So… I may or may not have counted the number of weeks I have left. (19 weeks…) YIKES! I swear I was in Berlin with Elder Fuller and everyone just a month ago. I never thought I would get attached to this country. But I walk around and see or think of something I will miss and “catch myself” falling in love with Germany. I think, “Dang it, Elder Hoffman! That just makes it harder for when you leave!” But that is the inevitable when one serves someone: you develop a godly love for them. King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon even said, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are in the service of your God.”
On Wednesday Elder Thompson prepared a really great lesson on “virtue.” Before we started the lesson, the Zone Leaders had a very important “phone call” they had to take outside. When they left, Elder Thompson pretended to not want to give the lesson, handed it over to me, and laid on the couch. I pretended to not know what was happening. I ended up reading the section about virtue with the other missionaries and talked about how being virtuous means doing what is right, even when no one is watching. Then the Zone Leaders came back and said, “What is going on?” Elder Thompson got up and went back to the lesson. The other missionaries TOTALLY fell for our skit and thought it was really funny.
Tuesday evening I FINALLY mastered making the infamous TEXAS SHEET CAKE in Germany. Tuesday was Elder Carpenter’s birthday (up in Kiel) and we celebrated a little bit after district meeting on Wednesday with cake and ice cream. It was a hit… and they want me to make it again for Zone Training Meeting this week (24 missionaries). I think it should be big enough….
As missionaries all over the world, we are all now using this short film: Because He Lives. I love this time of the year. Everything comes back to life. Flowers which we thought were gone, trees who were once dormant, and animals who had been gone for a long time return. It is a time of renewal and refreshing. April showers do indeed bring may flowers. At this time of the year we also commemorate the last week of the mortal ministry of Christ: His last teachings, His torture and torment, His death, and His resurrection three days later.
For so long now I have heard people say, “I know that Jesus Christ died for our sins,” “Because of His sacrifice, can we return to God once more.” I knew that this was true and accepted it. But, in my study, I realized that I indeed did NOT fully understand it for I came to even fuller understanding of the Atonement this week.
When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, they were commanded to not partake of the fruit of tree of knowledge of good and evil. God said, “…for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The Savior taught, “Verily, verily, if a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death” (John 8:51) and the “wage of sin is death” (Romans 6:25). Alma testifies to his wayward son and says he, like us all, is, “encircled by the everlasting chains of death” (Alma 36:18). Because of Adam and Eve’s transgression, we now live in a world where it is a choice to sin, to veer off the path, and to go astray.
The consequence of sin is death. We experience a spiritual death whenever we distance ourselves from God through our disobedience. Christ already suffered the punishment of sin in the Garden of Gethsemane as He bled from ever pore, which no man can fathom. Adam and Eve, as we as their progenitors, left the Garden of Eden and, thus, the presence of God. How could we come to His presence? Through Christ. God’s plan is perfect and expects much of us. He sent Christ to pay the atoning sacrifice, that we may repent and improve, be forgiven and have our misactions forgotten, even
But what about the physical death, when the spirit leaves the body? Christ died. And was resurrected on the third day. He was mortal like we are now. But death can lose its sting, its dread and remorse, when we understand that great plan (the creation, the atonement, and the fall of Adam and Eve) all around us.
He suffered in Gethsemane so that I did not have to. He died on Calvary so that I do have to either. He showed me the way so that I may follow Him. He was resurrected. And so will I, with a perfect, glorious body. And so can we.
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission