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Monday, April 30, 2012

Pictures from the MTC Provo, Utah

Word of the Week: Zweig (Tz-whyg) -- Branch. This is kind of a weird on though; it only is for a subject, like the branch I am serving in right now. The word for a tree branch is called an "Ast".

     It is currently 1:30 here in Germany, and according to my watch it is about 5:30 in the morning for you guys. Well, I got here safe and everything: no lost bags. It is really beautiful here; the Germans take care of their trash and environment very well. Sorry, family, that I was unable to call before the flight. According to our tickets, we had 1 1/2 layover in Seattle, but it turned out that the time zone switch made it where all we were able to do was hear our flight get called just as we were buying lunch and having to run to get in line.
     After that crazy fiasco, we got on the plane for the 8 hour flight and started our way to Germany. I was really dissapointed that we were already way over the cloudline before we crossed the ocean, so I wasn't able to see us go over the ocean. Just as we were coming into Amsterdam we saw the costline from a couple thousand feet up, so I guess that was as close as I got. We met a really nice lady on the plane and taught here part of the second lesson when she saw my Plan of Salvation chart, but she did not evince much interest in us after that. Night only lasted about 2 hours before the sun was rising again, so that was the wierdest feeling...
     After Amsterdam we flew straight into Berlin, and we started our new adventure in Europe. It was around 11 Berlin time: 3 in the morning our time. I have to just go out and say that the first day was probably the worst. Because of the huge time change, and to get us off jetlag as quickly as possible, they made us stay up the entire day, so by the end I had been up for almost 48 hours straight because we had people who left early from the MTC that were going to Frankfurt. That night we also did our first Finding (or street contacting), and I quickly realized how much Deutsch I still have left to learn. We met a girl named Jenny that seemed really interested in being able to speak with God though, so it was really fun to sit there dumbfounded as I understood about 1/2 of what the people were saying.
     The next day my body switched over pretty well. We got to sleep in until 9 so that we could transition easier, and then we went to a place called by the mission "Mauerplatz", being translated means "place of the wall". It is a path that follows where the Berlin wall used to stand. Our mission president, Präsident Pimentel, told us about the history and number of deaths of those in no-man's-land, and then read off the dedicatory prayers of President Monson for East Germany and President Uchtdorf for Germany after it was unified. After that, we had the opprotunity to dedicate our own missions to the Lord, and in two years we will return and report. It was amazingly spiritual.
     Later that afternoon, we had Golden Conference, and I was assigned my trainer. His name is Elder James, and he's pretty awesome so far. The mission president said he sent a picture, so you guys will most likely get that soon if not already. I was also assigned my first area: Görlitz. It is a beautiful little town on the border of Poland, has a fairly small but strong branch, and keeps us pretty busy. All the pictures I'm adding are of this amazing city, and it will hopefully give you guys some pictures because it sounds like the other ones didn´t make it through the mail. I even tryed to protect it and put in other stuff so it wouldn't get crushed or spat out, but I guess not. But if you want to get an idea of what the pictures looked like, just imagine amazing vast arrays of flowers and trees nestled snuggly again a smooth, cool concrete stone path overshadowed my men wearing suit coats and women wearing colorful dresses in the actions of laughing, talking, and maybe even a couple praying, and that's kind of what it looked like. Oh, yeah, and there were some pictures of me too, but those just looked wierd, so just be glad that they were lost during shipping.
     My first few days of missionary work have been both super difficult and really fun. The entire branch has taken the duty of becoming my trainers in their language, which has proven to be frustrating at times. They are really nice people though, and hopefully I will be able to learn the language fairly quickly with all of their help. We had two pretty amaying miracles this week, both acredited to my "Golden" influence (instead of Greenies, this mission uses the term Goldens). The first was a referral, which never happens in Germany, of a person that lives in a town pretty far away. We will see him tomorrow. The second came about in our eating appointment yesterday. One of the ward members' husband is really sick and so she has to work all the time. When we were at their house we decided to ask her how we could help, and finally it was decided that we would help her in her giant garden in the back (we both love doing yard work, so thanks for training me so well parents!) She broke down in tears and said that she has been praying for weeks to have some kind of help with her life, and that we were the answer to those prayers. It was amazing to see that I am already making a difference in people's lives, and bringing them one step closer to Christ.

     I know that this is the only true church on the face of the Earth. It is a blessing to be able to see the exact same ordinace of sacrament being performed in a totally different language all the way on the other side of the world. Other churches go about doing a lot of good and Heavenly Father undoubtedly uses them to bless others, but we are the only church that has the true priesthood authority returned to the Earth from the time of Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was called and ordained of God to restore His church, and that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God. Have a great week!

P.S. If you want to see more pictures, and whats going on in the mission, go to this link:

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I got to the mission home safely just a few minutes ago, so I'm in Berlin safe and sound. P-day is on Mondays so start expecting e-mails the same day as I've been doing. Love ya!

Elder Eric Laine Gibson
Germany Berlin Mission
Zerbster Strasse 42
12209 Berlin

Email address:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

German Word of the Week: das Flugzeug [floog-tsoig] [the z's in german sound similar to how we say the z's in pizza] (the) Airplane
     Hey! I know this is a few days early but the p-days are getting switched around so we can pack today and monday. All of us elders can get packing done in only about 2 hours so I'm guessing it's for the sisters. Anyways, the last few days in America are going great here, and we are all really excited/nervous about going to Deutschland. All of our progressing investigators are finished up now, and pretty soon I'll be out tracting in a foreign country to real people, not just the ones our German teachers are playing as.
     The plane is set to take off around 11, but I might call from the airport anywhere from 8-10 as an estimate. I would give more exact timing, but frankly, I have no idea what's going on for our flight plans. I also wanted to say much thanks to all those that sent me stuff while I was in the MTC. I for sure got my fair share of candy and goodies. Congrats Uncle Rick and Aunt Sheron for your mission call, and thanks for the Easter basket.
     I did in-field orientation yesterday, which is the super long day of them explaining how to do the best planning, use members to the fullest, and other such intricacies. As for the rest of the week, we mostly did German study, some gospel study, and then one of our teachers talked to us about how to best present the law of Chastity to the German people. It seems like it is a reeeaaalllllyy bad problem out there, but it was also really cool about hearing about how we can use the law of Chastity to gain a lot of blessings, rather than just focusing on the Don'ts like we love to do with the Word of Wisdom.
     Finally, I just wanted to say that if anyone is planning on sending letters over the next few days I would either just send it straight to Germany or make sure to send it through, otherwise I will most likely not get it. I hope everyone is doing great and that they are thanking the Lord everyday for all the amazing blessings that He grants us with. I know that this curch is true and the only one with the true priesthood authority restored to the Earth and that this is where I need to be (for a few more days at least, but than Germany is where I need to be   )

Monday, April 16, 2012

German Word of the Week: Sich erinnen [Zick Air-In-En] To remember.
     I got my itinerary for Germany this week! Now it's official, as of a little over a week from now, I will be going to Deutschland to preach the Gospel in a foreign language. It's really interesting when some of my dreams as I'm heading to bed just after German classes are a plethora of foreign words swimming through my thoughts. Most don't really make too much sense though, so we'll see what happens once I know the language better. 
     Some of the highlights from this last week were: a great fireside last Tuesday from a exordium member of the General Bishopbric who went to Germany for his mission, and so our Branch President knew him reallly well and told us some cool stories; German is going really well; the fireside last night. M. Russel Ballard was the speaker, with Mission President Brown as the intro speaker; and finally just as a side note, I hit my one month mark, and so now I'm 1/24th of the way done with my mission already. Last night both of the speakers really good, and between them David Archulleta (Now technically "Elder", but yeah, the popstar from American Idol), gave a really great vocal performance. He's going to South America, and right after he finished Elder Ballard got up to give his talk and started with, "Elder Archulleta, that was a hard act to follow." Elder Archuletta has been on campus for the last 3 weeks and I've seen him around every once in a while. He was even in the MTC Confrence Choir if you look hard enough. But as for all of the popularity I've seen so far here, it's been through the roof: Elders Packer, Ballard, and Oaks, David Archuletta, some members of the seventy, a newscaster from Chicago, and some others.
     The missionaries in the zone are doing well, especially in comparison to last week, and we are able to talk in German to each other for most of our activities. It is awesome when someone opens the door for us, we say "thanks" in our language and they say "you're welcome" in Spanish or Dutch or Korean. I will not be sad to be able to get out of this one-mile radius although, and in particular be able to see more than just all of these crazy Mormons. According to the mission lingo, I will be born soon (I guess the MTC counts as Pre-Earth life and the plane ride is like the veil because it feels like you forget everything once you get off the plane and cannot understand any of the language you have been learning for the last month). My, how right the hymn is when it says that time flies on wings of lightning.
     Hope everyone has a great week and that they can realize all of the blessings that God has given to them.

Monday, April 9, 2012

German Word of the Week: die Hoffnung [hof-newng] Hope

     So just to clarify since Dad asked me in a letter last week: Yes, I'm a zone leader. My companion and I were called to both be ZL's on the 3rd day we got here. And because it's me, I naturally circumlocuted that fact until I was asked it directly. It's been a pretty tough calling, and I'm often up late at night either because of some meeting or some issue within the branch. But I also know that I'm getting blessed because I have the calling, and I can use it as an excuse for why I am doing so well in German.
     So this week was probably one of the best weeks so far. Because I'm too eager to wait to tell you guys, I'm just going to start off with the update from my news last week. We had 3 General Authorities come to our MTC-wide sacrament meeting yesterday. It was President Packer, the president of the 12, and two of the more recognized members of the 70, one of them being his son, Allan Packer. As I said last week, we were assigned to participate in giving the sacrament, but I was not yet told what I was going to be doing. On Saturday night, we got the assignment, and I was assigned to be in the front-left table, which I thought was pretty cool because it was really close to the stand and it was where the guys assigned to actually give the sacrament prayers were going to be sitting. Anyways, so I ended up sitting on one of the ends, and we were given the papers that said our routes. And then a few minutes later, I found out that I was route number 1.
     Skip forward a few more hours (maybe 12-16?), and I was going up the steps of the podium and passing the sacrament to President Boyd K Packer and the mission presidency for the entire MTC. Talk about feeling unworthy! But it was an awesome experience, and when he looked up at me all I could see was the love he had for all of the missionaries there. And it was also pretty awesome that we were able to get the sacrament passed out to over 2000 people in a little bit less than 16 minutes.
     President Packer's talk was great, and we had really meeting for the rest of the day. Other than that climax to the week, everything else seems pretty ambiguous, haha. I have two new investigators: one is a Jew from Israel and the other is a guy who likes to go the the Disko, which is the German equivalent to Dance Houses. We haven't made too much progress with them, so I'll have to update you guys next week. When we were meeting with some volunteers on Friday, I'm pretty sure I got the gift of interpretation of tongues. He was telling us his conversion story, and all the sudden I realized that instead of trying to translate the words in my head into English, I was just understanding what he was saying. It was pretty awesome.
     I hope everyone enjoyed Easter and Christ's birthday. Only about 2 weeks until I get to teach real investigators and I can't talk this hybrid language anymore. I know that It'll be hard, but that God can help me learn how to say what they need to hear. It was pretty awesome because one of my language teachers told us one day: "Don't worry about the language. If Heavenly Father wants one of his children to come to Him, you could not stop it from happening even if you told them everything wrong." He then quickly added that we still needed to study German because that was still part of the deal ;)

Haben ein wunderbar Woche!

Monday, April 2, 2012

German word of the Week: Sünopfer [zoon-op-fer] - the Atonement
     I decided about Thursday to call this week Drama and Sickness. Throughout the entire week, people would either be sick in their rooms, or angry at others in their districts or companionships. Speaking of districts, my companion and I are now moved into one down the hall for reasons that were not specifically told to us. I guess they just think that the zone leaders, already trying to learn an entirely new language in a couple weeks, should be able to handle brand new teachers and classmates as well. If there is anything I can't complain about here, its that I have to stay on my toes or be subdued to inevitable drowning by all of these yeasty occurrences.
    Somethings definitely more auspicious also happened in the form of the last few days of the week. We had the new mission president for Berlin come in and say hi to us- I guess he was giving a talk at UVU this week and he wanted to stop by and introduce himself to all the Berliners. He will start service later this year. Also, as you guys would expect, conference was amazing. The talks were sweet, and I learned a whole ton. One of our teachers recommended writing down a few questions and praying to have them answered throughout conference. I decided to do it and was surprised that 2 or 3 were taken care of by the end of the first session. I was surprised and thought about trying to sneak in a nap for the next session since it looked like God was content in giving me most of my answers in just two hours. But my last question didn't get answered until the last session, so he must have known my plan and made sure I was still waiting for one more thing. I've also dug pretty heavily into Jesus the Christ I just have to say that it is a pretty awesome book, and it has given us (after I started everyone wanted to read it too) some really cool gospel discussions.
     Next week, there is going to be an MTC-wide sacrament for Easter Sunday, and rumors are that we are having 3 well known general authorities there. 4 people from our district were chosen to participate, and my companion and I were among them. It's going to be crazy to try to ensure that we give about 2000 people the sacrament all at once, but I'm excited. As far as the German is going, I am happy to report that I am definitely being touched by the gift of tongues. It's crazy to think that in only 3 weeks we can give entire discussions and talk with each other using 80-90% German words. It's taken a lot of work and obedience on my part, but I know that if it was just me, I would still be fumbling around with how to overcome my fear of completely messing up telling someone my testimony. The mission president's wife says that the quickest teacher is immersion into it, and only a few more weeks before that happens.
I hope everyone has an awesome Easter Sunday and know that you guys are in my prayers and heart. Have a great week!
- Elder Eric Gibson