"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)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Dortmond Christmas 2012

It's Time.

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

Wow, two years have never flown by so fast! I look back, and can't believe all that has happened in these two years serving the Lord. But then again, I can believe it. I have come to know that this truly is the work of the Lord, a work of miracles. Many people have asked me if I feel sad to leave, or excited, or if I even want to leave. My thoughts went to the beautiful word of Ecclesiastes:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." (Eccl. 3:1-8)

I have enjoyed my mission more than anything! These have been the best two years of my life up to this point. But the time is come, and it's time to move forward. The Lord has just put me through the most intense Spiritual training course ever! Now it's time to really put it into action. And I'm excited for that! It feels very natural that everything is coming to an end, as far as being a full-time missionary is concerned. I feel it is time to go on to the next stages of life, and enjoy all that the Lord has in store for me!

Church on Sunday was the fullest I have ever seen it! It was an area-wide "Reach-Out Week", where we focused on inviting less-active members and those that were alone, to come back. There were so many people in church, several who haven't been in the building for over 10 years. I was able to bear my testimony as my goodbye to the ward. I looked out and saw so many faces of those that have blessed my life, and provided me with opportunities to learn: Danni, Vikki, Benjamin, Christiana, Stefan, Christian, Ana, McPhersons, Bruckmanns, Birgit, Celine, Lisa, Roths, Sylvia, Kodjo, and, of course, the Romanian Family. I was filled with the spirit of Family and love. I will never forget these wonderful people, and do all I can to live worthy of their trust and respect. I have seen the hand of the Lord guiding this work every single day. The many spiritual experiences, miracles, and tender mercies have confirmed to me, that this is the work of the Lord. It is true, it is real, it is His. There is no way that 19 and 20 year old boys and girls could do all that is expected of Missionaries, if it wasn't of a divine origin, led by divine hands. 

There is so much I could say and write and think right now. But of all the things I could write in my last email, the one thing I could share, the one greatest thing that I am taking home with me, the one thing that means more to me than anything else in the world, is this:

Ich weiß, dass dies das Werk des allmächtigen Gottes ist. Er lebt und ist mein himmlischer Vater. Er hört und erhört meine Gebete. Jesus Christus ist sein Sohn, mein Heiland und Erlöser. Er lebt und durch die Macht des Sühnopfers, kann ich mich umkehren, mich verbessern, lernen, lieben und das Leben genießen. Sein Priestertum und seine Kirche sind wieder auf der Erde durch den Propheten Joseph Smith wiederhergestellt worden, in Vorbereitung auf sein zweites Kommen. Das Buch Mormon ist ein Zeuge davon. Es ist ein Zeuge dafür, dass alles wahr ist. Christus führt dies Werk durch seine Propheten, so wie auch durch persönliche Offenbarung zu jeden von uns durch seinen Geist.

I know that this is the work of Almighty God. He lives and is my Heavenly Father. He hears and answers my prayers. Jesus Christ is His Son, my Saviour and Redeemer. He lives and through the power of His Atonement, I can repent, improve, learn, love, and really enjoy life. His Priesthood and His Church are again restored on the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, in preparation for His second coming. The Book of Mormon is a witness of that; it is a witness that it is all true. Christ leads this work through His Prophets, and through the individual and personal revelation to each of us through His Spirit. 

This work is one of learning and experiencing for ourselves, then inviting others to learn and live, the Plan of God for our eternal salvation. Shall we not go on in so great a cause? So long as I have the hands the serve, the heart to love, the voice to testify, I will.

Ich liebe euch. Danke für alles. Bis gleich! 

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

"O Tannenbaum!"

Practicing for the choir performance

Stefan's Baptism

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Liebe Familie und Freunde:

Another Christmas is here! I can't believe it! I am excited to see you all on the computer tomorrow, and then in real life next week! I think Jacob explained it best: "the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream." (Jacob 7:26, Book of Mormon). It has been a wonderful two years, here in Germany serving a mission; and there is still a week and a half left to enjoy and serve and help and teach! The best is yet to come!

This week was real great- Stefan was baptized! It was a great experience. He was so natural with everything- no fears, and no real huge excitement, just understanding that he knows the gospel is true, and baptism is the next step. We were going to start at 5pm, but the Hamm missionaries were bringing somebody, and got to the train station late, so Sis. McPherson went to pick them up. We waited, but didn't feel stressed or rushed or anxious. In the meantime, a car pulled up, and 8 of the Romanian Family pulled up, the grandparents, 4 sons, and two daughters! They loved the baptism! That room was full, too! The others arrived and we had a great baptism service. In the font with Stefan, I felt a great Spirit of the reality of the Priesthood and of baptism. I looked out to the people watching, and the two Romanian girls, about 18 years old, were there with huge eyes and bigger smiles! Yesterday at church, they said they all want to be baptized in the beginning of next year! The friend that the Hamm missionaries brought was also very touched by the Spirit. I talked with him afterwards, and he said that he wants to be the next person to be baptized! That was the first baptism he saw. When we found out that they would be late, we considered starting anyways, and hoping they got there to see the baptism. How grateful I am that we waited, so these great people could experience the power and Spirit of baptism. How could we have not waited?

Christmas is here, and so are the members who all want to feed us and show us a real German Christmas! Tonight, we are going to the Petzold's. Christmas Eve is Germany's main Christmas celebration. I love how everyone takes the time to celebrate Christmas and remember Christ, even in a world that is becoming more "politically correct", and not wanting to talk about religious things, for fear to offend. We got on the bus this morning, and the bus driver was looking real intently at our name tags. She then said out loud, and slowly, "Jesu Christi...Ok, then I can wish you a merry Christmas!" We said thanks, and I thought about how many people today are finding the name "Christ" taboo, and worry to say it. I was so grateful that this woman felt comfortable enough to wish two strangers a merry Christmas. During the whole year, not just at Christmas time, we have the responsibility to be witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places, to always invite others to come unto Christ, to spread His name, His Gospel, His truth to the world. I thought about my gift to the Savior, that which I can give to Him this Christmas: So long as I have a heart to love, the hands to serve, the voice to testify, I will! The life of a missionary is much longer than just 2 years... it is an eternity of progression, of learning, of teaching, of testifying, of serving, of loving, of helping. It's the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.

On this Christmas Eve, I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. He was born to Mary, lived a perfect life, showed us the way, and sacrificed His life so we can all repent and return to live with our Heavenly Father. He was resurrected and lives today, just as real as 2,000 years ago! His Priesthood authority and His Church are again restored upon the earth, in preparation for His second coming. His Gospel is a message of peace and joy; joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Ich wünsche euch alle eine wunderbare, fröhliche Weihnachtszeit!
bis morgen; bis nächste Woche!

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I can't feel my toes!

Surprises and Explosions...

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

So, you know how I don't like being surprised?! Well, I was surprised like never before this weekend at our ward Christmas party! Sis. Roth is the Choir director, and over the course of the practices for the Christmas concert, she asked if I would conduct the music. It was so great! I really enjoyed the time with the members in rehearsals and preparing the music! I gave her some music that we had done years ago in College Station, and we sang "Ding Dong Merrily on High" from Christmas 2009! It was so great! We had four songs as a choir, with one smaller ensemble song, with scriptures and short speaking between each. I only had the program and words for the first half of the program, and asked for the words to the second half, so I would know when to go up to say my part right before the last song, and also to know when each song was to be sung. She told me that it would be really easy, and I would know when to get up... ok.... The songs went great, the spirit was great, and I sat down, and she got up to announce the smaller ensemble song. I had no idea what was planned, and expected to sit an enjoy. Well, she got up and said that this song will come as a bit of a surprise to me.. Ok.... I thought, Oh man, what on earth is going to happen? She explained that this song was one that I had written years ago, and wanted to perform it, as a way to express their love of the Savior at His birth, as well as to say goodbye to me from their ward, as I am leaving soon. My mind was racing... what on earth?! She translate the words into German and began reading them to the audience, since the song would be sung in Englisch. It took a while for me to catch on to which song it was..."If Stars and Sheep Could Speak". That was one I printed out months ago, just for fun, when I gave her a whole stack for options for the Christmas concert... never been sung, never practiced or performed... I totally forgot about it! I was sitting there, just not believing this! I felt the Spirit and the love of this ward so much! She finished reading the words in German, and I expected her to sing a solo... but then the sisters, the elders, and 4 others came up to the podium, all smiling and looking right down at me... They had been planning and practicing this for two weeks before, and I had no idea!! Sis. McPherson began playing, and then the emotion hit me... holy smokes! I hadn't heard or played or sung this song for years. The Spirit was so strong, and they sang it so well! It was wonderful, not because the song is great, but because they all sang it with so much love and spirit. "If stars and sheep could speak, oh the stories they would share, of Angels singing, of Shepherd's praise, of wise men seeking, of Mary's care." It was such a neat experience! Of course, it was a bit embarrassing, to have this section focused a lot on me, and I have no idea what I did to deserve all this, but through tears in my eyes, all I could say after when they came down was "Danke." I still can't believe they pulled it off! Mensch! It was really great. I felt so happy and on top of the world the rest of the evening. What was so impactful, was how they did it. They could have come and said, We want to sing this song as the other song in the program. But they did it in a way to show their love and gratitude or whatever it was. And it touched me so deeply. I will never forget that night!

Stefan is so ready for his baptism! He came to the church on Thursday afternoon when President had interviews with everyone, and was able to talk with him for a little bit. Stefan had some concerns/doubts and wasn't sure how to go on. He has three days this week of huge end of degree exams, with his baptism planned for Saturday. On Friday, he called up, and talked for 25 minutes- he was so excited! He explained how he felt the spirit so strongly and now knows that God lives, and that this is His true Gospel and Church. He couldn't really explain it, but I knew exactly what he meant! He asked for a Book of Mormon to give to his dad, and has told all his friends about his decision to be baptized. He smoked a little bit, after this experienced, said he took one smoke and it tasted so bad, that he threw everything away, and no desire to smoke ever again. Stefan is converted to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. That is what this whole work is about! He asked me to baptize him this Saturday, and I am so looking forward to it! I love this work! I love this joy!

The Romanian family, all 24 of them, came to the Christmas party this weekend! The ward was pretty frantic the few days before, trying to organize enough Santa gifts for 22 more kids and seats and food for all. But it worked out great! They really enjoyed their time! Sunday morning, several came to church. We asked where the rest were at, and Hr. Mitica said that their toilet pipes exploded in the night, and so the rest were at home cleaning up... what is interesting, is that this exact same thing happened to Stefan a few weeks ago, just as he began reading the Book of Mormon and felt it was true. Satan is getting pretty creative with those that are starting to come into the church... He'll just try anything he can to stop people from learning and experiencing the Gospel... even making toilet pipes explode! Just kidding... I don't know if Satan did it, but it is just funny how the same thing happened to both of them! 

It snowed pretty hard this week... but it all melted away. Schade! 

The work of the Lord is going forward! We have been making plans with Präsident, the Assistents and other Zone Leaders for the coming months when we will get many new missionaries, and many many new sisters! They don't know exactly how many will come, the numbers increase all the time!, but right now, we are playing around with several additional missionary companionships per stake in this mission starting in March. That is HUGE! And it will be neat to see the changes that happen to the work when over 20 new additional sisters come to the mission this spring. But the only thing that is certain, is the the Lord is hastening His work, and doing more than ever before to reach more people than ever before, to change hearts, to bless lives, to spread His truth. What a great cause! It is interesting how I felt so strongly before my mission to leave in January 2011, when I could have easily left after another semester of school, which means I will leave for home right before this huge missionary explosion happens. But the Lord knows exactly what He is doing, and I trust Him to put me where He needs me, and to guide me every step along. That is what He has done in the past, that is what He does; He is the Way.

Mach's gut, bis nächste Woche!

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter in Germany!

Friends from Romania

Winter Wunderland!

Saturday night, it snowed and snowed, and we went to church in the greatest winter wonderland! It was great! But now it is all grea slush.. I guess that's the opposition in all things! Everything is going great! I love German Christmases! There is such great tradition and spirit here. We were at the Krienke's house last night, and they told us about their family Christmas Tradition, the advent calendars, the music, there was such a great Spirit there, for that is the Spirit of Christmas. It's the Spirit of Christ.

The biggest thing this week was just that... BIG! We visited the Romanian family on Friday. That was so great. The grandfather and his 4 sons went back to Romania and brought back their wives, their kids, and are now 34 in total! They are looking for a larger apartment and waiting for all their things to get here. Sis. Böning speaks Spanish, and all these Romanian friends speak Spanish, too, so she came with us. We are so grateful she came with us! It was such a neat experience. They are so humble, so ready to learn. We brought the Restoration DVD, and said we wanted to show them a short film. They all got really excited, and then, like they had been planning and practicing,all took their places in chair in a circle around us and the TV. The little girl holding the Book of Mormon in the picture was super excited to help, even though we couldn't speak the same language, and helped me put the DVD in the player.... but remember that one time we had a family trip without the remote, and had to watch all the films with commentary? Well, here, there wasn't a remote either, so we wouldn't change the langauge to Romanian! I prayed so hard in my mind and heart, and kept pressing the Forward/Back/PLay buttons, hoping that somehow it would work. I felt a little shy of asking because of their situation, but asked if they had a computer or laptop. One son, Hersilias sprung up and came back with the laptop, speakers, mouse, and cord. There was excitedment and they were all so ready to watch! It really was a miracle, and we watched through the restoration in Romanian. We bore testimony that we know Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and was the prophet through whom they restored Their Church. Sis. Böning translated. She is so sweet and funny. I literally said "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God", then three minutes later, Sister Böning ended her translation of what I said. Now, I am no expert in languages, let alone Espanol, but I don't think she was translating word for word :-) She wasn't, but this older woman was using this opportunity to bear her testimony and to teach this wonderful family. I am so glad she took the opportunity to expand and explain herself and our testifying. We brought a whole box of Romanian Book of Mormons, and passed them out, and read together from the introduction. They all were saying "amen" and nodding at the end! We asked them to read together right from the beginning with Nephi. I didn't realize until the moment I said and thought it, but the experience of Lehi and his family leaving their homeland, traveling far away, then returning to bring back the plates, and continuing in the new land, is just what this Romanian family has gone through. Leaving home, the men working, then returning home to get their families, then came back and are trying their best in the situtation they are in. The Book of Mormon is the best guide for life, in whichever situation we are in.

We were also in Frankfurt this week for the Mission Leadership Council. My favorite part was Wednesday evening's testimony meeting. President asked those who were leaving at the end of the cycle to bear their testimonies first. I felt the Spirit as I bore my testimony of the things I know to be true. At the end of the hour and testimonies from all, President expressed his love and apprectiaiton for the leavers, sharing personal "thanks" and compliments. Then he went around through every person in the circle- 20 of us, and shared with each´personally why he loves and appreciates them. It was the greatest experience of feeling the love of a leader, of really feeling that Präsident Schwartz cares for me and wants my best. Elder Penfold and I actually stayed the night at Präsident's house that night with two other zone leaders. They have a nice piano, and when the others left, Präsident came to us all and asked us to help him with some things, then said "And Elder Garlick, you go play the piano!" It was the greatest evening, with the testimony meeting spirit, and then the power of the hymns. I am so grateful for Präsident Schwartz, I don't know how else to say it. I know he loves me and cares for me, and would do anything for me. I trust him, I respect him, and will do anything he asks. The next morning we all ate breakfast together, and it started snowing, and more piano was played, and there just the greatest happiest joyful feeling ever! Us four missionaries talked about it later, how it was the best morning ever. It's because of the spirit of the Lord that is in the Schwartz's home. Both of them are so focused on others, especially us missionaries. I want to be like them.

I was supposed to have my exit interview with President during this training, but the time didn't work out, so he is coming up to Dortmund this Thursday for that. I look forward to it, but have mixed feelings. I pray to be open to what he says and counsels, and especeially open to the Holy Ghost.

I know this work is true. From the Romanians to Stefan to the members to the other people we meet with and serve, I can see the workings of the Spirit in their lives. And that makes all this worth it!

Ich habe euch schrecklich lieb!
bis bald

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