Liebe Familie und Freunde:
What a neat last couple of days! On Tuesday we traveled down to Frankfurt on the same train that I took my first day to Mönchengladbach- I got to thinking of all the great things that have happened since the end of March, and looking forward to the future. When I first came to Gladbach, the river and towns were beautiful, but now with the green land and bright skies, it was stunning! We had a good time talking with the other missionaries on the train. Of the 13 new missionaries that arrived, 7 are in the Düsseldorf-Dortmond Zones, and our district of 8 has 3 goldens! So we are a very young area in the mission, and actually the "youngest" district in the mission, with terms of how long the missionaries have been in the field. We got to Frankfurt and traveled to the Holiday Inn-Express... the same hotel that we stayed in my first night. We had a trainers meeting with President Schwartz and were introduced to the new 'In-Field Training Program.' This is a new structured 12-week program that will be given to all missions in the world in August- but President Schwartz being the amazing and visionary man that he is, asked the area presidency if we could start it now- so our mission is the first to try out this new preogram. What an inspired program! It is in connection with the new MTC cirriculum and expands on how to BE a missionary, not just how to do missionary things. The purpose is to help and prepare the missionaries to be able to train new missionaries at the end of the 12-week training period. To me, that is a great sign that the Brethren and Missionary Committee know that this work is going to progress and expand to greater things than we have ever seen before! If every missionary in the entire world is able to train after 12 weeks of being in the field, think of the power and strength that would be added to the missionary effort! The weak things of the world wouldn't be too weak anymore, and the spiritual maturity and strength would expand that rock that was cut out of the mountain without hands and expand it to truly fill the whole earth. What a great honor to start using this program, and to be trained right along with the new missionaries in this new focus and direction.
At the hotal, it was fun to remember that first day and my first thoughts and impressions of Germany. We woke up and had a super breakfast and met with the new missionaries and were assigned companions. My companion is Elder Van Camp from Boise, Idaho. What a missionary! He was baptized in April 2010 and has a testimony and depth that I have been trying to develop. He is so strong in the faith, and is focused and mature, willing and faithful- He will be training me more than I could ever train him.
We had some great experiences the last few days, and it is truly a blessing at how quick Elder Van Camp and I connected and can work together. He really reminds me of Connor Hinckley, and that is such a great blessing! It's like I am serving with one of my good freinds! We are so excited for these coming weeks! Me especially, because Elder Van Camp is such a "of course we can do that", "let's go", "we can definitely reach that goal" kind of missionary.
BROTHER GASHI GOT A JOB!! We were teaching the second hour Sunday School class to him, and I asked Brother Gashi how he has grown closer to Christ over the last few months of coming to church and reading in the Book of Mormon. He mentioned, completely non-chelaunt, that the Lord has been teaching him patience and that finally our prayers and hopes have been answered as he got a job and will begin on Monday. I wish I could have had a picture of my face, because I am sure it was the funniest look I have ever given in my life... one of amazement, excitement, shock, and bewilderment... big eyes, dropped jaw, the lot. I didn't really say anything, then "Wait a second, you got a job? You really got a job?!" He did! He begins it today and said he will find out if he is able to keep it for a while. We will talk to him tonight, and if all works out, then we will call President Schwartz and set up a baptism interview appointment. The blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are so wonderful. They can only be attained through faithfulness and obedience- Brother Gashi has experienced that. Through his patience and waiting and working and enduring, the Lord has blessed him and allowed him to change his life for the eternities. Brother Gashi has sacrificed a lot the last few months and the blessings that he has and will receive are going to outweigh any of the stress and dissapointment and heartache he has felt in the last few months. Sacrifice brings for the blessings of heaven; but in the end, you find that it really wasn't a sacrifice at all.
We also met with the Rode familie. They are from Zimbabwe and speak Swahili. He has worked here for 10 years and can speak very good German. We have met with him twice before, and every time, he explained his hopeless state, loss of faith in God, and no desire to learn or regain that faith. But he kept allowing us to come back, so we knew he felt something, he recognized the gospel truths. So on Saturday, we talked about the Book of Mormon more specifically for him and how it is the answer to his prayers that he feels haven't ever been answered. We promised that his lost hope and faith have been found again, and that they were lying on the table in front of him, in the Swahili copy of the Book of Mormon- all he had to do was read it. He said that his birthday is coming up in a few months and at that point he would start a new life and reconnect with God. I looked him straight in the eye and asked, "Why wait for a few months when you can have the hope and joy that you want right now?" He looked down at the Book of Mormon for a few minutes in silence... it was probably only 40 seconds, but it felt like a few minutes! Then he picked it up and said, "OK, I'm ready. Where should I start?" I smiled and said "Page one!" We proceeded to read through the title page and up to 1 Nephi 3:7 together. He read a verse, then I read a verse. He read a verse than Elder Van Camp read. When we got to the end of a chapter, we would wait, and then Brother Rode would start up reading verse one of the next chapter! At first, we could hear in his voice that he was reading just to read because we said to. As we went on, we could tell that he was reading it because he wanted to. The funniest, but absolutely wonderful, part is that his wife, who can only speak Swahili was sitting on a chair a little behind Brother Rode's right shoulder. As we read through the beginning of the Book of Mormon, she only understanding every other verse in Swahili, started poking her head out and scooted closer to him, so that she could read the page and actually understand the whole of what was being read! It was fun to see! It strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon as the word of God- and even if a person only understands every other verse, they can feel the truthfulness of it. For it is not the stories and adventures that make the Book of Mormon what it is; it is the Spirit that fills every sentance, the hope that comes from every page, and the truth that is in every word that make the Book of Mormon what it is: the word of God, the keystone of our religion, the very witness that Jesus Christ lives and that He has called a prophet again in our time, my dear friend Brother Joseph.
The Lord's tender mercies are flowing out in great number here in Mönchengladbach- from jobs to the Book of Mormon, from companions to blisters healing, from finding planners and wallets to catching busses, from pain relief and a new hope and vision for the future- this truly is the work of the Lord, and He sits in the driver's seat! The peddle is to the metal, the steering wheel pointing straight ahead, the sound of angels singing on the radio- the truth of God is truly going forth boldly, nobly, and independant- the day of miracles and fulfilment of prophecy is not tomorrow: it is today. It is right now.
I love my Savior- I love Him so much. The first part of my mission, especially in the MTC, I thought I was doing the Lord a favor by coming here to Germany to serve Him, and repay Him for all the great things that He has done for me. The problem is, I can never repay Him. I can never "get even" or pay Him back for the blessings He gives to me- for that is just it... He continually GIVES, not gave. He is my Trainer, He is my Hero. I am truly humbled to be a servant of the Lord, called and ordained to preach His gospel by the Spirit, that the children of our Father can experience the joy, peace, and blessings that I have and am receiving every day of my life- what a gift! The gift of life, the gift of truth, the gift of knowledge, the gift of love, of peace, of joy: It truly is the gift that just keeps giving! Shall we not go on in so great a cause?!
Hab ich Gutes an heutigen Tag getan? Das ist unsere Ziel! Gott lebt. Jesus Christus ist der Sohn Gottes, der für mich und dich gestorben und auferstanden ist. Er lebt! Er wirklich lebt! Seine Einfluss ist so groß und ewig, es ist ungläubig! Ich weiß, dass mein Erlöser lebt. Es ist so schöne diese Wahrheiten zu wissen und spüren, die jeden Tag stärker gewachselt und gestärkt sind. Ich bin so froh und glücklich hier zu sein- Alles wohl, alles wohl!
Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22
Monday, August 1, 2011
He is Training Me
Liebe Familie und Freunde: