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
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" D&C 128:22