Week 91: Neumunster

Schwester Nwadilim. "Say Cheezzeeeeee!!"

Schwester Nwadilim.
“Say Cheezzeeeeee!!”

I went through my contacts and updated my groups. Some may be getting my email for the first time. Something I have been meaning to do since FOREVER.

Well. I am being transferred, again! I will be leaving Neumünster and taking the very LONG journey down to Hamburg. (The train ride will take 45 minutes and then maybe 20 minutes my assigned area there). I will be serving in the Wilhelmsburg Ward. And my companion… excuse me… my companionSSSSSSS will be Elders Morely and Enenkel. The former an American, the latter an Austrian. How this will work, I don’t know. Ask me in a few weeks. I am in for something new.
As of a few months in our mission we have been reciting “Our Purpose” (found on page one of Preach My Gospel) and Doctrine and Covenants, section 4 – both in German. While it is boring to say these every single morning, I am so glad to have a purpose, a goal, and a direction as a servant. It’s about so much more than WHY am I here on a mission. It’s more about the fact that I am here and need to know what to do now. the HOW.
So many people may wonder why we are here as missionaries. I have mentioned this in previous posts. I have found that in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are much more than a church who comes together on Sundays. The revealed organization of the Church as it is now develops a community – a worldwide one at that – that allows every man, woman, and child to become like their Savior. God has revealed how His kingdom is to be organized again through a prophet. He continues to guide us through a prophet.
But today I want to share my testimony of having a purpose.
In the last General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf asked the brethren of the Church, “What is your ministry?” Granted, it was indirect. But I took this question to heart. What is MY ministry? Christ had a ministry. Every leading political figure had a ministry. I studied this and came to the conclusion that I, as a missionary, am to become a “teacher come from God.”
But in the larger picture, as a person, as a saint and disciple, I want to become like Jesus. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
As a missionary, I can think like those of the “mainstream” world. I can see these two years as a burden. As a load, that I for some reason, took upon myself. For two years I wake up on 6:30 AM, study, talk to people on the street (which goes against EVERYTHING my mom taught me), help people understand the scriptures and even something stranger – that there is more than just the Bible, but the Book of Mormon and prophets today. And all in a land that seems rather “unfriendly” to such news. Oh, and let’s not forget all that I gave up to be here.
Something I have seen as I invited others to follow Christ is that the Gospel, what Christ taught, is not easy. It requires change. Hard work. Giving things up. And even growing up. Words that people don’t like to hear. As we move forward in a process of change, we tend to look back, like Lot’s wife. In the process of change, what lies ahead is the medicine we need; in front we can see the outstretched hand of the Savior. We must reach forward into the future as we sit down and make out a plan for when we feel vulnerable and tempted, as we study the scriptures for answers and added wisdom, and pray on our knees and beg for His helping power to overcome what it is that challenges us. Behind us lies sorrow, regret, tears, and sadness. We cannot live in yesterday because it is already today.
Elder David A Bednar’s sentence rings in my ears: “It was the load.” When we take on a load, Christ’s load namely, it pushes us forward. We hunker down and focus only on that was is important. When we take HIS yoke upon our shoulders, we get so much further in the world than we possibly could with any professional sport coach, expert therapist, or skilled politician.
These thoughts have been in my head as I study in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible, talk to people on the streets of Neumünster, and teach people of the Restored Gospel. We can all have driving forces. I find mine here and know that God wants this one force for all. Just as we should strive for success in our career, we should also strive towards that perfect example of the Savior so that we can obtain all the virtues we can in this life.
I have seen all this last weekend. As I found out that I had been transferred, I reflected (but did not turn back) upon what I had actually accomplished here. I am so grateful for that the Lord showed me what to do, day-by-day. He takes the load with me. He strengthened me along the way. I know that when we go forward with faith in Christ (maybe even a desire to believe), our burdens and loads, our pains and struggles, our worries and doubts, can be turned into magnificent strengths. Then we can turn to others and tell them how great they are and what we can reach.
I find this film to be so inspiring. Please watch.
I know that my redeemer lives. He is my comforter when I am in distress. And I serve Him. I wear His name everyday. What a privilege.
I hope what I wrote makes sense. I love knowing why I am here and hope to help more find their purpose here on earth.

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
Oma & Opa Grühn.

Oma & Opa Grühn.

Bishopric Selfie

Bishopric Selfie

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Week 90: Nuemunster

Pretty pond we found in Kellinghusen this week! I think this is where I got that mosquito bite on my ear....

Pretty pond we found in Kellinghusen this week! I think this is where I got that mosquito bite on my ear….

It is so hard to believe that another week has gone by. The time flies too fast!

The sun is starting to come up so early here that the sun shining through our windows wakes me up before our alarm clock does. I find it much more pleasant.
Monday evening we had a really nice family hone evening a member’s house. They are doing a month-long vegan cleanse. We ate a hearty soup with chickpeas and sweet potato and other stuff. I asked Sister N to copy a few good “missionary” recipes for me. (For those who don’t know, I was basically vegetarian before my mission). My body lately has been saying, “NO MORE BEEF! NO MORE PORK!” Three more months than my diet will be back in control!!! I just decided to be content and live while I am here. I know that focusing on the work at hand and taking in the energy I need for that is most important.
Tuesday we did a service project at a member’s home out in Großenaspe. We moved a big stack of wood. We were stacking the old stack on top of the new stack when Bruder L walked by and said, “Oh. That’s all just going to go back over there again….” Apparently we were building a little schack for ALL the wood so it stays dry during the winter. He has A LOT of wood. I should’ve taken a picture! A lot of Germany have ovens that get really hot. And the pipe runs through the house and warms it up during the Winter.
When we came home, Elder Fisher and I were KAPUTT (broken…). We laid down for like 10 minutes and then changed into missionary clothes. We headed down to Gadeland (a section of Neumünster) and TRIED so very hard to stay awake on the bus! We went by on a few less active members who were not home. As we were leaving one house there was a really loud and long clap of thunder. It just rolled through sky. And, then, like it only happens in movies, it started to rain. But not just; it started POURING down rain. And the rain wasn’t warm; it was cold. So we went to the bus stop and saw that the bus came again in 20 minutes. We tried waiting for a little bit under Elder Fisher’s umbrella, but it didn’t work. We saw the house across the street had a car port and that there was space for us there. So we walked over a just stood there for a while until the bus came. No one asked why we were there or anything. :/ Ha!
Wednesday we had a very special district meeting in Kiel. It was the last district meeting for Sister Harris (who is serving in Kiel) and Elder Lloyd and Elder Thorley (who closed the Rendburg program this last week). They gave some of there “last words” and shared some wisdom and advice. It was really cool. No one ever believes that day will come. Elder Lloyd told us to be obedient and to develop a Christlike love through obedience and to never stop progressing/using the Atonement. Sister Harris gave testimony that we were all individually called on a mission to our various areas. But she also then added that, “there are no successful missionaries, just successful companionships.” 
 
On Saturday we taught D from Eritrea. He lives in Bad Segeberg. We ended up teaching him and his roommates, who do not speak German or English. He had to translate the first lesson for us – something he hasn’t even quite understood for himself. It took a while until he understood the apostasy. We explained multiple ways and didn’t know how else to explain it to him so he could understand. I just took a moment and said a mental prayer as I stared at my English scriptures ( I am more familiar with my German scriptures now). The Spirit led me, and my companion as well, to say what we needed. What came out my mouth were my thoughts, but not my words. If they were mine, I would remember what I said and explained. He finally then understood and we could carry on forward with the lesson. It was definitely a fulfillment of Doctrine and Covenants 100 (among many others). 
 
For a spiritual thought, I would ask everyone to please read a short chapter from the Book of Mormon. It is Helaman 5. There is so much in this little chapter. I read it this morning and loved every bit of it! You can read it online by clicking on the highlighted link. Let me know what you see in there!

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
 Love birds at the Kalkberg in Bad Segeberg.

Love birds at the Kalkberg in Bad Segeberg.

Elder Fisher.

Elder Fisher.

<3

#DistrictKiel

#DistrictKiel

Week 90: Neuwmunster

Ward Mission: Neumünster!!! Workin' hard, or what?!

Ward Mission: Neumünster!!! Workin’ hard, or what?!

Moin! Moin!
 

This week wasn’t filled with quite as many appointments as I would have preferred. We tried meeting with a few people, but our schedules just never matched up. I don’t feel bad though. We tried and have plans or appointments for next week.

I really like the plan for our goals that Elder Fisher (my companion/district leader) developed for us. Our lessons are completely centered on the commitment. It’s not just something we slap on the end or insert in the middle so our lessons have purpose. The lesson is the commitment and the commitment is the lesson. I am excited to “execute” the new lesson plans we have this week with our investigators and less active members.

Everything here is just so spread out. Normally the members are all located in one city in the area. But here, everyone is everywhere. And it is hard to find time to get out to these places with the trains and buses that leave every one or two hours. But this week we have been better at planning and making sure we make those train times a priority. I feel good just going out to an area (like Wrist and Kellinghusen on Saturday) and just “exploring.” We talk to people, do doors here or there, go by on contacts or less active members. Even going by on active members! 

 
As for iPads… we don’t have them yet…. They were supposed to be at our training in Berlin. But they weren’t, apparently. SLC told President Kosak that they would come “on a Tuesday….” So we are just playing a waiting game now. 
 
On Wednesday I was studying in the morning (like ALWAYS) and turned to my Book of Mormon study guide. I have a picture inserted on a special page from the dedicatory site in Dresden, where President Monson dedicated East Germany. I realized that the date on the plaque was 27 April 1975. It was just about 40 years ago that he did that. And now we are receiving iPads to further the work ALL OVER GERMANY – in the east as well! The Lord’s hand is all over this country preparing hearts and sending His servants. I read a few paragraphs in our District Meeting in Kiel that day. Much has been fulfilled in that prayer, including the fullness of the Church and the missionaries returning to the country. I get goose bumps and get so emotional when I read that dedicatory prayer and think, “I am one of those missionaries who has come back.” Someone was thinking of me, even in 1975. 
 
In or mission-wide study of the Book of Mormon, we read last week, in the so-called, “war chapters.” Here we see great tension between those who are faithful and those who have decided to go astray. Captain Moroni is such a great example of diligence and obedience in fortifying and defending the cities where the faithful Nephites lived. His work in building great walls around these cities and ditches around them is an example for us. In order to withstand the blows and temptations of the world, we must build our own filter systems. Moroni even put more of his soldiers in some of the weaker parts of the land so that they could be defended better. We, too, should focus on our weaknesses, for the Lord has promised: 
 
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
The problem with so many of us human beings is that we cannot always see the whole picture. We cannot know everything. But as we continually do those little things that are right, we can build up our own defense systems against addictions, guilt, shame, regret, and filthiness.
We sometimes refer to the voice of the Holy Ghost as a prompting. Sometimes we receive multiple promptings. In the beginning, it may be hard to follow such thoughts. There is not always a clear, audible voice. Those who have experience with the Spirit sometimes say that they were “moved” to do something or say something. We are all capable of feeling this. As children of God, He will guide us through Holy Ghost back to Him.
Some steps are big (i.e. baptism, reading in the scriptures, going to the temple, etc.) Some steps are even smaller, but yet build our faith little by little (i.e. daily prayer, controlling thoughts and urges, battling addictions, or even answering a prompting to serve your neighbor).
One of my favorite analogies of the scriptures is Manna. Elder Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, illustrates this principle:view here.
Can’t wait to see everyone in EXACTLY three months time!!!
Also! Happy Mother’s day to all the mom’s out there, especially mine! #TimeForMom
Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
My burger in Kiel!

My burger in Kiel!

 

Week 89: Neumunster

The LONG rain ride home

The LONG rain ride home

 

MOIN!

YIKES! What a week! It was such a fun week… but I am glad that we have started a new one. I’ll explain.
Thursday evening we commenced our 4-5 hour train ride to Berlin. We took a train from Neumünster to Hamburg, from Hamburg to Berlin Hbf., and then to the Zone Leader’s apartment in Tiergarten. And all despite the striking train drivers! I really was not all that surprised to here that there would be nation wide train strikes (again) from Deutsche Bahn on the one day our ENTIRE mission comes together to learn about a digital tool that will improve or missionary work dramatically. Satan is not stupid. But we always win! Everyone got there safe and punctual.
The whole meeting was really super. Elder Patrick Kearon, of the Europe Area Presidency and Elder Brent Nielsen from the Missionary Department were there. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve named their visit to us Disciples in a Digital Age. While I thought we would be talking about how to use iPads in missionary work and what they actually do, the Brethren actually ended up speaking about US and THEM. We are the ones we control. We train OURSELVES on how to use these new devices.
The material we have received on using iPads and internet in our work is, for me, a pearl of great price. Not only are the gates opened up to the Germany Berlin Mission to have access to even more people than ever before, but the skills that come along with such great trust and responsibility are skills that I wish I had learned as youth – and which will soon be taught to the youth of the church as well. The Internet is merely a tool given to us – not just to us as missionaries, but also to mankind. What a great blessing it is to be able to Facetime, Skype, and conference call with one another so simply. I can access scriptures, talks from General Conference, and even record my own thoughts so much easier now. But these (iPads, smart phones, laptops, etc.) also have the potential to take over our lives if we allow them to.
Developing plans with spouses and family members on how we are going to use these can help us not become addicted or to venture off into enemy territory. How often, when we are bored, do we simply pull out our smart devices? I know I did that a lot at home, before my mission. It actually took some getting used to: not checking my Pinterest when I am bored or not posted a funny comment I came up with on Twitter. Something that we as missionaries will be doing when we receive our iPads is only going online when we having a specific purpose: to message an investigator, to look up a teaching record, to record something, add something to our to-do list, and so on.
We received two packets to study. One frames the actual duties we have and what we can accomplish on these devices. The other shows us how we can make a plan that will help us use these to fulfill our missionary purpose during these 18 months/2 years. These skills will also prove to be an immense blessing for when we return home. I am very grateful for a Heavenly Father who leads and guides and gives the council we need in this day. God knows what the Internet is and how we should use it properly. He speaks and reveals things even today.
For more on being a “disciple in a digital age,” I recommend these talks:
I am really excited for this new phase of missionary work!
After the meeting I got to see so many missionaries whom I have met on my mission. A lot of them go home this transfer though. I am excited to see them all again after our time here in Germany is done. Even President Kosak only has a transfer and a half left (about). But I will see him before he goes.
Our train did not leave until 6PM and our meeting ended around 2 or 3PM. Since the Tiergarten Chapel in Berlin is very centrally located, we went and visited the Brandenburger Tor and the Holocaust memorial nearby with the Flensburg Sisters and the Heide Elders. We all ended up being on the same train. That was a fun adventure! It was such a beautiful day!
On Sunday we the most wonderful opportunity to teach the youth class… well the 4 young women and the one young man. We were asked to prepare a lesson on the Apostasy and the Restoration. The foundation of our lesson was what Elder Andersen extended to the youth in the October 2014 General Conference: “Joseph Smith” by Elder Neil L. Andersen.
I am so grateful to be a servant of the Lord at this time on earth, when not only the fullness of the Gospel is again on earth, but when we have so many great tools to share the good news. The days of Paul going by boat and foot are gone. The day of being spontaneously called to leave your family and farm for 5 years are also gone.
I refer to one of my previous blog posts on this topic: #ShareGoodness

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
Elder Lawyer

Elder Lawyer

Elder Bryce Larsen

Elder Bryce Larsen

The symbolism behind this beautiful German architecture is: if you look down, you will loose your focus and get lost.

The symbolism behind this beautiful German architecture is: if you look down, you will loose your focus and get lost.

DSC04947

Holocaust Memorial.

Holocaust Memorial.

Week 88: Neumunster

 

 

Spring in Germany!!!

Spring in Germany!!!

Liebe Freunde und Familie!

Another week in the Germany Berlin Mission has gone by. Not is the weather starting to change dramatically in northern Germany, but so are the Lord’s servants. I cannot help but be in awe of the amazing Elders and Sisters along whom I serve everyday. This mission seems like a completely different mission than it was when I first arrived one and a half years ago. “In the beginning” daily nightly call-ins from the District Leader were a far away thought, there were no memorized scriptures, and the focus on obedience and dedication was not merely as strong as it was then. So what really changed in these last months? Our mission President is still the same. What happened is exactly what happened when each and every one of enters the gates of baptism and the faithfully endures to the end.
In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we believe and partake in ETERNAL progression. We have a perfect God and His Perfect Son as examples. We strive daily to be similar to them and will never reach that in this earthly tabernacle. But we can come closer – ever closer, dad-by-day, inch-by-inch, and virtue-by-virtue. Thus comes this scriptures into the spotlight: “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass…” (Deuteronomy 32:2).
I am very excited this week to travel to Berlin for our “technology training.” We have no idea what to expect out of this meeting. All I can say is that this will change our mission even more dramatically. It will alter, improve even, the work of the Lord in our little corner of the vineyard. How much? I do not think we can even imagine. But we will continue to “bring others unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ through faith in His Atonement, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and endure to the end” (Preach My Gospel, p. 1).
This last week we had LOTS of appointments.
Tuesday we were at a member’s house out in a village called Großenaspe (or Grossenaspe). They are a lot of fun (they are older). Schw. L. made a WONDERFUL Gulasch with Klössel in it. (I know what I am making for my family when I get home now). And for desert: verscleiertes Bauermädchen (veiled farm girl). It’s whipped creme layered with crumbled up Vollkornbrot (not sure how to translate that…), finely chopped chocolate, and cherries. (None of those crazy sweet american cherries, though…) We worked a little there later this week. It is a super cute little town. I saw a tulip tree the size of an oak tree that would normally grow at home in California. HUGE!!! SO pretty!
Later that day we went on an exchange with the Rendsburg Elders. I was in NMS with Elder Lloyd. He was my Zone Leader in Dresden Zone when I was in Freiberg. While we were walking through the city and going by on contacts, we came across several members and all of our investigators! It was crazy!
Thursday we were in Bad Segeberg again to visit some members. Then, afterwards, we met with a young man from Eritrea. We talked to him on the street last week and made an appointment for the next time we would be there. He said he spoke Arabic, but read better English. I forgot and brought an Arabic Book of Mormon, instead of an English one. So we couldn’t do much. BUT! We saw that he had an iPhone and then showed him how to download the Book of Mormon App on his phone. So then we were able to challenge him to read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and to start reading 1 Nephi.
On Friday we met with a woman whom we have been teaching. She always come with so many questions from her. I find it so great that she does that. She is full of faith and really wants to understand. She was really confused and frustrated as to why so many people would change the word of God. She also didn’t understand why Joseph Smith was called as Prophet. So we explained the Apostasy and the need for a restoration of authority and ordinances and doctrine.
In my personal study, there has been a scripture to which I keep returning. So much so that I have decided to memorize it (first in German. In English in a few months). It is Isaiah 40:31:
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
I have seen that so much in the last 7&1/2 year years. The world has nothing to offer as far as support. Yes, there is money from the government. We can get a job and provide for ourselves. But when we constantly go the Lord in prayer and ask for help overcoming sin, problems small and large, He will be behind us every step of the way. That is what we have as faithful Christians: wings like eagles! What great promises!
For times of trouble, Alma said to his son Helaman: “… for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”
But this support only comes when we show our faith – when we obey and show we are worthy of such heavenly help.
Alma continues speaking to his son, Helaman: “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” It is through daily, consistent prayer, study, fasting, and church attendance that the miracles come. We may not see the blessings now, but they come and we must be faithful enough to keep growing our harvest until that harvesting day actually does come. President Eyring calls it, “The Law of the Increasing Harvest.”  We learn the voice of the Spirit little by little. I have come to know Him, the Holy Ghost, even better on my mission

I wish everyone a great week! Can’t wait to update you all on what happens in Berlin this week!

If you have time, check out what we are doing here in the Germany Berlin Mission!

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
aee003d65be43ef6073ad0d02011fe87
Elder Fisher!!

Elder Fisher!!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Week 87: Neumunster

My group! (well... a small part of it...)

My group! (well… a small part of it…)

Well this last week started off… early. Tuesday morning Elder Thompson and I woke up at 5AM for his 6:30 train to Gera. I put him on a train to Hamburg and then went to Kiel to meet up with the Zone Leaders… only to find out my train was delayed half an hour. Because the Office Elders bought my companions ticket for so early in the morning, we couldn’t find a member to wait with me. So I just waited there by myself. And then, out of nowhere, Bishop Bartsch shows up! He was waiting for the same train. So we both rode up to Kiel.
The Zone Leaders and I helped Sister Seare carry her luggage to the train station and then we all traveled down to Hamburg together. And there I waited a with BUNCH of other missionaries. It was a lot of fun. I got to see Elder Bretzing (I was his District Leader when I was in Freiberg). We had to coordinate when certain missionaries were coming in and when certain ones had to go. Then we would pair off and carry bags up and down the stairs. It was a fun day. Plus I got to eat at my Indian Food restaurant at the Hamburg Train Station.
I saw a lot of missionaries and caught up with some. One Elder was being transferred from Bielefeld and I got the low-down on everything happening there with members and investigators. And one served in Neumünster and explained some good stuff to me. Things have also changed and I updated him. I also saw Elder Paul, who cam to Germany with me. Our mission is so big. I honestly do not think I have seen him since our New Missionary Conference when we were assigned to our trainers. We got to catch up.
My companion now is Elder Bryce Fisher. He is from St. George, Utah. We get along really well and have been working hard this week. I am looking forward to the remaining five weeks and what we can accomplish. Five week really is not much and we will need to be using our time even better!
I may have talked about this in my last letter, but I just feel much more motivated than ever to do all that I can in the following six months (until the next General Conference) to apply what I learned, heard, and felt at this last General Conference. I think one of my favorite talks was President Henry B. Eyring’s talk on, not just the fast, but the fast OFFERING as well. I understand it much better and look forward to coming Fast Sundays when I can practice and better my own fasts.
This last week we had a lot more success with finding. We went by on an old contact and the man there was really happy to see us. We made an appointment out for this week. And all two of our investigators in our teaching pool are progressing!
I was assigned to give a talk this next Sunday (on the 19th) on the 6th Article of Faith. When I got the topic, I actually wanted to give it back and ask for an easier one. But, I asked around and did a little brainstorming of my own and have a good talk put together. One of the missioanries in Kiel recommended that I read the Wentworth Letter, written by Joseph Smith. That helped me the most in preparation.
– – –
In my study of the Book of Mormon this week I have been noticing an interesting pattern. I Alma, chapter 28, tens of thousands of loved ones are killed in a large battle. But this one verse describes how these people felt: “While many thousands of other truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never ending happiness.
These people had experienced something so terrible. So many people, even today, loose loved ones thinking that they will never see one another again. But through faith in Jesus Christ and the sacred words of the scriptures, we can come to a knowledge ourselves that there is something after this life and that we will see one another again. “… and thus we see the great reason for sorrow, and also for rejoicing – sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.”
 
In Alma 29, Alma speaks of his own conversion and how this joys filly him up so much that he wishes he could share it with everyone so that they may experience it as well – even with the voice of an angel.
And in Alma 36, Alma, the prophet, relays his conversion story to his son Helaman. Even though he saw an angel as he was amidst going about destroying the very church he now oversees, Alma still had to fast and pray and work for his own testimony, his own conviction that this is all true. He tells his son in verse 3: “… for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” I find it so wonderful that, regardless of our situations, we can rely on a trustworthy, constant God. Whenever. Wherever. Regardless of how we feel.
He continues to speak of the torment that came over him as he came to the knowledge of the truthfulness of the God and His Son. “I was racked with eternal torment…. Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities….in fine so great had been my iniquities that the very thought of coming into the presence of God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror. Oh… that I could be banished and become extinct both body and soul….” Heavy stuff, right?

“17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of he world.

 18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and amen circled about by the everlasting chains of death.

 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!”

This is what the Gospel of Faith brings to us. It makes me whole and can make all whole, if we humble come before Him, willing to change and obey. God is not only the Author and Finisher of our souls, but (as I learned from President Packer last Conference) He created our bodies and knows how we are to use them best. Let us listen to Him in our prayers and studies. 

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
They're getting married!!! :D

They’re getting married!!! 😀

Tschüss Sister Seare!

Tschüss Sister Seare!

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Week 86: Neumunster

Germany Elders ready for  General Conference!!!

Germany Elders ready for General Conference!!!

Ahoy!

I just needed a new greeting….
This week was fun. I had an awesome exchange with the one and only Elder Hogan! He’s really great. Very “east coast.” From Boston.
Wednesday we had a great Zone Training Meeting up in Kiel. We then has to hurry down to Neumünster via train, change trains, and make it to our appointment in Wahstedt, and then hurry back to NMS for our weekly meeting with our Ward Mission Leader.
Oh! And transfers! I am staying here in Neumünster. Elder Fisher, in Rostock now, is coming here. He was in Cottbus when I was in Freiberg. I am really excited.
My companion is actually headed to the Frankfurt Mission now…. We are absorbing the Erfurt district (as in a group of Branches). Seven Elders are headed down there tomorrow and will be companions with Elders from the Frankfurt Mission. And then the next transfer, even more Berlin missionaries will be sent in. Erfurt District will be added to the Leipzig Stake. I thought our mission was already big enough. I guess we need more! But I think all of the former German Democratic Republic belongs to us – including Werdau, our mission president’s hometwon!
So…? How was conference…? 😀 I really enjoyed this last one. For me, I felt like it was so extremely personal. I think the best example was Elder Ballard’s talk to the men of the Priesthood in the whole world.
In the early days of the Church, he noted, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before going into the mission field. While that is not possible today, “the Lord has provided ways for us to reach out to you.”

A member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigns every missionary to his or her mission, Elder Ballard said. “Although this is done without a traditional face-to-face interview, technology and revelation combine to provide an experience that is remarkably intimate and personal.”
Explaining the process, he said the prospective missionary’s photograph comes up on a computer screen together with key information provided by the bishop and stake president.
“When your picture appears, we look into your eyes and review your answers to the missionary recommendation questions. For that brief moment, it seems as if you are present and responding to us directly.

“As we look at your photograph, we trust that you have cleared in every way the ‘raised bar’ required to be a faithful, successful missionary. Then, by the power of the Lord’s Spirit and under the direction of President Thomas S. Monson, we assign you to one of the Church’s 406 worldwide missions.”

Elder Ballard said it’s time to raise the bar not only for missionaries but for the entire generation. He asked them to ponder these questions:

1. Do you search the scriptures regularly?
2. Do you kneel in prayer to talk with your Heavenly Father each morning and each night?
3. Do you fast and donate a fast offering each month? …
4. Do you think deeply about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice for you when you are asked to prepare, bless, pass or partake of the sacrament?
5. Do you attend your meetings and strive to keep the Sabbath day holy?
6. Are you honest at home, school, church and work?
7. Are you mentally and spiritually clean? …
8. Are you careful with your time?
9. And is there anything in your life you need to change and fix, beginning tonight?”
 
If you missed General Conference, you can click on the link to print out the written addresses or view them. Each is about 8-10 minutes long. (The typed versions will be available soon). 
Today is a special day. Today is the day on which Christ was born and the day on which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized.
 
After listening to a living Prophet and Apostles, I cannot help but give my own, special testimony and witness that this is true. As you and I breathe air, this here is what our souls need. We lived with God before this life. In order to become like Him, He sent us here to obtain bodies, learn how to use and control them, and to learn valuable experiences. Family life is a part of this. Elder Nelson, I believe, said, “something are good, others are important. But there are few things that are essential.” 
 
I wrote in my journal: “My testimony has been strengthened so much today. I am so grateful to know what I know and to be a representative of the Lord right now. As I hear the words come out these servants’ voices, a voice says unto me that it doesn’t matter if President uchtdorf says something or even if Sister Esplin of the Primary says it in a different way. The Spirit will always confirm what they say as truth, as doctrine, and as the answers to my prayers and questions.” I know that there is a God, for this weekend I posed many question which were disturbing my soul. If there be a God, He would take them and provide me with answers. That is what is promised in Moroni 10:3-5. And I received answers to all of these.
 
But I am not done. I guess a better word would be “starts.” I received many “starts” this General Conference. Ways to begin new journeys. We are never done and never will be until it is all done. I feel more determined than ever to do all that I can in these next six months (until I watch the next General Conference in Rexburg, Idaho). I want to do all that I can to apply the words which I heard this weekend; for I know the are the words of God. 
 
One last thought for my “epistle.” 
 
Much was spoken of the Family this General Conference. I encourage everyone to study what these men and women said about the family. I found it all very interesting. President Henry B. Eyring of the First presidency (essentailly a Vice-President of the Church) was invited to attend a three-day long convention on the family with other religious leaders and scholars from all over the world. What he found was that, despite much of what is portrayed in television and politics, many still defend and believe in the essential role of marriage and the family. Many still hold these as goals. I found it so great to speak of the similarities of our theologies and nations. 
 
But I cannot help but add this: as a representative of Christ Himself, holding His authority, I testify that this Church has the full authority to seal families together for the eternities, not just until death. This sealing involves God in our daily, familial lives and ensures that we will have divine help in raising our children, supporting our spouse, and making wise decisions. We still have to do our part. 
 
Emphasizing similarities strengthens our communities and nations like nothing else. There is enough war and terror in the world. Let us emphasize that which is good in ALL men. For truth lies everywhere.

Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
 Transfer Day breakfast tradition

Transfer Day breakfast tradition

Easter Brunch today at the Church. (Easter Monday is a holiday in Germany)

Easter Brunch today at the Church. (Easter Monday is a holiday in Germany)

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Elder Hogan helping to clean the bathroom.

Elder Hogan helping to clean the bathroom.

Week 85: Neumunster

Elder Thompson and Elder Hoffman

Elder Thompson and Elder Hoffman

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
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
Elder Pinyon... and the sisters....

Elder Pinyon… and the sisters….

I think I have everything!!

I think I have everything!!

Sheet Cake!! YUMMMM!!!!

Sheet Cake!! YUMMMM!!!!

Elder Cook

Elder Cook

The lost journal........

The lost journal……..

Ice cream time!!

Ice cream time!!

SSSSSSSSSssssss....... Strawberries!!!

SSSSSSSSSssssss……. Strawberries!!!

Week 84: Neumunster

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Happy Spring, everyone! IT’S HERE!!!

The spring weather has come! And it is sunny one day and dark, dreary, and rainy the other. Great German days! 😀
So, something I TOTALLY forgot to mention last week was that I got my old journal from the MTC back!!! On Tuesday (two weeks ago) we were in Hamburg for a Leadership Training Meeting. There we got some packages. I received one from an “Elder Pratt” in Ramstein. No address, just a city. (And my last name was spelled with two N’s). I was SUPER puzzled. It had to be for me. I am the only “Elder Hoffman” in this mission. But I don’t know an Elder Pratt, let alone where Ramstein actually is. I know it’s NOT in our mission! So I opened it.
When I was in the MTC, I had finished filling up an old journal and started a new one. I was on the top bunk, right next to a tall wardrobe that reached the top of the bunk. It was convenient because I could use it as a nightstand way up on the top bunk… and it was also convenient to forget stuff on when you fly to the other side of the continent! Apparently one elder found it and had been carrying it around with him. He would tell others about it and everyone would unanimously tell him that he really didn’t need to send it to me. Except for Elder Pratt.
Elder Pratt is now finished with his mission. So I couldn’t send a thank you note. I was really touched by the act of kindness. He wrote a short note inside and said, “If I were you, I would want this.” That is something we could all emulate from “Elder Pratt.” I’m even not good at it at times. “If I were ________, what would I want or need right now?” Through prayer, we might even be able to know more specifically how we can be the Savior’s hands here on earth.
We have been meeting with one lady. She is so great. This last week we met in the park and talked about how we can get answers to our prayers. We talked about Oliver Cowdery and how, when he wanted to translate the golden plates, the Lord said:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

Between when we first met her and now, I have seen such a difference in her life. It was the same difference I saw in MY life. When we read in the scriptures (namely the Book of Mormon), pray to our Father in Heaven, and obey, an overwhelming feeling of happiness enters our lives and immense blessings begin to shower us. It all starts with ASKING and STUDYING and PONDERING. Hard, right?
Today we went to a funeral for a member of the ward. The whole clan was in town yesterday and they ate at the church. They invited us since we weren’t invited anywhere on Sunday. I helped set up the chairs for today and vacuumed the chapel. While we ate, we got to chat with the daughter of this elderly lady who passed away. I really marvel at her strength and how the whole family was able to organize the whole week.
A scripture I read this last week has been rolling around in my head, especially at this funeral service honoring this lady’s life. Alma 9:7-13really spoke to me. In these verses, we see how important it is to remember those who were before us. As an American, I think of the many people who, from Jamestown to the purchase of Hawaii, fought, crawled, scrimped and saved, hungered, walked, and maybe even broke a few laws for what we have now. My father and grandfather fought for it. One of my ancestors on my dad’s side fought and survived the Revolutionary War. How could I deny the traditions for which they fought and lived? This has been well-preserved in my family. (We are one of the few who hangs the declaration of independence in our living room). 

But what of our religious traditions? Do we remember WHAT brought these people originally to the “New Land?” They wanted to worship their one and true god according to their own dictates and interpretations. I think we busy ourselves so much with fighting for this right, that we have come to forget what it is that we are actually defending. We stand outside, on the perimeters of a large fortress and within is this treasure from those before us. It’s time we “turn our hearts to our father’s” and find out what made THEM tick. Could what was so important to them also be of such value to us? 


Elder RR Hoffman
Missionary
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission
Neumünster
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