Greetings Friends and Family!
It’s a new year. President Kosak pointed out to me that this year is a year of Jubilee
: a year of rest, forgiveness, and enjoying your harvest.
In the Old Testament, the children of Israel (the new name that was given to Jacob) were commanded to rest on the seventh day from their labors. We practice this today on the Sabbath day, or on Sunday. Every seven years was also commanded to be a year od Jubilee. It was to be a “Sabbath Year” as they rested from their labors and thought of their God continually.
This week I went on an exchange with Elder Schmalz in Meissen. He explained something very interesting to me about the 7 dispensations
. We are currently in the seventh time period, as the name of the church implies: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This dispensation coincides with the seventh day of creation, when God rested from His labors. There ae two kinds of rest. We rest when we have stuff to do and procrastinate it or we rest after working hard. The latter is more desirable because we able to not only rest because all the work to be done is accomplished, but because we have an inner peace that allows us to not worry. Today, in this the last dispensation of times, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored, never to be again removed from the earth – as prophesied. We do not need to worry about external forces because our knowledge, once obtained, will remain, as will the organization of the Church, no matter what Satan may throw our way! How great it is to live a time of jubilee!
We must not wait six days, or six years, or even six decades to rest. We have a time of jubilee everyday as we rest from a hard day of work, knowing that we have given our all.
This last week was very slow. There were two holidays in the middle of the week (New Year’s Eve, or Sylvester, and New Year Day, Neu Jahr). Plus our appointments all fell out. Through these last few, long days, I have learned much, however.
As a mission, we started reading the Book of Mormon again. We are studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (confirmation), and then “enduring to the end.” Nephi is an incredible example of the first principle of FAITH
. He wanted to know what his Prophet-Father, Lehi, knew and worked very hard to do this. He was commanded to return to Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Babylonians and obtain the plates which contained the first five books of Moses. He tried several different times with no success. His brothers were also with him. I played the whole scenario out in my head: Nephi going all over Jerusalem, sneaking around the city walls and in the bushes outside of the city, creeping around corners trying to fulfill the commandment God gave him. And the whole time, he is dragging around his two, not-so-faithful brothers. They had faith. Just not as much. Who are we in this story? Are we so filled with faith that we actively pursue after that which is of God. Or do we allow ourselves to be dragged around, tossed to and fro by the winds and storms of the “father of all lies.” The Book of Mormon points us in the exact direction we need. It really is a second guideposts, marking the trail, alongside the Holy Bible, which leads to eternal life and glory.
I would like to share what I learned as I read President Kosak’s email to us today. He shared a story of a friend who was once on a mission. He and his companion were outside of the main city, where their work was centered. They were visiting a member and were riding their bikes back into the city for an appointment with an investigator when a storm rolled in. The storm brought fierce, cold winds. The senior companion who wrote the story later said that he was riding in front, blocking the winds from his companion who rode behind him. The winds were so harsh and hurt his body; it was hard for him to continue on riding. He would look back to see if his companion was doing alright. Because he was not receiving any of the wind, he was perfectly happy tailing along and noticed nothing.
He prayed for help. First he reasoned with God and told God why He should make the wind go away and reminded God that he was His servant. Then it turned into a prayer of asking, then pleading, and then hopelessly begging. He thought of his favorite scripture passages and, before he knew it was literally reliving being a Lamanite Warrior (the 2,001st), being on the wall with Samuel, and witnessing the resurrected Savior visit the ancient Americans. Then, out of nowhere, they were at the house of their invstigator.
“Had Heavenly Father heard and answered my prayers? Absolutely. It just wasn’t done in the manner for which I had prayed. There was nothing sensational or dramatic, but the end result was still the same. He had manifested His love and concern for me, heard my heartfelt petitions, and blessed me in a way that I had not expected. He took my mind off my problems without taking my problems off me.”
This week I felt like the missionary in this letter which President sent to us. We had very little success in our finding. BUT, (here’s the big BUT)as we walk door-to-door or along the streets, I find myself learning so much as I commune with my Father in Heaven and observe all the signs and wonders around me.
On Saturday we were walking along Käthe-Kolwitz-Strasse. on our way home. I had the prompting to knock on doors of a small street that went off from Käthe-Kolwitz-Str. We did that and, when we came to the end of this little street, were back at Käthe-Kolwitz-Str. It was a ring and, in end effect, we went back to where we had previously been walking. It was snowing just a little bit and there was a small amount of snow on the ground – enough to see our footprints. As we came back to the point where we were, our footpints were still there, plus one other person’s. I could not tell whose belonged to whom. I tried walking along the ones in the middle and the stride was far too long to be my foorprints. I tried the ones to the right, and they matched comfortably.
As we came home for language study, I read President Monson’s talk in German from the last General Conference, “Überdenke deine Wege” (… the link goes to the talk in english: “Ponder the Path of Thy Feet”). The “Überschrift” said:
“Wenn wir uns Jesus zum Vorbild nehmen und in seine Fußstapfen treten, können wir sich zum Vater im Himmel zurückkehren und für immer bei ihm bleiben.”
“As we look to Jesus as our Exemplar and as we follow in His footsteps, we can return safely to our Heavenly Father.”
(note how much longer the sentence is in German…)
I sat back in my chair and re-thought what I had just done that evening. I found no new investigators, no new contacts or potential investigators. I heard a lot of “keine Interesse” (“no interests”) and “kein Bedarf” (“no need”) (in Sächsisch, the local accent…) and felt very alone. In that moment I knew to whom I belong, why I was called here and whom I represent; I knew which was I face.
I never did see the person who made those footsteps. We tried following them to see where they went. But they mysteriously disappeared. Maybe they were indeed the Savior’s. Maybe just a man’s. But I work everyday at becoming more like Him. Some days my progress is almost invisible because His stride is just too big for me. Other days are filled with leaps and bounds and my own stride is lengthened. But everyday I follow Him. I love Him and He loves me. I share this with everyone I meet. I really do. I look forward to anoher week of finding and will make it better as I concentrate more on my love for Him and the love which is manifested through the Gospel of Jesus Christ – through faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation, and obedience which all bring blessings and redemption.
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission