Liebe Familie und Freunde:
What a truly blessed week! Elder Hogan is a great companion, very different from Elder Forsyth, but that's good! He is from Draper, Utah, and has been here in Germany a few months longer than I. So neither of us is really senior companion, and it has been real neat to have to figure things out together, for neither of us are fluent in German, and I am still learning this city!
I have heard people say that Germany is such a difficult place to preach the gospel, and that the people are thick and hard-headed and will never listen... that German missions are seed-planting missions with a very rare convert or success. Well, I wonder what Germany they are talking about, because in the Germany I know, the success is never-ending, the blessings are overflowing, and the people are ready. We really saw this this last week, as our investigators showed more progress than we have ever seen before, and we had great experiences of people on the street actually contacting us and starting conversations. Like our new Bulgarian couple, Stephan and Nashi. It was an adventure yesterday trying to meet with them to give them a Bulgarian Book of Mormon, because of the Sunday bus schedule, and it was StadtFest is Rheydt. We walked around a little bit, and there was this Elvis impersonator among other crazy and exciting things going on. He had 6 foot stilts and riding a bicycle... and waving a Confederate Flag from the back... and singing :-) Then pirates started fighting and boxing. But after bus rides and waiting, then bus rides and eating, then returning bus rides, we finally met with them! He is a Muslim, but has been disappointed by Islam, similar to Brother Gashi. She is Christian, but cannot speak a word in German. We gave them the Bulgarian Book of Mormon, and before we could even begin explaining, he opened to the title page and began reading out loud! Then he went on to the introduction and just kep reading! As he read, we couldn't understang the Bulgarian, but she did, and her eyes were filled with light! He finished reading and said they had to go, but she held that book like is was gold and worth a million dollars- because it is. She recognized the Spirit bear witness that the Book of Mormon is so much more than just a novel, adventure story, or history book. It is the word of God. They do not have a job and don't have an apartment, but they were filled with the Book of Mormon. She recognized it's eternal worth- a price totalling more than any amount of gold or silver. I know it's true. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. I can't explain much more than that... it is like trying to explain how salt tastes like. So if you haven't tried it, experiement, test it, see what happens when you read the Book of Mormon. I testify it will fill you with light. For light is that which is good, and all good things come from God. The Book of Mormon comes from God.
Br. Gashi is still in the search for a job, and has until the end of August to do so, before he gets sent back to his homeland. One of the big gospel principles we have been teaching his is stated in 2 Nephi 25:23, "...for we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do." We can pray and pray and read and read and hope and hope, but it is only after ALL we can do, that the blessings are received and miracles realized. As President Uchtdorf says: "Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own" (General Conference, April 2011).
I love Br. Rainer Hörsken. His faith is strong and his desire even greater. But it was heart-breaking yesterday as the hours of church went by and he wasn't there... It is really tough to know that he knows he needs to come, and to know of the blessings that he will receive by coming to church, but then doesn't do the required action to recieve the blessing. For we never receive a blessing until we are obedient to the law from which the blessing was promised (D&C 130). Martin has also had the similar difficulty. Satan will do anything he can to stop progress and keep people from receiving blessings. In the early days of the church, he used persecution and suffering to drive some people from the faith. Today, here in Mönchengladbach, we have found that he uses apartments and jobs to stop people's progress. Some people work so much that they can't come to church or meet with us, and others don't have work so they can't buy a bus pass or have a possibility of being deported. Martin is looking for a new apartment and has appointments with landlords on Sundays, because his work takes all his time during the week. Satan is sly and cunning, using life's necessities- house, families, jobs- to pull people away from the necessities of eternal nature- remission of sin through the sacrament, entering the gate of the path toward eternal life through baptism, and the eternal hope and perspective of forever families. But we go on, step by step. Even though we have dissapointing things happen, we aren't dissapointed in ourselves... we try and work, and even though we are far from perfect, the Lord qualifies us for His work and makes up all the difference.
I have been more and more appreciative of the Priesthood recently. The Priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man to further His work on the earth. Given to the Prophet Joseph Smith from the hands of John the Baptist, then Peter, James, and John, it has been given in an unbroken line to me through my father and grandfather. What a great blessing, one that I have taken for granted before. The actual power of God- the power that was used to create the earth, part the Red Sea, heal the lepers, perform the Atonement- is on the earth again. What a great blessing! I know Joseph Smith received the Priesthood directly from the hands of these resurrected apostles, after years of Apostasy. The power of God to bless, lift, serve, and save is once again on the earth!
I know Jesus Christ lives. Some people we talk to say they can't belive in Christ any more, after past experiences or seeing all the horror going on in the world. Our invitation is simple: Come and See. Come and see if by accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ your life doesn't improve. Come and see if by reading the Book of Mormon your knowledge and faith and testimony of Christ isn't increased. Come and see if by attending the Church of Jesus Christ your eternal persepctive isn't expanded. For by our faithful acts, sometimes in dark, as a step of blind faith, the Lord will manifest Himself unto us- and we will feel and know that it's true. It is now my pleasure to go forth and share this knowledge and joy with the children of our Father in Germany. It's true! He lives! He will come again.
Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. There is a power that comes from faithful friends and family, a real and tangible power. I love you all!
All my best and as always,
Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22