Week 54: Bielefeld

The District

The District

Greetings from CHILLY Germany!
The weather has been pretty cool that last few weeks! We only a few hot days this summer. Odd. We broke out our winter clothes even!
A few Sundays ago in our impromptu english sunday school, we were talking about prayer. Bruder P (or Hermano P…) commented that the best part about prayer is being the answer to somebody else’s prayer. Elder Lawyer and I were able to experience that this last week a few times. Through hard and fun times, we have been able to show people the way of “truth and light.”
Monday evening we at our regular Family Home Evening with our favorite Fijian family! The Sisters prepared a spiritual thought about the Temple because…. the family is going to the Frankfurt Temple in TWO DAYS to be sealed together as a family for eternity! We all passed around a photo of the Frankfurt Temple and talked about why we love the Temple and want to go there. It was a very spiritual lesson. I was so happy for this family. I cannot wait to see them again!
Last week, Elder Lawyer and I just went through the Ward Directory that we have and called all the people whom we didn’t know very well or at all. Some people did not want anything to do with us. Some said to call in a few months after vacation. And a few made appointments out with us! One was Familie M (or Familia M because they come from Cuba!) They are the FIRST Cubans that I have ever met. Maybe it’s just because I am American, but I was so fascinated when I found that out. Hermana M is very sick and has a hard time leaving the apartment. So it is hard for them to come to church. We took the father of the Dominican Republican family with us and he was able to translate things to the wife, who only speaks Spanish.
We shared the First Presidency message from the Liahona from President Uchtdorf about the law of the harvest and obedience to God’s laws. We read Doctrine and Covenants 130:20 and Malachi 3:10 and invited the spirit so strong. It was such a great visit. My personal goal is to find a way to get them back at Church every Sunday. I know it is possible!
Sister M was just so ecstatic that we were there and was so filled with the Spirit. She had made up some rice beforehand (some cuban rice. SOOOOO yummy!) and she kept saying how she felt life a leaf falling through the air and that she felt like dancing. She kept calling us her angels as well. The had been praying that people from the Church would come visit them again. The Jehovah’s Witnesses had been by on them three times while we haven’t visited them once. That’s saying something here people! Bruder P reminded us of what he said on that Sundayabout being the answer to people’s prayers and that is what was happening at that moment. So great! I think it is only acceptable on the mission to be classified as a “tool.”
We were then also able to meet with P, our blind investigator. We had a great appointment. The “God topic” is a hard one for him. So we thought about how we could teach him about Heavenly Father. We decided to make out own Preach my Gospel lesson just about God. We found that there were three basic elements that one needs to understand in order to have a testimony of God and His nature:
1. He is the creator of the earth and father of our spirits.
2. He created a way to return back to Him through the Atonement.
3. Because we are to become more like Him during this life, He helps to do this. He knows best and gives us what we need in order to meet this goal.
He understood so well. We committed him to pray more and ask if God is there and that the Book of Mormon is true.
Some other things that happened this: an appointment with a member in Horn-Bad Meinberg (at one side of our area) and an eating appointment with the Televinukuleka Family at the complete other side of the area. That was a fun day of missed buses and trains! 😛 During our eating appointment at the Taylors (our favorite British family) their daughter yelled across the house:
“DAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!”
“Let me guess!”
“I pooped!”
“I said let me guess! That is wonderful!”
“Can you smell it?!”
 
Classsic.
The last few weeks here on the mission I have been able to remember who I was before the mission. Not all the bad parts that I should not reapply or relive, but the actual person and the traits I had before the mission. I feel like as we come on a mission we leave everything behind in order to find out who really is hidden behind the Facebook profile, the iPhone,instagram, school, the friend circle, and so on. It’s just us and we find out during this “Two-Year Boot Camp” how we – WE without the facades – can be the best, lifelong disciples that we can be afterwards. I have come to enjoy my time here more and more everyday – not like I didn’t before…. My testimony of my own mission has been strengthened a lot these last few weeks and I hope that all the other missionaries out there can testify of their own missions: they it was worth the sacrifices, that they learned and grew and changed, that they are not lifelong disciples of the Savior because of their service
 
Live in crescendo! <
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Bielefeld
 #MissionaryWork #BuildingTheKingdomOfGod

#MissionaryWork #BuildingTheKingdomOfGod

German torts are the reason I gain weight....

German torts are the reason I gain weight….

Train rides........

Train rides……..

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Week 53: Bielefeld

District Bielefeld at Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial)

District Bielefeld at Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial)

 

Na?! (This is a German greeting)

This last week was the week when everyone came back from vacation. In Europe, nothing gets done during the summer. For like two our three Sundays in a row, our bishop led the meeting, gave a talk, and played the organ for the sacrament hymns. But everyone is back and our Ward looks like it did when i first came here!

For Pday last Monday we had a district Pday and went to Minden to go visit the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial. It is this HUGE portico at the top of this hill. It is really cool looking. I saw it from the train when I was first traveling to Bielefeld from Schwarzenberg and thought, “WOAH! I am in THE coolest city now!” And so… when I say “we…” I mean WE found our own way up the hill somehow. The Minden Elders joined us later. Then we waited for the Sisters and waited… and waited. Then we just called them and asked when they were going to get there. Sister Wilson (the Aussie) answered and said, “Well, we’ve kind of just been going uphill the whole time. SO we figured we should get there eventually….” They finally made it and I was impressed. Sister Wilson didn’t want to change, so she hiked up that beast hill in a dress and sneakers. On our way back, we got on the wrong train and were in a random city – still in our area (keep in mind european areas are MUCH larger). The next train didn’t come until later. We had time planned to go home, change into missionary clothes, and then go to our eating appointment, but that got shot. We all ended up at this member’s house in our Pday clothes – except for Sister Wilson who seems to always be prepared for the most random events. That was a chaotic Pday!
At District Meeting, Sister Wilson had the spiritual thought. She shared a section of President Monson’s talk Come Ye Sons of God. She shared the story of an Elder serving his mission in Australia and hoping that his father would join the church. Long story short, the father and mother traveled to Australia to pick their son up so that the Elder’s father could be his last baptism on his mission. As hard as the work can be here at times, I had the thought come so distinctly in my mind:
unsere Arbeit ist nicht nur gebraucht hier, aber ist auch zu Hause wichtig. 
Our work is not only needed here, but is also important at home. 
As frustrating as it can be, I know there are unseen blessings. Some blessings really cannot be seen with mortal eyes, some we must look a little deeper, and some have not even come yet. I know that my mission as a whole will stand for something even greater; a mission means more than a statistical number of baptisms; it means service rendered, testimony shared, and hearts touched and moved. At the beginning of ALL our missionary meetings, we recite two things (1) unser Zweck (Our Purpose) and (2) Lehre und Bundnisse 4 (Doctrine and Covenants 4). The former reads (auf Englisch, of course): “Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to end. That is the lifeblood of what we do. So, when we write ZERO baptisms for weeks on end, it’s hard. It’s like being a baker for profession and you just cannot seem to make a good cake – it always comes out flat, lumpy, or you forgot an egg or a cup of sugar. BUT! What did the baker learn in making those mistakes?! Maybe go through the steps in the recipes a little slower? More prep time to get all the ingredients ready? Maybe it would even help to double measure the ingredients in the prep-phase? It is likewise in missionary work. We set goals and do all that we possibly can to reach those goals for new investigators, baptisms, or less active member lessons. In Denglisch, sometimes we just don’t schaff it – we just don’t make it. But it is my firm testimony that, in as much as we set goals with the Spirit, Heavenly Father will guide us to set goals that will help us learn and grow. HIS goal is that we become more like him; like a toddler learning to walk, we fall and He lifts us up. And then one day, walking becomes second nature. Some people never learn to whistles or snap or to play a tune on the piano. We understand the process and the analogies. In the goals I set and do not reach, it is something that I learn along the journey in striving to meet that goal that strengthens my testimony in a loving Heavenly Father who is caring and loving and has our best interest at heart. He prepares us.
Well! August 14th has come and gone!! I have officially been a missionary for more than one year now. I am a little more used to it. Heavenly Father has been – somehow – sending quotes from missionaries that they make copies of for me and people who say things that help understand more of how to handle this next year. We were in a city far away (Detmold) and I bought a slice of cake for me and Elder Lawyer to celebrate when we got home.
The weather has been getting pretty cool. Hopefully fall isn’t coming early…. The days are getting noticeably shorter now and I am have “nightmares” of last December when the sun goes down at like 3PM. Those were hard days! But, I did it once and can do it again! 😀
We went through our Member Directory and just called people we did not know. So we have lots of random appointments this week. And progress with our blind investigator has started again! October 12th baptismal date…? We will see!!
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Bielefeld
Porta Westfalica

Porta Westfalica

 Elder O'Keefe's berries!

Elder O’Keefe’s berries!

Package from Mom and Mimi arrived!!! A belated bday party for Elder Lawyer. Treats for all!!

Package from Mom and Mimi arrived!!! A belated bday party for Elder Lawyer. Treats for all!!

 Sister Wilson is a POWER missionary!!!

Sister Wilson is a POWER missionary!!!

 

Year 1: Germany

Lederhosen!!!

Lederhosen!!!

 

Mahlzeit!

This last week was full learning things that I have been wanting to learn for a long time.
Tuesday was our Zone Training Meeting. We met in Stadthagen this time. Before we left our apartment early that morning, I thought briefly, “I should probably carry my umbrella with me.” But we needed to catch our bus and I didn’t give it much thought. So, of course, as we are traveling to Stadthagen in the train, we see rain drops landing on the window as we zip through Nordrhein-Westfallen. We were a little worried, but thought, “It isn’t that far to the Church. It won’t rain for a while anyways.” As soon as we get out of the train, it is pouring down rain. And the walk to the Stadthagen Chapel was a little longer than last time we were there. I was not a happy camper, as we would say. I think the best part was showing up the church with a drenching wet suit and backpack with Sister Kosak – the mission President’s wife there. But a lot of other missionaries showed up wet as well and our Training Meeting was help without suit coats. I dried off pretty quickly. My interview with President Kosak, all though still partially damp, went great. He always says exactly what I need to hear.
I really appreciated his lesson on responding to Anti-Mormonism material. He showed us how to use the Church websites and that there are really no hidden secrets that Church hides or claims not to know. I am excited when we can use the Internet as more of a tool.
The Sister Training Leaders from Hannover gave a great lesson on Prayer. They started out with the question: “Do you feel close to God when you pray?” The found several examples of prayer in the scriptures. All of them showed what we need to do in order to have a more effective “prayer time.” 
 
It’s all in the approach.
The people in the scriptural examples needed to speak with God and gave their whole souls out in order to pray to Him. They prepared themselves to be worthy of that line of communication. 

Afterwards, while my companion was in a meeting, I had a good opportunity to chat with Sister Wilson and see how she is doing in the beginning of her second transfer. We talked a lot about how one can still be themself and also be a missionary. God gave us so many talents and we need to use them! I love learning fun things from people and simply getting to know their stories; life is full of characters! Sister Wilson is an amazing photographer and has the CRAZIEST camera I have EVER seen! She is always offering to take family portraits and nice photos of people. I even got an email from my mom who likes to go on walks through old cemeteries. She found a couple who needed a little cheering up (Romeo can help with that!). God gives us traits, and interests and talents so that we can help build up the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, we apply these talents according to how the Spirit tells us to use them. Sometimes, we do hear that voice wrong and act falsely. But sometimes, we use our God-given talents and traits and others will mock, make fun, or even attempt to correct. They’re just jealous or don’t understand. Accomplish YOUR mission. We all made promises before this earthly life; figure out for yourselves what exactly YOU promised and then set out a plan to bring those things to pass. I learned that especially in reading Helamen 5:35-41 about Aminadad – a Nephite who went to the Lamanites and later was able to help the Lamanites convert to the Lord and thrive in the land – one of the greatest conversions in the Book of Mormon.
Thursday was our Austausch (exchanges) day with the Minden Elders. Elder Garrett is training right now. Elder Lawyer went with him to Minden, which meant that I was able to be with Elder O’Keefe for his first Tausch! (Yes… he IS a distant relative of Georgia O’Keefe! I knew that question would come up.) I learned so much about the importance of training and loved being with a new missionary. It made me also realize the personal progress that I have made on my own mission in the last year.
Sunday was, as is always, a crazy day of learning and received answers. In Sacrament Meeting a member gave a talk that quite possibly changed a great deal of the rest of my life. I am doing a photo project for the nest few weeks and will talk more about that later. We didn’t have an eating appointment for Sunday, so Sister Adler came up to us and invited us to come over – the Sisters, too. As we walked to the train to head home to study a little bit before our appointment with the Adlers, we were thinking of what kind of spiritual thought we should share. Then the question came to us, “What kind f spiritual thought to you share at the house of a member of the Quorum of the Seventy…?” (Sounds like a good book, right…?) Nevertheless, Elder Adler pretty much provided the spiritual thought for us and we talked about the work in the area and what we can be doing better with the ward and less active members. It was really great to meet them and to talk.
Always, when we go to member’s homes, I expect something so odd. Then we go, and they are completely normal people. I am always humbled and learn so much. Before the mission, I always thought that I needed to be crazy successful in my career in order to have a happy family – so that I could provide for them. But the homes I go into and the families we visit are as normal and every day as can be. I have learned in Bielefeld that the most important work one can do is within the walls of his own home.
I hope everyone at home enjoys their last few weeks of summer. Keep me updated on what is going in your lives!
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Bielefeld
A card delivered from my mom WITHOUT post!

A card delivered from my mom WITHOUT post!

 One year ago. #Yikes #Already?!

One year ago. #Yikes #Already?!

Sisters McBride and Wilson coming from Stadhagen

Sisters McBride and Wilson coming from Stadhagen

 

Week 51: Bielefeld

The Book of Mormon can make you happy too....

The Book of Mormon can make you happy too….

 

Liebe Angehöriger,

I just received an email from one of the very first friends that i made on the mission. Elder Lucerna was in my MTC District and we email every week between Germany and Australia. We are both approaching our One Year marks. He wrote to me: “But it doesn’t only remind me of the span of our service but it reminds me of the friendship that we have! We’ve been friends for nearly a year now! How great is that! It’s exciting to know that I have gained friends… ETERNAL FRIENDS.” I am so grateful for all the amazing people I have met and learned from on the mission. I was looking at the Newsletter we get from the Mission Office. There is a list of all the missionaries going home; all the ones that I know is crazy. I guess two years (or 18 months) comes to an end sometime… but not for me , yet… right? ha!

We spent last Pday hiking up to one of Bielefeld’s icons: the Sparrenberg Tower. It was an old Castle/Fort for the little valley here. The tower is very tall and has an amazing view of “my city.”  There is part of the old ruins that cannot do much with because there are so many different species of bats that live there, right next to the castle!
Tuesday we had another dinner appointment with our favorite (and only) British Family in the Ward. They are such a great example of how i want my family to look like. I am grateful for their examples. that day, I had received a letter from my father. I had been talking about possible changing – quite drastically – what i would be studying at school after the mission. He told me which choice he liked and offered a few points that I had never thought of! Seeing the kind of family that the Taylor Family is, I know now the direction I need to take to start forming my future family… starting in a year… or maybe 5 years…. We shared a message about setting goals and why we need to set goals in this Church. We read in Proverbs where it says that if we have no vision, we are lost. We blindfolded one kid and had another one guide him to find something in the room. It went really well. I was kind of nervous since the topic is a little off from what we normally teach; but I felt the Spirit keep telling to go back to the page in Preach My Gospel when I was flipping through it to find something to teach them that evening.
Something we started doing in our Zone is setting smaller goals for our larger goals. For example, we set the goal to have 3 baptisms in the month of August. How? Maybe we need to invite more. Pray for people specifically, with names. Help prepare people more. Or even study it more in our personal and companionship study hours. This is something that I have grown to appreciate and know that it can help us at home to set goals and add direction to our lives.
I think my favorite day this week was our eating appointment with Schw. K. We brought our blind investigator with us and it was a hit! Schw. K. literally does not stop serving people, helping people, thinking about others, etc.! I am quite surprised she has not been translated yet. She tells me all the time how she no time for ANYTHING else and needs for 4-5 hours of sleep and that is all she needs to work the next day; mind that this lady is about 80 years old. Sch. K always prepares her own spiritual thoughts in addition to our own. She was talking about great Heavenly Father is. Then our investigator mentioned how it is hard for him to believe in God because of past experiences. What happened next is what I love the most. this woman did not even BLINK! And said, straight away, “But is it not great that Jesus Christ is our Mediator with the Father in Heaven?” She dropped her spiritual thought and saw the need of this person and catered to it. We then shared a thought, of unequal greatness to her’s, about learning from the Holy Ghost.
We did not have any investigator’s at Church on Sunday. So we were able to focus more on our relationships with the members here and how we can help them – in what ever shape or form or color it may be needed in. In Priesthood, we all talked about Patriarchal Blessings. I was glad that I started studying mine gain this last week and strengthened my testimony of all the tools Heavenly Father gives us here. We ended early and were making our way to Sunday School. There were a bunch of people who ended up talking outside the Sunday School room and didn’t make it in on time. So we were all waiting and realized, “Hey! We all speak English!” So our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Kennington, asked the Bishop as he walked by if we could have our own Sunday School “auf Englisch.” He said, “Of course! You can all talk about Missionary Work!” So we all left – the Australian Sister Missionary, the three American Missionaries, the three other Americans, a Fijian, and a British couple  – left and made our way to Sunday School and talked about being an “everyday missionary.” We talked about how some people try to find friends they can share the Gospel with and, when it doesn’t all work out and there is no interest on the other end, we drop them like a hot potato. But that defeats the purpose. We want friends first, namely because we are human and want to enjoy time with those of similar interests and hobbies. We just need to emphasize the commission given by Christ, in Mark, to, “… preach the gospel unto every creature….”
That word PREAH, as stated by Sister Taylor on Sunday, is crucial. We can only share, invite, show, and ask. We can teach and invite everyone. But nothing happens until the other end willingly acts. And we remain friends no matter what; friendships in the Church are not exclusively based upon baptismal dates.  
 
Tuesday will be a our Zone Training Meeting in Stadthagen. (Hannover’s church building is being renovate this month) I am excited to see what the Spirit has prepared for me to learn. The Kosaks will also be there for quarterly interviews. Thanks for all the support at home. Go through your old goals again and dust them off; what needs to happen and how can you make them happen? Goals do not need to be big. They simply ned to edify and improve. Chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel can help!
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Bielefeld
 Späatle for DAYZZZZ!!!!

Späatle for DAYZZZZ!!!!

 

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