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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!