths of the gospel that I have learn while on my mission: Instead of God asking us to climb as high as we can and then just lifting us to the top when we can't go further, the atonement is more like the rope that both secures us to the mountain and is our leverage to make it to new heights that we could never even dream of. I was able to go to the baptism of another set of missionaries on Saturday, which was really fortunate. It was a wonderful experience, and I really hope that we can have it happen in Prenzlau soon. One of the families here decided that they are going to move to a bigger ward where there are actually primary children that their children can learn with. I agree with their decision, but it is really sad to see them leave because now the number of active members goes down even further. The only way to change that around is to get new people coming. This week is already looking good though. Yesterday, I went into the office to get my German driver's licence, and so in a few weeks I should be able to drive the couple's car around if they need me to. The couple also held a birthday party for me yesterday, which was really nice of them, and the food was delicious. And then today is P-day, and so we are just going to get our chores done and maybe do some shopping for a Christmas tree. It should be a pretty good birthday. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes and I hope everyone had a wonderful second advent. Thanks for all of your prayers and love. Be sure to thank God for all of the miracles in your life. I know that they continue to happen and that, as President Monson so wonderfully taught, "God is in the details of our lives." Have an auspicious, miracle-filled week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Christmas Season is starting, and let me tell you, the Germans are serious about it. We held our Christmas Multi-Zone Conference on Wednesday (since we have a 70 doing what is called a "mission tour" on the 13th of this month, so we moved it a bit earlier). It was great though; President Kosak is an awesome Mission President and is helping our mission to become truly amazing teachers. We got half of the mission together in Berlin (about 110 missionaries) and did a gift exchange in the gym of the Stake Center here. I got a package of Twix and some German chocolate. We also got some advent calendars to write down our miracles for each day of December. I also received what I thought was the coolest thing since a water cooker- we had SNOW on the ground the First Day of December. It did not last through the day, but I sure was proud to walk on a half-melted patch and claim it as my first step on snow in Germany. The work is also proceeding forth for the holidays. This week, I felt an auspicious yearning to speak with people about Christ. Our message centers so much around Him and his atonement, and at this time and season, people are willing to really figure out who this guy is that keeps popping up everywhere. It is also nice for the members, since it is much easier to mention Him during this season. We saw quite a bit of growth in our investigators this week, especially in one of our ladies from Kenya who finally told us about her feelings as she fasted and prayed about the Book of Mormon. She says she wants to study it out more and continue, but that she feels the Spirit as she thinks about it. So cool... Yesterday, Elder Primas and I celebrated the first advent. The pictures of it are the ones that I attached to this letter. It is a really efficacious way to focus on Christ and the true meaning of Christmas, and we sung some German songs out of the hymnal while it burned. It was really hard to read with only the candle's light, so we cheated and turned a desk lamp on as well. We also had the wonderful opportunity to eat at a members house this week, which has been the first eating appointment since I've been in Prenzlau. I am so grateful for members and the sacrifice that they make to feed us. I exhort everyone to share the messages of the Restoration and of Christ the next few weeks. There are not enough people that have enough faith. I hope everyone has a great start to December and the holiday season. I love you all and wish the best for you. Thanks for your support and your prayers!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Of Fallen Appointments and Women

As the days to Christmas draw closer, so does the busy-ness of most people. We had quite a few of our appointments fall through, and none of the people that we were hoping would become investigators did so. The rest, our investigators that should be progressing, were all unavailable. The good news, or the auspicious, little light at the end of my tunnel, is they have been excited to meet us whenever we call them. Now, all we need to do is actually get a time to get together and do it. X_X Due to all of these appointments that did not go through, we spent much of our time on the streets of Prenzlau and the other cities in the immediate area. We have been travelling often to these other cities to try to find investigators that have not yet heard of our message. We have met some really promising people, but we have not as yet been able to teach many of them. But! They are out there, and we are going to try to find the prepared ones. The highlight of the week took place yesterday with church. We received a phone about two hours before services and were told that both President Leonhardt, the Branch President, and Elder Böhm, his second-councilor, were both sick, and that they would not be able to make it to church. In other words, Elder Primas and I ran the entire program for church yesterday. Yep, we were the only two Priesthood in the building. It was us and about 13 women. Fortunately, Elder Primas was already assigned to give the talk in Sacrament, so all I had to do was give a testimony at the end. But for Sunday School, I gave the lesson in our combined meeting. It turned out pretty well for me only having about 40 minutes to prepare it before church. I have a testimony of what my companion said: "Sometimes it is better if you do not have any time. If you get a week, the Lord expects you to prepare that week and then he'll do the rest; but if you only get 10 minutes, the Lord will do everything for you!" Additionally, I have a testimony of the power and spirit of revelation, for I felt it and experienced it as I was preparing the lesson. I also have a testimony that the organization of the church is one of the modern miracles; for, now I know and can testify that it still functions, even if on the shoulders of two 20-year-olds. I hope that everyone has a good week, and my heart goes out to all of you as we start the Christmas Season. Perhaps, for those who are interested, I can quickly explain how the Germans celebrate. First of all, each Sunday, they have what they call an Advent. There are 4 candles of varying heights. On the first advent (the first Sunday of December), one burns a candle until it is equal in size with the next one. As the candle burns, one thinks of Christ and his sacrifice and what Christmas truly symbolizes. The next week, the two candles are burned until they are even with the 3rd. On the 4th week, all four candles are lit until they go out. On the 6th of December is when St. Nicolas (Santa) comes, but instead of toys and stockings, he fills the children's shoes with candy and other sweets. The 24th is called Heilige Abend (the holy evening), and the 25th-26th are their two Christmas days. They also are big fans of stars and real Christmas trees, which I never really experienced growing up, and so I am pretty excited for a real one. Have an awesome week and keep mission work in your prayers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hey Everyone! It was a great week and end to the transfer. On Saturday, we had transfer calls, and I will be staying in Prenzlau for another one at least, which means that I will be here for Christmas. (Don't worry, I've already been looking for a cheap Christmas tree- I found a good one for only 40€.) As far as this last week went, we spent quite a bit of time doing finding, including trying to get a variety of doors, street contacting, and calling people. Many people, unfortunately, are unable to meet with us due to the coming holiday season. I am very grateful, although, for technology and that we can still help our investigators even if they do not have enough time to meet with us as much as we would like. Our two ladies from Kenya, who we are hoping to set out baptismal dates with soon, could not meet with us on Saturday, but we were able to set up a date and time for them to start their fast, and so we are hoping to hear their answer sometime this week about if they believe the Book of Mormon is true. Our other progressing investigator was also unavailable because she is on vacation, and so we are going to meet with her in a few weeks. Other than that, we are meeting with some investigators that are having trouble progressing, as well as some less-active members. The best thing is that we have many first appointments that we have made out, and so hopefully some of them will go through and we can get Prenzlau pretty busy. Ever since I have gotten here, Elder Primas and I have been working hard and we are seeing the work start to pick up, so it is really exciting. I am really happy to stay with Elder Primas for another six weeks. He has really helped me with learning German as well as how to have fun doing missionary work. He has a sense of humor very similar to mine, and so we just laugh a lot. I am trying to learn the scriptures as well as he knows and understands them, and we have had some really amazing gospel discussions. This week, we are supposed to go to a member's house for Thanksgiving, but she was feeling sick on Sunday, so we will see if it works out. If not, then I will put together random things and we will call it our feast anyways. We are going to be having our mission Christmas devotional on November 28th, so if anyone wants to try to send anything, make sure to send it straight to the address in Prenzlau (found below); not to the mission office. But I hope that everyone is doing well and that they have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you for your prayers and support! Elder Eric Gibson Wittenhofer Strasse 1 Prenzlau 17291 Germany - Elder Eric Gibson Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dear Family and Friends, Prenzlau is doing pretty well. This week was a bit slower than the last couple weeks as far a work goes, but I don't have any complaints. We had our Zone Finding Day on Wednesday in our city, which means that we got all of the missionaries in our Zone (about 14 of us in all) and spread them out within three other towns in our area. We saw quite a bit of success, and have quite a few new appointments set up for this week. We did not manage to meet with very many of our investigators this week, but one of them, Herr Fertig (which is a funny name since it translates into "Mr. Finish") showed up to church this week, which was a wonderful surprise, especially for the members. He has not been to church for years! They all greeted him with smiles and talked quite a bit with him, which is always a really good thing to see a ward do. It really helps because it makes it much easier to invite him to church again the next week. We had a wonderful Branch Conference, in which the theme was the light of the gospel and making sure that we have this light in our lives. I think that it really touched him. Our other investigators from Kenya could not make it this Sunday because they decided to visit another church. We are hoping that they are still interested in our message, but we will have to see this coming week if they still want to continue meeting. Another highlight of the week was when we went to another town on Saturday to do a service project in the Zoo. It was really fun, and we raked up about 15 truck-loads of dead, fallen leaves. Afterwards, they let us roam around the Zoo for free. We decided to go to their Darwin-Museum, which pretty much just takes one through the stages of evolution. As the main attraction, they had some gigantic apes and other species of monkeys within a geodesic dome that seemed like a rain forest from the inside. They had it set up really well, and so it was really fun to go through. Unfortunately, it was a 3 hour train ride there and another 3 hours back, so it used up most of the day. It is crazy to think that I have already been in this town for almost a transfer- going on the sixth week. Time really flies out here! Included in this E-mail is a picture of my no-longer-brand-new companion, Elder Primas. An interesting side note: his mother is a twin, just like my mom. He said a pretty funny quote yesterday: "I've gotta go to the restroom... and think about Japanese vocabulary." We are having a good time together. Anyways, we are going to head down to Berlin today with a few other missionaries to see some of the sites. I hope that everyone is doing really well and that they are staying warm now that winter is finally settling in. Tschüß! - Elder Eric Gibson Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage
Elder Primas and Elder Gibson

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eric eating his first Doner We made a salad! Festival in Gorletz Frankfurt Temple Train station

Monday, November 5, 2012

Elder Primas and I had a good week this week. We have been teaching some very promising people that each have wonderful spirits about them. We have also been having investigators come to church, which has not happened for quite a while here. Some of the days are fairly difficult because we are doing quite a bit of finding, but the Lord is blessing us with people that are sincerely interested in our message. One of the most amazing investigators that we have is Frau Köster, who has read quite a bit from the Book of Mormon and told us in our last appointment that she knows that it is true. She also showed up for church yesterday, and said that she really enjoyed it. The members were excited to see a new face, and so they also did a great job of making her feel welcome. Our two ladies from Kenya are also doing really well, and they are planning on doing a fast this week to find out if the Book of Mormon is true or not. They say that sometimes people in Kenya fast for weeks or months (one of her friends followed Christ's example and did a 40-day fast!!!), so we are hoping that they do not try to go for too long. I can barely make a day, let alone longer! Elder Primas and I have also been doing really well. We have been doing well with speaking German with each other- I have learned a lot over the last few weeks- and our teaching unity is getting progressively better. It is really fun to be with him because of the cultural diffrences. He wants to have curry with everything, and he loves foods that I have simply never tried before and I would not have with an american companion. Halloween was pretty fun here. Not as many children as in the states go trick-or-treating (here they call it "susses oder saures," which means "sweet or sour," but they had some good costumes on. Right as we were about to leave our apartment, two boys rang on the doorbell, and Elder Primas in his gormlessness let them in. We were able to find some chocolate bars that we were planning on giving a member for his birthday. Those two sure were spoiled! That night, we trick-or-treated the missionary couple that lives here. They did not answer because they thought that we were little kids wanting candy, and they did not have anything because they had just arrived from being at the temple. I also managed to come up with a good quote of the week. That is: It's always easier to count what's going wrong that what's going right, but the latter is well worth the effort. It is something that I have had to apply sometimes on my mission, but when one counts the blessings rather than the mishaps, one can lead a much happier life. Well, all in all I got to say that this week was a great week here in Prenzlau. I hope everyone is doing great and that this week is a really good one, especially for my mom because she has a birthday this week. I love her and am so greatful for everything that she does. Tschüß!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Here in the northern end of Deutschland, we can tell that winter in rolling out his icy hands. The last few days of last week were around 5° Celsius, which made me finally pull out my coat that I will irrefragably be wearing for the next few months. So far, the climax of all the weather hit us on Saturday, as my companion and I were trying to do street contacting in a very chilling, icy rain and wind that cut through to the bone. But unfortunately for the weather, and my poor companion, I obstinately withstood, declaring my Colorado upbringing and Viking lineage (if not by blood than at least by the name "Erik") against the cold. But even though the weather is going down, the work here is picking up a bit. We had a few really awesome miracles this week. First of all, we are meeting with these two ladies from Kenya, who are both progressing wonderfully. They both speak fairly good English and are really spiritual. When we meet, it is in the Auslanderheim (Foreigner home) in their very humble, yet respectable room. The best part is that they came to church on Sunday, which Elder Primas said has not happened for at least 3 months here. The members seemed pretty excited, but they did not see too much of each other because on Sunday we had the last session of General Conference being played, and so we had our investigators in the English-speaking room with us missionaries. They seemed to really like the talks and are excited to meet with us again this week. We have also been meeting with some other people that have some interest, one of which finally gave testimony of the Book of Mormon last week. We also were able to make out tons of new appointments this week, as so we are really hoping that some of those can go through and that we will be able to get a teaching pool going here. I think one of the biggest miracles that we have here in Prenzlau is simply just the Missionary couple, the Böhms, that we get to work with. They have been doing quite a few joint-teaches with us and have been able to drive us around to the smaller cities that we do not usually get to visit. Elder Böhm has a really great testimony and understanding of the gospel, and he is one of the reasons that we have missionaries serving in Turkey right now (its a really fun story involving Latvia and the UN). Sister Böhm is hilarious and gives the missionaries some great food. So, all in all, the ball is starting to roll here, and hopefully we can keep up the appointments we have and get some new ones going before it gets too cold. Thank you everyone for your prayers and for your support. I know that we are on this Earth to fulfill a great and noble cause. I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore the keys of the Gospel in the last days. And finally, I know that Thomas S. Monson is the called prophet who holds these keys today. Have an awesome week!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hey Family and Friends, This week was definitely a stretch German-wise, and I am actually really happy with the results. On Tuesday, my companion and I gave a lecture for a missionary training meeting, in which the Zone Leaders asked that we do the whole thing in German. We did a pretty good job, and I am very happy that I get to have a German companion because he helped me make sure that I was explaining everything correctly for that. Of course he did almost flawlessly, but he has had about 20 years to work on it. Our lecture was about trying to invite our investigators to baptism on the first lesson so that we could help them receive the restored gospel with better focus and purpose. On Sunday, I had to give a 15 minute talk to the Branch about General Conference and what really stood out to me. Of course, due mainly to the fact that I am serving here, that also had to be auf Deutsch. That also turned out really well, but mostly because I spent the entire week pouring over my notes and rewriting it 3 times before finally letting my companion at it to perfect the German. The members said that they were surprised that I have such good German even though I've been out in Germany since April. I credit it to two things: awesome companions that have helped me a lot, and the spirit and gift of tongues that come with Him. I have learned that when I am completely worthy of the Holy Ghost that learning and applying the language comes 200% more easily. Other than that, we had a pretty fun week. If none other adjective applies, I think that 'small' is the best one to describe Prenzlau. We have well under 20,000 people living her, so we get to say hi to the same people on the streets everyday, and everyone else has already had the missionaries try to stop them a few times over in the past few years. It makes tracting pretty hard, but we are planning on heading out to the other, smaller towns in our area to get a teaching pool. Right now the number of progressing investigators is 2, in which both of our lessons with them fell out last week, so we might be down to a little lower than that this coming week- a major contrast to the work in Goerlitz. But we have some really good appointments set up so I'm keeping my hopes high and my disappointment locked up tight. Okay, so here's the lowdown on Elder Primas, my new companion. First of all his name is in-and-of-itself pretty awesome, because "prima" in German means "great." He was born and raised in Munich, Germany, so his house is only a few train connections away from us. He has amazingly good English, so much so that he wants to speak in it more than his mother language! He comes from a family of 5, with two younger sisters. His mom is actually one of the people that helps to translate the Liahona into German, and his dad used to work for Mercedes-Benz. Elder Primas is pretty funny, especially whenever I forget that he is German and so he will say something that makes absolutely no sense to me, and then I'm like "wait...what?" He is about as tall as I am, so we both look like towers as we are walking down the streets. As for the ward, we have about 15 active members that come every week, and the Branch President is a member from another ward in the District (we do not have enough members for a Stake quite yet). They are some really solid members though, including one sister that loves the missionaries and keeps wanting me to talk because she thinks that my "r's" sound funny. She used to be the owner of the missionary apartment a few years ago so that is the main reason she likes us so much, I think. Thanks everyone for the letters that you have been sending, and I am hoping to be able to get some responses sent soon now that I do not have to spend the whole week writing a talk. Congrats to the Kickery's for their baptism; I am so proud of them! I wish everyone a great one and you and you are all in my prayers!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eric's new Location, Prenzlau Germany!

Well, I am finally all situated in my new city, Prenzlau, north-east of the capital of Berlin. It is a beautiful little town, and is situated right next to a picturesque lake and some beautiful country side. But like I said, it is fairly small- only about half the size of my last location. So, here is why I consider it a "rough start" into my new city: On Tuesday, I missed my connection from Berlin to Prenzlau by about two minutes. The next train was not for another two hours, and I did not have a way to contact my new companion, making him have to wait in the city by himself for a while. His name is Elder Primas, and he comes from Munich, a city in southern Germany. He has really good English, so much so that he continuously tries to speak English with me when all I want to do is speak German to get my language skills better. The next day, only my second day in the city, Elder Primlas came down with a pretty bad flu, resulting in us having to stay in our apartment for the rest of the day. Then, only two days later, I came down with the exact same thing, and we had to stay inside once again because every three hours I was throwing up. I haven't been sick for at least two years, so it was a very miserable reminder of the blessing of health that I usually enjoy. That is why it was a rough start. The good news, although, is that by the next day (Sunday) I was well enough for us to be able to go to Berlin to see President Monson as he addressed us live in the International Conference Center. It was really cool to see how many members there really are in Germany and how much they love the prophet. The prophet spoke to us in English, one sentence at a time, and was followed by a German translator right next to him repeating it auf Deutsch. He did a really good job of translating, and I enjoyed trying to see if I could beat him or translate it in a diferent way than he did. President Monson talked quite a bit about Goerlitz and the promises that he made there, but his overarching emphasis was on the importance of sharing the gospel to those that are unaware of the blessings and miracles that appear in it. He related it to a blind man, whom could not yet see the spring of the Restoration, and is held back by malice, hate, anger, envy, or rebellion. He gave a really great talk, and it was wonderful to be able to see him in person. I love the prophet, as well as all of his teachings. But now it is Monday, and everything is looking better. I am once again healthy and now really excited to get started in Prenzlau. Due to the conference yesterday, I am not sure how many members there are, but our church building is a rented-out floor just above a suntanning salon. Now before I go to church I can make sure that I have golden-brown skin! It is the same spirit and it looks beautiful on the inside, so it is just a testimony to me that where you meet has absolutely no influence on you feeling the spirit. I love you guys and hope that all is well back home. Oh, yeah, and here is my new address in Prenzlau. Elder Eric Gibson Wittenhofer Strasse 1 17291 Prenzlau Germany Have a great week!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I feel amazed at how quickly and easily life is changed. We had our transfer calls on Saturday, and it looks like I am going up north (just in time for winter) to Prenzlau, near the East Sea. I will be getting there on Tuesday, so I can tell you guys all about it next week. My companion, like Elder Jacob Gibson, is getting a new missionary to train, so the city will have back-to-back new missionaries. I am both excited and sad to be going to a new area and new companion (I will also tell you about him next week, but he is a native speaker, so I think that my language is going to improve quite a bit). I love Goerlitz and all of the people there. We had such an amazing transfer though, so it was definitely a great way to end my service in my first city. We had a great week, in which the Baumans, the new missionary couple in Goerlitz, joined us in our efforts to teach and serve the people. They are doing wonderfully in the branch and have brought a new kind of excitement to the members. It is wonderful to see the change taking place. We have also made quite a bit of headway with our investigator, Jana Nocke, including a miracle of a lesson with her on Tuesday. We were intending to teach her with a member, but he was busy and could not come. We only had an hour to find another member, or we would have to cancel the lesson with her. After many calls and prayers, we finally got in contact with a less-active member. She consented, and she was able to explain the idea of tithing really well. Sister Bauman was also there, and said is very simple German (she cannot speak the language quite yet) and then afterwards in English with us translating what tithing means to her. It was a such a great lesson. Additionally, we have been doing quite a bit of service both for the community as well as for the ward. It has been successful, and a family that we helped trim their trees on Friday is also making a large amount of growth in the gospel. We also had the opportunity to go to the temple this week, and it was wonderful to be able to do another session in the House of the Lord, especially after cleaning it last week. It has a completely new and sacred meaning for me. General Conference was also a wonderful boost, a great way to end the transfer, and also an auspicious start for my time in my new area. It is really interesting how they have is set up with the 8 hour time difference, and so the only two sessions that we are able to see live are the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions. I was able to watch a couple in German as well, which was really fun but really hard because they have to talk extremely fast sometimes. My favorite talk was by Elder Holland about the apostles being called to the work after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He speaks with such great power and influence, and just increased my drive to major in English to use words like he does. Also, the news about missionaries is so crazy!!! I am excited to see the numbers of missionaries in spring as all of the missionaries start getting into the field, and my own personal belief is that the number of sister missionaries is going to increase dramatically. It is awesome that the options for both the men and the women are widened so that we can accelerate the work of the Lord. I hope that everyone also had a great Conference weekend and that all is doing well at home and abroad. I love you all and wish you the best. Until next week, in which I am excited to tell all of you about my experiences with President Monson when he comes to Berlin!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Guten Tag Familie und Freunden, I can't say much other than that we had such a great week! Well, to start off, right after we finished E-mails to family last week, we headed to a late-night appointment with a family that we had set up over 4 weeks ago. We were not very optimistic about it going through, so we were surprised when the wife answered the door and said that she was really excited that we had come. They are a family of 5 with one child married and away from home, but sadly the other 2 children are in their 20's each suffering from a mental disease that makes it where they are considered handicapped. We started talking about the restored gospel, but they were fairly skeptical about it. He quickly explained that he was raised communist, and so he did not believe on God, but that he is open to the idea. They said that they noticed that all of the Christian children have helped support their two mentally retarded children throughout their school years, so they know there is something good about it. But is it true? Another story... so far. We invited them to pray and they declined, but soon realized that if they were "open to it", as they claimed, that they should at least try it out before telling us that is was not for them. By the time we left, the spirit of the home was completely changed, and they invited us back to meet with them later this week. Another experience we had was on Wednesday, with a contact we found in the area book. He seemed really nice letting us into his house and when we sat down, but when he joined us, he slammed his fist on the table and told us straight up that he believed that Jesus Christ exists "but that is all, and there is nothing you can do to change that." We were taken aback at his straightforwardness and superciliousness, but we were able to calm the situation down, and ended up having a good talk about the Plan of Salvation and how it could change his life for the better. His heart was softened, and now we have a return appointment to talk about Pre-Earth life next week. On Wednesday, we decided to do a whole new way of spreading the name of our church by participating with one of our investigators in a city choir (here's where I take a moment to thank the Wallin Family for helping me get some singing practice in and for my brother Jacob getting me to join the choir at church). Anyways, they meet at a music school in the old part of Goerlitz in a beautiful building overlooking the Goerlitz landscape with Peter's Kirche in the background. It was a surprisingly large group of people; all of them except 1 were at least 20 years older than us, so the age ratio was defiantly off balance. I was put in with the Basses while Elder Bangerter joined the Tenors. The substitute director was really excited to have us, thanking our investigator for bringing us along, and everyone started to ask us who we were and what we were doing in Germany. The music was wonderful, and I got to keep all of the music, so now I have some very beautiful German stuff to take home with me. One of my favorite parts about the school was that there was a 400 year-old trumpet on display in the foyer of one of the levels. I had to stop drooling on my way up the next flight. Another highlight of this week was that our Mission couple finally moved in. We spent all of Thursday getting their apartment ready for them. We started at 7 A.M. with literally nothing- including no light fixtures or furniture- and by the time noon rolled around, we had set it up enough to make it a place that they could live in. Unfortunately, they still do not have a kitchen, but it should be coming in sometime this week. Their names are Elder and Sister Bauman, from Salt Lake City, and they are really wonderful people. They are BYU fans, and their son is well known because he was a starter for 4 years on the football team there. Their apartment has enough keys that they could be janitors, but they love that they are finally here in Goerlitz. I am kinda sad because I am almost certain that I am going to be transferred out of Goerlitz next week, so I am not going to have too much time to be with them. This morning, we made them breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and homemade apricot syrup with bacon. I am finally mastering how to make pancakes from scratch, as well as some super good Swiss bread, tomato butter, and banana bread. On Sunday, we had simply a wonderful day. We walked with the couple to their first day of church, and all of the members greeted them with warmest welcome I have ever seen. They are all really excited to have new members, and it reminded me of when I was brand new with how much English everyone was speaking. We also had 5 investigators show up to church, including Jana Nocke, who now has a baptismal date; Noreen Neugebauer, the lady from Chemintz that comes every other week; and a Polish guy that we contacted on the street on Saturday. He was such a surprise, and luckily one of our members can speak polish, so he was happy at church and said that he and is wife will be there next week. The best part was at second hour, in which Jana Nocke's 11 year-old daughter asked me if she could get a copy of the Book of Mormon in German. In comment to that, Elder Bangerter, with total awe, said "the last thing that I was doing at 11 years old was looking for the true church." So if you guys didn't catch the little part about me most likely leaving, please hold off on any letters or packages until I give you my address for the next 6 weeks. Other than that, I hope everyone has a great week and I love you all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This has been a longer week than most, and not just due to the fact that it has been 8 days since the last update. We met with quite a few new people, and so this week the work continued to speed up. It was a great week though, and I got some really exciting experiences just in the last 2 days. Last Tuesday, we met with a non-active member and his wife/girlfriend (they are not married, but live and have 3 children together) for breakfast and a service project. We were able to be awesome missionaries, and strategically, as all missionaries do, brought up religion. By the end of our conversation, his wife said that she would be happy to hear more about us and more specifically, how to pray. We are really excited to teach her next week. Our miracle investigator is also doing great. She is not only keeping all of her commitments, but has already read all of 1st and about 1/2 of 2nd Nephi. On Sunday, we had a lesson with her about the 5 points of the gospel of Jesus Christ (3rd lesson), and got about a whisker's length from asking her to be baptized before our class was interrupted by another one of our investigators. I didn't complain though- it's always a blessing to have investigators coming to church and the last thing I was going to do was say that she wasn't allowed in. Also, we were doing everything right, so I guess God just knew that it wasn't quite the time for her to be asked that question yet. We have a lesson with her in a few days, so we will see what happens. As for not having an E-mail until Tuesday.... We had the wonderful opportunity to clean the Freiberg DDR Temple yesterday, as so we used our Monday by doing service in the house of the Lord. It was a humbling experience to see how careful and particular everything had to be cleaned, including the baseboards of a hallway that very few people use throughout the day. We also lined up the couches and tables in the foyer, which surprised me with how exact and symmetric everything lined up. Afterwards, Bruder Schmidt, a member of the temple presidency, allowed us to go off on our own to study and have some personal time. It was so peaceful and quiet; I didn't really want to go back into the world of adds and people yelling at each other. But so is my calling, so I did it anyways. It is kind of like an idea that our mission president told us this last week when it comes to thinking bad thoughts: you can, like a small ship on the ocean, be surrounded by the waters of sin, but you will never sink unless the water gets in. And that brings me to a quick update on what we did today. Around noon, we had a member's husband call and ask us if we want to help get his bees ready for winter. Talk about exciting! He let me suit up and join him as he took out each plat and carefully studied the hive and make sure that the bees were happy and that no sicknesses were apparent. We then looked at the honey room, where all the eggs were, and looked at the comb where they were trying to build insulation so the hive could make it through the cold of winter. It was really enlightening, and made me realize just how wonderful all of the intricacies of the world are. We were not able to see the queen, but according to how the hive was set up he guessed that she was somewhere in between all of the other bees. I had a blast and only got stung once right at the very end. We then had a nice lunch with him and his wife, including brotchen (a delicious type of bread) with honey that came from the same hive as we had just played with. This week looks like is is going to be pretty busy. We also have a lot of really exciting news for Görlitz and even for Germany. First of all, we are going to be receiving a missionary couple in Görlitz on Thursday! We really need this couple because right now the branch is functioning without 2 councilors, and the Branch President has been really stressed trying to fulfill all of his needed duties. Also, last week we received word that President Monsoon is coming to Germany on October 14th, only a week after General Conference. As a missionary, that means that I will most likely have a meeting sometime where I get to meet him, but we will see. If not, then that is alright because I get to see him in Berlin/Frankfurt. I am pretty excited either way. I hope that everyone is doing well at home, especially those who are going to be relaxing and fishing down at a condo somewhere in Utah, haha. I love you all and thanks for all of your prayers and faith!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I hope that Aspen and Sage both had beautiful birthdays! They are both so big now, I can't even believe it. It was such a great week here in Görlitz, and the days were so packed that we were just running to and fro the whole time. No complaints here though- that is what missionary work should be about. Well, let me start off with an extension of our miracle from last week: Frau Nocke, a contact that Elder Bangerter found in the phone, came to church again this week, and this time brought her 11 year-old daughter. They both had a great time, and she keeps all of the reading assignments that we are giving to her (which happened to be quite a bit this week thanks to yours truly). We are hoping to make a baptismal commitment with her in a lesson or two. Also, we had a bunch of new investigators that we got to start teaching this week, and quite a few appointments for first lessons, so the work is finally picking up here in Goerlitz. I have a few stories from this week that I thought you guys would enjoy. The first is the Kremser family. It is a senior couple that is very rich and has a library most likely just as expensive as the rest of there home. They were both very knowledgeable, and talked to us in about 5 languages over the course of our dinner with them. They served us an imported Italian spaghetti dinner complete with bitter olives while showing us books from the 1700-1800's. They were very supercilious about it all, and had very little interest in us or our message, but it was a pretty fun experience. We got to test our formal dining skills and I had quite a bit of fun analyzing their Rhetoric both in relation to each other and us. The next story is the Turkish girls that we help in the city of Zittau. We met them while helping them move their fairly heavy bags through the underground walkway and up the stairs. They asked us in an English-German combo language if we knew where the school was, which happened to be exactly where we were going, or so we thought. Elder Bangerter asked a nearby bus if a bus drove to where they needed to go, and she told him "no, you will have to walk" (it turned out that there was about 3 buses that went through it). About 3 miles, a broken suitcase that we had to finally haul around, and an hour later; we finally found their apartment, which was on the complete other side of the city. Then, we spent another 40 minutes trying to call one of the building managers so they could get in. They were really grateful for it all, and we both had a good time doing service, because if we did not just happen to be there on the same train. I am not sure if they would have been able to find their way all the way to where they needed to go. On Saturday, we had Familiefest is the middle-city of Goerlitz, an event that the city puts on annually to support the family. There were quite a few other organizations with us, but most were trying to sell products. We were handing out free Heluim-filled balloons with "I <3 Familie" on the front and our website on the back. We were defiantly the Hotspot of the event, and we had kids coming multiple times to get more balloons. When we looked out at the square, it was filled with red balloons, really happy children, and even a few teenagers that had really high squeaky voices. It was super successful, and we finally had to stop when we ran out of balloons. We also had 2 of our investigators show up, so it was just a day filled with miracles and lots of fun. On Sunday, we had multiple investigators show up, including one of the people from our English class. I love being a missionary and for the opportunity I have to serve all of the wonderful people here in Germany. It is such an amazing experience, and I am really excited to see the work as it is finally picking up here. I hope that everyone has a great week and remember that your Heavenly Father loves you and is always looking for ways to bless your life. Have a great week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

We had an amazing week filled with some awesome miracles. The work is finally picking up again in Görlitz, and we are starting to find and teach a lot of new, very promising people. Among all of the amazing things that happened, here are a few of the highlights this week: are the Familie Hanisch and a lady named Jana Nocke. The Hanisches are a family that has been investigation the church for a while, and the wife was baptized about 3 years ago. Her husband was actually the one investigating the church, and now we are meeting with him again and trying to help him on his path to repenting and coming into the fold of Christ. The miracle is that he has become much more open since earlier this year, and that the conversations that we have had are turning less into him not agreeing with the doctrine, and more of him realizing that he has not yet developed the desire to find out if he believes it or not. This week, we met with him, Sister Hanisch, and a friend that they had invited over. The friend, asked us a lot of questions about our views on war, killing, homosexuality, and the existence of God. We were able to keep it really doctrine based, and I felt like we were Paul having to answer the questions of the Sanhedrin leaders. God allowed us to be his tools in answering their questions and quieting their concerns, and Herr Hanisch invited us over this next week to help him out in his yard as he gets the beehive ready for winter. He has told me a lot about them, and this is all I can say: bees are so cool! I feel like he still has a lot to do before he is ready to join the church, but that we took a huge step in helping him to accomplish it. Our second miracle, Jana Nocke, is a contact that Elder Bangerter was able to find in the phone, and we set up an appointment with her for this last Saturday. We got there, and gave a very solid first lesson; easily the best that I have given so far on my mission. She seemed really excited, and is investigating the church for really good reasons (her daughter asked her if there was a God, and she was not quite sure what she believed). We then invited her to come to church, which happened to be the next day, and she told us that she would see what she could do. Well, to our wonderful surprise, she showed up at church for all three hours! They had some really great lessons set up at church, and so she had a great time and said that she wants to come back next week with her 11 year-old daughter. My German is also coming along great, and so the miracles just continue. It is amazing to see the growth in myself as I testify to others. I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and that no one forgot that Grandparents day was yesterday (September 10). I love you Grandma and Grandpa! And if you did forget, you can still call them and tell them how sorry you are. Have a great week!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hello Family and Friends! We had a week filled to the brim with miracles. Our goal to get 60 new investigators this transfer is going wonderfully (we have already put 15 people on the list and are only a week in!), and we were even able to get some new investigators that seem really promising. One of them is the Zelder family, which is a couple that has been coming every week for quite some time to do Genealogy work at the church. We have been helping them a bit in trying to find one of his ancestors, and this last time, she finally asked a heartfelt question about why there are so many Christian churches. We gave her a version of the first lesson customized to answer her question and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. She seemed to understand the message that we shared fairly well, and promised us that she would read it. Later in the week, we had a street display in the middle of Goerlitz, and within the first 20 minutes we handed out all of our DVD's to people, which usually never happens. By the end of our time in the square, we handed out 4 copies of the Book of Mormon and had quite a few auspicious street lessons. Our other miracle was that someone came to our English class on Saturday! She was referred by a friend that got one of our cards, and so now we are teaching her the very basics of conversational English. We also have a list of people who said that they would be interested, and so we are hoping that next week our number of students can double or even triple. Another really cool thing happened on Thursday while we were trying to do door-to-door contacting in the rich part of town. I say "rich" because all of these people have stand-alone houses, which in not very demotic in Germany as a whole, and only the people with cars and the most pulchritudinous houses live there. But anyways, we had just been in the neighborhood for only 20 minutes before it started dumping rain on us. We had not planned on any rain that day, and so we went on for a bit without umbrellas and with our packs starting to get soaked. We finally stopped and said a prayer that the Heavens would slow down the rain just enough for us to keep doing our work. Of course, right after we finished the rain did not cease, but doubled. But then, about 20 minutes later, the rain stopped and turned into just a light fog, and it stayed like that the entire rest of the day, allowing us to pass out our English cards and follow our plans of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It reminded me somewhat of the scripture in Ether 12, where the witness only comes after the trial of faith. Our faith was tried, we pushed on, and now I can bare witness to all of you that the lady that showed up on Saturday for English was only there because of one of the cards that we were able to hand out that night- an answer to our prayer. I am glad to be serving a mission and to be able to learn and grow in my testimony. Have a great week and thank you for your prayers.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, what a week! Let's start with the good news first I guess. I am staying in Görlitz for another transfer! I am pretty excited about that because it means I can still tell the ward members that this has been the best city that I've worked in my entire mission. Elder Bangerter is also staying, so we get another six weeks together. I feel so lucky that I have had the blessing of having awesome companions so far. But I have no address changes for another month and a half. This week was full of service and finding. Last P-day, we went all the way up to the top of the highest "mountain" (term used very loosely because I come from the Rocky Mountains) in Görlitz. I got some really good pictures of the city, and we were able to see a really cool mansion/hotel at the top. On the way down, we broke one of the bikes again, but that how life goes I guess. We have been trying to get more people in our teaching pool, and so that usually entails us being on the street doing some contacting. The most exciting day was Friday, in which I was on Splits with a missionary from Forst. We ended up talking to a lady about God, and she said that she had left the Lutheran church because they wanted her money, which means that God doesn't exist; but that she believes in guardian angels because she has one that has protected her in multiple situations. We tried to understand where she thought the angels came from, but she said it was impossible to know. It was a very unique conversation. Later that day, and unfortunately for the companion I was with, one of the less active members in the ward answered her door with only pants and a hand towel on- no shirt, no bra, just a hand towel that did not cover anything close to what it should have. Suddenly, the wall of the entrance became very interesting to me, we decided to come back in a few hours. That was definitely something I won't forget. Then, on the same Split, we had about a 10 Kilometer walk all the way to the other end of town for an appointment with some Jahovah's Witnesses that fell through. We got plenty of time to talk about the very, very interesting day that we had experienced. So that was the crazy part of the week, but the real highlight was yesterday. We printed out over 4000 English lesson advertisements last week, and so we decided to take advantage of the Altstadtfest (like a Renascence Fair) here in Görlitz and just start handing out the cards. We handed out over 200 cards, got over ten people that said that they might come to English class on Saturday, and had a few really good lessons on the street. There are miracles going on around us here in Germany. I love the quote from D&C 4, in which it explains that the field is white and all ready to harvest. The part that really matters is that we thrust in our sickle with all of our might, and with our focus only on the glory of God, and we are promised blessings more than we can bear. I love you all and hope that you have a great week.

Monday, August 20, 2012

 This transfer went by so quickly. It feels like the last 5 weeks just flew by in a blur. We have transfer calls this Saturday, so we will see if I have the opportunity to stay in Goerlitz or if I will be moved to another part of the mission, which I guess would also be an opportunity, but not what I'm really hopping for since I love this city so much. So if anyone has been wanting to send me a letter, they might want to hold off another week or try to get it in the mail soon to make sure that I get it before monday. But I also do not assume that I will be leaving either- the new mission president has been keeping us on our toes about pretty much everything, especially transfer calls.
     But as far as our week goes, here's the report. We had a great family home evening with the Lehmann and Mai families last Monday on the shore of a huge lake that is fairly close to Goerlitz. After the lesson we made some sandcastles and then played a game of Botchiball. The next few days consisted of lessons and plenty of hours of tracting  in the richer part of town where people actually have their own personal homes, which is really weird to me now that I have gotten used to Mittel- and Alt- stadt, where  everyone lives in rented apartments. We haven't seen any success there yet, but we are going faithfully every week until we do. I think that we can be the new definition of "obstinate," but we will see what Webster says about it. We are also getting into our new English course that we are doing at the church on Saturdays. We went to an advertisement shop printed off over 4500 cards for us to give to people and drop in mailboxes. Even if just 3 people decide to come it will be worth it; if not, we just supported the death of a few trees. It was kind of interesting how cheap we were able to do it for though. If we had chosen to go and buy just blank paper, it would have costed more than what we did at the store. At least we got to save one kind of green! (Yes, that was very cheesy, I know.)
     We had Zone Conference on Friday, and both the mission president and his wife gave really great talks. The main theme was "living our lives in crescendo," and we talked about how to make sure that we are constantly improving ourselves in every aspect of our lives. He then told us the story of a pioneer family that had just lost a daughter, and in response to their tragedy, one of the nearby members of the family started singing a hymn that ended up being joined by the entire Martin- Willie Handcart Company. We did the same thing in the little chapel in Leipzing: one missionary started singing the beginning to a hymn and then we slowly joined him until the entire building was filled with our voices and the spirit. My companion and I also did a duet, which also turned out really well. In the American hymnbook the song we did is called "brightly beams our father's mercy." Sister Kosak gave her talk on Psalms 23 (which is a literary masterpiece of itself and I would recommend looking it up) and talked about how it relates to missionary work.
     We also had an efficacious use-of-time-miracle combo whenever my companion was able to talk with someone on the train on the way back, and gave the first lesson, the Restoration. I came up to eve's drop and was surprised that they were speaking in English. I was quickly reminded of just how hard it is to teach in English, especially once you get a hold on how to question and answer in another language, and so I had to do a double-translation type of thing where I wanted to say something in German and had to make sure to translate it back into English before I actually said it. The guy was actually on a type of Christian mission trip himself, and so he was really open and respected what we are doing.
     I am super excited for all of the people that are going to be headed out on their missions pretty soon; namely my Aunt Sheron and Uncle Rick, Jordan T. Boyd in September, and now I just found out that my cousin Alyssa is also going to be heading out into the field! I am so proud of all of you and am excited to know that you will be working along-side me.

I love you all and wish you another wonderful week!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hello Friends and Family,
     The work is moving forward here in Deutschland. We were able to have some really good days (you know the kind that you get home and your feet hurt from so much walking? Those are the kind of days that you like because it means you were busy doing work or that you and your companion got lost somewhere.) Our main success this week is from a man named Herr Höbler. I had met him a few times before, and he was always very drunk- both wanting and not wanting to try to give alcohol and his smoking habit up. But this week, we were able to finally get a hold of him. He told us that he wanted to kill himself (I found out he has had these thoughts multiple times before), and that his life was too hard and to destroyed for him to continue. We told him that we would like to come talk with him and get some ice cream, and when we got there we started talking about what he really wanted out of life. He said that he wanted to change, and so we decided to go ahead and start him on his path. First off, we decided to get him a haircut, then we made him take a bath, change into church clothes, and took him down to the ward building. He really enjoyed playing on the organ in the building, and by the end of our talk he had decided that he was going to give up smoking and drinking. As of today, 5 days later, he has not had a lick of either. He is an amazing guy and we are looking forward to helping him. He seems pretty auspicious, but my only fear is that when he was first found by the missionaries earlier this year, he had been dry for 2 months; so we need to secure a way to make sure that he will not slip into his old habits like he did last time. But I also know that if he really wants to change, that the gospel is one of the best ways to help him do it.
     We also had a really amazing miracle on Sunday, in which one of the members brought with her a nephew. He is not a member, but had a lot of really good questions about the church and what we believe. We gave him the first lesson and told him about the restoration, and he seemed really interested in reading the Book of Mormon. We have an appointment with him set up for Wednesday.
     One of the funniest things that happened this week was on our way back from the temple. The Swissters (so named by me because they are both from Switzerland) said that they were bored and wanted us to tell them a good American joke. We couldn't come up with anything good so finally someone said "knock- knock." Both of the Sisters stared at him like he was crazy because they had no idea why in the world an Elder would us a double-onomatopoeia for no apparent reason. We started laughing because we had to explain exactly what a knock-knock joke is and how they work. It is awesome how we sometimes take the ordinary things for granted, and in the end we all got a laugh (except the Swissters, they were just confused about the whole thing.)
     But that was some of the highlights from my week. I hope that everyone is staying healthy and happy, and that everyone is enjoying their summer break. Have a great one!

Monday, August 6, 2012

 I am pretty sure that as long as I have been out in Germany, this is the least amount of time I have spent in my city during the week. We had 2 splits, a street display in a city named Forst (one of the Elders in that city hurt his leg, and so they have to spend the next 3 weeks in their apartment) to keep their program alive, and then we had President Interviews in Dresden, totaling in us having little to no time in Görlitz. Because of that, I don't have too much to report on. Our investigator who ran out of church last week is not answering her phone or her doorbell when we stop by, so we are afraid that she has decided to drop us, which is really sad since we have seen the effect it was having on her life. Other than that, we are hoping to get plenty of finding time to increase our number of investigators. All the ones we normally teach are on vacation or we had to stop teaching because they are not making any progress. Thanks unfortunately all the news from Germany right now. We are definitely struggling being able to find people to teach with everyone on break or vacation, so we are hoping that once people start coming back home that the work can pick up again.
     Oh, and here's everyone's funny story for the week: A few days ago, we were doing some street contacting in old-city on the day of a huge festival in town, and we met this really nice lady who has a relative that is a member. While we were talking with her, a man in his 50's (clearly a bit drunk and very interested in talking with us) came up and joined the conversation, saying how awesome he thought the Lutheran Church is, which kind of turned her away and made her leave pretty quick just because of the way he interrupted. And after she left, he quickly asserted the reason why he wanted to talk to us. He described his homosexual relationship (in more detail as I would have liked to know) and wanted to make sure that we were of the same opinion. We told him that we did not really agree with what he was doing but that it was his decision, which did not really make him happy because he wanted to prove his point, and as we tried to leave, he grabbed my arm and shoved it into his chest, attempting in his drunken state to hold me back. I tried to tell him calmly that we needed to go, and he just grabbed me tighter. Finally, I just wriggled free and we continued down the road. He stomped his feet as he headed in the other direction, but he decided not to yell at us since there were already about 20 people that had seen him try to hold me back and didn't want to make it an even bigger show. There are definitely some really interesting people in the world. It was a great journal entry though, haha.
     But in all honesty, please say some prayers for Germany- we really need it. But even with all of the difficulties in Görlitz right now, we are able to appreiciate the small miracles that happen in our lives, as well as the people that are being touched by this work. But even when we feel like we have done all that we can and have not gotten anything for it, I take into account the promise that the Lord made to Joseph Smith while he was a prisoner in the jail at Liberty. It is Doctrine and Covenants 123:17, and reads "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God..."
     Have a great week!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,
     I enjoyed this week. I feel like Elder Bangerter and I are figuring out how to work best with each other, which is making the work go really well here. One of the days that really stood out to me was Tuesday. While my companion did the District Leader training, I went on a quick split with a brand new Elder in Dresden, and we did some street contacting. It is my third time doing this in Dresden because I did it while I was a Golden twice, but it was my first time as the more experienced missionary. It was somewhat difficult to talk to people without any back-up from a more experienced Elder, but we had a few really good conversations, and I was able to personally see all of the growth that I have made in just 3 short months of being here.
    We also decided to go to Zittau on Thursday, a smaller city a good 40 minute train ride south. I have been there a few times since serving in Görlitz, and the city has a lot of potential to hear the gospel. We made out a few apps as well as plan on meeting with a referral there in 2 weeks when we come back. Also, one of the most exciting things that happened this week was what I would describe as the "wettest lesson I have ever given". We started teaching someone about happiness and why God loves us, and at the same time the Heavens opened and we were drenched by rain. I am just glad that I was wearing a tie that I didn't really care for.
     Our baptismal dates are not doing the best right now. We are really concerned for one investigator named Franziska, a lady that we have been meeting with for the past few weeks. When we finished giving our lesson in priesthood the first hour, we were informed that she had run out of the church thinking that we were Jehovah's Witnesses because she found the name "Jehovah" in our Hymnal! The other ladies in the Branch tried to explain to her what the name meant, but she took her son out of Primary and they both left. We were able to finally talk about it with her that night, in which she explained that she had talked to some people in her church that claimed that we are a cult. We cleared it up with her, but as we were leaving her apartment house we ran into her mother, who it seems is really the one that has been telling her all of the false information about us. The other baptismal date is Enrico, whom is on vacation right now, so we are frankly not quite sure how he is doing. But we are really excited to meet with him again in August, and hopefully he can go a bit smoother than the investigator is.
     I hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful week, and that you can make this one better than the last.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Word of the Week: Ferien (FAIR-een) Germany's summer break. We have been able to contact tons of people in their 20's due to this event going on right now.

     So my new companion's name is Elder Bangerter (yes, just like the road in Utah, he is descended from the governor it was named after), and he comes from American Fork, just like my last companion. He has been out for about a year, and he is a really hard worker. The first day he was here we started getting rid of all of the old and useless junk in the Wohnung, which if anyone knows me garnished no complaint. Now, we have a really nice and clean apartment that we can come back to at nights. I am not complaining about how it was before, but it was really nice to have it totally clean, which is something that I have been working on since I've moved in to Görlitz.
     As far as our week went. On Monday, Elder James and I had a great joint-teach with the brother of a member. He said he would show up to the activity on Saturday, so he is starting to make some progress. The next day was both "the best of times, and the worst of times (Charles Dickens)" because Elder James left to move on and become a zone leader in the West, and then my new companion came in. We were late picking him up because someone stopped us on the street and we were able to teach a lesson. Then, on Wednesday, we were able to be a Dritt (the Elder from Bautzin was still waiting to receive his new companion), so that was really fun, but not as efficacious as the usual two. The next few days, my new comp. and I worked out tails off trying to get our new goal of two baptismal commitments for this transfer. Then, on Saturday, we had the investigator show up plus a few more people that are not members, and it was a blast to play around with a lot of the members. Finally, today we were able to teach our first lesson to a guy in a city that is a good 30 minute train ride from Görlitz. We talked with him a bit about life after death, the spirit, and then were able to get him to commit to a baptismal date. It is good to see the miracles working here. Sorry that it is such a short e-mail, but we had a pretty busy day with the lesson forever away and all, so we are on a bit of a time crunch. I love everyone and best wishes!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eichhörnchen- [EYE-KCH-HURN-KCHEN] Make all of the underlined KCH's like you would begin saying couch. But it actually means squirrel, if anyone was trying to fill out a German word search and just couldn't figure out 17-across. Don't worry, it took me a while to get as well...

     So, we had transfer calls on Saturday, and my official new location is in.... Görlitz! Yep, I get to stay, and train my new comp, Elder Bangeter, in the town. We were actually not sure what was going to happen because of how hard the Branch President worked to keep Elder James here. The branch has been having a hard time, so he got the Stake President to call our new Mission President to try to get him to stay. It didn't work out that way of course, but the new missionary is going to be called as the 1st councilor in the Branch, so we are going to be more busy doing some extra work for the branch. We also might get an adult missionary couple next transfer. I have yet to meet my new companion, but he will be coming tomorrow, so I will let you guys know a little bit more about him. He was actually with Elder James (my companion until tomorrow) a few transfers ago. I will be sad to see my trainer move on to his new town all the way over in the west of the mission. He is going to be a Zone Leader in Oldenburg. When the mission president called he told him that it was going to be his last city. He has about 3 more transfers before he is going home to back to start his life up in American Fork.
     As far as Görlitz goes, not too much news. We had a good week with plenty of appointments, but the work is unfortunately very slow in the East. We have 2 progressing investigators and plenty of contacts that we can't seem to get into our teaching pool. We are working really hard and trying to do tons of Joint-teaches with the ward to help them get the social aspect of the conversion process better, so hopefully we can start to see some headway soon. The highlight of the week was definitely on Sunday. One of the old missionaries (R.M. would probably be the best term) came back with his family to show them his mission, and combined with one of the members having a birthday and lots of visiting family, we were able to double our usual numbers and get 68 people in the chapel at once! Usually we are anywhere from 30-40, so our Branch President was really happy to see it full. The members were really sad to see my companion give his good-bye testimony, but they have to do it for every set of Elders eventually, so it is a happy-sad occasion. Sometimes I wish that our wards at home were as close to the elders and each other as this Branch is all the way over in East Germany. It is amazing to see the love they have for each other.
     But it is pretty late here and my companion needs to finish up packing for his 12 or so hour long train ride. Warmest wishes to everyone and keep praying for the missionaries, we need all the miracles we can get in order to do the work the Lord wants us to do. Also, remember to write letters to Elder Jacob Gibson in the Iowa Des Moines Mission, it seems like he's been needing some =D

Monday, July 9, 2012

     So this week I had some of my biggest disappointments. The lady that finally decided to get baptized last week has pulled out of her decision and is another step or two back. She is holding really strongly to her Lutheran beliefs, and has a particular friend (mentioned a bit more later in my story) that  we think is influencing her to not go through with it. It is really sad for us because she seemed so excited about it just a week before and now she it totally against doing anything, including ever going to church again. We also had a hard week with our other investigators, including one deciding that he is going to leave town for vacation for 2-3 weeks, one that has a six-year-old that is at least as crazy as Jacob was when he was a kid.
     Also, we were able to meet the new mission president, Präsident Kosak. He is not even close to the same as Präsident Pimentel, but he is also really strong with the spirit, so I'm not worried about him being a great guy, but all he told me when he met me was that I need to talk louder and that my hair is too short "but looks good," whatever he means by that. I will admit that I cut it a bit shorter than I usually would, but it grew back pretty fast last time, so I wanted a bit of time between cuts. He can speak English really well, but you can also tell that he is a lot more comfortable in German.
     Fortunately, we also had some pretty cool miracles this week as well. As far as this "friend" of our baptismal date goes, here's the story:
     "Once upon a time there were two missionaries. One was super handsome, dashing, and experienced; the other came from the mountain-covered landscapes of Colorado (now burned to ashes from weeks of fires). They both had an appointment with an investigator that had been meeting with the missionaries for many-a-year, each set bringing her closer to her decision to change her life for the eternities. Unfortunately, the night before, these particular missionaries had received an inauspiciously distressing phone call from their beloved investigator- she was having second thoughts. They planned out their lesson of how to support her and keep her commitment, but then it all fell through when the more experienced missionary realized he had made a fatal error- the Sraßenbahn times. To their disappointment, they had forgotten that it came every 30, not 20, minutes, and that they were going to be late to this very important date. They ran down the steep hill, past all of the old people that look like zombies, through the woods and prairies, and managed to get to her house on-time-if-5-minutes-late-is-okay. Covered in sweat, they ringed the door-bell, and in response came the very unsure but familiar voice of their beloved investigator, 'bitte?' They quickly said their names, said the routine excuse for if being on-time-if-5-minutes-late-is-okay, and made sure that she was available for the appointment. She was not only forgiving, but was very distressed because she had forgotten to write down the fact that her two missionaries were coming. She invited them in, and they went through the door and up the steps to her very well kept home. Inside, they found her and her friend were playing a card game. Then, the truth of everything was discovered... They taught a seemingly awkward, but very testimony-building lesson with her friend, in which the missionaries asked point-blank if their request to have her baptized was too much in regards to their personal religious beliefs. She responded that it was not, but that it was her friend's decision. Immediately afterwards, although, the two women turned to anger as the elders once again brought up the topic of priesthood authority. They haughtily refused the claim that the authority of the priesthood could be restored, and that their leaders did not have this authority. And thus the two elders were finally able to discover the true reason for their inversitgator's turn from her commitment, and her hesitancy in answering all of the Elder's questions." (Excerpted from History of the Elders of Görlitz Pg. 219-220)

     That may sound kind of disappointing to some, but it was a small miracle because we really needed to allow her friend to see exactly who we are and what we believe. In the end of the lesson, they had no reason to say that the church was not true, save that they were too old and that they had already chosen their own church (just lame excuses from my viewpoint). We will meet with our investigator again Friday, so hopefully we can help her overcome her concerns. But as for another miracle, it occurred yesterday. The spouse of a fairly recently converted member showed up to church, and she was asked to give her testimony. She did it mostly about him and how much she loved him, which was really awesome to see.
     But that is pretty much all the crazy stuff that is going on here in Görlitz. We are going to go to the temple on Saturday, so that is going to be a lot of fun, and then we have transfer calls this week. Most likely I will be staying here because my companion has already been here for 4 transfers, but we will see with the new mission president and depending on what Heavenly Father needs for the town right now. Thank you everyone for supporting me and know that you are all in my prayers. Aufwiedersehen!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I have a new mailing address:

Carl-von-Ossietzky Strasse 26
02826 Gorlitz

Monday, July 2, 2012

German Word of the Week: praktisch (PRACK-tish) It is very similar to English, and you can probably figure out what it means on your own. For those of you not so gifted, it means ''practical''.

     It is crazy to think that we are already into July now. This week we finally accomplished the work that missionaries have been doing for over 4 years now, and committed Frau Däunert to be baptized on the 21st of July. It is still a ways away, so are going to go through the lessons with her again to keep her excited. She also attended church with us on Sunday for the entire 3-hour block, but she was not too fond of Frauenhilfsvereinigung (Relief Society) because she did not feel like she fit in. She called herself a Black Sheep, and said that she still feels like a guest. What she doesn't understand yet is that we are all black sheep, and that we are all guest in the Lord's house. In other words, she is converted spiritually, but not quite yet socially. She is the sweetest old lady and will do amazingly once she becomes a member. 
     Wednesday was also a hard day, especially the first half of the day. I was not able to sleep very well Tuesday night, and it has been crazy hot this week (I am experiencing the blazing sun during the day and monsoons during the night just like my brother in Iowa), so I was dying while in one of our lessons, and then I almost got hit by a car on my bike, and then later I almost got hit by a bike when we were walking to an appointment. During lunch, I just prayed for some strength to make it through the day, and I was somehow able to make it. After that, the week went great. On Thursday, we had a joint-teach with a family that we are hoping will choose to get baptized. It is a single mom and her 6-year-old son, and we have had about three lessons with them so far. 
     Other than that, we are continuing doing our Straßeausstelungs (street displays) about once a week in one of the cities of our district, working with tons of less active- and part-member- families, and moving the work along here on the border of Poland. Also, we got our new mission president on Saturday. I will meet him on Friday at zone conference, so I will let you guys know how awesome he is.
     I hope you guys have an awesome rest of the week and that you can know that God is always there to lift you up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

German Word of the Week: der Grund (GROOND) - Reason

     Going to Berlin last Monday was really fun. We played soccer and basketball for about 5 hours straight, but then we had a nice 3 hour ride back in which we just sat in the train and got super stiff. We were both hurting Tuesday morning, haha. It was also a week of firsts for me. On Wednesday, my companion and I gave a Thema (a mix between a lesson and a discussion, there's not really a direct translation for it) in District Meeting, which is basically a weekly correlation meeting between all the missionaries in the area. We have 6 Elders and 2 Sisters, so a nice sized group. It was over how to help to reactivate less active members and making sure that recent converts are cared for and receive callings and such. It turned out really well. Also, yesterday I gave my first lesson to one of the ward families after dinner. It was a spiritual thought relating how the defense that Captain Moroni set up in the city of Noah can be related to us defending our homes from our spiritual ''Lamanites.'' It was the first time that I have created the lesson completely by myself and led the whole discussion. I am pretty sure that my German was pretty bad, but they were able to get the message, so I guess it wasn't horrible.
      Other than that, we are having a blast doing God's work. We continue to find all of the polish people walking around town, and when we try to go up and talk to them we quickly find out that they have no idea what we are saying. We give them a card to our internet site and tell them it is in Polish as well. My companion is awesome, and I guess him family is going to move, so it kind of made me think of whenever Steven was out on his mission and we moved on him and sent him a picture of a shack and told him that it was our new abode. It was pretty funny. We are working our tails off trying to get some investigators that are actually progressing towards finding the happiness of the gospel. We have about 2 that have been meeting with the missionaries for years, so we are trying to find interesting ways to push them enough to make the decision to go with it or not. We met with a part-member family on Friday, and the husband was actually the one that initially started investigating the church, but his wife ended up getting baptized and he decided it wasn't for him. But as we were talking he really opened up again, so hopefully we will see if we can get him to commit to investigating the church again. Also, we were able to contact a brother of one of the Sister in the branch. He says that he has been wanting to come into church for a while now but that she is really busy. We will be meeting with him on Friday and we even invited her to help us teach!
     I hope you guys have a wonderful next seven days, and happy fathers day to all the grandparents and fathers that are keeping up with my e-mails. Until next week!


 - Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage

Monday, June 4, 2012

German Word of the Week: zählen (ts-ALE-ehn) to count

     I just wanted to start off by saying how amazingly happy I am that my brother is going to be able to go back out on his mission! It has been a very long and difficult journey for him, and now he can put back on the armor of the servants of God and go back into the field. I am honored to be able to serve with him.
     I am still in Görlitz, and chances are that I will be for another transfer after this one because my trainer has already been here for three so I'm most likely going to be the one training the area in about 6 weeks. I am happy that my trainer got to stay though- I think that it is easier to be able to keep the same person rather than having to get a new one that wants to do it differently. We had some pretty cool events this week, and on Wednesday we were able to find a man named Walter for our "Espirit De Corps Wie Niemals Bevor." He said that he wouldn't be available until this Saturday, so we will see if we can count him as one of the Golden investigators that goes all the way to baptism.
     On Friday, it was pretty much the day of miracles for us. My companion was feeling a little sick, and every time we were up walking around it would just get worse, so we decided to do our weekly planning and let him rest. We did that, and he was feeling a bit better but didn't want to rush it, so we stayed inside and called some contacts to invite them to church (it is the month of June, which the Area Presidency has designated as "invitation to church month"). One of the first guys we called said that he was really excited to meet with us again, wanted to get baptized still, but before that wanted us to finish teaching him our message of the restored gospel (miracle 1). Then, when my companion was feeling better, we went out to teach our lesson. On the way there, we decided to do some doors in one of the Wohnungs, and we saw the name of a less-active that the Branch President mentioned to us only 2 days before, and she was home, which was a crazy occurrence (miracle 2).  But then, we did some more searching for older contacts, and we were able to set up an appointment with someone who has never been home for over 6 weeks (miracle 3). He was also very excited to learn from us again. And finally, on the way home, Elder James was feeling a little hungry, so we decided to stop by the Düner Ladens and talk with the owner to see if he had read any of the Book of Mormon yet. But when we got there, we met a struggling member (her daughter has a very progressive stage of cancer) and were able to check up on her and make sure that she's doing alright (miracle 4). This was all in one day, mind you, so we could basically see the heavens open up and God placing us exactly where we needed to be right when we needed to be there.
     We were also able to go to the temple on Saturday in Freiberg, and I did the session auf Deutsch, which was pretty cool. I love being to see how the church is pretty much the exact same even all the way across the world. It also continues to surprise me with how many Germans can speak English.
     On Sunday, we had the baptism of one of the members, and so we had over 8 investigators go to church to see the service, which they do right after regular church here. We were able to even talk with some of them, and they said that something seemed different about this church, and that they might even come back again some time. After the service, we had a huge potluck lunch, and then the children decided to start stealing the Missionaries Nametags and running away. I got mine back, but then was tackled by 9 kids. One was biting my leg, 3 more were holding my legs down, 2 were trying to push me over, one jumped on my back, another had a thing of bamboo that he was hitting me with, and then one of the young women had a branch of Stinging Nettle that she was hitting my face with (For those of you who are not aware of what that is, it is a plant that feels like tons of tiny needles going into your skin, and can irritate where it touches for hours afterwards). In the end, I was able to get them all off of me and back into what I thought was the safety of the church. I was wrong.
     The working is going really well in Germany. Once again, have an awesome week and make sure to count the miracles in your life. A quote that I picked up this week that I thought everyone might enjoy is from Gordon Brown, and it reads:

"It is better to face fear once then to live in its shadow." Until next week!

- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage