"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunday Came!

Liebe Familie und Freudne:

This week has been one of the greatest highlights of my mission so far. Honest! Where to even start... And it all was packed into one weekend!

Sunday was the day! We had Stake Conference in Herne at this big conference center. It was real similar to the theater in Houston where we saw the shows. The Stake Music leader is in the Dortmund ward and asked me to practice with the choir, accompanying on the piano. Last week, the real accompanist fell out, so she asked me to play. It was real great to be accompanying a choir again.. and they had a real nice Steinway Piano there! At Stake Conference, Kathir, Kingsly, Christian, and Vikki came and really enjoyed it. Christian sang in the choir, and we are looking forward to his baptism on Saturday! He asked me to baptize him, and I feel really honored and blessed to be able to do that. Elder Walker will confirm him on Sunday. He will be such a strong member of the church- he already is! He really has the ability to bless many people and strengthen them in the gospel.

At the conference, Br. Petzold was approved (is that the right term?!) to receive the Melchezideck Priesthood, and ordained to the office of Elder. After the meeting, he came to me and asked me to confer the Priesthood and ordain him. This was my first time to do that, and it was powerful! There was such a sweet and strong Spirit during the blessing, and I really felt the Spirit guiding me to bless him with what Heavenly Father wanted. But the real power came and stayed while saying the words of the ordinance, that through the authority of the holy Melchezideck Priesthood, I conferred that Pristhood upon him and ordained him to the office of Elder. That was a spiritual power I have felt only a few times, and is so precious to me. The embrace we had after the blessing was also something never to forget- and to see his wife visibly touched by the Spirit and power of the priesthood. I remember back to the first time I met the Petzold family... She didn't want anything to do with the church anymore, and he was not too excited about religion or changing to fit what we believe. Now, the Petzold family is protected and guided by a father who holds the holy  Priesthood, authorized from God to now bless his family through the blessings of healing, comfort, and counsel; nurtured by a mother who is so ready to serve and help and advise, with a bedrock strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ; and the children are being raised up recognizing the Spirit, the hand of the Lord, and how to follow Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of missionary work, this is the purpose of the Church, this is God's work and glory. As President Packer said: "The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood." (Conference April 2012). What a great work! It is all about the family.

We met two teenage brothers on the street, who looked like all they had left in life was each other, Sven and Nikolas. They hold on to their belief in God, and were so excited to learn that there are prophets on the earth today and receive a copy of the Book of Mormon. In a so genuine way, they said they would read and get back in contact with us. I hope and pray it is so!

...and speaking of the prophet... President Monson will be coming to Germany in October! He is visiting Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and München. President Schwartz doesn't know if all the missionaries will be able to come to Frankfurt for that day, but that would sure be amazing. Either way, just to know that there will be a prophet in the land will be such a wonderful feeling! I know he is a prophet of God, just as Moses or Abraham were. What a blessing, to live in a time when prophets lead and guide us. I am so excited for General Conference next weekend! It's my favorite holiday... again!

...but back to the Sunday story... so after Stake Conference, we met with Kathir and the Krienke Family. The very first day we met Kathir, we went to that concert in Essen with the Krienkes. She cooked lamb! It was way good! But what was better, was that we read through Mosiah 18 together, and discussed what it means to bear one another's burdens, to comfort, and to stand as a witness of God. We read the part that says that the people clapped their hands together and shouted that it was the desire of their hearts to be baptized and enter into a convenant to serve God. Kathir sat quiet, and in such a humble way, he said "That is the desire of my heart." He wants to be reborn spiritually, become clean, and become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! We decided together that the General Conference weekend would be the perfect time for him to be baptized. He is so excited, and so are we! Elder Walker goes home that next week, so it is just perfect timing. It is amazing to think back 6 months ago, when we first met Kathir. He didn't know God, had never really prayed or learned about Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Now, Kathir will be such a strong member of the Church his whole life- not because of anything we did, but because of the Spirit that touched his heart, and caused a mighty change in him, where his greatest desire now is to serve God, and serve His children, and keep His commandments. What a great blessing, to have expereinced this every step of the way.

I know this work is directed by the Lord, through His Spirit. Any other way, and it wouldn't work the way it works. This is not hard or complicated work- the scriptures have been given us, the prophets live today and guide us, the Spirit of the Lord is given in response to every sincere prayer, and that is how the Lord guides His work. The times I have followed these, are the times that the work has been easy, simple, and successful. Whenever I have worked from my own abilities or ideas or strength, nothing happens, and I got frustrated and confused and prideful. The work of the Lord goes forward- not because the brightest minds are running the show, or because the smartest people are figuring out the most up-to-date techniques for being efficient, or because the most eloquent of speakers are sent out to preach the word. The work of the Lord goes forward because He is the One that directs it. He is the One who speaks through His servants to lift a heavy heart, the One who works through the hands of His servants to search and seek and find the one who need a helping hand, and He is the One who sends His Spirit to confirm the testimony given, that He lives, that this is His Gospel and Church. His love is the motivating factor for anyone to do anything in this cause.

I know that is true.

I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I was really touched this week in studying Mosiah 14-16. Abinadi's testimony of the life and mission of Christ is so strong and impactful. At least, it was for Alma, that one person that listened and felt and changed. And from that, thousands were blessed. That is the impact of living a testimony of Jesus Christ. That impact can be ours, as we put our trust in Him and let His Holy Spirit guide.

This is just a sampler taste of all that is going on right now! This is the sprint to the finish, and it has never felt so great!

Ich habe euch alle viel Lieb! Danke für eure Gebete und Liebe.
Alles gute,

Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Small and Simple Things

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

Like Jacob in the Book of Mormon said, life is passing by like a dream! I can't believe that it is already Monday again... Mission life is a crazy fast-paced roller coaster of Spirit and work and it goes by so fast! The whole face of the mission is changing- I don't know most of the Missionaries anymore, most are new and all those my "age" or time in the field, are returning home... Elder Walker goes back to Australia in 4 weeks... crazy! But then comes the opportunity to apply all that has been learned and have a lifetime of progress and joy and spiritual experiences continuing to be a tool in the Lord's hand to build His kingdom. The mission really is the best two years for my life!

I have been thinking a lot recently about the Essence of Missionary Work. There is a lot of "stuff" that missionaries do and members of the church think of when "Missionary Work" is done or talked about. The mission really has been a time for me to live the Gospel as well as I could- to have a time of consecration, and to feel what it is like to give all to Him. And the essence of missionary work really can and must be applied throughout life- for the Essence of Missionary work is what we promised when we were baptized members of the Lord's Church: To bear one another's burdens, to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, to stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places, wherever we may be in. In short, going about doing good. Lending a helping hand. Living the Gospel. That is missionary work. Anything else involved is really just a parameter or a measure or a means to keep us on the right track. But as Christ did, I have resolved to spend my days "going about doing good"- and we have seen miracle after miracle. 

One was with Tim. We have been trying to get in contact with him for weeks now. He is a YSA, studied in Texas for a few years, and is now studying piano at the university.. So yes, we HAD to get in contact with him! Some things didn't work out that day, so we went by at a different time than planned, and he was leaving his house right when we got there! He said we were lucky we caught him, he was leaving for another city for a few weeks. We hit it off real well, and were able to walk with him to the trains and traveled in the same direction for a while. Then he had to run off to get another train. But there was such a neat spirit about being at the right place at the right time to meet Tim and gain his trust. This experience will never be reported in a Key Indicator, will never be graphed or analysed in a chart or report as a number or statistic- but it will always stay with me as a sign that God is in charge of His work, and as we go about trying to do good, He will lead us to bless His children. This was a week full of those kind of things- one after another of meeting people in the street that we haven't seen for a while, calling someone who really needed a boost, usw. It is such an amazing and humbling feeling to be on the Lord's errand- to look back and see how the Lord guided us to bless one of His children, and then another one, and another one. I am so grateful for this opportunity in my life. 

Kathir began to really read in the Book of Mormon this week. He loves it! He called us up and said "Elders, I have a doubt.", "Ok...", "Who was Mormon?" We were glad that his doubt was really just a question for clarification! He is such a helpful service-oriented guy. He will be an amazing leader in the church some day. 

I wish you could get a real feel and idea for all that is going on here in Dortmund- It is hard to explain it all in an email, but I know the Lord is here. People are coming to and finding us, the Lord is leading them here. Big changes are happening here in Germany- huge miracles! But it really is through the small things every day that great things are brought to pass. The Lord is here, His work is really going forth. Maybe when I get home I can give a better explanation! And maybe those who have served missions can understand a little better about what I am trying to explain... But for now, I know this work is the work of the Lord! He works through small means to bring about great miracles. Patience, Humility, Service, Love, Smile, Help, Light, Lift- that is what this is all about.

Have a great week!
Alles gute,

Elder Nathan D. Garlick

P.S. I fly home on Friday, Jan. 4. That is at least when the official date is. I haven't heard anything more. I should be getting some info soon about which airport to fly in to, etc. crazy how the time flies... Elder Walker goes home in 3 weeks, then I get a new companion, then I am in my last 6 weeks, Christmas, SKYPE, then I will be home the week after! love you lots! Thank you so much for the peanut butter and banana chips... they were perfect! I introduced Elder Walker to apples and peanut butter... I think he is converted :-) And thanks for your little paper note you sent last week- it was perfect timing, and I cary it around with me in my wallet.

love you!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Book of Mormon in Action!

Well, this week was just full of seeing the Book of Mormon put into action! I only have a few minutes, but I know that the Book of Mormon is true- not so much by reading and praying, but by seeing it in action! Seeing the Book of Mormon work to bring others to God and to change their lives is a miracle- even a marvelous work and a wonder!

Zone Conference was all focused on the Book of Mormon and how to best help those with whom we meet gain a strong testimony of it. Any problem or concern they have really goes back to if Joseph and his successors are prophets of God revealing His word, and we know Joseph is prophet by gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. 

There was a street display in Hagen this week, and we all really focused on the Book of Mormon. It was amazing! So many people were so excited about this book- and there is a lot to be excited about! Ozzo was Muslim, but felt there was somthing missing. We talked with him about the plan of God, and how He revelas His word to us, especiall today through the Book of Mormon. We read from 3 Nephi 11, right on the street, that wonderful miracle chapter! Ozzo was so excited that there was such doctrine and truth again on the earth- he is going to begin meeting with the Hagen missionaries. That was just one of 6 very clear experiences I had on Saturday at this street display. It was amazing! From Dennis, 17 years old, to A woman and her two kids, telling us to take another copy of the Book of Mormon to her husband at his hair cuttng store, so they can fix their family and marriage, (which we did, they both loved the Book of Mormon and were excited that we talked to them and to meet with the Hagen elders!). It is amazing to see the Book of Mormon in action! It really is the best missionary- just let it speak for itself!

I know Christ lives, and a big reason I know that is because of the testimony of Him that the Book of Mormon gives, and which I have developed by reading and applying. This Church is the Lord's restored organization for how we should live and help and progress- and how to do all that together, to establish Zion- Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise! It is all true and glorious, and such a marvelous work and a wonder!

schöne und liebe Grüsse,
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Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22

p.s. You asked about our Zone, there are 11 cities in our Zone: Dortmund, Hagen, Siegen, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Herne, Münster, Hamm, Paderborn, Unna. With 13 Missionary companionships (us, sisters, and McPhersons in Dortmund). It is a pretty big area, but I am not sure how to say how big it is.... 45 minute train ride to the far west point!
3 of these areas are branches, the rest wards. Thanks for taking care of the missionaries in College Station! I met a few elders in the MTC that were heading to the Houston North mission... maybe they will be around some time!

Glad to hear the Aggie tradition is still alive :-)

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Book of Mormon- What a Powerful Truth!

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

I have been reading and studying and experiencing a lot about the Book of Mormon recently. Zone Conference is this coming Friday, and Chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel is the main focus for it. I love the Book of Mormon! Here are a few reasons why:

1. It is full of simple explanations of how to live, that anyone can understand. For example: 
·         2 Nephi 31:5, " And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!"
·         Mosiah 2:17,  "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellowbeings ye are only in the service of your God."
·         Moroni 10:5, 23  " And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruth of all things"..." And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me."
2. It is a witness that Jesus Christ lives. For example:
  • 3 Nephi 11: 8-10, "And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descendingout of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them. And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world."
3. It is a witness of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For example:
  • 3 Nephi 21:2,7, "And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign—for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you, and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be given unto you of the Father, shall be made known unto the Gentiles...it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel."
  • That covenant being fulfilled is the gathering of Israel, the fulfilling of the Abrahamic covenant, and the establishing of Zion, the New Jerusalem again on the Earth.
4. It has a power that changes people. For example:
·         I remember back to Antonia and Jürgen, to the Rode Familie, to Guang, countless others, to me, when we read the Book of Mormon and felt the power of it. There is something indescribable about the feelings of the Book of Mormon. But through it all, the feelings are good and positive. Those are the feelings of God. I remember when I gained my testimony that the Book of Mormon was true- I will always remember that day, and that prayer I said, and the feeling and answer I received. That has been a guiding force for my service here in Germany. To help others experience that same feeling, and feel that which I felt. It is the power of change, the power of truth, the power of God. This morning, I was reading in 2 Nephi 19.. Isaiah was talking about wars and battles and other things I wasn't sure about.... and I was reading in German, so couldn't quite see where all this was going... and then, this verse popped out, and really suprised me, I nearly exclaimed out loud! "For unto us a achild is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (2 Ne. 19:6, Isaiah 9:6). It was such a neat feeling when I read these scriptures- I am not as familiar yet with the German scriptures as the English, so it really was a neat surprise of peace and joy when I read this verse in German in the midst of the war and other big things that Isaiah was talking about. This morning was another witness to me that the Book of Mormon has power- because it is a testimony of Jesus Christ, and we cam feel that every time we read the testimony of a prophet in the book about the divinity of the Son of God.
I really look forward to Zone Conference this week, a time to learn about how to more effectively use the Book of Mormon in teaching and inviting others to come unto Christ. I also studied the words of prophets and apostles in the General Conferences- what great men and great words of truth! It was also neat that many of the testimonies yesterday at church were about the Book of Mormon and how members had used that to share the gospel and bring more joy and peace into lives of their friends and families. 

This week, Kathir decided to be baptised! His story is a very special and personal story, but the answer he got was the same that others receive when they know it's true- that it's true! He wants to be baptized in September. We will talk with him tonight at Family Home Evening.  Christian was at church and bore a powerful testimony, that he, too, knows this church is true, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I get strengthen so much every time I experience people discover the power and truth of the Book of Mormon.

On Saturday night, the sisters in Dortmund went with us to a contact that they wanted us to teach. He wasn't there, and we were on the sidewalk, us four, talking and waiting for the bus. Then this man from England comes by and asks if we are from England. Leide, nicht! But he began talking to us and asked what in the worl we were doing here in Germany- once he found out, he couldn't believe it! We ended up talking with him for 30 minutes on the sidewalk, him asking our belief on God and way of living. He was amazed that missionaries all over the world take this time out to further the cause of their God and finance it themselves. He said he is an athiest, and believes that UFO's destroyed the ancient civilizations of the past, and will be here to end the world in December. We testified of the God we know, One who loves, knows us individually, and has a plan for each of us to reach our potential. We testified of Joseph Smith seeing God and Christ and being called as a prophet to restore His truth and church and priesthood to the earth. At the end of all that spirit and testifying, he asked what on earth made us like this... what on earth could make us young kids so firm in the belief and do all that we do... we asked if he wanted an honest answer.. he did! So we pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited him to find out for himself. Something changed in his eyes when I handed it over to him- a glitter of hope, even a twinkle of light. The Spirit was there. He tried to give me €5 for the Book, but we said we would meet with him for 15 minutes this week instead of €5. He agreed! That is the power of the Book of Mormon- it really has changed us, and the living of the teachings have made us who we are- and living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, of which the Book of Mormon witnesses and proves, and I know it can change this man, too, if he lets it.There is power in those 531 pages. There is real power and truth. I wish I could just tell everyone in the whole world of the miracle that is the Restoration of the Gospel and the coming forth of the truth from the earth, even the Book of Mormon! I'll do the best I can here in Dortmund!

And one of my all time favorite scriptures about the Book of Mormon: "And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem." (Moses 7:62)

This work is true. The Book of Mormon is true. Christ lives, this is His Church. This is His Kingdom that we are building and strengthening all over the wold! This is an eternal work- it's the kingdom of God, or nothing.

Love you all! Thanks for your prayers and support.
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Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22