Sunday, March 22, 2009

A wonderful Sunday with the Saints

Anina and I visited the Ward in Hamm. It is a town that is a little more than 1/2 hour drive from our home in Dortmund. Our visit with members of the Student Council is part of a program that will eventually go to all twelve Wards or Branches of the Dortmund Stake. Our Student Council presents the Sunday School lesson to the Young Adults and we have to speak in Sacrament Meeting. The Hamm Ward is one of the strong Wards of the Stake. It is not strong because of the number of people that attend each Sunday, but it is the quality of the Saints in that Ward. They have a beautiful Chapel and as you enter we can feel the Spirit. We were welcomed with open arms. The two Young Missionary Elders enjoy being in their midst. I don't know why not every person they bring to investigate the church is not immediately overcome by the feeling that they would ask for baptism. In our combined Elder Quorum and High Priest Group we met in a small classroom and only 14 were in attendance (6 of them were missionaries and members of the student council). They had a meaningful and great lesson. Anina said that the numbers in Relief Society were about the same. The Sunday School Class for the young adults consisted of only 4 from the Young adults from the Ward. In Sacrament Meeting we had about 40 people in attendance. In the beginning of the Sacrament meeting I sat there with my eyes closed, saying a silent prayer for those of us that were to speak. I was actually overcome with a feeling when the opening song was sung, that there must have been several hundred that participated in singing. When the "Amen" was said to the opening prayer, at the conclusion of the Sacrament Prayer or at the conclusion of the talks it sounded more than 10 times the number that were there. It was a wonderful feeling to be in their midst.
The young adult speakers did not take as much time as they should have, and I had a 20 minute talk prepared that I stretched into 30 minutes. (It is still hard for me to be able to give a talk in the German Language without a lot of preparation - it is getting better but not good enough.) I hope that the people did not mind getting out of Church 10 minutes earlier than scheduled.
While I was finishing preparations for my talk yesterday, Anina baked a few dozen cookies. She gave the container to one of the young adults at the end of the meeting block to pass out. Everyone enjoyed them and they were almost gone when one of the young adults came up to us and ask if it was a OK to save a few and take them to a young adult investigator that did not come to church. So, we jumped into the car and five of us knocked at his door and told him that we missed him and wanted him to have some of the cookies that Sister Diederich baked.
Before we drove back home, we had an interesting conversation with a brother that was just a month ago released as the 1st councilor in the Stake Presidency. He told us that only 10years ago that this was a good size Ward with 120 to 140 in attendance every Sunday. This used to be a heavy industrial area with many good jobs. People had to move where the jobs are. All of our young people received a good education and then our young people moved and started their families elsewhere. Even recently some high tech jobs left and moved to the Southern part of Germany. It is sad to see the decline, but the Saints keep their hopes and faith that the church will grow again in this area. We have heard it a number of times that the Brethren have spoken to the Saints in this area saying that the growth is just around the corner. Seeing the faith of the Saints, we too are convinced that it will happen soon.
We have had a wonderful day. Yesterday we actually had a whole day of sunshine, maybe spring is about to make an appearance. We took a nice long walk in the beautiful countryside.

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