Week 68: Freiberg

Pday lunch in Dresden

Pday lunch in Dresden

Happy Advent Friends and Family!

Sunday was the first day of Advent here in Germany. The German Christmas is starting to break out! We spent our Pday here in Dresden visiting the Christmas Markets here. They are so great! For lunch I bought a hollowed out piece of bread filled with cooked Saurkraut and Kassler meat (pork…). Yum!!!
On Saturday we had our transfer calls. I am staying. No surprise. And Elder Schouten is flying home this week. No surprise. And I am receiving Elder Simmons. We were in the MTC at the same time. He is in Osnabrück right now. Since my Elder Schouten left to go to Berlin for his last pday, I came to Dresden and am just going around with the Elders here. Then Elder Simmons comes tomorrow and we will head back to Freiberg!
This last was really great!
As missionaries, we set weekly goals for areas of the work that show how successful we really are: lessons taught, lessons taught with a member present, new investigators, etc. As part of that, every mission president creates “Standards of Excellence” for which we should strive so that we can have a direction or something to work towards. President Kosak has set a Standard of Excellence for us to find 5 new investigators (people we can teach) every week. And this week we found FIVE new investigators!
– One friend of a member who is studying at the university here.
– Three african roommates (and maybe more to come…).
– And a man who was contacted earlier by the missionaries.
We were super excited when we realized that we had done that! It was Elder Schouten’s last week as a missionary and he said he had never achieved that in his mission before (meeting the standards of excellence). We just have to keep up the work and keep finding and teaching people! I had been struggling with my FAITH TO FIND since I had not found anyone for a very long time! But I knew that PATIENCE is a very important attribute and that God was testing me. Then the promised blessings of my hard work came! They all have a genuine interest to learn and progress in the Gospel – to change their lives for the better. Unfortunately, no one came to church.
Thursday was naturally Thanksgiving and we were able to spend the evening with all the Temple missionaries, the Freiberg Temple President, and one of his counselors came as well. Sister Woolsey said she ordered Stove Top stuffing mix from amazon. We were SOOOOO excited once we heard that! The food was EXCELLENT!!! Stuffing, yams, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, and turkey. The ovens here are too small to fit an actual size turkey; so they bought some large turkey breasts. One Sister even saved some pumpkin puree from America just for that day. Pumpkin Pie was also there! The Germans were all worried about not being able to sleep since they were eating so late. Germans eat their big meals in the middle of the day and then something small and simple in the evening. I am pretty used to this myself now.
Even though today is still technically November, Christmas is already here is Germany. As I studied in the New Testament this last week, I started reading some of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Luke contains the best account of the birth of Christ. I was so impressed by Mary – the woman chosen to carry the Savior of the world and to take the role as His earthly mother. As she received the charge from the angel, she rejoiced because she was chosen beyond all other women.
When she sat, surely exhausted from delivering the child, in the manger, many shepherds came to visit her and her newborn baby. An angel guided them to their Savior so that they may worship him. Surely for someone like Maria, this must have been an odd seen. These poor men, who wandered the country sides with their sheep and goats gathering all around her, staring at her newborn son. But she neither said nor did anything. She recognized why they came and possibly realized how truly great that day was.
Likewise, the family returned often to Jerusalem to visit the Temple. As per the custom, the twelve-year old Christ was in the Temple answering questions and discussing with those who were older and more learned. They were astounded at His knowledge and understanding. Maria and her husband, Joseph, came to the Temple looking for their son. Maria, like any parent who temporarily loses their child, said, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, the father and I sought thee sorrowing.” Jesus, in response, reminds His mother of His heavenly calling, when He says, “How is it that ye have sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” They then all walked away and “understood not the saying which he spake unto them.” (see. Luke 2)
But Mary “kept all these sayings in her heart.” She knew, and maybe had forgotten for a split moment, that her son was indeed the Son of God, sent to die for man. Mary is the best example of the phrase from Doctrine and Covenants 9 “… you must study it out in your mind.…” She internalized everything and was only a person, like you and me, who needed reminders and help from time to time.
Likewise, sometimes we need moments of reflection and thought and pondering. God sends us so many messages and blessings. Do we really hear and see them? Are we in a spiritual, or even a physical, position to receive these? Maria was ready to be corrected, edified, and reminded, and uplifted. What do we really need to do to be in a better position?
With Christmas coming, we give and receive gifts – sometimes a lot… sometimes too much! But during this special Christmas season, what gifts will we be preparing for Christ? How can we be more obedient? Trustworthy? Charitable, patient, faithful? How will we show our love for our fellow-man, friends, and even or family more? How will we focus on the Savior and His Atonement throughout the next year?
God gives us many new beginnings: the new year, a new transfer for missionaries, or a new house or a new city when we move, even every week as we partake of the sacrament and renew or baptismal covenants anew. But the most important new beginning is the one that starts today. We always have the opportunity to improve and correct ourselves. We do not need an invitation to change or to come to Church – nor should we need one. Be proactive. Be an agent of action, not an object waiting to be acted upon. Study Doctrine and Covenants 9 and see the blessings that can be yours as you set goals and then are obedient to those goals until you accomplish them.
He is the gift. Please watch this film that talks about Christmas.
Danke! Tschüss!

 

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Freiberg
Giving Thanks!!!

Giving Thanks!!!

The treasured ingredient!!

The treasured ingredient!!

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It's beginning to look like Christmas!!

It’s beginning to look like Christmas!!

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