"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, November 27, 2012

"Sie müssen leben wollen"

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

This was a huge week of service! Called to serve, it's what we love! I saw reports about the missionaries in New York and New Jersey who are helping so much with the clean up after the hurricane. I don't think there is a better way to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the Church than by living the gospel through service to others. Through  these big planned service projects, as well as, and even better, through small acts of kindness, people get to see the Gospel of Christ in action- it being used for the purpose for which it was given us: to serve and help others come closer to Christ. 

It was also a crazy week of organizing all the missionaries going down to Frankfurt, and those coming back up to Dortmund for transfers. We now have the two new Elders living with us until we find them a new apartment. Change is fun! But it also takes a lot of organizing :-) Many new missionaries straight from the MTC came to the Zone, some from Utah, and one from Finland! 

Stefan is so great! We taught the Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and Fasting... of course, he said we would live them all! Stefan is one of those that has been prepared his whole life for the Gospel, and was led by the Lord to accept it at this time. 

We are still waiting for Romania to come to Dortmund... The fathers went back this week to pick up their families and should be getting here soon. 

There was a huge Stake Ball this week, and three people were in charge of all the decorations... over 6,000 balloons! Our schedule was such, that we were at the church quite a bit this week, and everything worked out just right so we had the time and availability to help out, where these three people really needed it! It all turned out really nice, and it felt great to be able to be in the right place at the right time to help... even though this "interruption" took us from other things we planned on doing that day. Dad, thanks for that quote from C.S. Lewis. These interruptions are no interruptions at all. Rather, it is the influence of the Lord, to use us for His purposes in His way to bless the children of the  Father. It is the hand of the Lord, turning us into His hands to serve and help and make light the burdens of others. We were there on Friday night when people were coming to the dance, and made sure friends and members were together and taken care of for the evening... then we ate some food from the buffet... and just a side note, I think Germans are the best at doing buffets... there are buffets for every event... and they are great! 

Anyways... we left, and went back to our apartment. We had a lot to organize for the Zone in the coming weeks, and needed the time before the weekend came. Right on the corner of our house was a very old woman with a walker, looking quite confused and lost. I looked at her as we walked up to turn the corner, took one more step, then had to turn back and go ask if we could help. She thought it was the afternoon, and was going to her appointment at the doctors. It was 8:30pm, and the doctors was definitely not open. So we asked if we could walk with her back to her house. She was very grateful... and for the first time in my life, I actually helped an old lady cross the road! :-) Frau Koch is her name, and she is 97! As we were walking, about 20 minutes, very slowly, she told us all about her life and family. She and her brother had a construction business and actually helped to build the church building in Düsseldorf many years ago! She knew right away that we were the Mormon Missionaries. We kept going, and I remembered back to the days when Grandma Burton lived behind Grandpa and Grandma Blake, and Ali and Makell and I would go over and help Grandma Burton walk over to the Blakes. Those were great times, and I really feel I learned a lot from my Great Grandparents. I feel really close to my great grandparents that I knew, and still feel great love for the older generation. I remembered the love for my own relatives, and felt love for Frau Koch. This older generation went through so much and have so much to offer, especially on counsel to the youngsters growing up. I asked, "What would you counsel us, as we are growing up through life?" She stopped walking, shook her hands forward as she talked, like Pr. Uchtdorf does, and said "Sie müssen leben wollen", or "You need to want to live." She shared some more about her life and all that she experiences. I learned so much about doing those things that make life worth living. 

Frau Koch focused a lot on the family, and how having and raising a family is one of the greatest things that make life worth living. I agree. But what is it about the family that makes life so worth living? It's the family counsels, and the family singing at the piano, it's the boys vs. girls football game, it's the laughing and not being able to stop when dad sits by you in Stake Conference, it's the road trips with movies with the commentary and no remote to turn it off, it's the trips to places where Spanish is the main language. It's the dwelling boxes and Rex, it's the family videos and dancing to Lawrence Welk, it's the swing dancing and the Christmas eve letters, it's the pulling weeds, and the morning song. It's the "Oh what a beautiful morning" to wake up for scriptures, it's the fried pickles and doughy caramel cake. It's the late night talks, it's the early morning Aggie Flags, it's the games and the treats, the surprise snacks, and the family picture-taking shoot bonanza... that makes life worth living! 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes life worth living. Seeing people accept the gospel, read the Book of Mormon and change their lives, and become more happy than they ever thought, makes life worth living. Seeing personal progress and change makes life worth living. Seeing the hand of the Lord each day, and the many miracles that He does each day, makes life worth living. A hope of the next life and the Resurrection make life worth living. The hope of an eternal family and eternal progression makes life worth living. Knowing that the Church of Jesus Christ is again restored on the earth makes life worth living. There is so many reasons to live, and innumerable things that make life worth living! How grateful I am to live at this time in the history of the world! And the best is yet to come. I know that. 

Ich hab' euch alle Lieb!

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Worlds Largest Christmas Tree! 45 meters tall, 30 tons made up of hundreds of individual trees...I love Christmas!

BVB, the soccer team here in Dortmond...Gameday is nearly as big as Texas A&M Football!

Topping the Christmas tree with an angel with Elder Lyman and Elder Penfold

'tis the season! ...but first, Thanksgiving!

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

The seasons are changing... the Christmas Market is getting set up... the Stollenbrot is on the shelves in the store... Christmas is coming! 

But to stay true to the family tradition, I'm not going to express my love and excitement and joy for Christmas until after Thanksgiving... There is just too much to be thankful for...

Ich bin dafür so dankbar, dass ich ein Missionar Jesu Christi bin. Ich bin dankbar für das Evangelium, und für mein Zeugnis. Ich bin so dankbar für alle die wunderbare deutsche Leute! Ich liebe sie. Ich bin dankbar für meine Familie, so wie auch meine Freunde und Bekannte. Ich bin dankbar, dass ich lernen darf, dass ich Fortschritt machen darf, und dass ich zweite Chancen haben darf. Ich bin dankbar für diese Welt. Ich bin dankbar für die Gaben des Geistes. Ich bin dankbar für dich. Ich bin dankbar für Elder Penfold, und alle die tolle Mitarbeitern die ich auf Mission hatte. Ich bin dankbar für Präsident Schwartz, und alle die Missionare die mir so gute Freunde sind. Ich bin dankbar für Jesus Christus, der Retter der Welt. Ich bin dankbar, dass er das Fundament ist, worauf ich mich bauen darf. Ich bin dankbar hier zu sein. Ich bin dankbar für die Güte Gottes, und für seine Hand in meinem täglichen Leben. 

Now on to Christmas! Just kidding... it will come soon enough!

Transfer calls were this week: I get to stay in Dortmund with Elder Penfold for my last six weeks! The Sisters are also staying... AND we are getting two more Elders! Elder Sheppard and a Golden will be coming up on Thursday. I was with Elder Sheppard last year at this exact same time in Wiesbaden! It will be fun with all 6 of us and the McPhersons in Dortmund, but definitely present new challenges and opportunities to learn and grow, furthering the work of the Lord. With the huge increase in Missionaries coming into service, Präsident said that our mission will be getting an additional 80 missionaries by Spring 2013! .. so Ali,  wir müssen Deutsch zusammen üben :-) It is exciting to be here at this time when the Lord is hastening His work, and getting the foundation laid for an even greater harvest and progress to come in the Kingdom of God.

I look back on my mission, and it is so interesting how every missionary has the perfect mission for him... I have been blessed to serve in 3 areas with 8 companions. I have been blessed to serve in the same city with sister missionaries for 14 months of my mission, when all is done. I have been blessed to see a broad spectrum of missionary work, from the doors and streets, to the American Military ward, to the strong German wards. I know the Lord knows each of His missionaries and gives each of us the experience we need to do as much good as we can in His work, as well as learn just what we need to in each stage. I have learned so much, and I look forward to what the next 6 weeks will bring!

Stefan Bond is such a great man! He came to the Stake Welfare Fair on Saturday, and stayed the whole time, came to church for all hours, and then was with us with a huge family meal with members. His path into the church hasn't been through us, the missionaries, rather through the members who have reached out and made him one of their good friends. And that is just the way it should be! He decided to be baptized on 22. December, but we feel he is ready, and we will discuss with him about the beginning of December. 

We met with all the Romanian Men again this week. They all love the gospel and know this is the true church! They want to be baptized, but want to wait until their families are over here, and they have solved some issues first with living here. It is so neat to see people really grasp the Gospel and love it. Gristi is the member that invited all these men to church. He is such a great missionary! Sis. Böning has also been helping to translate. She is from Argentinia and has been very sick for a while. We were able to give here a blessing a while back, and she came to Hamburg to President Monson, and ever since has been on the rise! She doesn't use a walker any more and can drive on her own. That is a miracle! And she has been invaluable in the help of teaching these great men, who want all the best for their families, and felt they have found it in the Church of Jesus Christ. 

This work is the work of Almighty God. I love that title for Him. We had a Zone Training Meeting this last week, and focused solely on the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End, with short thoughts on each from missionaries, and Mormon Messages and Bible videos in between. It was the most powerful meeting I have been in on my mission, and I felt a similar spirit as in the temple. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way God wants us to live. The Church is given to us as a mean of properly living that Gospel, and to gain the strength and support from others who are just as imperfect as us, all trying to do our best in living our covenants. The power of truth is real. Knowledge is Power, Testimony is knowledge and understanding gained by the Holy Ghost, and Power is had and used as we bear testimony and act upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost to do something. 

All my best,

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friends from Romania

Days Never to Be Forgotten

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

I think Elder David A. Bednar said it best:

"We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us.... When words cannot...express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding...truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord." (April 2005 Conference).

Such has been the case here in Dortmund this last week. I'll explain the best I can...

This was a special focus week in the Zone with finding those people who are ready to learn about the Gospel. All the 24 missionaries in the Stake were unified in prayer, each morning to find those who the Lord had prepared. We told our Stake President about our focus that week, and he immediately sent an email out to all the stake, asking them to join with us in prayer and faith. I know the power of  unified prayer and faith is real. D&C 29:6 is true! We felt the power of heaven with us this week, as we all worked as hard as we could to find those who were searching for the gospel... and among the meetings, the splits, the fact of nearly every missionary bring in Frankfurt for a day last week, many thought it was impossible, and not worth our time to focus on such a goal. But for the 104 people found this week, it was worth it. For them and their families, who knows the eternal and lasting effects of the Gospel being introduced to them. This truly was a week never to be forgotten!!

Marcus was at home, and we were able to have a wonderful discussion about the Book of Mormon and the meaning of it. I will never forget what he responded with to my question of what it would mean to him if the Book of Mormon was true. He paused for a little bit, then looked up, and said "It would mean everything to me. I would change my life in order to live accordingly." That is the power of the Book of Mormon. That is the power of God. ...and he looks like a Bishop :-)

The Assistants came on a split on Thursday, and we got to work! We met Carlos, Telha, Vivian, Milly, all of whom were so ready to learn about the gospel, and are excited to learn more. We discussed the temple with Christian, and I really felt the Holy Ghost bear witness that what we were talking about was true. He is so strong in the Gospel. The Temple has a power about it, for it truly is the house of God.

Carlos came to Institute and we showed him the church building, teaching him about the Restoration of the Gospel, and inviting him to learn more. I will never forget his response to my question of "If you were to find out that all this was true, would you be baptized into this church?" His answer: "Ja, naturlich!" Yes, naturally! That is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If it really is true, if it really is the Plan of God for our eternal Salvation and happiness here and now and in the future, the natural thing to do is to live it, for it is true. But the opportunity is given for each of us to find out for ourselves if it is true. It is such a blessing to be with these people as they begin their search of finding out.

Then we met Stefan. The missionaries in Hagen found him a few weeks ago on the street, and we finally got a hold of him. He came to the church, also for a church tour and to learn about the Restoration. I asked the same question to him that I did to Carlos the night before... and his answer: "ja, naturlich." The Spirit hit me so strong then, realizing that these two completely different people, who had never met each other or heard of the church before, with completely different life situations and backgrounds, both felt the power of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and felt moved to commit to find out if it is true. I know they will get their answers. After the meeting with Stefan, we were waiting for the Romanians to come meet with us... and Stefan wanted to stay! So we watched the restoration with him. Then he played pool with some other missionaries until we were finished with meeting with the Romanians, then he came with us to Bahnhof, then went home. Then on Saturday, he came with us to the baptisms in Hamm. We all felt the spirit, and all he said in response to my question of how he thought of the baptism was, "kraftvoll", powerful. Then we came back to Dortmund, and he said he had some extra time before the Football game started. He walked with us to our next appointment, with an older man in the ward and his wife who is learning about the Gospel. We got to the house, and Stefan said, "Ok, well, I can wait out here until you are done." We said, "no way!" And Stefan came with us and taguht about the purpose of life with us! Then he bought us KFC :-) A member family picked him up for church on Sunday, and he came for all three hours, really enjoyed getting to know all the members, and then ate lunch with us at the McPhersons. This man has been prepared to accept the gospel in his life- he feels the truthfulnes of it, I know it! What a great blessing! It was a weekend never to be forgotten.

Then comes the highlight of the week... Romania! Everything was a highlight, but this experience was especially rememberable. Friday evening, I got a call on my phone from Mitica, and I walked out the doors of the church to see these 6 large Romanian men walking up the path! What an expereince! There was a table in the JAE center, and all six of them sat along one side. I was on a split then, and the missionary I was with was so suprised by the whole situation, he stood in the back corner of the room... I sat on the other side of the table from all these Romanians, passing out Romanian pamphlets and Book of Mormons, playing charades and pointing at words and pictures to introduce the Restoration! My six words in Spanish and two words in Romanian came in handy! Just kidding, Gristi is a member, and these are all his friends from work. He was a great translator and missionary! Without him, I don't know how this whole thing would have gone down! We watched the Restoration movie in Romanian, and all of these men, (a father and his four sons) were rivited to the screen, with wet eyes at the end. They were all touched by the spirit, and were excited to read the 2 Nephi 2 and prepare for chruch on Sunday. Their wives and children are coming to Dortmund in a few weeks, and they are excited to bring them all to the chruch. Some crazy work schedules happened to them on Sunday, and only three came to church, but we were able to watch "Finding Happiness" and to talk about the Plan of Salvation. We are all meeting again this coming Saturday.

I wish I had the ability to share all that was experienced this week. At the end, I know this to be true: God lives and hears and answers prayers. The Power of unity and unified prayer, especially, is a major factor in increasing faith and bringing many miralces. There are so many people that are ready to accept the gospel, and will be excited to learn more. The great days of finding groups and families and full congregations to join the church are not ended with the begining days of the Restoration; they are happening today. The words that Ammon shared in Alma 26 are true and real, and I understand a little better now what he was trying to explain about his mission, and the joy that filled his heart to overflowing.

I know this is the work of the Lord. He hastens and accelerates His work. I am so grateful to be here at this time. These are days never to be forgotten.

I 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, November 5, 2012

Apple Pickin'!

Google Translate...just had to capture the moment!

Apple Pickin' and Romania

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

This was the fastest week of my mission! Tons of travel, extreme efforts, and many miracles. Here is a rundown of the week:

Operation Paderborn! We felt we needed to do something to help the missionaries and the area- it has been a real tough place for missionary work the last while. So us and the missionaries from Münster and Unna met up in Unna Monday night, woke up and traveled to Paderborn, to be there at 6:30am, to ring the door bell, and suprise the missionaries, and make breakfast for them and work all together all day in Paderborn! The Sisters from Hamm also came over and stayed for the day. There was a great feeling of unity and excitement, as 10 missionaries walked the street, met the members, found many searching for the gospel, and hopefully left a good impression on the city, the missionaries, and the branch there. Then we traveled to Hagen for District Meeting- the topics were all in preparation for this week.. which I will explain in a little...

Happy Halloween! Germany doesn't quite celebrate Halloween... we did see two kids dressed up throughout the course of the evening, though :-) Br. and Sis. Pelc invited us over to their garden house to pick apples with them! They have been coming to church for quite a while, and really enjoy the people and the Gospel. And when I say we went to their garden house, I mean it! They quite literally live in the middle of a garden with huge apple trees, kiwi trees.. who knew kiwis grew on trees?!... pumpkin and potatoe fields, chickens, and grape vines everywhere! It completely slipped our minds to bring work clothes, but nonetheless, the ladders were brought, the apples were picked, and it was a ball! They have given us many apples and grapes and kiwis and potatoes in the past, but this time, they loaded us up with a huge trolly full of apples, grapes, and a huge pumpkin.... So what does one do with so many grapes with seeds in them? Make grape juice, of course! I felt a little like "I Love Lucy" when she made the grape juice by smashing them with her feet... we did it with our hands, however! It was great! And at the end, we had a liter and a half of the most delicious grape juice I have ever had! Today we are going to make more grape juice, apple juice, and apple sauce with the McPhersons and the Sisters at the church for PDay. Just squish or blend it, put it in a dish towel, and squeeze! It made me think a lot about the small and simpleness of a grape... one grape is not big at all, and at the beginning, I was a bit skeptical, thinking that we may get two or three cups... but each grape gave its juice, and at the end, we had much more than we bargained for! Small things truly do bring great things to pass!

We traveled to Essen for their District Meeting, an Elder Penfold stayed there and Elder Hall came back to Dortmund with me for a split. We ate Rocklette at Dilia's house,  and had a great meeting with the Grockowiak family that evening. 

We met with Fikrat, Abe, Bapoo, and the Mimini Family! Such wonderful people, all trying to experience and live the gospel better. Abe is from Morocco, and we met in the library where we taught about the Restoration of the Gospel. We would teach one point, and he would ask a question that would lead right on to the next point to teach! "But without apostles on the earth, how did God run His church?" "But how do I know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet?" "What do I need to do to find out if the Book of Mormon is true?" "Where can I get a Book of Mormon?" It was great! He has been prepared throughout his life for this time to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Then we traveled to far far away Siegen, where we stayed for Saturday and worked with the Elders there. Elder Mildon and I found a man on the street who comes from the exact same city in India that Kathir is from! His name is Steve, and it will be great when he comes to Institute and can meet up with Kathir. 

Then Sunday happened.... I love Sundays! Gristi and Mitu are the two Romanian members who have been coming off and on for the last few weeks, they are really trying hard, and I love them so much! They have brought friends now and again. In sacrament meeting, I turned around to see these two and three friends walk in the back- 5 large Romanian men go sit on the back row! I went back and sat next to Gristi. The friends could speak Romanian and Spanish... no English and German enough to say "Hallo, Danke, Bitte"... so I went to the library to see what I could find.. there was a Spanish Book of Mormon! cool! I walked out, but still felt to go check in the YSA library... I walked to the institute part of the building, and there, right on the middle table, among Liahonas and other papers, was a Restoration pamphlet in Spanish! I smiled, and said a silent prayer of gratitude on my way back to the chapel. We had brought a Romanian pamphlet as well, but now with all these materials, we passed them silently over the shoulder to these men, who then spent the entire Sacrament meeting reading through the pamphlets! It was a fun sight to see! After, Gristi wanted to go to the computers and use Google translate to better communicate. So all seven of us go to the computers, and this is when it got real exciting... Gristi was writing in Romanian on his computer, translated into English, about his life story and conversion to the gospel. Mitici was an older man on the other computer, and was explaining to me his current situation and how he just moved here. On the table, Mitu was with another friend and the pamphlets and Book of Mormon teaching him all about the Restoration, using the pictures, and Elder Penfold there guiding the conversation! It was so cool! Mitici said he loved the church and all that he read about, and we are all meeting again on Friday to learn more... and use Google Translate :-) THEN he explained that his family of children and grandchildren will all be coming to Dortmund in the next few weeks, and he wants to bring them all to church, to meet us and learn about the gospel... all 31 of them! We have been learning some simple phrases in Romanian to talk with them without the computer, but it is such a blessing to see the power of the Gospel touch the hearts of others, regardless of what language they speak, and bring about a positive change in their lives. Who knows... maybe there will be a Romanian branch here in Dortmund soon :-) And it was so much fun to use my extremely limited Spanish to talk with them... bien! grande! see! familie! momento! Jess, you would be proud!

This is the work of the Lord. This week, all the missionaries in the Zone will be working to reach the goal of finding 10 new investigators. There have been so many miracles in the last week, preparing us for this coming week. This coming week is crazy- every member of the Zone will be in Frankfurt for at least one day this week! With all these meetings, some may have changed the week focus to a week that would have been "easier" to find 120 new investigators in the Zone.. but we can't go back on the feelings of confirmation we received from the Spirit. This is the Lord's time to shine. It always is, but this week especially, because there is no way we can do this alone. There is no way that this will work this week... but it will! The Lord is here, His hand is guiding us. I love this work! May I always do my part, whether I wear a name tag or not. 

Ich liebe euch wirklich! 
Alles Gute,
Elder Nathan D. Garlick
German Frankfurt Mission
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22