Liebe Freunde u. Familie!
What a wonderful week! The work here is really starting to pick up. I am so grateful to have opened up this program again. It has been an extremely rewarding time – and there is more to come!
We learned this week that those who live out in the middle-nowhere, farm communities have a greater understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ than those who live in the villages and go to their Lutheran or New Apostolic Churches every Sunday. We have had a few amazing conversations with people who have a great understanding of who God is. Out in these areas are people open and willing to listen and talk.
We went dooring in a more rural area of Schwarzenberg. We knocked on this one door and this huge man comes walking out. He looked like the type that was going to start yelling in our faces to leave. But then he asked if we could come in for about 15 minutes and talk. So we did… which NEVER happens when we go door-to-door – at least not in my 6 months here! Our 15 minute chat turned into an hour long lesson about the Restoration, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. Plus I was playing with his Dachshund the whole, which was SO much fun! Reminded me of Romeo at home!
He said he was going to read the Book of Mormon during is trip this month to Romania. We asked to make a return appointment and he said “Boys, I need to read this and find out for myself. I will call you!” And then we said okay! 😀 We said a closing prayer before we left, drank the last of the juice he got for us, and then shook his hand to say goodbye. I think it was a combination of a really long, East German handshake and the fact that he was super impressed by what we taught and the Spirit we all felt, but he shook my hand for about 3 minutes and stared into what felt like my soul. My hand disappeared in his giant farmer hand for a little bit. I cannot wait to meet this man, and his dog, again!
Our other experience was with a man who was chopping his own wood out in his front yard: talk about farm community. (I have never seen so much chopped wood in my life then in Germany during the winter time!) Anyways, we talked to him when he stop chopping and ended having a great conversation about God and the Restored Gospel. He said he loves nature and doesn’t like going into a man-made building and being told how to pray to God and what to believe: he is a free spirit. I was able to share my testimony about nature, how God made, and our role to take care of it. We introduced the First Vision and emphasized how Joseph Smith didn’t got into a Roman Cathedral or to some elaborate Church. He went into the forest just behind his home and offered his first oral prayer. He gladly took our card and said he would look at our website and see what he thinks. He had a great understanding of nature and our role in it – which I LOVED!!!
But my personal highlight this week was Sacrament Meeting yesterday. First of all. President Seidl called an assistant to the Branch Mission Leader. After the meeting, Björn came up to us and told us that we need to have daily contact with him and he wants to know everything going on with out work. I am so excited to start having a great Missionary-Branch relationship and start seeing miracles. President Seidl also called two knew Branch Missionaries. When he called this couple, I felt the Spirit so strong. It felt like a knife going through me (so poetic, I know). I had to try so hard not to cry before handing out the Sacrament! I know these are the people Heavenly Father wants us to work with. What is even more special is that the wife that was called reminds me so much of my own Mother! And now, both this special lady and my own mom are Ward Missionaries. Now my mom can see what I am doing through the missionaries in California. And I can see what my mom is doing through these new Ward Missionaries. What a special time for Schwarzenberg!
The last thing from Sunday was the testimony from my favorite man here: Lothar Ebisch. His grandson had just received the Melchizedek Priesthood. Bruder Ebisch did not know what to get him, what to say, what to write. Lothar joined the Church when he was 15. He is now 80 years old. Seeing this man, who joined the Church during such a hard time in East Germany – during poverty and famine – stand at the pulpit some 65 years later expressing his gratitude that his grandsons can now be a worthy priesthood holder brought so man tears to my eyes. I hope, someday, I can be eighty or ninety and be at a loss for words when my grandsons and great-grandsons receive the Priesthood worthily. I know times, in the moment can be hard; but sometimes we have to remember the bigger picture.
My advice from this week to everyone: be sensitive to the Spirit, because sometimes God gives you answers you did not know you needed. Sometimes he shows what the future holds for you so that you can keep going – so that he can continue to use you as a servant of God that is positive, spiritual, and always forward and upward looking.
No pictures this week! I forgot my camera cord.
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission