Monday, March 26, 2012
Liebe Familie und Freunde:
Spring is really here! We are in short sleeve shirts today- it is awesome! A perfect beginning to Conference week! I am so looking forward to this weekend!!
So this week was so great! We ended up being in Frankfurt 4 days this week! And I got to be with Elder Kuttler on Wednesday! We went to the street preach in Frankfurt with the new missionaries and went a little bit early to drop some papers off at the office so we wouldn't have to mail them in. The new missionaries were there so Elder Kuttler and I were able to talk for a while. President Schwartz knew that we are good friends, and didn't believe me when I said I came to the office to bring some important papers... and we laughed :-) It was great to see him and I am excited to hear about all the mission calls coming out of College Station!
At one of the meetings we were talking about what is needed for a "Revolution" or the furthering of a good cause. My mind went to Les Miserables, and we talked about a flag, a song, and a motto. So President asked who could write a song that would inspire the hearats and stir the souls of the missionaries to unify us in this cause... I was sitting at the far end of a large table... and one by one all the heads turned down in my direction... :-) So I am working on writing the mission song/anthem. It is so neat how the Lord prepares us for our current callings and positions by previous callings and positions. And He allows us to use our talents to bless others. I am real excited for this opportunity!
This week is going to be so great- I can just feel it! We had some great meetings last week in Frankfurt of how to help the missionaries and to develop and focus on the mission vision. Elder Sheppard and Elder Hogan are the Zone Leaders in Frankfurt now! It is neat to have two of my great companions as our leaders- I learned so much from them when I was serving with them, and am now blessed to continue to learn from them. One of the big topics that we discussed was creative finding- how to find people to teach without going door to door or walking on the streets. We had some great brainstorming. One of the neat things we have done recenlty is surveys. We have a list of questions about faith and a scale of 1-5, one being "not at all" and 5 being "absolutely". Germans love helping and love surveys! It is such a great way to open up the conversation about the gospel and faith without being intrusive or annoying. We like surveys :-) This Thursday we are doing a big Balloon street display to invite people to come to General Conference. We got a couple hundred balloons that say "Ich bin ein Kind Gottes" on one side at "kirche-jesu-christi.org" on the other. We will have a "Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice" message and the information to come to the church and watch the sessions of General Conference. I have always loved General Conference, but I am getting really excited for this weekend, especially- I guess I have a lot of questions and help that I need, that I know will be answered this weekend.
We were on a train going to Mainz.. we do that often :-)... and was sitting by a middle aged woman. She had papers in englisch that she was putting into page protectors, which said "Church of the Pentacostals" on the tops and a schedule for a program of sorts. I asked her what she believed as a member of the Pentacostal faith, and it was neat to talk about the similarities. She recognized us as LDS Missionaries, and said "I know you have Joe Smith, or something. I don't know anything about him. Could you tell me something about him?" Music to a missionary's ears! Awesome! I was able to talk to her about how he grew up in a time of religious excitement, but also a time of religious confusion. He wasn't sure where to go to find the truth or how to really distinguish it. I shared with her how he turned to the book of James in the New Testament and read: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God". She nodded in agreement. I asked her if she knew what happened next- she didn't. With her complete attention, I was able to share with her, in his own words, how Joseph went into a grove of trees and prayed and asked God. I shared with her the answer he received, of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ, and how they called Joseph to be a prophet to restore the Chruch of Jesus Christ to the earth. And she closed her eyes and nodded. And smiled. So did I. She felt good and liked what we were saying. We asked if we could come over and share a message for her family about the joy and peace we can have in this life in our families because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But we pulled into the station, and she had to run, but we gave her a card with our number on it. All the way down the train and on the platform, she turned and smiled and waved and said goodbye. And we smiled and waved back.
I love it!
This Friday is Luisa's baptism. She has been taught by the sister missionaries and we have met her at church and at other activities. She asked me to baptize her. I look forward to Friday, and am excited that Luisa is ready to be baptized and make these sacred covenants with Heavenly Father.
This is just the beginning of something really fantastic!
Ich bin so dankbar dafür, dass ich hier in Deutschland bin. Ich freue mich jeden Tag ein Missionar des Herrn sein zu dürfen. Diese Arbeit ist das Werk des Herrn. Ich weiß, dass es wahr ist. Präsident Monson ist der Prophet Gottes, und ich bin so begeistert seine Rat zu folen und ihm diese Wochenende zu foglen. Wir sind so gesegnet! Leben ist so schön, und das Beste kommt bald!
Bis nächste Woche! Alles Güte,
Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22
Monday, March 19, 2012
Liebe Familie und Freunde!!
I am so excited.. spring is coming! The trees are starting to have their leafs pop out and there are bunches of flowers popping out all over... not quite like the Texas wild flowers, but close! Last week, we went two days in 20 degree Celcius! Those were the first days of not wearing my big winter jacket since October! I love this time of year- everything is new and refreshed. And the work of the Lord seems to be taking on a new fresh look, too! Transfer calls were last week, and Elder Crosby and I will be staying together for another 5 weeks, at least- this cycle is shorter because of the change in the MTC- the German missionaries will only be there for 6 weeks starting soon. This is our cycle of unity, we decided- unity between us as a companionship, with the wards, with the area. We really don't like the view of "we are the missionaries, you are the ward, we do our missionary work, you do yours." That never gets anywhere. One of the big things we have felt and will be improving is weekly service projects. We have some ideas, but if anyone has some thoughts of what you did on your mission or with a ward sometime I would love to hear! Talking about the Gospel isn't near as effective as living the gospel and teaching while doing it. One of my favorite lines in the new Joseph Smith movie is: Old Woman, who Joseph and the members are serving: "Mr. Smith, I don't agree with you and your religion, but I do appreciate your kindness" Joseph Smith: "Well, ma'am, you might say that is our religion!" I like that! This work is a "Labor of Love", as stated in the call letter I received from the Prophet; we were called to serve, so serve we will!
Louisa decided to be baptized on March 30! She originally wanted to do it in May, but, not quite sure how, now feels to do it as soon as we can. Reza really wanted his aunt and cousin to be at his baptism on April 7, but they are going out of town. So we will hold his baptism on April 5! And on Saturday, we met with him and his father. We brought a Persian Book of Mormon for his father- we gave it to him, and he sat down and read the entire time we met with Reza! As we were leaving, we talked a little with him- Reza said his father will probably finish it in a few days. His father said he felt it was true! We met with Amo on Saturday and he has really changed- for the last few months, he has been not so interested in the gospel and hopeless, because of his refugee situation. He wasn't focused at all when we taught him, not taking anything seriously, and we didn't know what to do with him. So we just loved him as best we could. Then on Saturday, we were meeting and talked about why he likes coming to church. He said that he likes the people- they are just so happy and nice and great. We talked about why- that's because of the covenants we make, and the blessings we receive. We talked about the covenants we make at baptism and what we promise to do and how to live- and then the blessings that we receive, that others notice and want to have. Amo wants to have that too, he said that he is ready to make the changes in his life to live these covenants for the rest of his life. He will be getting baptized on April 14!
Nothing that we could do could make these miracles happen. All we can do, really, is have faith and try as best we can to live like the Savior. Then the Spirit comes, and then everything is possible. And most of the time, it really feels like we don't do much, if anything, and miracles just happen! Like at church yesterday: Hasan, Massoud, and Stella and her two daughters just happened to come and walk into the church building right at the meeting times. We were able to talk with them all, and they all felt something greater than just a building with people in it. Five new faces, five people searching for truth and direction in life, five people led by the Spirit to come and see what this is all about. We will be meeting with them all this coming week.
And this is just the beginning- I can feel it! President Kopischke, the are president, has the vision that by 2020, the church population will double in Europe. The Prophets have spoken for many years that there will be hundreds of stakes and thousands of wards here, with dozens of Temples. President Schwartz has talked with us and showed us the vision and plans for getting 1 Million members in Germany, in order to have the Priesthood Leadership for this prophecy. Most recently, President Uchtdorf said that the church will blossom as a rose here in Germany. It's happening. It's not "some day" or "that will happen eventually"... One of the miracles of the Restoration and the blessings of the time in which we live, is that this is the time of prophecies being fulfilled- those of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and early Church history. NOW and TODAY is the day of fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and Joseph and our leaders today. What a great Spirit! What a great work!
Yesterday, the choir director in the American ward's daughter got sick in sacrament meeting, so she asked me to direct the wad choir practice after church... it was awesome! So much fun! It reminded me of the great privlege I had to serve as choir director in the College Station ward for 14 months. There is such a great spirit in the music of the church- especially the hymns about Christ and His resurrection we sing at this Easter time. And on Wednesday, the new missionaries come to Frankfurt and we will be doing the street preach/singing that we did what I first came to Germany- and Elder Kuttler will be there! I am so excited to see him!
Well, this work is true. What more can I say?
Love you all!
Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22
Monday, March 12, 2012
Liebe Familie und Freunde:
This was definitely the fastest week so far of my whole mission! It has come to feel that I am always writing an email telling what we did last week- actually, it always feels like we're always doing what we are doing... if that makes any sense :-)
We were able to go to the temple on Tuesday! It was such a beautiful day, and pretty warm! Spring is coming! I love this time of year: everything starts coming to life again. But then Daylight savings is in the middle... an that's no fun! The October Daylight Savings is one of my favorite holidays- just like Uncle Dave :-) The Spring one is not on the favorites list. But we spring forward on the 25th, so we are closer together timewise for a few weeks! Then General Conference happens- definitely one of my favorite holidays! We will be doing a balloon street display inviting everyone to "Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice!" I loved the March Ensign, all about prophets. I am so grateful that we have prophets and apostles on the earth today, the foundation of the Church of Christ, as we learn in Ephesians 2:19-20. I know President Monson is the true prophet of God for us in 2012. And we get the chance to hear from him in a few weeks! Invite everyone you can! The prophet of God is going to speak- and everyone needs to hear!!
I will always be so grateful for my ancestor, Joseph Stacey Murdock, who as an invitation to a loved one, wrote the words now sung by us:
Come, listen to a prophet's voice, and hear the word of God
And in the way of truth rejoice and sing for joy aloud.
We've found the way the prophets went who lived in days of yore,
Another prophet now is sent this knowledge to restore.
The gloom of sullen darkness spread thru earth's extended space
Is banished by our living Head, And God has shown his face.
Thru erring schemes in days now past the world has gone astray;
Yet Saints of God have found at last the straight and narrow way.
I know Joseph was the prophet that started it all again for us, and President Monson is the one that leads us on today.
We did a youth fireside last night for the American Ward. It was really neat to meet with the youth and talk about strengthening our testimonies to share the gospel and invite others. At the end, we all shared our experiences and testimonies of sharing the Gospel and inviting our friends to FHE, Church, activities, etc. Both Sister Nieman and Sister Tuschling were invited by a friend in college to come to church- and they were baptized and they invited others who were baptized. And that's the way it works. One by One- times a thousand times ten thousand times 15 million. Sometimes we see the direct results of our inviting, like the sisters, but in many cases, we just don't know what will happen because we invited a friend to watch conference with us, or to FHE, or to church. People like being invited and feeling included. That's one of the functions of this church- providing that feeling of belonging in the family of the church. And in a time when the world is falling apart all around us and once strong and secure foundations and governments and organizations are crumbling, everyone needs the safety and refuge found in the Church of Jesus Christ, protected by the Spirit and Priesthood power, living His gospel, enjoying His blessing and protection. I don't think we can truly fathom the significance and importance of one single invitation.
This week, I have come to see more certainly that the song is true: "I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hour, to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love." Well, more like the angels come to us when we are accidentily riding illegally on a train! So our tickets we have are good for all of Mainz and Wiesbaden. We can by and addition ticket that allows us to go to neighboring cities, even over to Frankfurt. After 7pm and on weekends, we can take another person with us. So on Saturday, Elder Crosby and I were going to a city in the Frankfurt area, and because it was Saturday, I brought my ticket, and bought an extra addition ticket for us. Thinking that it would cover us both, we got on the train. We sat down and two 50-ish year old women sat down next to us, going to Frankfurt for a concert. The ticket checker came by, and asked for tickets. I showed him ours, indicating that it was good for both of us. He disagreed! Apparently, I needed to buy addition tickets for us both, even though we were riding on the same ticket. So one of us was legal, the other illegal, meaning he would receive a hefty fine and marks against the visa. I talked to the man, explaining how I thought it was ok for us both on the card because it being Saturday, and that I had no idea of the addition ticket rules- of course, he didn't believe me, probably having heard that story dozens of times. He wasn't budging, so I gave the addition ticket to Elder Crosby and was going to take the fine. The woman next to me started talking to the ticket checker, standing up for us, saying that she trusted us and knew that we wouldn't do it again. The ticket taker looked down at me, and told me that thanks to these two woman, we would get off without getting kicked of the train or getting fined or any charges. And all was well :-) I'm still not sure how it all worked out, but we walked away without and legal problems, the ticket taker left defeated, and the two women became great friends of ours for the rest of our ride! The hand of the Lord is over us every day, in every moment. I wonder how many times things like that have happened to me that I don't ever recognize or realize. How grateful I am for good people and the Lord moving people into our lives to bless and help us. Yes, I do believe there are angels among us!
We are heading to Frankfurt for Zone basketball... I guess in memory of March Maddness! The only maddness we are experiencing isn't madness at all- just miracles and amazing experiences that strengthen my testimony that this is the work of the Lord- It cannot be any other way. Christ lives! In preparation for the Easter week, I have been memorizing "The Living Christ". What a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. I have felt a special Spirit as I have really tried to focus my study, thoughts, words, everything on Christ- gathering together all things in one in Christ, Ephesians 1:10.
Ich habe euch viel Lieb! Die Zeit geht so schnell vorbei! Ich kann nicht daran glauben, dass es schon März ist! Meine Güte! Sei treu, geh voran, und errinert euch immer daran, dass ihr Kinder Gottes seid! Sollen wir in einen so großen Sache nict vorwärts gehen? Ja, gehen wir doch voran!
Alle meine Liebe,
Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22
Monday, March 5, 2012
Liebe Famile und Freunde:
What an amazing week!! So much happened, it would be impossible to describe it all through an email!
But before that, I have a new favorite sport: Bahn surfing! So on the busses and trains (Bahns) the drivers sometimes get going a little crazy- it is definitely an adventure to try and balance without holding on to the bars or handles as the busses and trains go through the cities. We've gotten pretty good at it, and it makes for an enjoyable ride. This works best when not many people are on the bus :-)
Megan and Alicia got baptized this weekend! It was so wonderful, and the Spirit was really strong. I remember the first time we went over to Megans house, and met with her parents. They hadn't been accepting of missionaries for quite a while, but we were just the right ones at the right time, and were able to experience the conversion of the whole family. Megan's dad baptized her, and he was so nervous, but he did it all perfectly. It was such a blessing to see Megan so excited and ready for baptism, as well as the parents come back to church and now play a strong role in the ward. Alicia has been to church her whole life, but her dad, who is not a member, wouldn't let her get baptized until she turned 16. She turned 16 two weeks ago, and she was so ready to be baptized! I was able to do the baptism interview for her, and it was a real neat experience. She hadn't been taught a lot by missionaries, but grew up learning in Primary and Young Womens, and from her mother. The first question is about our feelings about and our relationship with God. As she bore her testimony of God as our Father, I felt the Spirit so strong, and knew that she was ready to be baptized and make these covenants with Him.
Dallin, these baptisms made me think about when you asked me to baptize you. That was such a neat time! Thanks for letting me do that a few years ago!
I was able to work with Elder Mildon in Koblenz on Wednesday, and we had a real interesting experience as we were talking with some people in their homes. One woman we talked to was 60-ish and her whole family had passed away- husband, children, parents. She was the only one left. We naturally brought up the hope and joy that comes with the knowledge that Christ was resurrected and lives, meaning that we will too. She said something I won't ever forget. She shook her head and with this look of hoplessness said "Well, in my church, we believe that Christ died, but that was all." My heart sank into my stomach- this woman was faithful at going to church every week and praying night and morning, and truly believed that Christ lived and died. But that was the end. That also where her hope ended as well. The resurrection is THE source of hope for everything in this life! It is like reading a story, getting to the climax, and then turn the page, and then find out the end page is blank... WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! We talked with this woman about the accounts in the Bible about how Christ showed Himself to many people after His resurrection- she shook her head, and said that it was all a spiritual symbol, and that Christ now lives in each of us... Then we pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon, and testified that Jesus Christ truly did show Himself to the ancient inhabitants of America after His death and resurrection. The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ- not just that He lived, or a second witness of His doctrine and all that He taught, but the Book of Mormon is second witness that Jesus Christ lives TODAY! This sweet woman said she was pretty skeptical of this all, but we promised she could find out for herself. I shared my testimony of Christ, that He lives, that His resurrection is the source of all hope in this life, and that she would be able to give a hug to her beloved family members again someday. I looked in her eyes and noticed something different than before- not a belief or acceptance of what we said, but a desire to hope for it- a want to want to, as Sister McKneely said in seminary- and that was what this older woman needed that night. I don't know if she looked at the website or read the card we gave her, but she sure did enjoy showing us her flower garden that is starting to grow, and I felt that she now has a desire to believe. And that's enough for the Spirit to work. I know Christ lives today. He lives and has a perfect, glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones- if it weren't so, I think I would be like this woman was before, with absolutely no hope that any future could bring anything good or worth-wild. Christ is the source of all things good- without Him, the isn't any good. But there is so much good in the world today, it is another witness to me that He lives! The doctrine of the resurrection is so crucial and central, I could go on and on about it- I love it, I know it is real, I know I will be able to give my Grandma and cousins and great-grandparents big hugs in the next life! That's the hope I hold on to- everything else is earthly and temporal. The family is eternal.
Another thing I have really come to love and appreciate this week is the difference between the fruit and the roots of the Gospel. If we imagined the gospel of Jesus Christ as a big tree- like one of those huge gorgeous ones we saw in Mier Woods in California a few summers ago. The tree of the Gospel is huge and magnificent! The trunk is thick and strong, the branches are many and the fruit absolutely delicious! Most people notice the fruit first thing- it is normally the most colorful, the most delicious, the tangible thing we can hold and eat and see. But the fruit without the branch wouldn't live. The branch without the trunk wouldn't live. The trunk without the roots wouldn't live. There are a lot of absolutely wonderful, magnificent, delicious fruits of the Church of Jesus Christ- youth organizations and welfare and family history and universities and service and beautiful buildings and the Tabernacle Choir and the visitor centers and the historical sites and the history and so on and so on. But these fruits of the Church are nothing without the roots. Many people can copy the fruits, even very well duplicate them, but without the roots of this Church, the fruits won't live. What are the Roots of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Jesus Christ and His resurrection, God as our eternal Father, Joseph Smith and his predecessors as Prophets of God and the Priesthood power they hold, the Family as the central social unit. We must have solid roots in order to have delicious fruit. Some of the investigators in the ward right now are extremely focused on the fruit- the welfare program or the social interactions at church. And while these are all great and essential parts of the Church, a firm foundation of God Father, His Son Jesus Christ, Their prophets and the eternal role of the family, and a burning testimony of the same is what converts people to the truth. That testimony is what leads people for the right reasons to make sacred covenants with God. We are working with these investigators to make sure their roots are firm and deep, that their testimony in the essentials is firm and first, and then the wonderful fruits of the Gospel can be explored and enjoyed after that. And speaking of covenants, we will be able to go to the temple tomorrow! I love going to the temple and remembering the sacred covenants I have made with my Heavenly Father.
We were able to meet Raza and Lina this week- two people that are ready for baptism! Raza lived in Düsseldorf and had his baptism all set up and planned, but needed to move down here with his father. He will be baptized in a few weeks. Lina's boyfriend lives in Colorado and she has been to church many times before. She wants to learn more, and is letting her parents know that she want to join the church. They were both at Alicia's baptism this last weekend, and felt the Spirit so strong- Bob and Luisa are also preparing for baptism at the end of March. This is how the work of the Lord works! It works through miracles. It is done one by one. I used to wish that we could convert everyone at once and solve all of their problems all at once. But that is not the way of the Lord. His ways are the best, His ways are most effective and lasting. His ways are one by one.
The prophets and apostles have promised and prophecied that this area of the world would grow in the gospel and the Church would again be strong here. I believed that before I came here to Germany. I believed it months ago in Mönchengladbach. And I believe it now, as prophecies are continuing to be fulfilled. I am so grateful to be here at this time. The Lord works in great ways- normally putting the right person in the right place at the right time in order to do His work. I have come to understand that more clearly recently. The Lord has also greatly humbled me and shown me things I need to change, fix and work on. This mission truly is the best two years FOR my life! These miracles, these changes, these life and eternal lessons and experiences all began for me with a prayer of faith. And that's how this whole work got started- Joseph had a question and he prayed in faith. I know it is true! Miracles are brought by a prayer of faith. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that God is there and hears and answers every prayer.
Thanks for your prayers and love- the people of Germany are benefiting from it as well!