Greetings friends and family!
First, sorry my emails have not had too many stories or what not in them. This past week I have been keeping a piece of paper with me and write down things that I think I should write home about.
Last week I meant ask everyone if they could send pictures to me! I decided not to bring any pictures with me before the MTC because it would be abother thing to carry around. But I have found that as I talk about friends on missions or from school or family members that it would be nice to be able to show people who I am talking about. So anyone and everyone, if you could send some 4×6 photos to me, I appreciate that. The more the merrier, really. It would be nice to see some familiar faces every now and then.
My address is:
Elder RR Hoffman
Also, if any other Return Missionaries want to email or mail some tips about learning a foreign language, feel free to email me! I am doing pretty well with the language. I can follow what is being said at Church and at member`s houses (maybe they just speak really slowly to me…). But any tips, advice, or things you did to learn the language or to speak it more or better, send it my way!!
As Elder Fuller and I were doing our weekly planning on Friday, I realized that General Conference is coming up soon! I am super excited. I hope everyone else is excited too. General Conference is always a great opportunity to show friends and family members what we believe. Modern day Prophets and Apostles will be speaking about such basic fundamentals of the Gospel. When I was at BYUI, I was not able to stay at home and watch it my pajamas. So some friends and I went to the Taylor Chapel to watch all four sessions. It was a great experience. I would encourage everyone at home to go to the Stake Center or everyone in Rexburg to go to the Taylor Chapel or the I-Center and watch, dressed in your Sunday best and take notes on ALL of the talks. I had a really spiritual experience dressing up for each session and – basically – going to Church. Maybe just try that this General Conference.
Yesterday the Berlin Pfahl (Berlin Stake) had their Pfahl Konferenz. Again, I set my expectations low because I am in Europe and did not think it would so unified. But, again, I was very surprised by how happy everyone was too see people from around the stake. All the members in the entire city of Berlin came together in Tiergarten. We heard from a Pfahl Präsidentshaft Rat (Stake presidency councilor), some youth about to leave on their missions, our Mission President (Präsident Kosak), the Freiberg Temple President, and the Pfahl Präsident (Stake President… see how easy German is?) And they ALL talked about missionary work. First, I was surprised by how active the ward was in their own missiuonary work and how ready they were to help us. And the Berlin Pfahl is just the same but multiplied by 100. CRAZY!!! The Pfahl Präsident quoted President Hinckley when he visited Berlin in 1996. There were 120 new stakes in Germany at that time. The Prophet said that that was tremendous, but it`s not enough! We need to work harder. Not only is our mission vision to combine to the Districts up in Northern Berlin into one Stake, but, as the Pfahl Präsident said to us, in one year – when the members meet again for Pfahl Konfernz – there will not be a single seat left. There should no more room in the Pfahlhaus (the Stake Center). What a great vision. I look forward to the day when they will all have to meet in a bigger building or even build a bigger meeting house. The missionary work here is vigorous!
I sent a picture of my new bible that Elder Fuller and I bought at the Berliner Dom last week. Here, there is no separation of Church and State. And the German government owns the rights to print copies of the Holy Bible. And the Church cannot print their own with references to other Book of Mormon scriptures without breaking the law. So missionaries are given a version of the Bible that looks kind of weird. It is a hard cover, red, and looks like a regular book. Plus the translation is very hard to follow. Elder Fuller and I looked at the Martin Luther translations for fun and fell in love with them! Some members use that instead because that is what they alreadz had. So members here use both versions; it is fun to compare differences. Elder Fuller reads it all the time and it disappointed that he is just now getting it at the end of his mission. And I am glad that I found it now! It really does make a world of a difference.
The German here are funny. They are known for not showing very much emotion. On the U-bahn and on the streets, they walk and sit with straight faces. No one ever talks to anyone or says hello. We are not allowed to preoselyte on buses, S-bahns (street trains), U-bahns (underground system), or at any Haltestelles (stops or stations). So it makes it a little difficult. But it makes me laugh when other missionaries yell “Guten Abend!” to someone on the street. And they look at us with a confused face. They don`t know what to do. Sometimes they just stare at us and our nametags trying to figure it out.
Oh. And they eat bread like ther`s no tomorrow. They just eat straight up bread. I can live with that….
Ben`s baptism is on Sunday after Church and we are excited for that. So… fun fact. He plays semi-professional football (soccer). But he might be traded to a team in Istanbul, Turkey soon. We are worried because the Church really is not strong there. I think there are like four missionaries in the whole country. SO we are praying for something better. Or that he can even stay in Germany!
- The Sister Missionaries here were at the Church building in Neukölln one evening. They were sitting on one of the chairs in the entrance waiting for an appointment to show up to teach. And a pregnant, hippie lady walked up to the Church, glared at them, and then spit on the ground and left. They weren`t really sure what happened and didn`t really want to get too involved. Funny story, right…?
- We were leaving Ben`s apartment and there was a guy with a bunch of pizzas going into an apartment. He saw us and said, “Mormone, oder?” (MOrmons, right?” We stopped and said, “Yeah. How do you know us?” And he was surprised. He thought we were going to a costume party and found out that we were actually Mormons. Ha! We gave him a card with our number on it and left.
I write down about 10 words everday to look up at night and to studz and use. I will include a few every week:
- Offenbarung = Revelation
- Knechten = Secrets
- jucken = to itch/ scartch
- Sinn = mind, idea, conciousness, sense, etc….
- vorbereiten = to prepare
That`s all I have for today. There should be more to come next week! I will take more pictures through out the week of Berlin. My sidebag is small and it is hard to carry around a camera. But I will do my best; I need to.