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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 Neum√ľnster." 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