Monday, April 30, 2012
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