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Monday, March 24, 2014

The last full week- Weekly Letter

Well, I can say that this is certainly a fun day for me. I just read through tons of E-mails from family and friends reminding me of how little time I have. 
This week was really good. We met with quite a few people who we don't usually get to see, which was a huge blessing for us. Our investigators are progressing well, we have tons of work to do, and we are seeing growth in both the branch and in our efforts. There is seriously nothing else that a missionary can ask for. But I still expect some miracles. Those have been known to happen on a missionaries last week.
This last week, we had interview is our mission president. In my interview, he started it out by simply saying, "don't worry, Elder Gibson. We won't talk about eternal marriage. That is for April 1. I was so relieved, because I thought that he was going to give me a two-part talk on that particular topic. Fortunately, it was a very simple interview about what my plans are for after my mission and what my goals are before I finish.
This week should be really fun. I am going to take part in a musical event in which I will have the opportunity to play in a trumpet-duet with an inactive member. It should be really fun, as well as a wonderful chance to meet with him and see if we can't get him to come to church with his wife. Please pray for us this week so we can see if we can get him to come to church with us on Sunday.
I hope that everyone is doing well. Thanks once again for all of your support and love. Have a wonderful week and make sure that you look for other people that you can reach out to and share your love with.

- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi derHeiligen der Letzen Tage 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stop to smell the flowers- Weekly Letter

Spring is here in Germany! All of the flowers have begun to bloom, and the temperatures are heating up. I can't say that we had much of a winter. I think that is snowed a total of 2 times the whole winter, but spring is always welcome in my eyes. I wish that my allergies could say the same.
This week was wonderful. We had quite a few things happen that really made it into my journal.
Monday- We went into town and took pictures of the simply beautiful flowers that are now growing all over the city. It was a great P-day.
Tuesday- We found a new investigator. She is from Ghana, and she seems really interested in coming closer to God. We also met with Ralph, a man who we have been teaching for about a month now. He is not making the best progress, because he is torn between us and another church, and he is not very eager to make a decision to join either of them.
Wednesday- We had an appointment with our newly-baptized member. She is really awesome, and has an amazing testimony of the gospel. We are working with her to answer her questions and go through the lessons once again with her.
Thursday- I went to another city called Flendsburg, which is on the German-Danish border. I was unfortunately not able to get many pictures because we were running from one appointment to the next.
Friday- We went by quite a few less-actives, and we were able to contact one who is never home. It was a real miracle. After him, we continued going by on less-actives, and we were able to contact ANOTHER one the same way just an hour later.
Saturday- We ate with a member who is now 93 years-old. She makes the missionaries food every 2 weeks, which has to be the greatest honor that I have received from someone. It takes her about 2 whole days to prepare the meal for us, because she can no longer walk. So cool!
Sunday- We had another great session of church. I was glad, because it was not my week to lead =) 
I love you all and wish you the best for yet another week. Enjoy the spring picture!


- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi derHeiligen der Letzen Tage

Monday, March 10, 2014

Color-changing Umbrella- Weekly Letter

This week was really good. I am not sure if I have had very many bad weeks, but I am always happy to report on a good one. I've decided to do it with a different flavor today so that you'll be able to see what I am doing day-for-day:
Monday- We took a half P-day due to an appointment half-way through the day. We took a bus to another city about 30 minutes away, but our contact was not home. We went to a shop to have lunch, and these three guys looked at us like we were aliens. We talked with them a bit about what we were doing, and they seemed to like us.

- A member took us around in his car to visit all of the single women that we can't visit alone. It was a miracle, because every single one of them were home AND still wanting to meet with us. SCORE! He is going to come with us again next Tuesday. We then did our weekly shopping, and I found the coolest thing in the world... A color changing umbrella!!!! When it gets wet, the pattern will turn into different colors. It is amazing!!!

- We went to another city (Kiel) to have Zone Training Meeting. The mission is expecting technology anytime, so each meeting is always one that could bring with it the I-Pads. This meeting, unfortunately, did not bring such things with. After we got back, we met with a man from Poland who has come to church almost every week this month. He seems to have quite a bit of potential.

- We had lunch with some members. It is a couple who has a really awesome conversion story. The man was totally against Joseph Smith, but then he had a dream in which it was confirmed to him that the church was true. He is now one of the high councilors for our stake.

 Was certainly the worst day of the week. We had 2 of our contacts call us within an hour of each other and cancel appointments. One of those dropped us completely and said that he wanted to stick with his own faith. We had two other appointments on that day which dropped.

 We biked to a town about 5 miles north ofRendsburg. It was all up-hill! We went by on a few of our contacts there, followed by doing some doors. This old lady stopped us on the street and talked at us (not with us) about her life, the wars, the walls, and all of those other awesome German things. We then went home with jelly-legs and then had an appointment with a member to help him write his talk for next Sunday. I assigned him to give the talk, so his deal with me was that I had to help him write it.

Sunday- I led sacrament meeting for my second time. It went alright. It still scares me to death for some reason. I am also the chorister, help to pass out the sacrament, and I am in charge of the primary auxiliary. The responsibilities sure make Sunday a very exciting day for us. Members were kind enough to bring food for us this Sunday. I am so grateful for them! In the evening, we went by on quite a few contacts, and we had tons of people talking to us.
I wish you all the best and may God bless you this week!

- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi derHeiligen der Letzen Tage 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Another Week Gone By- Weekly Letter

Dear Family and Friends,
This was easily one of my favorite weeks here in this city. This week was really good for our program. We saw some really awesome progress with some of our investigators, had quite a few new appointments made out, and, of course, had some interesting miracles.
Our main investigators were not able to meet with us this week, which gave us some time to be able to go by on some people who we usually are not able to have time for in another city called Jevenstedt. There is a less-active there who we haven't gone by on for a while. He was not home, so we did some door, which was really fun. There are only missionaries in this tiny town of 500 people only every year or so. The usually men at the restaurant on the main street were there, which is probably very habitual for them. They looked at us as if we were some real foreigners, which I am happy to say we were. It was fairly successful, and we were able to even get an appointment made out with someone.
We also had a new investigator come to church, which was really awesome! Elder Pearson and I taught him 2 weeks ago, but there was a stake conference in another city that weekend, so he promised that he would come this Sunday, which he did. He was not quite ready to make out a new appointment with us, but he said that he liked what he saw, and that he would like to meet with us in the coming weeks. I think that he really enjoyed it.
There was a fun miracle that happened on Saturday. We missed the last bus to a pretty far away part of the city, but we felt like we should go there, so we decided to walk the whole thing. It took about 2 hours, but it was a trail of miracles, in which we had some great conversations with people about the gospel, as well as a new person that we are going to teach on Friday. This week, we are looking really busy with teaching appointments and things to do.
Thanks for your prayers. Keep them coming! I love you all and hope that your week is filled with missionary opportunities and fun experiences.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Listen to the Promptings- Weekly Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was a bit slower, and certainly much warmer. A large portion of our time was taken up in me receiving and training Elder Mullen in the beautiful city of Rendsburg. On Tuesday, while I was waiting for my companion to come, I was able to spend the whole day with the Ward Mission Leader, whose wife is a less-active member. We talked about the Gospel and our conversion stories, so it was a really successful use of time. He wants to invite us over later to see if we can spark any interest from his spouse or growing children, who will in the coming years have to decide if the want to follow mom or dad.
The rest of the week was fine. On Wednesday, we had a pretty awesome miracle. I accidentally put us on the wrong bus heading the opposite direction than we had planned. I figured, God had a reason that he put us here, might as well see what it is. The first thought that came to my mind was: go by on Olaf. We followed my impression, he was home, and the first thing he said was, "oh good, I was wondering what happened to you guys. When can we meet?" It was a testimony builder for me.
On Saturday, I gave my talk for the General Session of Conference. I think that it went pretty well, and the members said that they enjoyed it. I talked about the 5 ways that the members have helped me on my mission to be a good missionary. It was a fun talk to write.
On Sunday, we went to the Stake Center for a broadcast from Salt Lake that was for all of the German speaking saints in Europe. We went with a less-active member, so it was very successful. He seemed to enjoy most of it, but he had to leave a bit early, so we were not able to get his thoughts on the whole thing. Part of it was done by translators, but we were all very surprised when David A. Bendargot up and started speaking to us in German! He served in the Munich mission about 40 years ago, but his accent wasn't too bad. I especially liked his thoughts. I feel like it addressed the topics that the wards are struggling with very boldly and straightforward. We also heard from one of the Area Seventies and from Elder Robert D. Hales.
I love my mission, and I love this gospel. I know that the principles that we learn from the scriptures are true, and that they will bless our lives. I am very grateful for priesthood power and leadership. I am also grateful for my family, who have all supported me throughout my mission.
I love you all and wish you the best!

- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi derHeiligen der Letzen Tage 

Monday, February 17, 2014

The start of overtime- Weekly Letter

As of this week, my extensions is going into effect. Fortunately, I am not going to be finishing my mission tomorrow. I, for one, am very happy about that fact, because it means that I don't have to stress out for another 6 weeks. But don't worry mom, the time will come before you know it.

This week was full of ups and downs. We had quite a few good appointments with members, but unfortunately not so many with our investigators. I think the main problem is that most of the investigators don't feel any urgency in our appointments. They are fine with letting an appointment drop and then waiting for another 4 months until the Elders come back to them- having a nice conversation and then not really seeing the need for the gospel. We have quite a few investigators who are happy to meet, but not very happy to actually experiment on the word. Fortunately, that is not all of them. We also have a few that have some awesome, untapped potential. These are the ones that I want to use our time on.
We had a few people come to church this week, which is the most auspicious action that an investigator or less-active member can make into being reunited in the church. We had 3 people come to church yesterday (2 investigators and 1 less-active young woman) who all seem interested in coming again and partaking of the gospel that is being taught to them. It makes me really excited for this city, because earlier in the year they were afraid that the ward would be closed down on them. Now, we are seeing some positive growth here.
We had some interesting experiences this week. On Wednesday, we were sent on a special assignment to go on exchange with some other Elders. It was a good 1.5 hour train ride there and back, so we got plenty of travel time seeing the northern landscapes of Germany. It sure it is beautiful country. The best part is, I was able to exchange with the missionary I trained exactly a year ago. It was cool to see the growth that he has made, and that he is a pretty good missionary.
This week is going to be interesting. I am going to get a new companion (the poor Elder is going to have to be with me my last transfer). His name is Elder Mullen. I will be staying here, so there is no address change.
I have a testimony of the wonderfulness of this church. It is an amazing organization that only functions because of the faith of the members. That is how the kingdom of God stands- on the shoulders of people who are trying to perfect themselves. I know that Jesus is our Savior and that God loves each of his children.
I love you all and wish you the best for this week!

- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi derHeiligen der Letzen Tage 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another assignment- Weekly Letter

   Hey everyone!

     Last week, right before I finished doing my E-mails, we got a call from an unknown number. Usually, as missionaries, we are very excited when this happens, because it lets us guess who it could be and if it is someone new who wants to meet with us. I answered the phone with high hopes.
    I said who we were, and the answer was: "Hello Elder Gibson! Here is Brother 'so and so,' the secretary to the Stake President for Neumünster." My next thoughts were 1) He is going to ask me some question about the branch that I of course don't have an answer to; 2) He is going to assign one of us to speak in stake conference; or 3) He just wanted to give us news of something that the missionaries is the stake should be aware of.
     Of course, with my luck, it was option number 2. The members here in Germany really just want to abuse me (or they are punishing me for extending and not getting out of Germany earlier).Now, on top of my other duties, I also have to give a talk in front of the whole stake on the 22nd about Wie die Mitglieder mir auf meiner Mission geholfen haben, ein guter Missionar zu sein (how the members have helped me on my mission to be a good missionary). I am not super ecstatic about it, but at least the topic is nice.
    Our week was great though. We had some wonderful experiences working with the members and less-actives. We meet with the grand-daughter of one of the members about every two weeks, and she has decided to go to the EFY conference coming up in the summer. We are totally jumping on the chance to get her excited for it, because this could be the event that brings her into activity into the church. The only reason that she doesn't come is because of her mother, who dislikes the church for the all-to-common women's rights argument. I feel like people just like to look for misunderstandings and confrontations anywhere they can find it. We want to start working with the mother, but she is really closed off to the missionaries, so it is something that the members are going to have to do through home teaching and other activities.
     We also found a new couple to teach. We were dooring, and when the man answered he caught our accent and started talking to us in English. We had a great conversations, and asked if we could come back and talked about faith. They said they would love it if we came, and then they gave us a referral to go to another family in the neighborhood. It was such a miracle.
     We are working hard to get this branch running better. This last Sunday, we had ward conference, which was awesome and had an amazing spirit. The stake introduced to the members how to do genealogy work, and so we are adding a bit of excitement to the members here. I have already seen a change in the mood of the members since I came 5 weeks ago. Continue praying for the missionary work so that we can also add a family or two into the branch in the coming months!
     I love you all and wish you a wonderful week. Make sure that you look for small and simple ways to share the gospel to those you know.

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's already February?! - Weekly Letter

     I fully realize that today is the 27th of January, but I know that in a few short days, I will wake up and look at the clock I have on my desk and I will say those exact words, namely: "What? It's already February?!" It will be one of those palpable shocks, mostly because it is a harbinger of another month behind me. They are becoming very valuable nowadays.
     This week was one of the most fulfilling ones of my mission. I didn't feel like it at first, but at the end of the week, my companion and I were discussing some of the changes that have taken place the last 3 weeks, and we were both very happy with how many appointments we have and the kind of progress that we are making in how we do the work here. Now, we just need to get the investigators on board.
     We had an awesome week, in which we were able to add 3 new investigators to our teaching pool. It was awesome, and it resulted in a walk-in appointment yesterday. It was the 4th one of my mission, and it was Elder Pearson's first. That is what happens when we are obedient and diligent- the Lord will bless us with people to teach and ways of serving the members.
     This week is also looking pretty good. We have quite a few appointments set up with people, so we are both really excited.
     Yesterday, I started to actually do some more of my calling's responsibilities. I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday, which I feel turned out really good. I focused it on the families who only have 1 member who is active, and how they can make sure to be an example to their families.
      I am now in charge of working with the primary auxiliary, which I think is ironic since I have no idea how that works within the church. We also set a young man apart as a priest. I had to also tell the new Primary President about her calling, as well as assign her to find a councilor. Next week, I will be leading sacrament meeting. The tasks just keep piling up... It is just my 3rd week- the branch president assured me that there will be more to do soon. He is a really amazing President though, and the branch really needs him right now.
     Well, that's about it for this week. I love you all so much, and I pray for each of you. May God be with you as you try to reach out and bless the lives of others.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sitting on the stand - weekly letter

     This week was really good. We are seeing some intensity coming into the area, and I think that the branch is also at the point to where they can brake some old habits. Unfortunately, there are a few things that are keeping the ward back here in Rendsburg and I think that if they start to try some new things, they can have more spiritual experiences in the church. I am very grateful for President Wenke, the new imported branch president here. He works really hard even though he has to drive an hour and a half just to get here. He is very experienced and very realistic about things, and I think that he is really going to help the branch out. Yesterday, I had to do the responsibilities of my calling for the first time (a.k.a. I had to sit up on the stand next to the branch president, followed by giving the lesson in the second hour). It has been a "choice learning experience" that I technically signed up for, even though I didn't know the consequences of such an action.
     I feel that it is the same way with the program here as with the ward- we are going to try some new things and see if we can have some more spiritual (teaching) experiences with investigators and less-actives. The whole mission is focusing on increasing our teaching pools and making sure that we have some great people who we are teaching who are interested in our message.
     The city itself is great. I love how friendly people are to strangers and how open they are to having conversations on the streets and at their doors. We have been able to have quite a few awesome conversations with the people here, and many of them know the church because it is a fairly small town.
     My companion, Elder Pearson, is from Lehi, Utah. He is the youngest like me (so in other words we both know how it is to be spoiled). He loves to study the gospel and has been out for over a year. He has already been in the area for a while, so I might have to take over in a few weeks (if not, then he will have the pleasure of being my last companion). He is really fun to be with and also really likes the city, so we are seeing some pretty awesome stuff happen to us. Just a few nights ago, this guy stopped us while ridding past on his bike and told us that he really wants to meet with us. His name is Ralph. All I can say is that the missionary saying is true: we will find people or the people will find us.
     Have an awesome week and I wish the best for all of you!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Change is the only constant- Weekly Letter

     Hey! So last week I did Emails and I was able to somehow get done with them in half the time that I usually do. Upon leaving the church and entering the crowded subways of Hamburg, I realized why. Sorry that I did not write my usual weekly letter last week.
Much has indeed transpired in the two weeks since I last reported. New Years was of course great. We were able to go to a family and celebrate a bit with them, and then on New Years Day, we celebrated again with the Grandparents of Elder Lüning, who is serving in Hamburg right now.
     I received a call last Saturday that I will be transferred to my last city of my mission. I was released as district leader, so I thought that I was going into retirement (a bit more about that later). It is a cute, yet fairly small town named Redsburg. It is one of the most picturesque cities of my mission- second only to Görlitz- and the best part is that it is located around a major canal, so there are tons of shipping boats driving through it. We will be just walking down the road and there is a massive cargo ship just chugging along the horizon. It is fun to see.
     My companion's name is Elder Pearson. He is pretty awesome, but we still don't know each other all that well. He is the youngest, like me, so we are both the spoiled ones of our families. I am once again in a branch. The members here are really cool though. There are about 2 active families, and 3-4 part-member families that come, so the usual attendance is anywhere from 15-25. There is tons of potential with all of these part-member families, and we have already started to try to set up appointments with them.
     Yesterday was my first day in church, and the second councilor of the Stake Presidency happened to be there. He greeted everyone, but then he came up to me and he asked if he could meet me in the Branch President's office. We sat down, and he asked how I was doing. At this point, I was very confused, because it seemed like he was doing an interview for me. He then asked if I had heard anything about transfer calls. I said, "no, it was just a regular transfer call, why?" He then told me that many other things had been happening in the background and that I was actually sent on special assignment. He then offered me my calling and told me how to do it all. I am now the first councilor to the Branch President in this little branch here. It is the most frightening thing that I have ever done in my life. So now here I am in this little branch and I am still trying to get to know everyone. It will certainly be an interesting learning experience. Pray for me please!
     I am doing well. I am happy that this calling has ensured that I will be staying here until April. The last thing that I wanted was to only stay in this place for only 6 weeks and then go to some other city for another 6. Now my goal is to work hard for the next 3 months to make sure that this branch is growing well. I love you all and wish you a wonderful week. 
- Elder Eric Gibson
  Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage 
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