Getting Lost in Flensburg
Flensburg is a town on the border of Germany and Denmark. As we learned about the young adults in our stake, we found that Flensburg had many young adults, but because it was quite a distance from Kiel, that they had their own institute teacher and rarely came to the center in Kiel. Pres. Jensen, our stake president, encouraged us to visit all the wards and branches in our stake and to get to know the young adults. We were anxious to follow his counsel so we decided to visit Flensburg first.
It was a rainy Sunday and we left our apartment about 50 minutes prior to the start of their meeting in Flensburg. We hadn’t done our homework and as I put the coordinates into the “Navii” (our GPS), it smiled and said it would take slightly over an hour to get there. We were going to be late. I pushed the red car as fast as I dared considering the rain and not knowing where I was going. We got to Flensburg and followed the roads as instructed until the Navii said we were there… no chapel. We were on a narrow, hilly, cobblestone road and the address was simply an old white building. I wondered if the ward was meeting in that building. There was no place to park, it was raining and cold. I got out and saw someone and asked about the church. He didn’t know anything about our church, but pointed out a nice Lutheran church. We didn’t know what to do. I turned around and drove into a small lane to think. Everyone I knew would be in church so there wasn’t any use calling. We both thought not only were we not going to meet the members in Flensburg, but we wouldn’t be able to go to church this Sunday. I was wet from walking around in the rain. Sister Frank didn’t know what to do, and in my mind I could only offer a feeble prayer that perhaps we could get some help.
I decided to see what phone numbers I had in a notebook. I didn’t want to call the Stake President because I knew he would be in a meeting. I did have the clerk’s number so I called him knowing that it would be futile. To our amazement someone answered. It wasn’t the clerk. It was his uncle who happened to be staying there, but was on his way out going back to his home somewhere in Germany. I mentioned our predicament not knowing if he was a member or not. The clerk, by the way, lives at least a hundred miles away from Flensburg. He was a member and said, stay on the phone and I’ll see if I can find the branch on the internet. He was not even aware of at the wards or branches in the stake. Two minutes later, he found the address I thanked him, and Sister Frank and I were on our way. On our “Navi” we had left out one of the numbers in the address which took us to another side of town. Walking into Flensburg late was worth the effort. We met many young adults that come on occasion to special events and were warmly greeted by members who were surprised that we had made the effort to come up. I was asked to give the closing prayer in sacrament meeting even though we were so late. We’re sure our presence wasn’t very important to the members, but being there was special for us.
Parking at the Flensburg branch.
“Consider the Lillies…” Luke 12:27
Many of the miracles that we see as missionaries come through the beauty of the things we see around us--not just the wonderful people and the beauty of the country of Germany. One such incident occurred as Elder Frank and I were just doing some weekly shopping. In downtown Kiel there is a shopping mall called Sophienhof. There are stores of every kind and each has many wonderful things to see. One of the stores we happened to come upon was a floral shop. The display in the windows showed all kinds of beautiful plants, especially orchids of every kind. We decided to go inside just to look at them.
When you consider the majesty and beauty of God’s creations, sometimes it takes your breath away. This was one of those moments. Every detail of each was so precise and delicate. We asked to storekeeper if we could take photos of the orchids. I couldn’t help but look at them and consider their splendor without realizing that of all of God’s creations, “man” is the one that was the one most important to Him. Genesis 1:26 and Moses 1:39. I hope these pictures will cause you to ponder the wonder of God’s creations and how much he loves us to have given them to us to enjoy!
The process of conversion is miraculous in itself. Though Sister Frank and I aren’t “Finding” and “Teaching” in the normal way our young Elders and Sisters are, we’ve both been asked to help on occasion. Two young men are in the midst of their conversions and their stories though not complete illustrate the miraculous power of the Book of Mormon, faith, and repentance.
The first young man is a Chinese student studying in Kiel. His Name is Wen Hi. We first met him when the elders brought him to Institute. They had mentioned him to me before and were thrilled with his progress considering that he had no knowledge of God. They met him near the University, began teaching him, and found that he was eager for an understanding of the gospel. What truly was miraculous was that Wen Hi was good friends with a recent convert by the name of Wang. After Wen Hi found out that Wang had been converted, he said “I want to know everything that Wang knows.”
I watched him during institute. He was taking notes and even asking questions. (His German is pretty good.) Afterwards, I introduced myself and guided him upstairs where Sister Frank was preparing our meal. He was enthusiastic and very friendly. He referred to me as “the old man” to the elders. I didn’t mind. We got along pretty well.
Since then, the elders have invited me to joint teach Wen Hi. It has been amazing hearing his questions and bearing witness to the truths of the gospel to someone so eager to learn.
Wen Hi is now visiting his parents in Shanghai for a month. He attended church here every week before he left. I showed him the church’s website (also in Mandarin) and the elders asked if I would email him the address of the branch in Shanghai. I did, together with the photo below. He comes back soon. We are praying for his continued conversion.
Elder Frank, Wen Hi, Elder Lloyd