Week 28: Schwarzenberg


Tuesday we said goodbye to our Sister Hansen. She has been transferred off and away to Halle to do new and better things, I guess…. We had breakfast at a member’s house and walked her to the train. At first, it was us four missionaries and then the couple that fed us breakfast. And then one member came riding her bike down and joined us. Not sure how she knew where we were. And then another man, who lives right next to the train station, drove by and saw us and came and joined us for a bit. He realized that Sister Hansen did not leave for a while, and raced home to get his wife who was on vacation. As we all finished laughing about how we all found each other to say one last goodbye, we saw Bruder Ebisch’s brother come from work. We could see the front door from the train station and yelled for him to come over. I can report, he was the LAST to join us. It was crazy and well-deserved Farewell for a Sister who came here in September (when I came to Germany) and started a brand new program here so successfully.
We were doing our street work (talking to people on the street…) and I stopped this one man who seemed to be a little too happy to see us to be German. Turns out he really is German. He said that he had always seen Missionaries like us earlier and wished that they would stop to talk to him. They always looked interesting to him. So, I finally stopped him on the street and asked him about the Book of Mormon. He immediately started talking in great English. We ended up walking around with him and his son (2 years old) talking about his faith and what we do as missionaries. His father started a congregation in the area. The man invited us to go see his Church sometime.
Little did he know, we would be attending the Prayer Service at his father’s church that evening! It was an interesting experience. We came back two days later and he gave us a tour of his Church building and explained what they practice. But, what was so great, was that, afterwards, we sat down in their little mingling/cafeteria room and he and his friends asked US a bunch of questions about our Church. They do not believe in any form or organization and were very impressed at how large and how organized our Church was – and that they do it all without being paid! We also explained our Sunday programs and more about missionary life and how the mission works. We invited not just him, but him, his wife, his 2-year old son, his two friends, and his two cousins to come to a Family Home Evening at a member’s house tonight. We will talk about how we receive answers and confirmations of truth from God. If all goes well, we could turn our Branch into a Ward! Pray hard for us!!!!!
This whole week, we have been finding a few people who really are interested in what we have to teach and share. Things are starting to look up. Elder Larson, my companion, was trained here two years ago. He says that Schwarzenberg was definitely nothing like it was then as it is now. Something here has changed a lot. The work is most definitely hastening!
Speaking of which, Sunday was Stake Conference. We watched a broadcast from SLC. We didn’t know it started late and we got to the Church way early. So we just waited there since we had no idea when it started. While Elder Larson was in the bathroom, an elderly woman and her daughter-in-law came in. Because it was Stake Conference, I thought they were members from somewhere else. They thought the meeting started at 9AM as well. When they older lady asked, “What kind of “laymen” are you then?” I knew they weren’t members. They had just moved here from Bonn and were looking for a Church where they could have Mass. It really didn’t matter which Church. Their neighbor told them about this one which was closest to them. I told them about the broadcast that we would be watching and that would not be having a Sacrament Meeting that day. But next week there would be one. They said that they would come back the next week. They liked the paintings that were in our Church. I couldn’t really believe what just happened. Elder Larson came out of the bathroom and I explained what happened to him. “There were just a couple of nonmembers here. They just left. They will come next week.” HA! I am pretty excited for next Sunday!!!
But the Broadcast was just what the Germans needed. My favorite part was Elder David A Bednar’s talk – of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. It wasn’t even really what he said. It was how he said it. He gave his entire talk “auf Deutsch.” It almost brought tears to my eyes. It was an incredible opportunity for the members to hear the words of an Apostles direct from their mouth – rather than through a translator. Elder Bednar explained that he had served his mission in Northern Germany almost 41 years ago. And, now, as an Apostle, he was able to tell everyone in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria how much of an impact those people made on his life. I hope to have an equal opportunity some day. (We can all only hope!) He said he does not get to practice his German very much and wanted to take the opportunity to use it now. There was so much electricity in the air and the Spirit was so strong. I am not sure how to describe how much I felt like it meant for the German members in our little Branch alone. I will forever be thankful to have Elder Bednar speak German to the Saints here – who do work so hard to raise their families up in righteousness and with good morals.
Afterwards, we had dinner at the Church building. Schwester Fabian came back: this time with her husband! She knitted me a scarf and it was so nice to see them! They asked for all my contact information so that we could stay in touch during and after the mission. Brother Fabian even made an appointment during his vacation week in May to come visit us again, teach some of the youth some self-defense moves for an evening, and then have an All-Men’s baking evening. He is a professional baker… and boxes as well…. Ha! It was, again, a great treat to see some old, familiar faces from Berlin. (And to hear that Berliner accent again!)
I hope everyone can realize that hard lessons that we learn when we are in hard times. When we are down, so low. Think of how high Heavenly Father will lift us up later. I learned at BYUI to always think of my Savior and how he can help when I am getting impatient, tired, angry, or overwhelmed. I always felt so selfish when I had those emotions and forgot everything I had studied in my scriptures. We should always remember our Savior – to always have his Spirit to be with us. That is a promise.And God keeps His promises when we hold up our end.
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission


The Dresden Skyline.... This area is so beautiful and filled with college life!!

The Dresden Skyline…. This area is so beautiful and filled with college life!!


Week 27: Schwarzenberg


Hello Friends and Family!

Schönen Valentinstag!
Transfer calls were on Saturday! Elder Larson and I are staying for another transfer. We will keep working hard to get some people to work with. I have a good miracle that I will talk about later. But we will miss Sister Hansen, who is going to Halle. She started the Sisters Program with Sister Helzer, who is staying. The two of them came here when I got here in Germany – beginning of September! They were very successful! We will miss Sister Hansen and her smile!
This week, we had a shorter Pday on Monday so that we could have a personal tour from a member of the Erzgebirg! Lothar is probably pushing about 80 and wanted to drive us all over and show his “stomping ground.” He has helped the Church in this area grow so much. He joined in the DDR during when there was a big famine here. He helped build the Freiberg Temple as well. He has been a great help to the Church; as missionaries, we owe him a lot. Without his help, missionary work here would be very different.
We went to Seifen and saw all of the beautiful wood work there is in the region. Many of the carpenters were so poor and could not find work, they started carving toys and creating different things to sell. Now it is a huge part of German culture – and pretty much IS Erzgebirg culture. They take slices of a log and create the shape of an animal and then cut it, like a cake, to get little wooden animals. We saw the progression of woodworking from the 1800s until today! It was all so very pretty!
The drive before and after was so pretty! The rolling green hills and the forests. He took us to see a ski resort that his family goes to a lot. We could see all of the Erzgebirg region and into the Czech. Oh! We drove along the Czech border a lot too. We could see little stones with a “C” on them marking the border.
After Transfer Calls, I, for some reason, was dreading the next transfer. How are we going to find people? We have NO idea what to change! I later got out of that mood and back into work later that day. But on Sunday, we drove up to the Church building and I saw a red car sitting in the parking lot. I thought that was odd didn’t know to whom it belonged. And then i saw the sticker on the back of the car and thought, “Huh… the Fabians in Neukölln had a car JUST like that. Weird.” And just as I thought to myself… “Wait a second…” Sister Fabian stepped out of the car!!! The family we lived under in Neukölln were the Fabians. I was so excited to see her! She had something to do near Chemnitz and came to surprise me and her friend in the Branch. It was nice to see an old face – a face from the past that is…. I knew Heavenly Father sent her to our Branch for a reason. It was for me. I needed a pick-me-up. Something different to look at and to remember my successes from Neukölln. But, every time I thought how nice it was to have Sister Fabian there, I heard a voice that kept saying, “This next transfer, everything is going to be alright.” I had set some personal goals for this next transfer that I am really excited to work towards and felt good about them; I felt Heavenly Father confirming my goals. Sister Fabian is coming back next Sunday again with her husband and we will have dinner and her friend’s house who lives in our Branch.
President Kosak asked the Mission to read the Book of Mormon when I first got here and to finish reading it before Christmas. Well… I may or may not have just started reading Moroni today…. But I have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was written for us in this time. There were ancient prophets who saw us. They know what we are experiencing and then gave us advice. The Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul: the spiritual ones and the temporal, everyday ones.
As we read the Book of Mormon, President Kosak asked us to concentrate on the Atonement. The Atonement is for everyone. If we humbly repent and then follow Christ, His grace can be with us. As we actively do all that we can do – repent, pray, serve, study, and act – those promised of blessings of exaltation, visitation of angels, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and even temporal blessings for our families, friends and ourselves can all be our own. I know that and see it all the time as people in this Mission come closer to their Father in Heaven.
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
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Week 26: Schwarzenberg

Holy 6 Months! Time flies by! Valentine’s day will mark 6 months since I entered the MTC! I am so grateful for every single day that I have had. There are a few days that I would prefer not to revisit again… but grateful nonetheless!

This week felt really great to get back into working again. We had a lot come up that we had to go through first: meetings and new apartment stuff.
On Monday, as we were traveling to Chemnitz for our P-day will the District and the Zone Leaders, we sat at the bus stop next to a man waiting for his bus too. We asked where he was going and he said he was waiting on the same bus as us and that, after he got to Stollberg with the bus, he had to take the same train to Chemnitz as us – to the same stop even! It was the perfect time to teach him about The Restoration and some questions he had. The man comes from the CRG (Congo). He has been looking for truth his whole life. He is one prepared man. There are absolutely NO Africans here in this part of East Germany. But, yet, we somehow found the ONE African that lives here.
We met with him on Saturday and taught him about the Plan of Salvation. He had a hard time accepting why we had to forget everything from our premortal life. But he said that he would accept anyways and wait until he figured out it was true. He is so prepared! He already knows how to find out if something is true or not. We extended a baptismal date for him for the 22nd. He said he would love to be baptized the right when he knows it is true – which I know he will know. Ya know…? ha!
Wednesday was also our Zone Training meeting in Chemnitz. We enjoyed, yet another, fun train ride with the Schwarzenberg Sisters. I am not sure what we would do without them! The Sister Training Leaders gave an amazing lesson on what Grace is, how we can receive God’s grace, and what it is. And it all came from the Bible Dictionary (Grace, Prayer, and Repentance). Grace was a word that I had not fully understood and was something I wanted to study, but kept forgetting. Now I know! It meant a lot to me. I forgot to tell them that.
Afterwards we all went to lunch at some Italian place. It was great to spend a little time with Elder Conley before he left for a little while. He is a transfer younger than me on the mission and his father is not doing too well now. I am excited to see him again soon and hope everything works out for him at home. We both are “horse guys” and call each other “bronies” (bro’s plus ponies = bronies…). And Elder Grenko! I am glad that I have a good friend in Elder Grenko. He is yet another inspirational missionary. He is a good example for me and I hope to be somewhat like him someday.
Oh! And my talk yesterday. It went very well. I remembered the majority of the words I was supposed to use. I think I helped a few people in the congregation understand something about true conversion and what the fruits of true conversion look like. Everyone told me that it was a really good talk. I am not sure; definitely not my best. My only in German so far though.
One week left in this transfer. We find out Saturday morning who gets transferred. I am expecting to stay.
This week in my personal study, I finished reading Chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel and making outlines for the 4th and 5th lessons. I started reading Chapter 5, about the Book of Mormon. I love everything in the Church is connected. The Church, without the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith the Prophet, priesthood keys, Jesus Christ, etc. cannot stand. The Book of Mormon is so crucial. I have a testimony that, when our Friends of the Church know the Book of Mormon is true, the rest of their learning process will be much easier. The Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul!
Here’s to another 18 months!
Good luck to my cousin, Cassie Braithwaite, who enters the MTC in Mexico City this week! She will be serving in the Reno Mission, Spanish speaking. As well as Mekenna Wilson, who will end up in the Philippines teaching THOUSANDS! Good luck to the both of you. We will end up giving our home coming talks on the same Sunday ;D
I also want to extend all my love and gratitude to the Alamo First Ward. Thank you for your letters and emails of support. Whatever challenged you are facing now are for your benefit. You are all so very strong and faithful; Jesus Christ can make up the rest. Use him. Change with Christ means nothing. Be who He needs you to be.

Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Clubhaus!!  : D

Clubhaus!! : D

Stairs that we have to climb daily to get to our apartment!!  UGH!!!

Stairs that we have to climb daily to get to our apartment!! UGH!!!

Sisters on the train coming back from Zone Confrence

Sisters on the train coming back from Zone Confrence

Morning snow on the walking path

Morning snow on the walking path

Morning snowMorning snow

Elder Hoffman and Elder Larson

Elder Hoffman and Elder Larson

One more selfie....... : )

One more selfie……. : )

Selfie from Germany  : )

Selfie from Germany : )

Week 25: Schwarzenberg……. or Aue?

ALOOOOOOO-HA!!! (this is where you say it back…)

So… I will just go chronologicalls here.
Monday was Pday. We spent it in Chemnitz. We wanted to spend it with the Zone Leaders. But they didn’t really organize anything. So we just walked aroud. I ate ice cream….
Tuesday was spending traveling to Berlin for our Zone Conference. One of our trains fell out and we had to find another. It was fun.
Wednesday was finally Zone Conference. I always love seeing all the other missionaries from East Germany. The old ones, new ones, and everyone in between. President talked about going back to the Standards of Excellence when we set our goals. Which reminds me! I keep forgetting!
President Kosak and the Zone Leaders in the mission got together, prayed, and decided to change our Standard of Excellence from 1 baptism every month per companionship to 4 baptisms every month for every comapnionship! Yikes! That’s like South America!! But I know that these new goals will set our sights even higher and help us see even more success than before. I am excited. I hope I can see the day when Germany has – in a normal month – 4 baptisms every month for every companionship. The time is coming for Northern Germany!!!
We also had the Freiberg Temple President and a man from the Geneaology Dept. of the Church come talk to us about using Family History to find people. Very interesting!
Sister Kosak talked about Numbers 13. She talked about how Gospel promises us certain blessings, but we move go through certain trials in order to obtain these blessings from Him. I have had the thought this whole time: “Wehave to go through the 99 in order to find the 1 who is prepared.” I know we will find someONE with interest and who has been prepared by the Lord.
To be honest, I am going through a little rough patch in my mission right now. I am trying to figure so much out. And the circumstances around me have been giving me a lot of stress. But I have been able to stand on my firm foundation. I am grateful for the foundation of Christ and His Restored Gospel that I have built up under me. I know now that I can go to my Heavenly Father in desperate prayer asking for help. I know this will be a time of great growth for me.
I am grateful for the correspondence that I have with Elder Lucerna, from the MTC, who is serving in the Sydney North Mission. His mission always seems to mirror mine. And he is going through a time of “growing up.” He is a good example of how to handle this time in my life. I know without Christ, without God, nothing is really possible. I cannot change and expect to become what God wants me to become without His help. I don’t know where the end of the road is, but He does and can help me.
We are also finally moved into our apartment in Aue! I am hoping that we can finally start focusing more and more on Missionary work. We have to work out all the small things in the apaartment: our refrigerator was broken earlier and I realized this morning that we don’t have pans or baking dishes. We have pots though! OH!!! And we have a dryer! One that plugs into the wall and gets your clothes all warm!! And we have a full sized fridge. A big freezer for ALL that ice cream I am going to be eating! Kidding!! Just a little bit of ice cream…. :/
Elder RR Hoffman
Otto-Brosowski-Straße 4
08280 Aue
Also. Sunday will be the first SUnday in Germany when I have to give a talk! YIKES! I am a little nervous. It is on Doctrine and Covenants 35:9-16. It is kind of random. I am just going to go verse for verse expplaining it and making connections. But feel free to include me in your prayers! ha! I will really need them!
Sadly no pictures this week! We are writing our emails in Chemnitz this week and I forgot my camera at home. And I even made sure to take some nice winter photos of Schwarzenberg!! Next week I guess!
Here’s to a more successful week than this past week!!
My personal motto for Schwarzenberg: “You is kind! You is smart! You is important!”
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission