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