Week 98: Wilhelmsburg

 

 

 

 

 

Lasse!

Lasse!

Hummel Hummel! 

(Then you say back: “Mors Mors!”)
 
Another week flown by! 
 
This Wednesday we had a really great district meeting. Our district last transfer was great. But I am really excited to work with these missionaries. The Altona Elders gave a great lesson on helping people come to church WITH US, not just extending invitations upon which they can act. The Zone Leaders were there and talked about companionship unity. And Elder Enenkel and I taught about turning our weaknesses into strengths. We namely used the Mormon Message “Men’s Hearts Shall Fail Them” and Ether 12:26-27, from the Book of Mormon. 
 
From Thursday evening to Friday evening I was on an exchange with our Zone Leader, Elder Bretzing. That’s a weird sentence for me. When I was in Freiberg, I was Elder Bretzing’s district leader while he was being trained in Meissen. We had some fun together playing basketball, helping a family move, and talking to some really interesting people in the Wartenau area. 
 
However, I would say that the real highlight of this whole week was the celebrations we had this weekend. On Saturday we had a whole day planned commemorating 50 years since the church building was built and dedicated by an apostle, Elder Ezra Taft Benson. After some presentations in the chapel, we had a big summer festival in the back on the church. Grilling, games, talking. Fortunately our Elder’s Quorum President has a job as a clown on the side and was able to entertain the kids. It was great! 
 
There were also so many people who came to see more about our church. We talked with so many people about the church. We didn’t even get to talk to them all. That’s when the members came in and did such a wonderful job introducing people to our building, the organizations within, and what we believe. 
 
Sunday was also our Ward Conference. Leaders from the Stake came and talked in our Sunday School classes and in our special, longer sacrament meeting. Everyone talked about the family, and how important it is that we be sealed together in a temple of the Lord for time and all eternity. On my mission I learned that marriage is like connecting two dots on a piece of paper with a line. We promise each other that we will help and be with one another until we die. But when we go to the temple, we add one more dot and two more lines, making a triangle. We make these connections in our marriage with God as we make covenants (or promises) not only to be true to one another, but also to allow God to help us in our marriage. In return, He blesses us with an eternal marriage, not just “until death do we part.” 
 
Because I have been true to my calling as a missionary, I want to be true to my previously foreseen callings as a son, brother, husband, father, member of the Church, priesthood holder, and as one who has made temple covenants.
 
We received today our last weekly email from President Kosak. (The keys to the mission home have already been handed over to President Fingerle). In his letter, President Kosak reminded us of what Elder Bednar, one of the twelve apostles, asked us when he taught us in Berlin. He asked us all to ask ourselves this question: “Based on what I have observed, learned, and felt, what will I do now?” 
 
Let us all ponder this question. When the Holy Ghost whispers change into our ears, let us act upon godly promptings. Maybe it’s to continue on as we have. Please ponder this question this week. If you feel comfortable, share your responses with me! (randell.hoffman@myldsmail.net). 
 
Thank you for all you do!
 
Love,
 
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Missionar
Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg
 
PS: Since I am at the end of my mission, I have been organizing and saving emails. I also played around with my contacts. So that is why some of you are receiving emails now all of a sudden. 
Newspaper article about our celebrations.

Newspaper article about our celebrations.

50 years Wilhelmsburg Ward!

50 years Wilhelmsburg Ward!

Our memorial of the dedication.

Our memorial of the dedication.

 

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Week 97: Wilhelmsburg

Our "ode" to our fearless leader... and her husband.

Our “ode” to our fearless leader… and her husband.

Guten Morgen!
This transfer is already over. I remember missionaries telling me at the beginning of my mission how their mission just went by faster and faster towards the end. And that is definitely true! I will be staying here in Wilhelmsburg with Elder Enenkel to finish my mission and Elder Morley will be heading to Glückstadt. No more trio here since there is an even number of missionaries in the mission again. This was President Kosak’s last transfer arrangement. He leaves at the end of the month and then President Fingerle comes. 
 
There really is not all too much for me to report. Almost ALL of our appointments fell out this week for one reason or another. That was really frustrating. But, I still learned many lessons from all these experiences. The Lord made it possible for us to not make it to these places and people so that we could be in a different place to talk to someone or work on cleaning up the contacts in our cell phone. We even called one man who no longer lives in Hamburg, but in Switzerland. So, on our “not so great day” we sent a referral to some Swiss Elders via the Berlin Mission Office and made their day! Hopefully. 
 
This next week we will be teaching one of our investigators about the Plan of Salvation. This plan, which is also called the plan of happiness in the scripture, answers those questions of “Where did I come from? Why am I here? And where do I go after I die?” I think this is my favorite lesson to teach. It is through the scriptures and the Restoration that we know the answers to these questions.
 
Yesterday in the Sunday School hour at church I met with a few of the English-speaking members and we had a little class. We didn’t have a lesson prepared. As we prayed at the beginning of our class, I asked Heavenly Father to tell me what we should talk about. I thought I should talk about the Priesthood, for we were all holders of the Priesthood in that room. I had just read the talk “Fatherhood – Our Eternal Destiny”from the last General Conference. I was impressed again that the keys and assignments we receive in priesthood offices do not disappear but collect and build upon one another. I shared a few excerpts from this talk. 
 
The Priesthood helps me know my purpose. Because of priesthood power we have prophets, scriptures, modern revelation, ordinances, and temples and church buildings. I have learned on my mission that it is very important to have a purpose. Every morning we recite our purpose and D&C 4. Some want to say it fast to get it over with. I make sure to say it slower and pronounce every German word correctly, for I want to start my day off by understanding the WHY and WHAT of my mission. 
 
President Ezra Taft Benson, a prophet, once said. ‘Day by day [Latter-day Saints] move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said ‘were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.’ When we continually pattern our lives after that of the Savior and fulfill our God-given roles in church, the family, and society, we become more and more converted to Him. We receive knowledge, light, understanding, and become a new person, and we know it not until it has already happened. 
 
In Doctrine and Covenants 121 we read what a worthy priesthood holder exactly is. When we handle ourselves according to our divine heritage and sacred obligations, as a priesthood holder or not, “the doctrines of the priesthood will begin to distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion, and our scepter–a clear reference to power and influence–will be an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth. And our dominion will be an everlasting dominion. And without compulsory means it will flow unto us forever and ever (see D&C 121:45–46)” 
 
This, too, I have learned through the course of my entire mission and know this to be true. Through difficult companions and investigators, personal struggles, and also through the best of companions – who are counted among my eternal friends – and the best of investigators – with whom I bonded, and the experiences when my faith was truly rewarded, was my testimony strengthened, and I “knew it not.”
 
See you in six weeks! 
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Deutschland Mission Berlin
Wilhelmsburg-Hamburg 
German train station.

German train station.

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Week 96:

name tag

 

Morgen Freunde und Familie!

 
This week didn’t quite go as planned. Fallen out appointments. Changed plans, and so on. It was weird having to register for classes at BYUI this week, too! On the mission you really only know what is happening for the next two weeks at a time. And I just planned my whole life practically — from mid-September to mid-December. Talk about CHANGE! Ha!
 
We will also start teaching a boy in the ward. He is nine years old and counts as a convert baptism. In the Church, children are not baptized as babies, but are baptized at eight years old, when they are able to understand an decide for themselves. At eight, it is in the hands of the parents and the local bishop. If they are nine or older, then the missionaries and the mission president are responsible. So that is what we will be doing! It’ll be fun helping him in the next four weeks to prepare for his baptism! I’m excited.

 
On Saturday I had the opportunity to meet with the Elder’s Quorum Presidency and help with translation. The President and his counselors understand one another pretty well, but need a little bit of help at times understanding. It was so cool to be apart of their coordination meeting. As I sat in and saw the two of them planning with one another, I could see them laying those stones and slowly building the kingdom of God in the Wilhelmsburg Ward. It was an honor to be there. As I got to know them a little bit, I learned that they are both converts to the church. One a native German and the other from a far-off, distant country who joined the church three years ago in yet another European country. And me, an American who joined the church seven years ago. And yet, somehow, the Lord led us and our talents together to do this work in this city. How great is God?!
 
As I sat with them I thought of a scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants 95:4-5 (a compilation of revelations given to Joseph Smith from the Lord):
 
“For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my strange act, that I may pour out my Spirit upon all flesh– But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen.”
 
My testimony of this “strange” work was strengthened then. God gathers out of every corner of the world His children and brings them to where they are needed. Our acts may seem small or they may not make much sense. But as we continually seek after the Spirit and the will of God in our lives we can know, with an utmost assurance, that what we are doing is right. And isn’t that something we all need, an inner confirmation that what we think and do – according to some almighty, final source – is correct? 
 
Our life is a string which goes on and on, collecting experiences and going through mile markers, good and bad. At times we come across knots or tangled messes. We are to find our way out of these. Sometimes we forget what is on our string and we are forced to go or to look back and remember. These reminders come from God, through the Holy Ghost in the form of scriptures, prophets. church leaders, temple ordinances, and personal prayer. 
 
(Which brings me to another point that I learned as I allowed my mission to flow through me) On my mission I have seen that the God who counts baby fingers and toes and the fall of sparrows knows even more so His own children. He sees them in the West, as well as the East. He knows more than just their name and home address and between which hours He can reach them on their land line. He knows more than just our stresses and problems. He knows how to atone for and supplicate all His spirit sons and daughters, regardless what they are facing. He saw me long before I was even born when Elder Monson dedicated East Germany and prophesied of my missionary service here: “We look forward to the day when Thy missionaries may again be permitted to preach the everlasting gospel in this area, for we know there is much of the blood of Israel here….” (Alma 26:37). 
 
I am grateful to know God and to help others experience His goodness, too. 


Elder RR Hoffman

Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Deutschland Mission Berlin
Wilhelmsburg-Hamburg

Week 95: Wilhelmsburg

. "bis Aufs Wiedersehen, Geschwister Kosak!"

. “bis Aufs Wiedersehen, Geschwister Kosak!”

 

Liebe Familie u. Freunde!

Another wonderful week has FLOWN by! I have to say this week’s highlight was our multi-zone conference for President Kosak’s “farewell.” It was very sweet and tender. It is strange to think that the next time I will see him will be in American Fork, UT in September – without suits, without name tags, and different callings. I’m not sad to see him go. It just won’t ever be the same.
I walked into the Wartenau church building just as the Kosak’s walked in from the other side in the chapel. Along with them were also the Adlers. Elder Adler is a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy and his wife was accompanying him, too. They are from Bielefeld, one of my former areas. I was super excited to see them! And they even recognized me, too! Wednesday was Elder Adler’s birthday. I was able to save postage and gave him his birthday card by hand! (Good thing I had it with me!!) As we sang “Happy Birthday” to him in English and German, the Spirit was so strong. I thought it was peculiar to feel the spirit while singing such a song. I was sitting towards the front and looked back at the hundred-something missionaries smiling and singing. It then made sense why the Spirit was so strong. I will miss such meetings with so many great and powerful servants of the Lord. I still have one more similar to it left on my mission with the new mission president, Pr. Fingerle (a ZTM).
Elder Adler reminded us that we need the Savior in our work, in all that we do. We can erect giant billboards and put a picture of the Book of Mormon on it. But sharing the Gospel will never be more effective than when we open our mouths. If it is prophesied that everyone shall hear the Gospel, who shall open their mouths and explain it?
Sister Kosak read from Helaman 12 and taught about why we have trials. She said that at the beginning of her mission, she nailed a quote up on the wall in the mission home. It reads: “Today’s Test is Tomorrow’s Testimony.” God does not give us trials because He finds it humorous or He has nothing better to do. He knows what we need to do and learn in order to become like Him. He does it out of love and will never give us something that we cannot carry ourselves.
As usual, President Kosak talked about “going back to the basics.” I have followed his example in that whenever I am faced with a problem or question, I go to Joseph Smith History. There is always so much to learn. We can follow these steps, which were introduced to us almost two years ago by a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy:
Verse 8: “my mind was called up to… great uneasiness” = having a great problem/challenge
Verse 10: “What is to be done?” = Ask yourself questions, realization
Verse 11: “I was one day reading” = study the scriptures to find a solution
Verse 12: “I reflected on it again and again” = repetition brings conviction
Verse 13: “I came to the conclusion” = make a decision
Verse 14: “I retired to the woods to make the attempt” = follow your decision – do it and pray for it!
Verse 15: “I was seized upon by some power” = Satan will tempt you in your highlights
Verse 16: “But, exerting all my powers” = fight for it!!!
Verse 16: “pillar of light” = PERSONAL REVELATION
We have used this so much on my mission in our meetings and teaching. But, whether he did it purposefully or not, for me, President Kosak added yet one more important point. It has to do with returning to the basics.
In verses 28 and 29, Joseph was praying, asking for forgiveness one night before he retired to bed. “I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.” In returning to that which he knew once worked, Moroni appeared to him and showed him how to obtain the golden plates to translate the Book of Mormon. He was to return to that location where the plates were every year on the same date. He was taught each time for four years.
As we return to our spiritual experiences, previously obtained knowledge and testimonies, we too can be strengthened. We obtain knowledge so that we may use it and never lose it. It is to change us. (And I hope we return and reflect more than annually).
Life is full of problems and hardships. For every aching heart, every sinking hand and feeble knee, broken voice, and wet pillow, I admonish, or commend strongly, a study of the life of Joseph Smith and our Savior. No two people have ever suffered so much in their short lives. They are examples for us all, just as prophets should be.
POINT TWO OF HOW MY MISSION HAS PASSED THROUGH ME: An integral part of enduring to the end is sharing that which means so much to us. As we grow our faith and testimony, we will naturally desire this for others. This desire is natural that we see it when we eat at a really nice restaurant that we jut discovered or made a really fancy cake or had just such a fun trip with our family. We want to tell people about it all and even post in on Facebook or Instagram. The desire to share that which is good for body and soul is basic human nature. That which can help me so much can surely help others.
I have been collecting scriptures and quotes during my mission that talk about or exemplify this. I write them down on a notecards that I have in the back of my scriptures. My favorite is Alma 36:24. Here Alma the Younger is blessing his son Helaman before he dies. “Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
When we experience good, in any form, it is our duty and obligation to then share it with this ever darkening, ever more confused world. He truly sends goodness to us as a reminder that He will succor His people (Mosiah 7:19).

Elder RR Hoffman

Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Deutschland Mission Berlin
Wilhelmsburg-Hamburg
"The King's Spot"

“The King’s Spot”

African eating appointment

African eating appointment

. WE. LOVE. QUARK!!

. WE. LOVE. QUARK!!

District Wilhelmsburg:

District Wilhelmsburg:

Liebe Freunde und Familie!

Another week has FLOWN by and it is ALREADY the first of June!
Getting to know this area has been very stressful. This last week I was trying to take things a little easy since I was sick. I really couldn’t afford anymore stress. But I am healthy now and really want to start expanding our finding efforts as we visit new areas and also improve our efforts themselves. I find it difficult to get to know such a big city. But I am determined to do it!
Being in a trio definitely has its pros and cons. Having to deal with the many opinions and stories that have to be told during the day is a lot to deal with… for me, at least. But I really do enjoy serving with these two. They are a lot of fun and excited for the work!
This week we did not get so much finding in. We are so grateful to have iPads. But they are so new to us. We have to take a good amount of time to get to know them. A half hour activity may turn into two hours flown by trying to figure out how it all actually works! We don’t have 3G and only have wifi when we are at the church. So all the films, pamphlets, brochures, talks, an so on that we may spontaneously want to use need to be downloaded. And there is a lot. It just takes some time now. Later it will get better.
We have seen how much this technology truly benefits our work and helps us invite the Spirit. As we met with a member and read in the book of Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, we read of Lehi’s dream. It was difficult for her to imagine it all; so we were able to pull up the picture-rendition of Lehi’s dream (see the picture: https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/lehis-dream-jerry-thompson-82746?lang=eng&category=) and explain it better. We also met with a member-family for dinner and shared a spiritual thought about charity and forgiveness. We used the Mormon Message called “Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light.” (See the short film: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-14-forgiveness-my-burden-was-made-light?lang=eng)The Spirit was very strong and made a huge difference. It is really nice to bring in someone else’s words and experiences into our lessons.
This week we also went up to the Wartenau chapel again. This time for interviews. The Neumünster Zone was having their Interviews with President Kosak. And since I was transferred down to the Hamburg Zone, which already had their quarterly interviews, I went up with my companions to meet with Presidnet Kosak. It was my last interview with him. My exit interview is my next one and that will be with the new mission president. These are also President Kosak’s last set of interviews with his missionaries before he goes home this month.
President has been asking us how we have allowed our missions to go through us (the opposite being us simply “going through” our mission). I find this question extremely difficult to answer. It is one that I have been thinking about already as I near the end of my mission. In the next few weeks to come, I will share a few points that I write down of how I allowed my own mission to pass through me.
About a year ago my mom sent a few quotes from A.A. Milne to me – the author of “Winnie the Pooh.” One of those quotes I have adapted as part of my ministry: “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”I have seen this in every aspect of my mission.
As I focus completely on the needs of those I am teaching, my missionary purpose, and how they can come closer to the Savior and His teachings, I often find myself “caring too much” in comparison to others. But it is through “caring too much” that I often find a solution. I begin to understand their problems and individual situations and can show them what they can do to gain a stronger testimony of the Gospel. Doing roll plays, be obedient, and nurturing our testimonies is even a way of showing that we “care too much.”
I have seen this in my many companionships. They too are my investigators. I think it is so much easier for the Father to help us and show us what we need when we love Him back. When my companions have returned the love that I have for them, it makes it so much easier. And the work is more fun, for you are doing it with a friend and brother. When both parties work upon becoming more Christlike, they benefit each other. (D&C 50:17-22). Both are guided in a dark world in the direction of their Savior. At times I even had very little love for companions. But as I saw that some cared about me and wanted to fix things, love me, and when I saw that they genuinely cared about my salvation and happiness, I then could develop an equal love for them.
When on a mission one learns to love a lot of things and people who one does not know or understand at first. A mission is a time to gain lifelong friends and invaluable knowledge and experience. A mission brings great joy to the life of the missionary and all those whose lives they touch. I “care an awful lot” for the people of northern and eastern Germany. I, therefore, love them greatly and do not look forward to ending my service among them… as frustrating as they may be at times….
One example: so often we have these swelling and powerful feelings of love and charity for our neighbor. But it is nothing if we do not do anything. In my interview I reminded President Kosak of when I go home and my plans for after the mission. I told him that, because of a change of plans, I will be arriving in SLC instead. He looked up on his calendar to see if he could be at the airport with my mom when I arrive. (He ends his mission a month before I do). I was super impressed by that and realized the immense love that this man has for his missionaries. It is in the act of service that we express our love. That is how we care too much. 

Love you all! Have a great week!

Peace and blessin’s.
Elder RR Hoffman

Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Deutschland Mission Berlin
Wilhelmsburg-Hamburg
Bus stop-waitin'

Bus stop-waitin’