Monday, May 28, 2012

Last Days in Berlin

Our last days in Berlin involved a few reflections, a great Sunday dinner, our transfer notice, and saying goodbye.

Mon. May 28.

After four weeks on our mission, Monday was a day when we took stock of what we are doing and what we have done. It started with a walk trying to decide on a place to eat, Sister Frank turned to me and said “I don’t want to walk down this street in this direction again…at least not today.” She and I had both been up and down this stretch of Clayallee in Berlin, Zehlendorf (the area right outside our apartment leading to the S-Bahn terminal) too many times. I could tell from the tone of her comment that there was more to this comment than just scenery dissatisfaction. We discussed a few of our unexpected frustrations and experiences to this point. It seemed like every frustration was balanced by more than our share of great blessings and insights. So below is a few of our reflections:



SF: The cobblestone sidewalks are very uneven. For a person my age and with a bad hip, it has been a challenge and very hard on my shoes.

SF: There are bicycle lanes on the sidewalks and EF has reminded several times to get out of the way of the bicycles. I haven’t been hit by one yet.

EF: During those walks we pass many bakeries and SF gives me trouble if I suggest going into them.

EF: Because we are walking so much and have no time to eat between meals, I have lost weight eating a piece of kuchen each day.

SF: We walk a few miles everyday (at least weekdays) to get to the bus station. You’d think that I’d lose some weight, but it keeps finding me. (I blame all of the cheese and pastries.)

SF: The walks have been good exercise and it’s nice to see the different stores, people, cars, dogs, etc.

EF: It is frustrating not knowing where our permanent assignment will be and wondering whether or not we will be in a Young Adult Center or have another kind of assignment.

EF: It has been a great blessing returning to Berlin and visiting areas where I once

SF: Our apartment was on a main street close to the Bahnhof, and it was so noisy at night with all of the traffic.

SF: I finally got used to sleeping through practically any noise, especially on nights where we were so busy at the Young Adult Center.

EF: There have been several days where little was scheduled and we would have hours in our apt. to study, write, study, read, and study the hours away.

EF: On a few of those days, I have been able to revisit some of the areas where I served as a young missionary.

SF: It was hard not to be able to speak everything I wanted to say to people at the stores, at church, at the Young Adult Center in Tiergarten, ordering food, etc.

SF: Even though I wasn’t able to communicate very well, I did make some progress. I met great peopleI. It is a beautiful and huge city and so multi-cultural it’s been amazing for me to see. My impression of Berlin is much better this time around. I didn’t expect to feel sad about leaving our tiny apartment and the wonderful people we’ve met, but I do.

EF: When I knew we would be spending time in Berlin I had great plans of finding members I had baptized, showing Sister Frank the wonderful places I had served, and having her feel the same feeling I had when I was a missionary years ago. Little, if any of that happened. You can’t repeat the past.

EF: The great blessing that did occur, however, was that both of us discovered the potential of Young Adult Centers. We met wonderful young members of all nationalities and races. We met great members in the Berlin Wards, who showed us love and respect even with our struggling German. We even were sad as we left our homely apartment for the last time.


Outside our apartment in Zehlendort, Berlin and Clayallee where we did much of our walking every day.


Our last days at the Berlin Center for Young Adults. Two happy missionaries in the kitchen and plenty of hungry students eating.


BYU students plus the Berlin Students getting ready for dinner. The people in the S-Bahn are not our friends yet. Maybe someday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our First Zone Conference

Sister Frank:

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, we had our first Zone Conference. It was great! President Pimentel spoke about “The Love of God”. As a demonstration, he took a paper cup. He said that if he filled the paper cup completely full of water and put it in the flames of a burning fire, it would not burn up. He had performed the experiment and said it was true. If you take the same paper cup and fill it only half full, it will burn. On the other hand, if you overfill the cup, it will not only not burn, it will start to put out some of the flames. He compared the paper cup to the Love of God in three ways. The first was God’s love for each of us. That fills the cup some of the way. The second was our love for God which fills the cup some more. But, he explained that when we have charity or the pure love of Christ, it become the “Nächsteliebe” or not only the Love of God, but the love of God, ourselves, and all men, or Charity. The same applies to our Love of Christ, His love for us, our love for him, and, once again, Charity. When we have all three together, our “Cup runneth over” and we are able to “put out the fires” in our lives. This kind of love is vital to missionary work.

We then split up (the Berlin and Neubrandenburg zones) into smaller workshops taught by sister missionaries and the elders. The sister missionary’s (Sisters Bohne and Svoboda) “Theme” was based on three actions necessary for missionaries. 1) Be prepared 2) Do it. 3) Do it now! These two sisters are a dynamic duo. Sister Bohne is a “Golden” as President Pimentel calls all of the new missionaries. Sister Svoboda has been on her mission for several months, but the two of them have been very successful in the small city of Eisenhüttenstadt. The Elders Theme was on “Baptisms” and they talked about how baptisms were to be conducted, performed, etc. Elder Angerhof, one of the Elders who taught part of the Theme, is from our stake (The Parkway Stake) back home. His companion, Elder Jackson, is from a small town in England. His town is directly south of London and halfway between London and the ocean. He sounds like he is British, but with a German accent. After that we met for a great luncheon which was put on by sisters from one of the local Branches. The lunch was roast pork, rotkohl, and potatoes. (note: from Elder Frank -- the rot kohl is almost as good as Sister Frank’s.) Dessert was a popular German dish made from quark (a mild yogurt-like cheese mixed with fresh berries and topped with a chocolate candy which was formed to look like a piece of brown lace--very pretty.

We assembled once again in separate groups where two other Elders taught a lesson on the purpose of life and the reason for missionary work. They gave a demonstration of faith by having a blindfolded Elder stand on the table and then fall back on a group of several Elders to show how important it is to have faith that the Lord will provide opportunities for us when we follow the counsel of the Mission President and the rules in the Missionary Handbook. (Of course, the demonstration was typical of 20 year old young men -- always have to show their male prowess.)

At the end of the Conference, President Pimentel read from a talk by Elder Jeffrey Holland regarding the trials and rewards of missionary work. Then all of us “Goldens” and those who are “Finishers” were asked to bear our testimonies. It was an emotional and spiritual experience. We certainly came away with our spirits uplifted, humbled, wiser and more knowledgeable.

Elder Frank:

One thing on the testimony meeting. Pres. Pimentel said that testimonies could be in German or English for the Goldens. Sister Frank had been a little concerned knowing that giving testimonies was mandatory for “Goldens”. I was pretty sure she was going to give hers in English. In fact, she gave it in German. It was a simple but beautiful testimony, and I’m positive that the younger and senior missionaries were touched by her willingness to learn and use the German language.

Sister Frank:

The sisters were able to meet briefly while Sister Pimentel gave us a Visiting Teaching lesson. She is a bright, humble and sweet leader (and mother) to all o the missionaries in the Germany Berlin MIssion. We feel so blessed to be here.

If I have left anything out and I am sure I have, it’s because the notes from my computer somehow didn’t get saved. Elder Frank’s didn’t either. We think it has something to do with “iCloud.”

Elder Frank:

Sister Frank has mentioned the important things in our past week. I’ll mention a few PD things and put in a few photos. On May 19, we finally had a warm day. it has been either cold or hot in Berlin since we arrived. Maybe a few spring-like days, but even the Berliners have commented on going from winter to summer and then back again. So, we took a short cruise on the Havel river that runs through Berlin and widens into lake-like sizes that actually receive names as lakes i.e. “sees”. Wannsee is the area of Berlin where our “cruise” began and ended.


As you can see, we wore sweaters just in case the weather turned cooler on the water. Much of the ride was along wide canals bordered by beautiful large estates similar to the two on the right.


There were also several old fortresses and castle-like structures along the beautiful shoreline. Though I had known Berlin was a spread out and very forested city, I had never seen this part of Berlin while a young missionary. Rules for younger missionaries are a little different than for senior missionaries. The boat ride was two hours of relaxed sitting and we both enjoyed it before be had to again do our walking.


That evening we had dinner with brother and sister Johnson who had invited us to come back into the middle of town and have dinner with them. Elder Johnson loves the “Hard-Rock Cafe in “Tiergarten”. It’s the one place he has found that will give free refills on soft drinks. They are a great couple and the young people in the YAC love them.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Work in Berlin

        Together with all the other things we have written about in the blog, there is also great missionary work being done. We have met many young missionaries both Elders and Sisters. They are truly messengers from the Lord. They work hard. They are dedicated and each day, they are inviting people to repent and be baptized. Every morning abound 7:00 a.m., I will hear our “Handy” (German for cell phone) buzz signaling that we have received a message. It is always President Pimentel sending a notice to all missionaries. In German he expresses his joy and excitement over the work that is going on. The previous evening between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. he has received numerous phone calls, each from any missionary who has given a baptism invitation (called a “tauftermine”) to an investigator that day. Nancy and I have been in the President’s car driving home from Eisenhüttenstadt in the evening, and listened over his speaker phone as one missionary after another called him about the day’s activities and the people who have accepted an invitation to be baptized. I asked how many would follow through. Some, but not enough he said.

        Today is our fourth Sunday in Berliin. Our first Sunday was with the Mission President at the Lankwitz Gemeinde (ward). The second was in the Tiergarten Stake Center in the middle area of the city. The third and fourth Sunday’s we attended the Dahlem Gemeinde near our apartment in the Zehlendorf district of Berlin. The map below shows the entire mission and the different districts. It also shows Berlin and the eight wards included in that Stake. Though we didn’t go to church in Spandau, we did go there for a service project mentioned in a previous ward. In each ward we have visited, members have welcomed us warmly and helped us with our German. All the wards are much smaller than at home. Only one ward had close to a hundred at Sacrament meeting, and as you may be able to see by the map, the ward boundries in Berlin include huge amounts of territory. It must be a little difficult for young people to find companions especially in some of the older wards. From what we can gather, the overall LDS population in Germany is probably around 35 to 40 thousand. Not many in such a large country.


        Even with the difficulties, the missionaries keep working to find those prepared to hear the gospel and there are those here. We have already had opportunities to share our testimony of the gospel to those in the Young Adult Center in Tiergarten. During our last English class, we talked to an inactive member named Michael, who has attended the class for some time. After I heard that he had not been coming to church for a long time, I decided to broach the subject with him. He confided a bit about his concerns. We walked with him to the bus stop and Nancy and I both invited him to join us at church. We both testified of things we knew would help his life. We expressed our concern and love for him. He mentioned how difficult it is in the church if you are over thirty and single. We agreed, but we told him of our conviction that the Lord will guide him. We know we won’t be with him long, but we also know that Elder and Sister Johnson who are at the center will help him and others just as we hope to help a few young people in the area where we are finally assigned.

        We give pass along cards to those with whom we chat during the course of the day. They have the church’s website printed on them. The German church site is almost identical to the English version and has great videos of young people talking about their struggles and testimonies. We hope to be able to check out the site ourselves in the not too distant future.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

KaDeVe & Wittenburg Platz Trip

        Our second Saturday was our P-day but Berlin was blustery. Nancy stayed at the apartment as I walked after breakfast and cleanup to the Gottfried-Benn Bibliothek. It has become a daily walk when we have the time. The library provides a one-hour internet card free of charge each time we go and that hour has given us opportunities to communicate with home and carry on some business without interfering with our work at the Tiergarten YTE center.

        Tomorrow is Mütters Tag (mother’s day) in German. I bought a very small bundle of flowers on the way home from the library. It wasn’t much at all, but Nancy was grateful and put them into one of our kitchen glasses. She had suggested that we do a little sightseeing today since there was nothing going on at the center. It was cold enough so that we chose to go into Berlin Mitte (Middle) and see KaDeWe and other sites nearby rather than a boat ride on the Spree which we had talked about the day before.

        When we arrived, we heard yelling in unison even before we were completely out of the S-Bahn station. That was our first indication that this was not an ordinary Saturday in Berlin. Over the next couple of hours we were in the midst of masses who were in town that day for the final soccer game of the year for the German leagues. Dortmund and Bayern were playing for what one man told me was the “super bowl” of soccer in Germany. It was incredible. Dortmund fans wearing yellow and black were everywhere when we first arrived. Many of the them were singing in unison and more than I cared to see were already in a pretty good mood with bottles and cans of bear in their hands walking along the streets.


        Our goal was KaDeWe and when we got out at Wittenburg Platz, it lie dead ahead of us. So too were many of the Dortmunders who were also headed to KaDeWe with their friends and families. This huge seven story department store was crammed with people. Nancy and I had been there in the ‘80s, but the interior seemed nothing like what we had seen before. On the other hand, the huge number of products were just what we remembered. Anything and everything you might want was somewhere in that store. The first flour was filled with Tiffany, Rolex, Omega, Bulgari, and every other designer name in jewelry, watches, and cosmetics. They were housed in their own designer rooms. Nancy walked into Tiffany’s to see if there was anything she liked. There wasn’t anything she didn’t like but nothing we could ever afford. From that floor all the way up to the top floor we found beautiful clothing, bags, everything imaginable and all designer brands.



We ended on the top floor with gourmet foods, baked goods, meats, candies, and even eateries. After sampling a bit, we took a few pictures, bought some wonderful chocolate and headed outside.


        At that point, we noticed more of the Bayern fans in Red and White who seemed a bit more subdued until we heard a sidewalk band of theirs working the fans into a pre-game frenzy. We were tired at this point. I had asked a few young Dortmund guys where the game would be held. They told me the Olympic Stadium. Then noticing my American accent and I’m sure my age they suggested that they had a couple of extra tickets that looked nothing like real tickets to me and said they would sell them to me. Going to a soccer game with these guys would not be in the spirit of our missionary calling even if the tickets had been real. Besides that, my companion would never have allowed me get near that beer-fevered crowd of “fußballrowdys” (hooligans). She was ready to go back right then.


        We ended our day doing the right things. We read scriptures together. Ironically, it involved Alma the younger in his wild days. We did get to his conversion, however, so all ended well.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Arrival in Berlin

Our last couple of days at the MTC were just as full as the first days were. We were taught about teaching the gospel in seminary and institute. It isn't the same as teaching In school. You teach principles of the Gospel with love and by the spirit. The last Sunday's devotional featured Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of The Twelve Apostles. Of course, all of the missionaries stood as he and his wife entered. It was silent and reverent. He spoke about nine things that all missionaries should include in their missions. We have them in our notes and will talk about them when we have more time (not sure that happens.) The flight over was like most except for our a one hour plus delay on the tarmac at Chicago which put making our flight from London to Berlin in jeopardy. The William's couple missed their flight to France and we left the Capece couple so rapidly once we were inside Heathrow airport that we never discovered whether they made their flight.

Sister Frank: 

When we arrived in Berlin on Saturday, April 28, President and Sister Pimentel met us at the airport.  We visited with them until we got to the mission home where they told us to take a 2-hour nap while they picked up another missionary couple who had taken the train from Frankfurt.  The other couple was Elder and Sister Smith.  The Smith's are from Provo, Utah, but Sister Smith is from Germany and they met while he was serving in the military in Germany.  After meeting them, we went to the mission office (located a short drive from the mission home) and signed several documents needed for our visas.
Sister Pimentel made lunch for all of us at their home and then both Sister and President Pimentel took us to the hotel where we were staying, until our temporary assignments were made.  The rooms were wonderful and the smorgasbord breakfasts were beautifully displayed and delicious.  On Sunday morning, we went to the Lankwitz Gemeinde (Ward), where we were introduced to all of the mitglieders (ward members), as the newest missionary couples.  Everyone was very friendly and outgoing.  The ward is small, but the meetings were great.  Although I couldn't understand everything that was said, I got the gist of the meetings and the spirit was really wonderful.  Elder Frank was asked to say the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting, a great opportunity for him to use his Deutsch.  Afterwards Elder and Sister Gibson, the office couple, took us to their home for lunch and we took a little walk to see the little garden homes.  They look like a tiny cabins or homes with flowers and vegetable gardens, but are all laid out in small plots in miniature neighborhoods.   Later on they took us back to the mission home where President and Sister Pimentel had a great dinner prepared.  (Does it sound like we were fed enough?)   Then the High Priest Quorum from Lankwitz came to the mission home for a fireside.  The ladies sat in the President's office and visited while fireside took place.
The Pimentels are so busy, but manage to do everything that is necessary to take care of the 200 missionaries.  They are so dedicated!  After that, they took us back to the hotel for the evening.  Did I mention that we were exhausted from jet lag?  We were.  It felt so good to fall asleep, but then we awakened just a couple of hours later because we had not adjusted to the time difference.

Pres. & Sister Pimentel seated in Mission home
Elder Frank:

The hotel was very nice and had an extraordinary breakfast buffet each morning as Sister Frank mentioned.

I'll also mention a couple of things about church at the Lankwitz ward.  What a great experience for both of us.  After so many years it was nice to begin with a ward house that had been constructed while I was serving my first mission in Berlin.  Missionaries in the area had helped in the construction and we all participated in the dedication.  It is still a beautiful chapel and the members were so warm and considerate.  They welcomed us and even asked if I would give the closing prayer sacrament meeting.  Later, that day  we went to the Gibson's who are working in the mission home and had us over for lunch.  They work long hours trying to take care of all the missionaries and their needs.  The Smith's were also with us.  They were in the MTC with us and were also coming to Berlin with us.  They have since been assigned to help the members near Rostock in northern Germany.

Elder Frank:
Monday, once again, we had a huge smorgasbord breakfast before leaving for our first real missionary work.  First we went to what President Pimentel calls the "Mauer" dedication.  He takes all new missionaries on a small road not far from the mission home and stop near a large wooded area and field.  

After walking along a trail for a few minutes we came to a deserted road beyond which was another field.  I knew it was where the border between East Germany and West Berlin had once existed. "Mauer" means wall, and Pres. Pimentel likes to bring missionaries to a particular spot in the woods near where the border between East and West once existed.  There we all take turns reading parts of Pres. Monson's dedicatory  prayer given after the Berlin wall had come down.  He then sends us out to find a spot and offer a prayer dedicating our own missions to the Lord.  
Our prayer was a continuation of many prayers we have offered over the last few months.  We are committed to serving however and wherever the Lord wants us to.
My thoughts went back 47 years.  Together with several companions and over the course of two and a half years, I had been around a lot of Berlin looking at the wall and the border areas wondering about the people living beyond the borders and wall of concrete, barbed wire, mine fields, guard dogs, and guard towers.  Now, I was back again to spread the gospel my eternal companion.  Wow, what a tremendously humbling and spiritual feeling
Sister Frank:
After our “Mauer” dedication it didn’t take long for us to get started on our first assignment.  It was a service project where we helped a member sister who was catering a 30th wedding anniversary party.   She is a cook by profession and wow did I learn a lot about making a fruit tray look beautiful.  I also learned how to make deviled eggs with ketchup and mustard--it doesn't taste any better than it sounds, but the Deutch people seem to like it.  While there we met and talked to other members, all helping each other and wanting to know all about us.  It made us feel  very welcome.  By the end of the day, we were plenty worn out--still on US time.  

We were three days in a hotel and and that was enough. Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m., the other office couple Elder and Sister Williams came with President and Sister Pimentel to take us to our temporary apartment in Dahlem.
Great breakfast!

Using the Chapel & Overflow for the reception
Pres. & Sister Pimentel with Sister Stolze.
She was mastermind of food.
Spandau Church - helping members prepare reception food.
At the "Mauer" Our Mission Dedication

Nancy in front of our hotel in Lankwitz

Gibson's apt. with Smith's, and us.
Some of the food for the reception.  Baptismal font in rear.

Too much food- stored in baptismal font
Sister Pimentel and son (Mike)


About Us

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Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
We have been called to serve the Lord in Germany as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormons). We are witnesses to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who has blessed our lives in every way. We hope to help others in their efforts to find true joy and happiness in their lives and in the lives of their families.