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.
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.
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.”
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.