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Monday, January 28, 2013

I hope that everyone is being able to stay happy and warm. All I have heard about the States for the last few week is that it is super cold, especially in the Utah and Idaho regions. It has been really warm here. The coldest it has been getting is only around freezing, which is not really enough to make me worry, nor feel at home in Colorado-like weather. We had a fairly good week. It has been a slow time for us here in Prenzlau, and we are trying everything we can to find people and have investigators that are making progress, but it just hasn't happened yet. We have only 2 investigators that we have met with in the last few weeks- both are not progressing very well. One says that he is too old and does not want to change religions, and the other only meets with us becuase he thinks that we are a very interesting religion. Both of them are super solid guys that are really nice and loving, but neither of them are really meeting with us for the right reasons. All of our other investigators are just super hard to contact or have said the heart-sinking, "I'll call you later when I have time" phrase. On Wednesday, we had interviews with the mission president. Once it was my turn, I walked in the room and President Kosak said, "Elder Gibson, you have already been out so long on your mission!" I realized the truth of his statement- I have already been out for 10 months. But what he didn't realize is that he has also been out a long time, because I was only in my 2nd transfer whenever he came into the mission. I had a good interview, and I really look up to President Kosak. He is an amazing man. On Sunday, we had one of the councilors from the District Presidency visit. He gave an amazing talk, urging the members here to fast and pray to be able to have a Branch President that is not imported from another branch. President Leonhardt, the current president, comes from Neubrandenburg, and he will end his service in the Summer, which is very quickly approaching. Anyways, our new Branch directive, or the new aim of the scope of our missionary-rifle, is aimed squarely at the men of Prenzlau. We are going to look for a new Branch President. If he comes from the Inactives or is a newly baptized member, it is okay with us- we just need someone who can fulfill that duty. Elder Gerberding is doing great. He is getting into the habit of being a missionary and no longer has an ounce of Jet-lag left in him. He is always excited to be doing the work and is a honest, loving missionary. Well, there's the update from Prezlau for this week. I love everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,      This week was somewhat difficult for us. We worked really hard, but it seemed like we just kept getting pushed back for all of our efforts. We had plenty of investigator appointments set up for this week, but ALL of them fell through- each for a different reason. I am really proud of Elder Gerberding and that he is so willing to go out everyday. He is doing really well at being a missionary, and so he makes it really easy to be doing effective missionary work. He is trying to get better at teaching and has been learning German like a pro. He has been taking part in the lessons and even has included some really great points in street lessons. He now has all of the ward members on his pinkie- they have been giving him special foods and are very careful with any food they offer him.      I have been reading through the Book of Mormon to follow a mission-wide plan that we have. The Isaiah chapters are taking some thought and re-reading, but I feel like I am able to apply many of the teachings I find. It is a fast pace, but it has been really great to do it. This last week I came across my mission scripture in 2 Nephi chapter 4, verse 30. It is: "Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation." Still my favorite so far. But now I really want to read the Bible like that next. Once again, I anyone would like to join the Germany Berlin Mission in reading all of the Book of Mormon before conference, than you are welcome to join.      Some highlights of the week:      -We had a birthday party in the church for one of the members here. Like the usual story, we were the only two guys there, haha; unlike the usual story, they did not have church topics to keep them busy, so they went off about the quirks of there husbands and men in general. I told them that just because they are speaking in German doesn't mean that I can't understand them. It was a really nice party though, and they had lots of food that they gave me (I would say us, but my companion cannot have cakes with milk in it, so it is all mine to devour according to my will and pleasure).      -We got a walk-in appointment doing doors. It was a Jehovah's Witness that wanted to tell us off, but we ended up having a really great conversation and even managed to get her phone number for a possible return appointment.      -We had an eating appointment!!! That may be common for some missionaries, but we only get legitimate eating appointments about once a month if we are lucky. Plus, all of it was totally safe for my companion to eat, which is a miracle in and of itself.      Well, that is what our week looked like. Please pray for us that we will keep warm and actually be able to teach some investigators this week. I know that the church is true and that this is His work. Alles gute!  --   - Elder Eric Gibson   Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage ,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Well, the snow is finally back, and once again the temperatures match what I read on the calendar. It didn't make very much sense to read January then go out into March. I am a fan of the snow, but only as long as I can stay warm in it. Our investigators are doing well, but none of them are progressing at the speed at which I am hoping for. They continue to struggle with keeping the commitments we give them, but almost all of them are very nice and enjoy meeting with us to just talk. Our most hopeful investigator was sick this week, and so she did not show up to church on Sunday either, which she said that she was hoping to do. We also had a couple that we started meeting with last week that said that they do not really think it is worth meeting because they are not interested in knowing if Joseph Smith was a prophet or not, and they they are fine accepting all religions without choosing one. It broke my heart to hear... But!! we were able to finally get in contact with an older investigator, and we will meet with her on Wednesday, which I am really excited for. Her name is Grace, and she is from Kenya. Need I say more? Also, on Friday we had an amazing experience in Schwedt, a city in our area. We were doing doors on the far reaches of the town, and suddenly a lady came up and was talking to her friend about how she used to live there. Suddenly, she turned to us and said, pointing to Elder Gerberding, "Hey, I know you!" We were both taken aback, and after seeing our blank stares she clarified that she had already met once with the missionaries, had picked up a Book of Mormon in her home just the day before, and was wondering what she should do with it. After a nice conversation we finally gave her our card and asked her to call us. It was such an amazing miracle. Elder Gerberding in doing well. After a whole week, he is finally adjusting to the sleeping schedule and being a missionary. On Saturday, we had our first eating appointment (for a reminder of his allergies, it is milk, nuts, and chicken). In short terms, he was very afraid of it; especially after he watched her cooking it and adding spices that looked suspicious. But in the end, she was able to make sure that it did not contain any of the foods that he could not eat and he was able to stomach it down without any problems. He really enjoys German cooking, but it takes him a while to try new foods because he has to wait and see if he gets any kind of reaction. As far as this passing-out part, it was an occurrence on Wednesday, which is when we have our English class. Our usual student brought a friend with her this time. Right after we introduced ourselves they told us that they had just donated some blood, and so they needed to sit down after climbing the two flights of stairs to the church. Suddenly, we looked over at the new lady, and she was starting to seize on her chair. The student and I laid her down and the floor and she woke up a few seconds afterwards. She said how sorry she was, but we just laughed about it and got her some water and chocolate. Well, that pretty much sums up our week. The work is going along slowly here, but as you can see there are miracles and great stories along the way. Until next week!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Well, on Thursday I went down by train to Berlin and picked up a brand new missionary straight out of American soil. I am excited to be able to train Elder Gerberding, from Midvale, Utah. He is doing a good job so far, and each day he is becoming more and more comfortable with the work and with the schedule. On his first full day, Friday of this last week, he was certainly tired, and each day he has been able to keep up more easily. The only concern: he is allergic to a large number of foods, including all dairy, chicken, turkey, and every kind of nut (How will he survive being a missionary? I am not sure if I even know yet, but he certainly is blessed in the area since we do not have very many member eating appointments.) I can honestly say that I did not expect that to be the hardest part of training, but it is a fun obstacle that we should be able to master in a few weeks. We spent much of our day today in the store checking food labels. I feel a bit overwhelmed at times since he is still unsure about how missionary work is, but I have been given the strength I need to get all of our work done for this area with him. I am also very impressed with his German. He was fast tracked, and so he was only in the MTC for three weeks. He is able to speak better than I think I could when I was a new missionary. I have to confess an awesome prank that I performed on him his first night here though. We have a missionary couple who lives here, and so I decided to use them to make sure his mission started off right, hehe. We tracked into their home and Elder Böhm answered as a grumpy old German man. Elder Gerberding had been practicing his intro statement, and so after he said it, Elder Böhm said. "Sure, you can come in, for 10 Euro..." I totally accepted, raising the price to 20 Euro, and so we went up the stairs and into their apartment. Sister Böhm does not have the best German, and so she acted like she was sick and could not talk very well. They told us to sit and started talking about a New Years party that they had just a few days earlier. They poured us a drink (just some Johanesbeerne juice) from what looked like a wine bottle, and offered it to us. My new companion nudged me and asked me what it was. I told him I didn't know, and so I asked the Böhms. Elder Böhms said it was only 20 percent alcoholic, and then insisted that we drink it. Elder Gerberding looked at me to say "no," but when I just looked at him blankly he started trying to explain the Word of Wisdom to them. Finally, I broke down, and to my new companion's horror, took a large gulp. Right after I took the drink, Elder Böhm broke character told him who they were and that it did not really have any alcohol. I have to admit that it was a great prank. But back to the nice stuff... I am also happy that the holidays are finally over. It was fun and all, but no one wants to be meeting with us during it. We will be able to start meeting with more of our investigators again, and so the work is picking up slightly. We are spending quite a bit of our time in two nearby cities, one is called Schwedt and the other Angermünde, and so far we have seen success in both of them. Many of our investigators are choosing to meet with us more out of interest in us rather than a genuine interest in the gospel, so we are having to try to teach in a way that will get them to make and keep commitments rather than just asking us tons of questions about Mormon intricacies. Our main investigator also had a bit of a setback resulting from a misunderstanding of our doctrine (she thinks that due to us seperating Priesthood and Relief society that we are being sexist), and so I think once she understands it better she will start to make progress once again. We were also able to make out a larger number of new appointments than most weeks, which is really nice because it was really slow over the Christmas season. I wish to also extend an invitation to anyone who has interest. We will be reading the Book of Mormon as a mission from this week until April General Conference, and so if anyone would like to join us then feel free to. It is about 7 pages a day, and it will bless your life. Have an awesome week and thank you everyone who sent a letter or package. I wish you once again the best! -- - Elder Eric Gibson Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage