Another busy week of walking around and talking with everyone! We are starting to see the fruits of our labors.
Our last Pday was spent cleaning out an old missionary apartment. I will not send photos of that…. I am glad that we are all done now. We just have to carry a couch out to the street and then we are done.
Tuesday… I think I officially encountered my weirdest “Door-to-door Story.” We were going by on some people with whom the missionaries had spoken earlier (potential investigators). The man let us come up to his apartment. Now, it’s important to know, next to his name on our piece of paper said “Smokes. Has his own church.” Great. I am visualizing a man who probably comes up to my chest – barely – without any pants on opens the door. He lets us in and you could literally see the cigarette smoke in his apartment; I couldn’t breathe. I was just going to invite to Church on Sunday, give him our card, and leave. Then he asked where we were from and we said, “von der Kirche Jesu Christi.” Then he goes on a rant about “the Church” mishandling children and then he really angry… REALLY quickly and I stopped smiling and wanted to leave. We told him that, that isn’t our Church and then he kicked us out of his apartment. And we smelled like cigarette smoke for the next few hours. The people you meet as a missionary! ha!
Then, Wednesday, we had a Zone Training Meeting in Hannover. I learned that other missions don’t do this. I guess it’s because we don’t get a chance to get together very often and learn and study how we can be better missionaries because our mission is so huge, we have these once a transfer. The Zone Leaders organize and lead them and a few missionaries, like us this time, gave a Thema (or a lesson/training). We were asked to talk about “talking with everyone.” We assembled a list of different things we all like to talk about with people on the street so that we could try out new things. It was also great to talk about why we need to share the gospel and talk with EVERYONE. Because EVERYONE needs it; many do not know why or even that they DO need it. AND WE have it. I was inspired to ask Sister Madsen, serving in Stadthagen, what her purpose on Earth was. She said that it was to prepare to meet God and to be sealed to her parents and her future children. I thought about all the people who walk by that beautiful church building in the middle of bustling Hannover. That cannot say that. We can say that because we have already tasted of this precious fruit. And that is why we need to talk about these things (the Gospel, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and the Temple ordinances) with as many people as possible – so that they can be happy like us and say, “I know my purpose here on the Earth and it is to use this time to prepare to live with my Father in Heaven, again,” just like Sister Madsen said. (Our picture at ZTM will have wait until next week. It’s on Elder Smith’s camera)
Normally, Zone Training Meeting is nothing but fun and feeling the Spirit so strong that it makes so happy I can barely control myself. But this day was different. The Spirit I felt was quiet and calm. I still felt the same burning in my heart and confirmation that was what being taught was not only true, but it was all specifically for me. This excitement usually carries into the train rides to and from; in this case, the calmness and seriousness went with us as well. That is important: the SPirit we leave behind is the Spirit we leave with others and we must be careful to act accordingly. On our trip back to Bielefeld with the Bielefeld Sisters, we had a great conversation about the work here, how it is rapidly hastening, and all the people we want to help get an answer that this all true. I am grateful to be working with people who care so much. Often, we bug people about making out an appointment or meeting with us and they get turned off because we push too much or they forget to make time. But, when we look at the bigger picture, it is because we simply want to help them know what we know and see what and we have seen.
My MTC friend, Elder Lucerna, sent a quick note that ended up making me think. He responded to my email from last week and was talking about our blind investigator. he said, ‘I hope you can help him “see” the Gospel.’ The Gospel is not something that we can understand with logic or with our brains. It is something that we must not physically see with our human eyes. We have to open our hearts and our spiritual ears, maybe even put on our “Church glasses” so that we can more fully understand what is in the scriptures and pamphlets and books and in the words of the modern-day prophets and apostles.
We ended up spending the Fourth of July with a German member eating German food. There is a mission rule, worldwide, that Elders cannot meet with women alone and Sisters cannot meet with men alone. We were probably trying for a good, collective two hours throughout the day to find a member or SOMEONE that we could take with us to this appointment. We had not thought about it earlier and needed someone to come with us the DAY OF! AH! There was one member that, for some reason or another, I kept putting off CALLING. He kept coming up in my brain and I kept saying, “No. He won’t come.” I called our Ward Mission Leader for help and he said, “Call Michael.” So I thought, “Okay… he’s just going to say no because Germany is playing against France and the whole world HAS to watch it!” I call, he finishes my sentence and says, “…and you want to know if could come with you to your appointment. What time should we meet at?” It worked! It seems silly, but I was so stressed and, honestly almost cried, but Heavenly Father sent a tender mercy to us!
Then, the next day, we went to Michael’s birthday party. There were a few members there. The Sisters came as well. And our investigator, Patrick, was there !! He has been away because his mother was sick and he was worried. But she all better now. He told us at the party that if he was not by the bus stop on Sunday, it is because he didn’t wake up on time. He usually sleeps in and was scared we wouldn’t wake up on time. And… he wasn’t there on Sunday. I am desperately praying that we can meet with him THIS week and invite him to baptism.
But, on Sunday, a man who the Sisters met on Saturday in the city came to Church! He is from Georgia and is interested to keep learning about the Church. In our Aufbau Klasse (Gospel Principles class), we simply taught the first lesson… well, our Assistant to the Ward Mission Leader did. He served his mission in Dallas and knows Preach My Gospel. I was so impressed at how well he was able to teach a first lesson, hit all the points he needed to, and ask great questions! That is exactly why we need more members studying Preach My Gospel. We need members to be preparing on a daily basis out of Preach My Gospel so that you can all be ready to be a great Joint Teach. Yes, the Spirit will help in the moment; but you need to material in your head to use. Know the five lessons in Chapter 3, the sub-headings within, and be able to give a 3-5 minute lesson of each of the five lessons. “Ask the missionaries! They can help!”
We went to our Assistant to the GML’s (Group Mission Leader) house for dinner after Church. We had a great appointment – normal. Then they started asking US about OUR investigators and OUR work! They even knew some of their names already and asked how they were progressing. We told them some were progressing and they got excited. We told them some had slipped or got nervous and slowed their progress down a bit, and they were sad and thought of ways we could help them. MEMBERS! Can you name with whom your missionaries in your own ward work? Get to know the missionaries AND their friends. Be their friend and be prepared to help them. Afterwards, we shared a spiritual thought for the children about “choosing the right.” It is normally customary for us to ask, “Gibt’s etwas das wir für Sie tun können?” “Is there anything that we can do for you?” Before we could even ask that, they asked US that. This family is such a great example of how a missionary-minded family should act.
This next week I will be spending a day in Nienburg with one of my mission friends, Elder Cook. The District Leaders have a Leadership Training in Hamburg. I am excited to see what kind of tender mercies and fruits of our labors the Lord has in store for us. Thanks for all your support.
Oh! ATTENTION WORLD! EVAN JOHNSON SENT ME A LETTER! First one I have received on the mission! (insert angels singing here… : )
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission