Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring in Halle and Thinking in German--March 30, 2015

It's always great to hear from the missionary--to know that they are healthy, happy, and enjoying their work.

    The weather in Halle is cloudy and rainy this past week but I love it and it makes finding always interesting which makes it so fun. I think Halle is cold at times but it’s nothing that I can't handle. Spring is technically what it says on the calendar but it isn't like a California spring--the flowers are blooming now and the trees are starting to get buds on the ends of branches but it is not weather for the beach I think.
The missionaries in the Elder Fisher's first district--the sisters and
Elder Fisher and his companion serve the Halle ward.
I made potatoes one night for my companion but he does most of the cooking and I don't mind doing the dishes if I don't have to make the food.
The ward has activities like once a month--like a ward dinner--and the missionaries are in charge of family home evening for the singles in the ward.  We are over half the ward choir and usually missionaries have to give talks once a month at least because the ward is so small. It makes serving here such a blast though because it really makes the missionaries feel like they are part of the ward and it is great. The baptism didn't happen because the person needs to work on a few things first but he still wants to be baptized though so that is good.

Elder Fisher and Elder Gerlach in Halle
    This week has been good.  We found like 40 former investigator sheets last P-day after sending our emails and we have been going by the houses and updating the records. We have also been doing a lot of finding this week and that is fun and we get to meet a lot of people that way. We talked with someone this week and we were talking with him and telling him about how we came to Germany to do this work.  He asked where we were from and I said California and all he said back was "Sunny beaches!!!" it was really funny.  He asked my companion and he said Utah and he said "it's still in America." that made the experience pretty funny. Also we went by to visit a former investigator and he was home and then his friend came in and listened to us and then the friend gave us a referral!!! It was pretty cool getting a referral from a nonmember I would have to say. Those are the two big stories from this week.
    I gave the spiritually thought in District Meeting and it was on hope and all in German it was fun. I am starting to forget English words and thinking in German--I know it is really weird actually.
Mission selfie with missionaries serving in Halle.

    My scripture for the week is 1 Samuel 15: 22 and this is when King Saul didn't obey the Lord's command with exactness and Samuel tells him this
"And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
What that means to me is that it doesn't matter what we sacrificed to come on a mission or left behind, we are all here on the Lord's errand and we must be obedient and not focus on our sacrifices.
All is well in Halle while we are building Zion.
Elder Fisher

P.S. That typing class I took in high school is useless now because I will be used to German keyboards in two years and not know how to type on an English keyboard.
P.P.S I will more than likely get everything that has been mailed to me this Wednesday because that is Zone Training Meeting and they get the mail from Berlin for all the missionaries in the zone.

**I am including the next section from dad's letter to Elder Fisher--I thought it would be helpful if anyone has every wondered why people from our faith do not wear crosses as a symbol of our faith in Christ or have crosses displayed in our chapels.

"We do not use the cross as a symbol on our chapels, temples, or on our scriptures or in jewelry. President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the reason in a talk delivered in general conference. He told about talking to a Protestant minister following a temple open house. The minister had asked why there were no crosses anywhere if we say we believe in Jesus Christ. President Hinckley answered, “‘I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.’
“He then asked, ‘If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?’
“I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship” (“The Symbol of Christ,” New Era, Apr. 1990, p. 4)."

(mom note: A few weeks ago, Elder Fisher included pictures from the center of town. We have learned it is called "Market Place with the Red Tower" and "Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen"--which translated means Church of Our Dear Lady.  Another view of the square can be seen at this link:  Market Square Tower and Church

Monday, March 23, 2015

Missionary Work plus Food and Cars in Halle--March 23, 2015

We received two great letters today which have been combined for this blog.
Note: if the word is in purple, it contains a link to a web page with more information. 

   “The ward I am in is the Halle Ward but it has giant boundaries, one family travels an hour to get to church by train every Sunday because they live so far away. Most of the members live pretty local though. There are about 60-80 active members in the ward and one family makes up about a quarter of the ward.

   When we ate at the members’ home last Sunday, they asked me a lot about LA—and you wanted to know the types of questions.  They asked things like: how far away was the beach? or did you see any gang fights? or how cold did it get? They were also disappointed when I told them I didn't go to school in California but went to Idaho for college.

   We are allowed to see stuff on P-Days and are actually encouraged to help us understand the culture better and help us prepare mentally for the next week. There is a Handel museum (the famous composer) and there is a chocolate factory I think we are going to next week.

   We eat cereal in the mornings for the most part but the cereal here tastes better I think. We have more lunch stuff than any other meal.  We usually have some sort of wurst for that with potatoes or rice or soup. (Mom note: according to the German food guide, Germany has over 1500 types of wurst). I haven't seen a döner with yogurt on it but it is like ordering at a fast food restaurant and I just say normal Döner. They have lamb, and onion, mixed vegetables, and all on the flat bread. It is really good.

   The autos in Germany are mostly European made (a lot of Volkswagons) but there are a lot of Fords, too, and I have seen two or three Chevy's. It is really cool seeing all the cars that they talk about on the British car show I watched actually (Mom note: he’s talking about Top Gear).

   I haven't seen any buildings from West Germany to compare to yet, but I think some of the buildings from this area (the former East Germany) that were built during that time period have a very communist look. 

   The people are nice for the most part and I love seeing and talking to so many people all day.  This week we did a lot of finding and, because we did, we walked by a lot of INTERESTING people that stopped us and started talking to us about the Book of Mormon and other stuff that concerned the world. One said everyone needs to just eat together and drink together and be happy and all I could think about was the scripture "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." He was an interesting person.

   We found a few people this week but haven't really been able to meet with them yet. The sisters in our district have a baptism this week so we are trying to get less actives and investigators to come to that but it is in Leipzig so it is a little hard for some people to get to Leipzig (mom note--it's about a half-hour train ride away).

   It is great here in Halle and I think that the key to missionary work is to stay positive and always strive to help other so we can do our part to build the kingdom of God. Like this week, we set up two service opportunities with people so that they might become new investigators or their hearts may be softened for the next set of missionaries. It is interesting in the field. I feel like we have to think in the moment how can I help but also think of the long term how can this benefit the person in the long term and who else will this effect-- like if an investigator gets baptized and goes to the temple and then does 100 family names within the next three years that is 101 (including the living person doing the ordinances)people that have had ordinances done and the opportunity to partake of salvation.

Quote of the week: "The Kingdom of God or nothing"-President John Taylor

My scripture for the week is actually a song and it is the translation of "I Believe in Christ" from German to English: 

"Christ is my Lord, and my king
I sing to him, I give him exact praise and thanks
I want Him with me my whole life long,
Christ is my Lord, the greatest son
He came to earth to live,
The sick he healed and stood from death,
I praise his name while I walk"

It isn't a perfect translation but I like how it says "Christ is my Lord" more because it has more assurance and is bolder which is what members of the church should be saying and proclaiming to the world:  "Christ IS my Lord"


Elder Fisher

Monday, March 16, 2015

Halle, Groitzsch, Leipzig and East Germany

March 16, 2015

Everything is going great in the Halle area and I have more pictures this week. 

A clock tower in the center of Halle, Germany
   My area is pretty big--not only do we have our city, which we usually stay in, we have like a hundred small towns, too.  It is probably a half hour train ride to the north of our area to the south end of our area.  We buy monthly street subway cards and then daily cards for when we have to travel out of our train district (a certain area where a monthly card works for a city).  The weather isn’t bad--it rains a little bit but most of the time it is a light drizzle or something.
When we go finding we go street finding, we walk from one place to another and then for “dooring” we use what are called klingels --they are the buzzer things for apartments like the one in Jerry's apartment from Seinfield.
A church in the center of Halle, Germany

   In the ward, we go to family home evening with the single members, and Sunday School on Wednesday. The 4 missionaries in the ward are over half the ward choir and we are there Wednesday night for practice after seminary. I don't think that we will have to sing as a companionship for special music but I do not know for sure.

    This week was fun. 
A tower in Groitzach, Germany

One of the places visited during
companion exchange in Groitzsch, Germany
I had my first companion exchan
ge in Groitzsch which is a really small town in my district. Then last Saturday, the elders from Groitzsch had a baptism for an 8 year old kid they have been teaching.  It was fun because I got to go to Leipzig and see a baptism.
Companion exchange selfie in Groitzsch
Some of the members are good about missionary work but most are not quite sure how to do it because in East Germany they weren't allowed to so it is a new thing to do member missionary work.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that where I am serving used to be in East Germany.

This week I had a really good pasta salad and surprisingly I really enjoyed eating it. On Saturday, we ate with a blind member of the ward and a college kid that is in the ward. That was fun and yesterday (Sunday) we ate at another member’s house.  They gave us a lot of food but the main dish was fish with pasta and they asked me lots of questions about what is was like growing up in LA.  Everywhere I have eaten has pretty good home cooked food.  We also eat at bakery's here but they are everywhere so they are pretty cheap.  We also eat at döner joints which is a turkish food.

   Today, we have to get a bunch of random stuff to fix some things that are broken in the apartment.
(a question from dad) “Is your bed made up of a sheet made in the shape of a sleeping bag and it coves a big down-filled type blanket thingie?  If looks like that, and that is what we had in Denmark...called dynabetraks” (Elder Fisher’s response) That is a good description of the blanket but it is really warm and it I think it is called a veckerdecker or something like that (mom note: it might be daunedecke which is the German translation of duvet).
   I haven`t taken a picture of the street I lived on yet but I will now. My companion actually knows a lot of German because his trainer made him do all the talking so he was forced to learn it. The favorite sport here is soccer but people like to play volleyball and basketball too.

   I liked dad’s scriptures this week: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Doctrine & Covenants 121: 7-8 and thought they are really useful.

Elder Fisher

Mom's commentary: As I was growing up, I heard my dad tell of his service in the army and touring Berlin with a guide on the East German side. I remember being amazed when the Freiberg temple was announced for East Germany because it was under such strict communist rule. I also remember staying up late and watching the news conference of the people tearing down the Berlin wall. To have a son serving a missionary in that area is truly amazing.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Halle--March 9, 2015

This week’s blog post contains pictures from Elder Fisher and some other information about Halle, Germany

A photo of the street in Halle where Elder Fisher's apartment is.

March 9, 2015
Halle is good. Everything here is going great and I love the people.  The language is coming pretty fast and I am enjoying every minute I am here.  My trainer has been in the field for 3 months so we are kinda learning everything together. He worked a lot at a restaurant before he left on his mission. My trainer is also a really good cook so when we are eating by ourselves, he cooks and I try to help in some ways-- like offering some chocolate I bought or something.
The kitchen in Elder Fisher & Elder Gerlach's apartment
We are supposed to speak German most of the day and I am progressing towards doing that. There is a mission rule that “you’re German except for p-day” so I have to try to speak German all day--even with my companion.  My companion and district are great and we are all getting along great, too. Being with someone 24 hours 7 days a week isn't as weird as I thought it might be. We are the only missionaries in our apartment but there are a pair of sister missionaries in Halle too.
We do not have bikes and we take the train but there is a thing we use a lot called a Straßenbahn and that is an above ground subway. It is really cool I think and very useful. I think LA could use it and it reduce the amount of cars and people driving there. We take a Straßenbahn everywhere which is an above ground subway pretty much. We also walk a lot when we are finding--like on Thursday, we spent like 6 hours finding (meeting people) on the streets so we walked a lot but we talked to a lot of people too so it was good.
We are teaching here but the white handbook says we shouldn't ask you to pray for causes here. 100% obedience, right?
Elder Fisher's p-day snacks. Mmmmmm!
The chocolate is good here but there isn't any peanut butter here. It is kinda weird not seeing peanut butter products when we do our shopping. (Mom note: the mission president sends a welcome letter to the parents and he said peanut butter is available in Germany—so maybe they need to visit a different store)
We ate at a member’s house yesterday and I ate so much it because it was so good. I ate a bunch of foods I didn't think I would like too--just so I wouldn't offend them, but some of the foods I ended up liking was this mushroom sauce with like a thousand mushrooms, rasberries with icecream, a cheesecake with a small orange in it, and some other stuff too.
My scriptures of the week are Moroni 7:47 “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.   and another one is the 3 epistles of John at the end of the New Testament.”
Sounds like you are enjoying your calling and I hope that everything continues going well with that. I hope everything continues to go well at home and that you and dad are having lots of fun with all your many activities.
Elder Fisher

Leipzig Zone--Germany Berlin Mission, March 2015 (photo courtesy of mission blog page)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Work Begins

The new missionaries arrive in Berlin!

Elder Fisher left the Provo Missionary Training Center on February 24, 2015 at 6:00 am.  He rode to Provo to the Salt Lake Airport. His flight were from Salt Lake City to JFK to Paris to Berlin. He arrived in Berlin, Germany around noon on February 25, 2015. If you look carefully, you can see him in the arrival photo.

The letters are a combination of two letters:

"I’m glad that you enjoyed the pictures on the mission blog. 
I am serving in Halle which is pronounced like Holla.

     My companion is Elder Gerlach and he is from outside of Brigham City, Utah—so he is not a native German. We live in an apartment off of a marketplace. There are 4 missionaries here and it is a larger city so there are plenty of people for us to talk to. Actually it is our companionship and a pair of sisters and there are a total of 6 companionships in the district.
I have been out finding (tracting) a few times now and it has been fun. I feel bad because I can't speak German well so it is difficult for me to contribute but I can understand a little of what the people are saying and they seem to understand me as well.

Elder Fisher with his trainer and President and Sister Kosak
    My first Sunday was Fast Sunday and I did have to bear my testimony in German. I didn't even feel that scared or nervous but I reminded everyone that every member is a missionary to try to get the members to help. The ward I serve in is really cool but also small--there are like 60 active members in it. It is fun though.

    The keyboards are different here the z and the y are switched so it is confusing to type for the first 10 minutes I was on here (mom note: I left the “z” and “y” mix ups in that he is talking about to show what he is talking about). We actually get 2 hours of email time but about half an hour is used for reading president's emails and sending him an email.

     Everything is pretty good. I have been fed by members twice now. One was a tomato soup with chunks of tomato in it, then we had a type of pork, these potato dumpling kinda things, and Brussel sprouts, which are prettz good, and, for dessert, we had a fruit cream pudding thing and the raspberries were really sour. I also ate strawberries this week at the other dinner which was bratwurst, grapes, strawberries, bell pepper, I think, and bread. It was really good. I actually haven't had kraut yet but I hope to have it soon. I haven't had a lot of German chocolate yet but I plan on eating more this week.

     I haven't reallz had a chance to take pictures yet but I promise you pictures next week. Hope everything is well at home and that your strawberry plants grow well.

     Mostly it is fun here--I feel happier since I have gotten here. It is pretty cold, it is staying right at around freezing temperatures right now but all is well in Zion. I love the city and the people and the members in the ward I am serving in.

     A scripture I found this week is Hebrews 3: 14 “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”  and another is Preach my Gospel the section on what a successful missionary is I just seemed to study that section a lot this week. (I have included this section at the end of the blog)

Hope you have a good week. I love ya and take care and enjoy the little things in life,

Elder Fisher"

From Preach My Gospel, chapter 1

You can know you have been a successful missionary when you:

• Feel the Spirit testify to people through you.
• Love people and desire their salvation.
• Obey with exactness.
• Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.
• Develop Christlike attributes.
• Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring souls to Christ, and seek earnestly to learn and improve.
• Help build up the Church (the ward) wherever you are assigned to work.
• Warn people of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments.
• Teach and serve other missionaries.
• Go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.

When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”

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