This Week (June 1-8)

Monday

We visited the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen. It was a rather interesting experience and not necessarily one I would like to repeat. There was a very real heaviness in the air. This evening we visited two brothers that are the only young men in the branch. We just started a mission prep class with them, and we began with the Book of Mormon. It was a good opportunity for them to bear testimony.

Tuesday

Today we had Zone conference in Berlin and it was President Kosak’s last one with us. At the end of this month he will finish his mission and we will get a new mission president. It was a really spiritual meeting and it was fantastic to listen to the visiting area seventy Elder Adler. President Kosak talked about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel. I have to say, that is the thing that I have really learned from him, to love the prophet Joseph Smith and the scriptures. I can still remember how he stood at the front of the room in a zone conference in Dresden nearly a year ago and shared with us his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. For him, and many other saints in the DDR, that was their only connection to the church. It has always impressed me how much he knows and how well he uses his knowledge of the scriptures.

Wednesday

Today we were finally able to get a lesson with a new member that doesn’t have much time. She is a very active grandma and watches her grandkids all the time. Usually she says that she does not have the time to meet during the week, but we went by unexpectedly and she happened to have time. So that was a miracle.

Thursday

Again with the miracles. We went by on a less active member, and we were able to meet with her and make out a new appointment. She has a very strong testimony and continues to read the the Book of Mormon and pray but hasn’t been to church in the last five years or so. We used to meet pretty regularly with her but we lost contact about two months ago. But now she’s back.

Friday

Today was very hot and many of our appointments fell out. But we cleaned up the church and were able to talk with the members some.

Saturday

Today was also hot but we were more used to it this time. We were outside almost the whole day and when we came home I was pooped. As celebration for a good day’s work we made tortillas.

Sunday

We spent a lot of time with our members. Kind of one appointment after another and that is always really nice.

Yeah, this week I was so much more tired than last week. And most of this “daily journal” I wrote today. Naja, it is all good. Have a great week!

Elder Billings

 

Sachsenhausen

Sachsenhausen

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Week in Review

Week of 25-31 May

Monday

Today we visited Park Sanssouci and went inside of the castle there. It was really cool but I liked the Neues Palais better. We were there a couple weeks ago with the missionaries in Leest. Then in the evening we met with our ward mission leader and talked about the work. We talked about Oksana, who wants to be baptized and some of the new members in the branch. He also told us about many things that we can do with our iPads to work more effectively.
Tuesday
We taught Tong and it was really spiritual. She expressed the feeling of being lost and we were able to testify that by coming to know God, we know ourselves more clearly. Her daughter was there, and she was so funny. The first part of the lesson, she ran around with her eyes closed, then she spent the last bit drawing pictures. She had gorgeous brown eyes, I was super jealous.
Wednesday
We shared a lesson in district meeting about using time well. Then in personal study, I studied Elder Henry B Eyring’s talk from the Priesthood session of the April 2015 conference. I was touched by what he said about prayer and decided to study the section of the Teachings of President Joseph F Smith that he mentioned and it was just what I have been searching for. He speaks about prayer being an effort to be personally recognized by our Father in Heaven. That has helped me to change my prayers and to have the feeling of being closer to my Father.
Thursday
Today we met with John. He is a new member from Cameroon. His testimony is so strong, and he always says that the gospel is the reason he is happy. That is saying a lot because his current circumstances are very difficult. There are so many things that would give him the “right” to be sad or angry, but he chooses to be happy. One of the greatest privileges in visiting him is to hear him pray. He speaks with such reverence and radiates a feeling of love for his God and savior, Jesus Christ.
Friday
We had an interesting time today. Our first appointment of the day fell out, but we rescheduled to meet with Oksana on Sunday afternoon. Later we met with some new members and it was a really good appointment. We talked a lot about the sacrament and what it means to them. It was really cool to hear them share their feelings about Christ. Sunny, who is about 12 years old and was baptized right before I came to Potsdam, shared how she felt at her baptism and we were able to help her to know that she can have that feeling every Sunday as she takes the sacrament. Rocio was next and we talked with her about patriarchal blessings, she is super solid. She wants to visit the temple coming this summer. To finish the night, we visited a single mother and her family and had family night together. The family consists of three boys and two girls. It was a really intense family night. We talked about the plan of happiness and most everyone in the family shared their testimony about one part of another. The coolest part was that Niko, the oldest boy, shared how he had received an answer that he ought to go on a mission, and we are starting mission prep with him and his brother. Not only that but they had invited two of their friends to come as well. Over all, it was a great day.
Saturday
Today we met with Ina, who has been investigating for a very long time. She happened to bring one of her good friends, Uli, to the appointment. Uli is really cool! We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and he was very excited to read it. The rest of the lesson was kind of thrown off because Ina went to go prepare food, and we were left to explain the Book of Mormon to him. He told us that he really wants to read it because he feels that there are important things missing from the Bible, and that the Book of Mormon will make the path to God clear. I would say he has very real desire to learn more.
Sunday
Things were pretty low key. We ate with an older couple from the Ukraine and they were so nice. He is really smart but he has trouble expressing himself in German. But they are really nice and wanted us to eat so much. Later we met with an Oksana who is on b date. She was really tired so it wasn’t the most productive lesson. But she is going to institute so she should be all right.
Elder Joseph Billings
03-15 Leadership Training Berlin 2015 04 Missionary Conference-Elders Kearon-Nielson250
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New Companion and New Baptism

I know you wanted to hear about how things are going with the work so I will tell you. This last Sunday we invited one our friends to be baptized and she accepted. She will be getting baptized on the 20 of June. We still have a lot to talk about with her it she really wants to change and become better.
My new companion Elder Conley is really cool. He trained horses growing up and lived in California and Utah and has three sisters… He was a zone leader for the last four transfers, so it is really fun to work with him. He always wants to be out talking with people and working. We are trying to support each other in our adjustment to using iPads. Sometimes these little buggers can be so distracting, but setting personal rules helps a lot.
Oh yeah, we got iPads. We don’t have wifi but we can use them for teaching and we have the gospel library app. We can read our emails through out the week but only write on Monday.
Elder j billings
Sent from my iPad
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The work

[May 18th] My new companion is coming from Rostock, where he was serving as a Zone leader. It also happens to be the city where our branch president’s son is branch president, go figure.

Some people we have been working with are Maja, Ina, chris, john and Rocio. At least these are the ones that actually meet with us:) Maja is the friend of some members and she loves reading the Book of Mormon, but we haven’t met in about two weeks, sad day:( Ina has been investigating the church for a long time and we are trying to work with her on her testimony. Chris is an African American from Florida, and he wants to go on a mission. He turns 26 in dec. #shift into high gear. John is super awesome and one of the most faithful men I have ever met, loves Jesus, the bible and coming to church. He is a recent convert. Rocio is from Argentina and was also recently baptized. This week she brought a friend to church but she lives in Munich:( But things should be picking up with the new transfer. I will keep you updated.
Love you!
Elder Billings
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Peace

[May 4th] This week I read a talk from Elder Scott. He said, “As you dedicate time everyday, personally and with your family,  to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life… It will radiate out from you to influence other in the world around you” I felt the strength of that promise this week. I felt that God was looking after me and I saw how others were influenced by the scriptures and the peace that they bring.
I felt this week that I was under a lot of weight but I felt that God was there for me even when I had doubts about just about everything. It is good to know that God loves me. that is the sweetest peace that I could ever hope for. it is like the hymn “sweet is the peace the gospel brings”
Love Elder J Billings
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Discipline

[April 27]  This week, I thought about discipline in life. Elder Christofferson once said, discipline comes from constantly choosing the right because it is right. James 1:8 states that the double minded man being unstable. In Alma it talks about the wars between Amalickiah and Moroni and as I read I thought about the nephites. They could have had peace, but there were two minds in this people. One for a king and the other for freedom. As long as these two minds were competing, the Nephites had little success in fighting their enemies. However, as soon as this inner struggle was taken care of, the nephites quickly restored peace and freedom in their lands.

As I studied, I saw how important it is to be one. That is the core of discipline, to know who you are and what you are doing. When you are one, there is no need to wonder what you will do. You know that you choose the right, because it is right, regardless of the circumstances.
We were visited this week by two members of the quorum of the seventy. It was an amazing meeting and I learned a lot about the importance of obedience. In obedience, there are several levels, but the highest level is that of Christ. It is demonstrated by the Sons of Helaman, they obeyed every word of command with exactness. That is the level of integrity that we ought to strive for, to be someone that obeys every word of the Lord with exactness.
One last thing to share. Elder Nielson of the seventy shared a parable about a bird. He said, a bird sitting on a branch is not afraid that the branch will break, because its trust is not in the branch but in its own wings. Likewise, our trust is not in our own ability to exalt ourselves but in our commitment to do good and be good. It is based in the Atonement of Christ.
That’s it. Have a great week.
Edler J Billings
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Change

This week we have a mission wide training conference to learn how to use I-pads in our mission. For the last two weeks our Mission President has been preparing us to use technology wisely and effectively. As you can imagine, the integration of I-pads would change the way that missionary time is used considerably. In his letter this week he said, “If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always gotten”.

The line was really surprising to me because it was a topic that I have had on my mind for a while. I was looking back on my time in Potsdam and I saw how the work has changed, what new things we were using and what we had stopped. I saw how some investigators have made progress and how others have not. I really has been a time to “ponder the path of [my] feet” as President Monson taught last General Conference. It was really interesting to see how I can change and what I need to do to get to a better path, and also to look at where I was before and what has led me to change into what I am today.

This last Sunday, our stake president visited our branch because we got a new building. In his talk to us he asked us to answer a couple questions to ourselves:

When was the last time you prayed fervently and fasted to overcome a weakness or a problem?
-and-
When was the last time you fasted outside of a fast Sunday and donated a fast offering?

These last couple of weeks there have been many people that have asked that I answer questions to myself. As I did it and though about the answers that I would give and what that means for me, I was soon told by the spirit how I needed to change.

It is so important to have the spirit as a constant companion. He tells us the words of the Father in a loving manner and helps us to know the truth of all things.

This coming week will be pretty crazy and I have no idea what to expect but it will be a time to learn from God.

I wish you a week fun of guidance from the Spirit.

Elder J Billings

2014 04 20 Pday in Berlin 2014 04 20 Berlin 2015 04 20 Spring is real

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