Week 15: Neukolln

Fröhliche Thanksgiving y’all!
This upcoming week is Thanksgiving and, sadly, I will be missing out on the buffet at the Country Club this year! Instead, District Neukölln will be combining both our lunch and dinner hours in order to assemle and devour a Thankgiving meal… as best as the missionaries in Germany can!
Today, three zones (New Brandenburg, Berlin Nord, and Berlin Süd) assembled at Tempelhof and played some good ol’ American Football. All on a account of that HUGE family tradition that we have where we play football every Thanksgiving out side…. Which we actually don’t do! It was like a flashback to my first Saturday morning in Germany playing Fußball! I had NO idea what was going on. But I enjoyed being with the other missionaries and helping them all get through a hard time away from their families. That does not happen very often and it is very special when we come together. Präsident Kosak was there as well and made it fun. He and I are pretty much of the same opinion and knowledge of American Football.
Thursday, we traveled from Southern Berlin out to Brandenburg. That was Elder Fuller’s first city and they are having a hard time finding and teaching people there. So we went to “help.” It was 85% Elder Fuller revisiting to say say goodbye and revist old memories. But I enjoyed the trip. It was different from the TALL TALL TALL buildings here in Berlin. Our train traveled through some of the most beautiful countryside that I have ever seen. There were a few cows and I got so excited inside. I haven’t seen all of this in such a long time. I know the work is harder in smaller places, but – having been in such a busy, busy, busy city – the country sounds peaceful and pretty! And the town – or city – was equally beautiful. They have a small branch there that dates back very early. I am very impressed by the saints there and the ability to keep it going. The had pictures of every Relief Society Presidency and every Bishropric that had served there dating back to about the 50s. It was very fun to see these photos and the Church heritage these people have inherited. The Church is in a different phase here in Germany. We are getting busier and busier!
What am I most Thankful for this year? To be a part of establishing Zion in this little part of the World. Heavenly Father has divine plans for this area and these people. And, we are helping people here to see this! We are just a little Stückchen. We are just a little piece. And I am greatly honored to be a part of this.
This week has mostly been filled with getting Elder Fuller to go home and doing all those last minute things (i.e. saying goodbye, making last minute purchases, etc.).
Oh! And Transfer Calls were on Saturday! Looks like I am being moved! I am so excited to move on to new and better things. There is a great work for me out there, still!
KIDDING!!! ha! I am staying in Neukölln for Christmas and am so excited that I get to rellish in the Spirit of Neukölln even more! My new companion was actually companions with Elder Fuller a while ago. His name is Elder Breitenstein and he was last serving in Freiburg. I am excited to pick him up tomorrow and get to work again! More information about him next week.
This week’s General Conference Talk was our lesson for Priesthood and Relief Society classes. It is Gerald Causse’s talk “Ye are no More Strangers.” In the Church, we are not strangers; we are brothers and sisters. We talkied about what makes a stranger our Brother. We did an activity where we drew names of people there and we had to write what we already have done for them, what we could do for, what we like about them, and what our desires were. At the end, there were to triangles that we cut off where our answers were. One triangle asked what we what them to do for us. And the other said how we could help them. We gave these pieces to eachother afterwards and I loved it! I felt unity!!
Bishop Cause quoted Les Miserables. Jean Valjean is released from prison and cannot find anywhere to live. He is continually turned away and cannot find a place to sleep or eat or even rest. He knocks on the door of a church and the Bishop of the church answers:
“‘This is not my house; it is the house of Jesus Christ. This door does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name, but whether he has a grief. You suffer, you are hungry and thirsty; you are welcome. … What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me [your name], you had one which I knew.’

“[Valjean] opened his eyes in astonishment.

“‘Really? You knew what I was called?’

“‘Yes,’ replied the Bishop, ‘you are called my brother.’”

I love this so much. This Church is not the Church of Elder Hoffman or of President Monson or of Happy Feelings. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. It is His Church and we must treat all those who chose to enter these holy buildings as our own – not as strangers. We all made the choice for ourselves – or are now making – to enter these buildings, to read the Book of Mormon, to pray, to pay tithing, etc.; and we can all help one another do so. I love this. I have said it so many times, my most favorite part of the Gospel is the supportive community of Zion. It can be found evrywhere!

I encourage everyone to treat those around you this week as your brothers and sisters. I can promise you that you feel an overwhelming love for everyone and will even learn new and unexpected things. When we truly love everyone as God loves everyone – or strive to – we follow the command to, “be ye therefore perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect.”

I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon, the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a living Prophet – Thomas S Monson – this year. I have seen people take this parts into their lives and seen great changes. The Restored Gospel of Christ is here for us all; ALL OF US. It is hard to comprehend. The Atonement is for everyone. In Sacrament Meeting, so many people spoke how we are never alone. I know that. When we are swimming in deep waters, God is there to pull us out or push us ashore. He may not calm the storm, but he can calm His child. This is my promise and my challenge to all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder RR Hoffman

1. Elder Atkinson. Neukölln Zone Leader now being transferred to Hannover. Going to miss this very special Missionary!
2. Elder Beck. I think he’s my twin. Basically Elder Martha Stewart. Funny. Social. Happy. Loves everyone. Studies Political Science and Economics at BYU. We will be seeing a lot of each other after the mission. He is in the mission office in Lankwitz.
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