Missionary Journal: Leipzig, Germany, December 9, 1995

I have decided to start posting once a week or so some excerpts from my missionary experiences in Germany 10 years ago, for what it’s worth.  They are interesting for me to read, and maybe for you too! Or maybe not…

I’ll try to always post on the exact day I wrote back then!

December 9, 1995

"It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…" ! Especially here in the office [I was the mission financial secretary for nearly a year]. We get at least 10 Christmas packages a day around here for missionaries in the field. Snow is on the ground outside and we are about ready to set up our office Christmas tree. All in all there is a very cozy atmosphere about the area. Very Christmasy. Of course, with Christmas comes a lot of work and the biggest project for me lately has been to get everything ready to close the books for the year. There seem to be so many reports to write and things to do! But I’ll make it.

This last week we had our Christmas Zone Conference with all the missionaries in the Leipzig Stake. It was one of the most spiritual Zone Conferences I’ve ever been to. The theme for the month is temples and President Ernst, the new President of the Freiberg temple, was present and spoke for a long time and answered many of our questions about the temple(as much as he could say outside of the temple walls). Some of the questions posed by missionaries were dumb trivial "what-if" kind of situations not too likely to happen anyway but most of it was very interesting. For example, he gave us a ton of scriptures we could read to explain the symolism behind such things as the temple clothing.

We also watched Mr. Krueger’s Christmas and every district did a 5-10 minute Christmas devotional. They were almost all very spiritual. Then we had a testimony meeting which was totally dominated by all the "finalizers" because out of 10, 8 are in our stake. Sister D is going home this month. She flew to Germany with me! That makes me feel old. I’ll be sad to see her go.

After Zone Conference, just like last year, we all went to Leipzig Hauptbahnhof, stood on the stairs in the West Hall, and sang Christmas carols. What a unique way to testify of Christ! All of those carols which we sang testify that Christ was born and that he stood as a mediator to the world. We drew quite a crowd, too! Afterwards Elder J. and I went to visit C. in his new "container" in Leipzig. His housing leaves much to be desired but he’s happy to be in Leipzig so that he can come to church. We’ve set a new baptismal date for the first weekend in January.

On Wednesday night we met with Herr and Frau H., two of our investigators. Frau H. was born in Malaysia and grew up in Australia. She doesn’t speak German but speaks English well. She is really interested in our message and reads everything in the Book of Mormon that we give her to read. The problem is that Herr H., a stubborn German from Baden-Wüttenberg, always starts bringing up all these trivial concerns when she asks us sincere questions. He’ll never shut up long enough for us to teach her. He’s nice, but he just makes it extremely challenging to teach Frau H. And Frau H. just went to Malaysia and Singapore until February. Oh, well! I’ll still be here when she gets back.

Today is P-day and we have a full schedule. At 1pm two of the sisters’ investigators are getting baptised and we(all Leipzig missionaries) are going an hour early to practice a song, "We are as the armies of Helaman", which we will sing in both Leipzig wards tomorrow. We have 8 missionaries in our ward, and I always thought that was a lot(it’s the ward with the most missionaries in our mission) until I got John’s letter about Gemeinde Marzahn [John and I served in Germany at roughly the same time. I think we overlapped by 10 months]. WOW! 14 Missionaries!

After the baptism Elder J and I are going to city center where we plan to mosy around the Christmas market and then at 3pm we are going to see the Thomana Choir perform again. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but the Thomana Choir is a boys choir which was organized by J. S. Bach. They always perform in the church where Bach was the music director for years. Most of the stuff Bach wrote was here in Leipzig. The man had to come up with a new music piece every week! These choir concerts are always very good- to go we just need to endure the prostetant sermon right in the middle and the cult-sounding chanting of the Lord’s prayer. [tolerant bugger, wasn't I?] Other than that it’s free!

Elder J and I have also planned a special Christmas presentation which we plan on giving to all the members in our area. Right now we’re trying to make out a lot of appointments with members so we can meet with them before Christmas. It’ll be fun!

Well, the baptism is over and the Thomana Choir has sung. Both events were wonderful!! C even came to the baptism!! I sat next to him and translated for him. All the missionaries sang "How are Great Thou Art" and the spirit was there. The family was really excited to get baptised. It always does me so much good to see something like that take place!

Hmmm. My English seems to be going down the tube! That’s something I never really expected would happen. But it has!

7 Responses to Missionary Journal: Leipzig, Germany, December 9, 1995

  1. john f. says:

    Sweet. Great idea. Maybe I’ll have to get out my journal as well. 10 years does serve as a nice post mark. You had six months left and I had only landed in Germany three months before when you wrote this.

    Cool that I made an appearance here! If I remember correctly, there were 14 missionaries in the Marzahn ward at the time you wrote this. Basically, all missionaries serving in East Berlin attended the Marzahn ward, even though in some cases, the Neukölln ward might have been closer.

  2. Rusty says:

    Jordan, this is a cool idea. I was just thinking about doing something similar to this yesterday. The problem, of course, is that once I start reading old journals I can’t stop. Cool entry though.

  3. Jordan says:

    14 missionaries in one ward was a heck of a lot for Europe, you must admit. Of course, the Vilnius, Lithuania ward also had lots of missionaries, speaking at least three different languages if I recall correctly (Lithuanian, Russian, Estonian, and perhaps Latvian?).

  4. Jordan says:

    Thanks, Rusty! Sometimes a trip down that nostalgia-cloaked memory lane is pretty fun.

  5. john f. says:

    But I’m pretty sure there weren’t 14 there in the ward in Vilnius. I think the languages were just Lithuanian and Russian. I think it would have been a very difficult ward to live in long-term.

    The Marzahn ward, on the other hand, would be an absolutely wonderful ward to live in long-term!

  6. Jordan says:

    Well, I *think* the Estonian and Latvian speakers were there because Vilnius was the mission headquarters for missionaries in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Belarus (and/or perhaps, “White Russia”).

    So missionaries not “normally” stationed in Vilnius would be in Church on Sundays due to visa troubles getting into Estonia and Latvia (some of these tended to have the services translated into English for them, if I remember correctly…)

  7. john f. says:

    Oh yeah, I see what you mean. I thought you meant that the branch was conducted in all those languages. It was a bilingual branch in which half the members were Russia speakers and half were Lithuanian speakers, but you are right that there were always missionaries there who were trained for those other languages.

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