All Good Things Come to an End

Grüß Euch!

Just typing the subject or headline of this email brings shivers through my body. I really am so grateful for these last two years. It’s incredible what I’ve been blessed to witness, learn, and experience, and it humbly excites me knowing and seeing the changes and improvements that the Lord has slowly, consistently and sometimes painfully worked in me. As my mission has come to an end and many people ask me what I’ve learned from it or what I will take from it, I’ve felt that the emotions and expanse of experiences and changes gained are MUCH too hard to put in words or summarize into short conversations… so I’ll just stick to the simple truth that this short time in Germany, Austria and Switzerland has literally saved my life and brought me more inner peace and joy than I had imagined. As I mentioned above, all good things come to an end though and my feelings of leaving and losing this sacred privilege behind of being the Lord’s missionary brings tears. I love and cherish this opportunity. Of course, I know the Lord wants me to move on soon and serve him in other ways. Naja, I’m sure there are also many good things to begin. I’m not really sure what to expect.
This last week was incredible. There were some many twists and turns, but everything worked out through Heavenly Father’s will and blessing. Lukas was baptized on 3.5.14 and was confirmed yesterday in church. The members are all super excited to welcome him, support him, and watch him grow to his potential. Everyone is simply thrilled from the light that he carries in his eyes and by the conviction that he lives. I’m really excited for you to meet him, Mom and Dad!! At a dinner appointment last night that he was also invited to, we began talking about the Priesthood and going on a mission, and it’s clear that he has real intent and desire to accomplish and serve. I’m so thankful for our friendship and having learned from and with him these last 3 months.
While I was in Singen, Elder Chapman and I had found a lady on the street named Maria. She had set a baptismal date and was thrilled to be working toward being baptized the last week that I was in Singen before getting transferred to Klagenfurt. Elder Chapman and I were almost certain that she was going to make it and were excited for her. About 2 weeks before her baptism, all connection with her just kind of dropped. She had been convinced by her family to stop meeting with us and coming to church. It was pretty devastating at the time. Well, the great news is that she was also baptized this last Saturday!! It’s going to be great seeing her once again when we go to church on Mother’s Day in Singen and I’m thankful for the efforts, worthiness and love that Elder Bartholomew and his companion put into helping her back to this point 🙂 What a cool miracle and tender mercy to have experienced.
Well, it’s probably not really interesting for you if I tried explaining progress with all of our investigators at this time, seeing as there won’t be a follow up ever again. The work is at its all-time-high right now since I came to Klagenfurt and it makes me happy to be able to pass it off into the hands of other missionaries, so that they can feel this same joy. I love these people and this country.
I’m anxious to see you on Friday and I love you so much!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis
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Berge und vorbereitende Schritte

Liebe Familie!

There’s a lot to write about this week. First off, alles Gute zum Geburtstag diese Woche, Craig!! I’m super excited to see you and talk to you again! I hope you enjoy your birthday on your cruise 🙂
We went hiking again this week 🙂 This time the purpose was much different though. About a month ago, we thought it would really be helpful for Lukas to become better integrated into the ward if he had the opportunity to do things outside of church with the members, other than lessons. Well, this week he and we were invited to the stake patriarch’s house and celebrated easter together like real Kärntner! It was a great opportunity for him to build friendships with the bishop, his family, the patriarch, and his family too! Then, on Friday, we went hiking just 30 minutes south of Klagenfurt and I uploaded the pictures to dropbox for you to see. Maybe you’ll recognize Lukas in the pictures. He’s the one wearing the hat in the picture where we all are standing together for a group shot. It was really pretty, and he and Brother Mauch (standing next to him in this same picture) got to know eachother better. Definitely another great success that’s helped him with his decision.
Because there’s so much that we’ve be preparing for recently with Lukas, I’m mostly going to focus on him again. His baptism will be next Saturday on 3.5.14 at 12:00, and it was announced during church today. He was way excited and congratulated by all the members after the sacrament meeting for his decision and conviction. After the meeting was over, I also helped him put the baptismal program together and he personally asked a few of the members if they would be willing to take part in the program. Lukas asked Brother Daniliants to be the baptist and as Brother Daniliants humbly accepted, we three felt the Spirit touch our hearts. Lukas began crying from the emotions and happiness within himself, and it was a very special experience. This is only the second time I’ve seen him cry from the overwhelming influence he feels from the Holy Ghost and I’m so grateful for the testimony and strength that these moments will hopefully provide him in hard times.
We met with another really cool young investigator this week! He’s cool. Super cool. He runs and looks a lot like a famous runner I watched youtube videos of before I began my mission, who would go out for 50 mile runs. He has a Freitag side-bag like me, which was just a benefit, and he is prepared to learn and find the truth!! We came in for the first appointment a day later after meeting him on the street the day before. We had given him a pamphlet on the street and when we walked in he explained that he had read it and was excited to learn more about it all from us. His name is Daniel.
So much is happening and improving, and I feel such a joy from these blessings and tender mercies. I’m priveleged to learn and meet with these great investigators and friends each day, and I love it! This week will definitely be crazy. I’m writing this on Sunday evening, because tomorrow morning, we’ll teach Lukas at 8:30 and then immediately get on a train heading to Wien at 9:30. There’s a mission tour going on in Wien this Tuesday, so we were told to come in the night before. We’ll get back Tuesday late in the evening. WednesdayFriday will be our days to prepare for the baptism by having Lukas’ interview and figuring out all of the logistics. And Saturday, we’ll celebrate with him together on his special day! It’s going to be a great week!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis

Hoch auf des Berges Höhn

Griess Eich!

This was a great week. Although most of our investigators were away on Easter vacation and have now come back this weekend, I really enjoyed the extra time we had for finding more new investigators and doing missionary work in a very essential and satisfying way by talking with everyone. Of course, it’s definitely the goal to be teaching and teaching, but it’s always fun and thrilling to share the gospel on the street, in buses, and on trains because you can then really feel a power, support and guidance from the Spirit when doing so. Conclusion: there’s no such thing as unenjoyable missionary work! 🙂
Good news though is that things will be able to get back to normal this week as each of our investigators is becoming available again. Lukas came back from a week long trip in Croatia late on Saturday and we were able to see him in church on Sunday. His baptism should be in less than 2 weeks now and we’re excited to help him with the final preparations. We wanted to make sure that he becomes even more integrated into the ward and has some good friends here, so we organized a hiking trip into the mountains just south of Klagenfurt for this Friday. Hopefully the weather holds out!! Things will be busy these next 2 weeks to help him prepare but he’s right on track and I could really only say positive about his testimony and efforts to follow Jesus Christ. It’s such a blessing for me that I have the opportunity to work, teach, learn from, and meet with him at the end of my mission. He’s great!
Speaking of hiking… this last P-day, the four of us in Klagenfurt went hiking in the mountains near Villach. I uploaded the pictures to dropbox. It was beautiful and a lot of fun!! The members wanted to spoil us as they knew how much I love mountains and hiking. It was really kind of them, and we’re planning on printing off a picture from our hike, writing a nice note with it, and baking them something as a thank you for their efforts to getting us to the base of the mountain and then picking us back up again.
Frau Fauland continues to progress, although she is having a lot of back problems because of a fall she had many months ago. The more we share from the plan of salvation, the more interested and excited she is to learning more. I have a lot of hope for her! There’s so much I wish I could share during our short visits that I know will bless her life and strengthen her testimony in God.
On Friday and Saturday, we had the opportunity to do a Supertausch (“Super Exchange”) with the Zone Leaders in Salzburg. Because it takes 3 hours to get from Salzburg to Klagenfurt winding your way slowly through the Alps, the distance would be too far and the time too long for us to meet in the middle somewhere or work in one another’s respective areas. Therefore, each transfer the Zone Leaders would typically do what we call a “Super Exchange” and come down to Klagenfurt, and we would then have 4 Elders working in our area. This transfer, they wanted us to come down to Salzburg so we had the opportunity to work in their area this last weekend. It was a lot of fun and I loved working with Elder Stilger. He’s from Switzerland. During german study, I read from “Gospel Principles” and had him correct my pronunciation problems, and then in the evening we had a solid lesson with one of their investigators, which led to us committing him to being baptized at then of May!! It was a great Austausch!
It’s going to be another wonderful week! Take care!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis
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Schon Wieder? Wie viele Wochen ist das jetzt?

Grüß Euch immer wieder!!

Zum so etwa hunderten Mal 🙂 Alright, I’ve really got to pump this letter out this week, as my time is already running short. Sorry!
Here’s an update on investigators and events this week:
Lukas is doing great. Unfortunately, he’ll be in Croatia on Easter vacation until next Saturday. It’s ok though, because we were able to teach him the Word of Wisdom this last week, which he also accepted without hesitation. He’s been really busy with school, which meant that we were only able to meet one time this last week. Now we’ll probably talk about tithing next Saturday and he’ll be ready to go.
We had interviews with President and Sister Miles this last week and I had the opportunity to share the success and progress of Lukas and they got REALLY excited. They met him awhile ago and loved him from the get-go. They want me to tell them the time of his baptism for 3.5.14 so that they can hopefully be there also. How cool would that be?!
We began meeting with a lady named Frau Sussitz this week. We met her on the street and she expressed a few problems that she was currently having in life. Later that night, we rushed over to the church between appointments, and printed out a talk from General Conference to give her. At our appointment, she showed up, having really disected the talk. She said she felt strengthened from it and our first lesson was accompanied by the peaceful feeling of the Holy Ghost. This was so important for her and the challenges she is facing, and I’m grateful she recognized his presence.
Another new investigator is Frau Fauland. She’s the cutest, old, sweetest, austrian grandma in the world! Haha she’s so funny and very interested in learning more about the plan of Salvation.
Ok, times up. I love you all so much! Thank you for the love and support each week; it really means a lot to me 🙂 I’ve still got 3 wonderful weeks to help others and be the hands of the Lord as His full-time missionary!! What an awesome opportunity, gäl?
I hob eich gonz liab,
Elder Janis

2 Neue Taufkandidaten!!

Servus zusammen!

What a miraculous week!! There have been many blessings this week and a real explosion in the work. I’ll start off with sharing my thoughts about General Conference though, because you were asking 🙂
There were two quotes that I really appreciated and hoped to touch on. The first was from Elder Stevenson and he was quoting the austrailien mormon snowboarder who had attempted to comfort another snowboarder during the olympics that was nervous about the next run she would have on the half-pipe (the happenings of the last olympic are all unfamiliar to me). She commented, “I’m a competitor; I want to do my best. But I also want everyone else to do their best.” I feel like with time on my mission, the Lord has helped me conform my old views and bad habits to slowly accept this mentality and finding true joy in the success of other missionaries. Where I maybe used to compete to have the most success compared to others, I now love seeing and celebrating with others in the success that they and I are granted from God. Our talents and achievements are truly gifts from Him, and when we understand that, we can’t really take pride in His achievements, but rather be thankful for the blessings he gives us and more especially others. I love seeing others happy and witnessing the miracles they are blessed with.
Secondly, I love Elder Bednar’s quote pertaining to the truck story he explained. He stated, “it’s the load that brings us back to our families and Heavenly Father.” I love that!!!! Without the trials, challenges and “weight” we are given in our hardest moments, we won’t grow and continue on our path to becoming the person the Lord wants us to become or returning to live with Him again.
NOW!!! For this week! We set two new baptismal dates, both of which are scheduled for 3.5.14, the same day as Lukas which is also my last Saturday on the mission. Here’s how these two were set: The first was set with an older austrian lady named Lotte. She first met the missionaries many years ago in Wien but didn’t ever really get to talking with them about the gospel at that time. She explains that she cooks really well and the missionaries would often come over to eat and chat for a few hours. We had a really great lesson this last week as we discussed our purpose and hopes with meeting her. At the conclusion to the lesson, we invited her to be baptized and she accepted.
The second investigator that we met with this week is a 40 year old austrian man named Christian. He’s golden. Back when Elder Smith and I were working together, we met with him one time and it was immediately clear that he was prepared. Unfortunately, since then he became very busy taking care of his ill mother who can’t be left alone and refuses to hire a stranger to help her. So Christian has been busy the last couple months spending every second with his mother and taking care of her daily needs. On Friday, he called me and requested that we meet again, because it had been too long. We met then on Saturday and had a great discussion about the restoration, at which point we committed him to be baptized on 3.5.14!!! We then invited him to come to General Conference the next day and he accepted excitedly. He came to 2 of the sessions and we’ll be sure to meet with him this week to follow up. What a miracle to find someone so prepared and excited to learn!!
Everything is still progressing nicely with Lukas and we’ll probably finish up discussing the rest of the commandments this week. We talked about the Law of Chastity and his understanding of these principles and morals was incredible. If you lived in Europe, you’d understand how amazing it is that Lukas at the prime age of 23 has found these truths for himself and has the self control to stick to his resolve. He’s expressed two times this week his dedication and preparation to be baptized and we’re excited to teach him finally about tithing and the word of wisdom!
So, if everything works out according to the plans and the will of the Lord is such, we’re now preparing 3 investigators for baptism on my last weekend here!! I’m truly grateful for this blessing. But I also know we can do better, and there are many others that I know have the potential to make this step in the coming weeks. The time is coming to an end and there’s just too much I hope to accomplish still as a missionary. Now or never!! 🙂
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis

Begeisterung und Vision

Grüeß Eich!

Well, today’s a big day. I’ve just started my last transfer on the mission and it’s a 5-week transfer (there’s 1 five-week transfer each year). I’ll be finishing up my mission serving with Elder Graver here in Klagenfurt!!!! We typically get our transfer calls on Friday and it wasn’t until this last Thursday evening that I realized that this last transfer had already flown by and we’d be receiving the call the next day. It was only then that it occured to me how much I was hoping to not get transferred and to be able to finish up my mission in this area with our investigators. Learning that I would be staying was such a relief to me and something I’ll be grateful for these next 5 weeks. I felt so desperate in my desire to stay because there’s still too much left unaccomplished here that I really hope to finish up before going home.
We’re working with many investigators at the moment, 5 of which I have the vision, hope and faith for that will be baptized before the mission drags me back to America. Although I hope to continue to work and help our other investigators progress in these next coming weeks, my mind will constantly be focused on what these specific 5 friends need and how I can help them in order to be prepared and feel ready to enter the waters of baptism by the end of this transfer if it is the will of the Lord. I hope to make their opportunity of accepting the gospel as good as possible, and I know that I’m going to need to put in a lot of work, effort and prayer to acheive that. This is why I’m so happy and thankful to be finishing up here in Klagenfurt. I’m not ready to leave these wonderful individuals quite yet.
We got to meet with Nikolas and Antonio this last week and it was a really great lesson. We read from 2 Nephi 31 together and taught them simply about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although they are fairly young, I’m so impressed with their maturity and desire to do what’s right. We’ve been focusing on helping them know for themselves if the Book of Mormon is the word of God and if Joseph Smith was God’s prophet, and they’re definitely making great progress and have faith that these things are true.
Our lessons with Lukas continue to be incredibly uplifting and he is truly one of the “noble and great ones” on this earth. When I look around me at the unexistant morals and the filth around me in Europe, I find people like Lukas to be miracles. The fact that he understands and appreciates mature gospel principles and continues to search for the truth and sincerely rely on God at 23 years old is such an example to me. In the last lesson we had with him, I had the opportunity to bear testimony to him that he was on the right path and was making the correct righteous decisions in life that will bring him true joy. His eyes began tearing up as the Spirit filled the room and bore testimony to us all of this truth. Every member of the ward loves him and they pretty much drop everything they are doing and ask us if they can come be joint-teaches at his appointments. He’s simply a really cool hollister model that isn’t caught up in what 99% of austrian university students are doing. With each lesson, I feel more and more certain of his desire and decision to be baptized on 3.5.14.
I probably did the boldest thing of my mission this last week. There’s a part member family that we’ve been carefully working with these last 4 months without ever really teaching. The wife is the only member of the family that hasn’t joined the church for the last 20 years, but has a testimony and continues to come to church each week. She’s never really liked talking with the missionaries because she thinks we are just there to baptize her, and I could definitely sense that as I first got to know her 4 months ago. In the last few months, we have continuously brought cookies by and found many ways to show our love and appreciation for her, her character and her testimony. With time, the friendship she has developed to the missionaries in general and to me especially has blossomed.
I had the impression about 7 weeks ago to write her a letter, enclose the talk “come, join with us” from President Uchtdorf in this last General Conference, and to invite her to baptism (this invitation is the reason why she has distanced herself in the past from the church and developed a negative outlook on missionaries’ intentions). Well, I wrote and gave it to her this last week, so that she would be able to think about the invitation and talk with her own time. A few days after dropping off brownies with this letter attached to them, there was a fireside held at this family’s home. After the fireside, she came to me and seemed to be even happier and friendlier than usual, which was a great sign that the letter hadn’t done any damage. Phew!! She asked me when I would be going home and as I told her a little under 6 weeks, her husband commented that she should come to a conclusion soon if she would go through with being baptized. This was very abnormal as he NEVER talks about baptism in front of her or even mentions it to her. Things are in motion with her and the rest of this story has been left in the hands of our Heavenly Father. I’m praying that the Spirit will touch her heart as she reads the words of the prophet in this talk we gave her, confirming to her the importance of this step. I’ve learned from this experience that love makes the difference. True charity, when felt by those we are among and speak with, can lead to miracles and a change of heart.
I felt and feel so much fire behind me this week and know it will be there to propel me quicker through these next many weeks. A stumbled across a scripture this last week that I feel sums up everything.
The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” – Leviticus 6:13
Mit größter Liebe,
Elder Janis

Mein Geburtstag und andere lustige Abenteuer


This last week was uplifting, enjoyable and exciting. Haha I celebrated my birthday 2 separate times on 19. and 20.3.14. On 19.3.14, we went over to Elizabeth’s apartment and she had prepared lots of fish foods for my birthday that she had brought back with her from the Carribean on her trip to the Dominican Republic. She then surprised me with a few small gifts and a delicious birthday cake. I uploaded the pictures for you to see in dropbox. Elizabeth pulled the cake out of the fridge and comes walking around the corner with giant fireworks stuck into the cake instead of candles. She began lighting them and to her surprise, they were a lot bigger than she had expected and the sparks began flying at her face. Hahaha she freaked out and within 2 seconds the fire alarm began to go off from the smoke coming from these large firework sticks jammed into the cake. She then brought the cake into the hall off the apartment building that she lives at and told me to come hold the cake while the fireworks were going off so everyone could sing happy birthday to me. Haha I also uploaded the video to dropbox of me holding the cake as it’s going off. Enjoy!
We then celebrated at the bishop’s house on the next day after we came over and did some service in their garden. As for my actual birthday throughout that day, we were still able to teach several lessons and meet with new investigators. There’s nothing that can make a birthday better than knowing that I was still priveleged to be serving the Lord, even though I was able to have many fun, short memories with families and members on that day. I only have two birthdays in my entire life to be a full-time missionary serving God, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve Him on this day just as I can on every other day. The members were also very kind and surprised me in many ways to make that day special. I want to thank you all also one more time for the kind comments you sent me in the email last week. I really appreciated your words and I love you so much!!
Lukas came to church yesterday, along with all of the children in the Piacentini family. The work this week matched up to last week’s and we were able to meet with our progressing investigators and teach daily. As for highlights this week, I want to focus on Lukas. We’ve been teaching him about the plan of salvation recently and talking a lot about what happens after this life on the earth. In the last lesson we had, I really felt and can bear testimony now to the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. During the lesson, I could feel the Spirit guiding us to scriptures and things that we should testify about, but my recognition for the blessings that God provided us through this gift giving to us as missionaries was that much greater as we finished this appointment and Lukas offerred the closing prayer. It is absolutely AMAZING being a part of this work, in which the Holy Ghost leads us and gives our testimonies power and reality. I love the feeling that comes knowing that we are supported and guided in every step of the way. I love knowing and seeing first hand how our Heavenly Father works with each of His children. He loves us so much and cares.
Keep being great! I love you!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Janis