Week #6: Neukölln

Liebe Familie und Freunde!
Something I learned last week: do not send packages directly to my apartment. It always best to send packages to the Mission Office. If I move and a package is sent to another apartment, I have to go to the post office with my ID and fill out forms and doing other things that Germans LOVE. They’ll probably make me do something with numbers because Germans love numbers and we don’t want me doing things with numbers. Some of you have seen me with numbers and it doesn’t usually turn out well. 
We had a good week of learning how we can change our approach to missionary work through the members. We are working to strengthen our relationship with our Gemeindemissionsleiter (Ward Mission Leader) and developing creative ways to increase the work! The ward goal is to have 10 baptisms this year. So far we have had three or four baptisms within the past month. So I think that is do-able. But we really want the members to step up their game. I feel like Gordon B Hinckley when I think about their passion for missionary work. I then think, “But it is not enough!” We have been going by showing the Work of Salvation Broadcast DVD and creating a Familiemissionsarbeitplan (A family mission plan) to talk to people, hand out ONE Book of Mormon, talk to someone they know, etc. When we teach people who already know someone in the Church, they already have a network of friends waiting for them. We don’t have to work to create that network for the investigator – which is a huge help!
On Monday I had my first Austausch (Exchange). There are two Mitarbeitershaffts (companionships) of Elders in Neukölln. So we switched. I went to the other apartment with Elder Atkinson for the day and went to all of their appointments. And Elder Barr went with Elder Fuller for the day. I learned some good points about being more meticulous in my daily planning the night before and spending more time on lessons and planning sessions to receive inspiration. I am not good at exploring EVERY SINGLE option available to man in a certain circumstance and get impatient. But that is something I can definitely afford to do as a missionary. I was a little envious because, when we all met back at the Church at the end of the Austausch, Elder Fuller said that we had three new investigators. WHAT?! They were finally able to go and visit some old investigators and Weniger Aktivs (Less Active members). But, with my 12 Week Training Program, we spend a lot of time inside studying right now. But we have been better about visiting people who have already learned about the Gospel. Seeds have already been planted. This is a harvesting Mission. We baptize in Germany!
In a few weeks we have a Stake Activity that we are putting together. It is called “Fufu Fest.” Fufu is an African dish. Not really sure what it is; I always get different answers. But it is an activity to introduce all the African members in the Stake to the German members. There will be food and dancing, and cultural presentations and what not. And the Neukölln missionaries, us, will do a presentation on the Church’s history in Africa. It will be a lot of fun. Hopefully people come. Just like in Life Skills Activities, I found myself making the flyers and posters again, trying to figure out how to get people to come, how many copies to make, where to put them, etc. Ha!! Heavenly Father was obviously preparing me!!
Since we are not teaching very often in German, because we are teaching mostly Africans who speak English, we decided to make one or two short appointments during the week to practice giving a lesson “auf Deutsch.” I think it’s not only a really great oppotunity for me to my German to good use, but to build trust and a relationship with the members. I am probably going to be here through the holidays at least and need to get a started on that.
On Thursday we had our Zone Conference. Our zone (Berlin Süd) was combined with Berlin Nord and another… can’t remember. But it was basically a miny General Conference for our Zones. It was so great. And the best part was that is ALL in English!!!! Hallelujah! Sister Kosak talked about the power of pure, simple testimony and our duty to share it everywhere and with everyone. President Kosak talked about how we already have all the tools that we need to teach and be effective missionaries. All we need to do is open our mouths. Just as the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants says, we must open our mouths for them to be filled; we cannot wait until out mouths are full to speak. The Holy Ghost gives us the words to say when we speak. He reviewed past lessons that had been taught throughout the year. I thought I would share a few “shorts” through out the next several weeks:
Truman G Madsen once asked President Hugh B Brown of the First Presidency why the Lord would put Abraham through the experience of being asked to sacrifice his own son. Obviously God knew that Abraham would be willing to do anything God commanded, and if that was the case, why did the Lord put him through such a test? President Brown aswered, “Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham.”
Oh! I keep forgetting! Elder Fuller’s grandparents live in the Danville Stake! Their names are Allen and Patsy Johnson. Not sure which building they go to. I don`t know them; but maybe someone else does! I told him that when he is in town he should meet up with my family. I am sure you guys would want to take him to lunch or meet up somewhere. It was funny, when I said my usual “I live about 20 minutes east of Oakland.” He asked, what is the name of your town? Do you know Danville? Ha! That will making visiing eachother easy!
Last thing on my list is football. Every Saturday morning, the Gemeinde here (the Ward) has a football game from 9-11 (soccer…). We invite our investigators and a few come. There are some other people not interested in the Church that come as well. Some kids a few years younger than us play as well. Anyways, I am TERRIBLE at playing football! Seriously. These guys have been playing all their lives – like all Germans do. Towards the end of the game I am about ready to give up trying to figure out what is going on. But one of the members came up to me and, when he was leaving at the end of the game, he said, “Elder Hoffman, es ist immer besser!” Hey! He said I was getting better and better every time. I think that this is something that I do need to get good at for my mission. I am learning. Throughout the week I pray that I will play well and learn more about the game. I guess that is paying off! Plus the Germans understand that I would probably beat them in a game of American Football or Basketball, which isn’t entirely true…. But I appreciate how understanding they are!
Okay… long email, I know. But I want to share something Sister Kosak said last week at Zone Conference. I always figured Germans did not talk on the trains or the street and didn’t show emotions because, well, that’s how Germans are. But ever seince Germany was divided, so many Germans have been taught that there is so much badness in the world and they cannot trust strangers or talk to them. And that gave me a new understanding of these people. They are not closed up and stoic because they are German… they are simply scared. There are so many people telling us where to go, what to do, how to think, act, eat, pray, dress, breathe, etc. It is scary and hard to live in such a world. But that’s exactly it: if we live in such a world. We don’t have live in that world. And that is important to me because I am a missionary. I did not coe here to see the attractions or to blend into the culture. How can a 20 year old, wearing a suit and tie, a weird nametag, a smaile on his fae, and an AMerican accent honestly blend in here. That’s right, someone like that can’t and shouldn’t. So we need to break that barrier and actually talk to people (small talk) on the U-Bahns and stop people on the street. Even if it is a typical, American “Guten Abend” or “Hallo!” as we pass one another on the street.
That is all for this week! I hope all is well at home!
Again! Send pictures in the mail or for me to print off! It is important to me!
Elder Hoffman

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