Week 33: Schwarzenburg

The Schwarzenburg Ward

The Schwarzenburg Ward

 

 

HALLO!!!

Transfer calls were this last Saturday and…. I am staying in Schwarzenberg! Elder Larson flies home to America and goes to the mission officetomorrow morning. I will be working with the Zwickau Elders while I am companion-less. I will then pick up Elder Ustach who is coming from Spandau, Berlin! We are both very excited to work with one another. Sadly, we all have to wait until next week for pictures…. again.

After we did emails on Monday, we headed over to the Church to cook with Schwester Schürer. She showed how to make Rouladen and Rotkohl! Now I can make it when I come home! She is such an amazing person and is one of my idols that I have found on my mission. She served a mission in the DDR and has really sunk deep roots into the Gospel. She told us that she was at Church one Sunday and the Mission President during the DDR times approached her and asked her if she who accept a call to serve a mission for the Church. And then she said yes. Crazy!
We also went by on a man that we found earlier in Stollberg: the men was very excited to hear that the Book of Mormon was scripture and that Joseph Schmidt saw God and Christ. His wife had had a serious, life.threatening operation on an artery in her neck and he was very worried about her. That is why we could not really make an appointment with him. We went back this week to seek how he was doing. He answered the door, and before I could ask, his wife came to the door to see who he was talking with. He then introduced us to his wife as “the young men who were praying for her during her operation.” She was extremely thankful for us and started crying. She really should not have survived her surgery and said that her faith in God had been strengthened. She was still very weak and has to regain some of her motor skills and had to go back inside. We talked with the man and found out that he had managed to read in the Book of Mormon in between everything. It sounded like he read the introductions and the testimony pages; he was confused and found the language to be very complicated. We told him to keep reading and it will start making more sense and he will be able to learn more if he just keeps reading… and then PRAYING! I will go by on him again this week and try to make an actual appointment to teach him so he can start progressing… even more!
We also went by on the farmer man that we found a while ago (the one that shook my hand for a long time…). Elder Larson wanted to say goodbye. We talked to him… AND HIS GIRLFRIEND! His dachshund was not there sadly 😦 But his girlfriend said that we can come by anytime to teach them and share a message! She will just listen; but Herr K wants to really progress – slowly…. Anyways, at the end of our appointment, we shook hands and I was nervous he was going to do another weird handshake… which he did…. And it was even longer than the last one. I started looking at the other people in the room and is got SUPER awkward. I didn’t know what to do! My hand was lost in his and he had a pretty firm grip, which I was returning. Then Elder Larson said, “Sie mussen seine Hand weglassen…” “You need to let his hand go….” HE was waiting for ME to let go of HIS hand! OH MY GOSH! SOOOOOOOO embarrassing! I usually wait for the other person to let go. But he still likes me. He said that I have a good energy and he wants me to come back again. Oh boy. Ha!! #TypicalElderHoffman
Yesterday. SundaySunday was such a special day. We had our combined Priesthood and Relief Society and the teacher said at the beginning that it really is not enough to have questions or to come with questions and then expect answers from Church or from the scriptures. We have to ASK and then we have to LISTEN! He who does not listen will not hear!
I ended up using in my SECOND talk in German. It was Doctrine and Covenants 43:8-9. But Elder Larson’s farewell testimony turned into a Farewell sermon and my Church Talk was condensed into a testimony about the Sabbath Day commandment. But! It was perfect! On Tuesday, I received a letter from my former Bishop, Bishop Littlejohn. He letter fit perfectly with my talk. I ended up translating part of it and read it. (Bishop Littlejohn: if you ever want part of letter in German, you know where you can get it). I talked about how important it is that we come everySunday for ourselves and how much doing this can bless us!
After Sacrament Meeting, one of the Young Men was going to be ordained to be a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. The young man came up to me and Elder Larson and asked if we could participate in his ordination. I was so touched!
Then, later that evening, we had a big farewell party for Sister Helzer and Elder Larson. Sister Helzer is being transferred to Marzahn in Berlin. There were a lot of members there and, what’s better, we had a lot of investigators come. Which is weird because we have not had ANYONE at Church since I have been here. It was so much and I really got to know the members better and grow closer to them. And our investigators finally got to see our Church! There was even a Less Active Member there whom we have never met. We just invited him and said that he HAS to come. The members enjoyed seeing him.
I am excited and extremely hopeful for this next transfer with Elder Ustach. I was walking around Schwarzenberg a few days ago and… I know it sounds weird… but I could smell change in the air. The air is different now that Spring is coming and the flowers are blooming. I think that is a sign. I know that there are “good things to come,” like Elder Holland says.
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Scwarzenberg
Hohenstein Elders came to say good by to Elder Larson!!

Hohenstein Elders came to say good by to Elder Larson!!

 Schwester Schürer. She had me show everyone our selfie picture. She loves it!

Schwester Schürer. She had me show everyone our selfie picture. She loves it!

Our English teacher-extraordinaire!

Our English teacher-extraordinaire!

A member of the Ward and Elder Hoffman

A member of the Ward and Elder Hoffman

The Ward Leadership

The Ward Leadership

Auf wiedersehen, Präsident Seidl

Auf wiedersehen, Präsident Seidl

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Week 32: Schwarzenberg

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Hello All!

Before I proceed any further, I keep forgetting to share something very important. I DREAMED IN GERMAN! I have to elaborate a little more because it was actually kind of funny. The four Schwarzenberg missionnaries were there. We were at some kind of big speaking event (probably a TED Event) and we were back stage just hanging out. We started talking to each other about random things in German. Before I even knew it, I saw Angela Merkel walk onto to the stage. Before she walked on stage, she walked over to me and asked us, in German, where we were from. I said America and that we were missionaries. She was very impressed with our German. Ha! Of course Angela Merkel would be in my first German dream (that I can remember).
On Monday after emails we spent the rest of our Pday at the Ebisch’s home baking bread and cookies and watching Church films. We didn’t have anything to do and were out of ideas; so we called Schwester Ebisch up and asked if we could hang out with her. It was actually one of my more favorite Pdays.
Afterwards, we stayed at the Ebisch’s for our regular Family Home Evening. And we askyped with one of the Sister’s investigators. It was way cool!!! We had an opening prayer via Skype and talked a little bit. Then we watched the First Vision video on YouTube. We found the link, sent it to him, muted our Skype, and then we watched it with him at the same time. Then we all came together and talked about what we watched. He is making so much progress. Heavenly Father has really been showing him that this is the right way for him to travel down. Before, he was atheist and had a hard time believing in a Heavenly Father. Now he reads in the Book of Mormon (he is Jacob now), prays daily, and knows that he is a son of God! The Gospel is so true. He is a completely different person now he has this knowledge. I am so excited to see him continue to progress.
My other spiritual experience was on Wednesday. Wednesday was a good day. We had District Meeting. Elder Lyon talked about our purpose in Missionary during his spiritual thought from the White Handbook and that we need to consecrate ourselves for this sacred work. Then the Annaberg Elders talked about Faith and Hope. We often think they are different and separate. But, when we read Moroni 7:41 and Ether 12:4 in the Book of Mormon, we find out that we need both. One doesn’t come before the other. Faith is knowing Heavenly Father is there and that his Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Hope is knowing that Christ can help us come closer to God and do hard things: to go go forward when there is no light. Faith and Hope are like the two blades of scissors. Which one does the cutting? They both do the cutting. Likewise, we need both to succeed and to grow. Our District Leader, Elder Ashmead, had us read the story of Abraham sacrificing his son in Genesis. We wrote down what we need to sacrifice and talked about why we need to make so many sacrifices as humans, as members, as children of our Heavenly Father, or as missionaries. God can see everything. He sees times as light and can see everything at once. So he can help us. When we receive prompting to do something or say something, we need to faith and hope to do that. Faith that we know he sees everything and hope that what he tells us is of value. We took those little papers and then burned them. It was a really cool experience.
Later that evening, we had our Family Home Evening at the Church with some members. Normally it really isn’t all too much fun. But, for some reason, we laughed so much and really enjoyed everyone’s company. Then, out of nowhere, a less active member that we had been sporadically visiting came and joined us! It was so great. I think he finally starting to make progress and will start coming to Church again soon on his own. He just has to make his own decisions at this point. We were very proud of him.

We are off in a few hours to learn how to cook some German food today from a member. We are excited!

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I have a favor to ask of all the members at home and abroad! Pick one commandment that you have a strong testimony of and write a letter to me. It can be short. Write a letter of how following this commandment has blessed you. This is something that I want to try using with investigators and Less Active Members in the future. This will also be a fun project to help all of us grow spiritually. Thanks for the help!
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Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Scwarzenberg

Week 31: Schwarzenberg

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Heiliger Kuh! Time is flying by so fast. I am going to be half way done with my mission before I even know it!

This week had a slightly rough start…. As usual, Monday night was spent at Family Home Evening at the Ebisch home. I didn’t really feel to well. I couldn’t find the appetite to eat anything, but I was still hungry. I started feeling worse and worse as we made our way home. We got off the train in Aue and walked underneath to get to the other side to go home. I only made it half way through the tunnel and threw up everything that was in my body – including my liver. So bad. The best part was getting to walk the mile and a half home… up hill, afterwards!
Sister Sadler had been sick earlier. Then me. Then Sister Helzer got is the worst of us all. Elder Larson was the last to get it. We aren’t entirely sure where we all got. A few members had it to and we heard of a few other people in Aue having it. Maybe just something that went around. All the food that we carefully purchased that Monday all of sudden looked so unappetizing. We spent Tuesday and Wednesday at home near the bathroom. I was so weak the next day and half and could not eat. Although, I have now watched every single approved DVD known to the Germany Berlin Mission. I think my favorite is Mountain of Lord, the story of how the Salt Lake Temple was built. So much sacrifice. Something like, built when it was, could have only been built by divine assistance.
Heavenly Father definitely taught me a lesson when I sick. The last two transfers I have been very precise with everything. keeping the apartment spotless, and making sure we are always following our schedule. Yes, those things are good. But I learned how I can have a balance. I decided to keep my desk slightly messy, just so I can learn to deal with “unbalance” and not be so wound up. I left a pencil on my desk, instead of putting back in my pencil holder: I almost died. It is still there at home.
On Thursday, we were able to go to Stollberg and door-to-door. We found one man at the end of the day. We knocked on his door, started to walk away, and then he opened the door. We told him who we were and what we were doing and he looked incredibly confused. We just stood there while he was trying to figure it all out. He stared at our name tags and then figured out we were from a Church. He told us he was Atheist and should try somewhere else. We said something, I forget what, and he told us to speak louder. He said we spoke a lot like Christ: quiet, soft, humbly, etc. What was surprising was when he said that Christ is actually a big example for him. He said earlier he wanted to be a preacher, but that was too hard in the DDR. SO he became, instead of a religious adviser, a medical adviser and studied Psychology. We told him about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. When I taught about the First Vision, he was all of a sudden incredibly excited to read the Book of Mormon – and even more excited when he learn that the Book of Mormon is additional scripture. We are excited to hear from him again and see what he learns.
Hopefully we can finally have a week of steady work, uninterrupted by illness. We have a lot of time this next week to go find those whom the Lord has already prepared.
As we went by to visit shortly with a Less Active Member, I had the strongest impression that the people with whom we now are working should always have contact with us. They may not be making progress now; but how will they make progress later if we decide to stop working with them? We need to ask hard question and listen with the Spirit in order to understand their needs, concerns, and to find out what is really going on. Less Active Members have already decided to follow Christ and need help staying true to the covenant that they have already made. And our paths have already crossed with those of investigators for a certain reason: they need us and we need them.
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Scwarzenberg
Bored selfie while home sick!!

Bored selfie while home sick!!

Sunny bus ride!!

Sunny bus ride!!

Week 30: Schwazenberg

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THREE-OOOHHH!!!! I hit 30 weeks! And March 14th marks 7 months on the mission, too!

Well, I will have to say that the highlight of this past week was going to visit the Freiberg Temple. What an amazing experience. It is such a tiny, but incredibly beautiful, House of the Lord. When we went in, there were SO many people there – because it was so small! And it seemed like they somehow all knew one another!
I don’t really have too much else to write about this week….
On Wednesday we had another Zone Training Meeting in Chemnitz. We learned how important it is to 1) rely on the Lord for our troubles and stresses (He has gone through it all!), 2) how to extend and follow up on commitments, and 3) to speak 9-9 German and have good, daily Sprach Studium.
I learned a lot there. I am always excited when I find ways to become a better missionary.
On Friday, all of our appointments fell through. So we decided to walk all the way from Schwarzenberg to Aue. It ended up a lot longer than we thought. I wish I had brought my camera though! It was so beautiful to walk through the German forests and enjoy the sounds of nature. Probably wasn’t the best use of time… but we have to enjoy both sides of hard work and relaxation sometimes in order to NOT go crazy!!!
Thursday evening we had a dinner appointment with a family. We met him on the street a while ago; his father is the pastor guy that founded a Christian congregation back in the DDR. We ate with him and his parents and his friend. His parents asked us so many questions. We answered questions about us, what we do as missionaries, Temples, Priesthood, how the Church is organized, prophets, the literal gathering of Israel, the hymns we sing and our Sunday church services, and so much more! And they believe almost everything that we believe. It was a great evening of learning from one another.
The parents invited us over to come to breakfast with the Sisters the next day. After eating, the father asked us, “So, what is the most important part of the Book of Mormon that I should read?” #KillerQuestion
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Scwarzenberg
 Celebrating Fasching at FHE at the Church!

Celebrating Fasching at FHE at the Church!

It is spring in Germany!!

It is spring in Germany!!

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World's smallest Spritzring!

World’s smallest Spritzring!

Spring Selfie

Spring Selfie

He told me he didn't need any socks!!

He told me he didn’t need any socks!!

Week 29: Schwarzenberg

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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
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Scwarzenberg