This has certainly been a crazy week, and the stark contrast between Prenzlau and Berlin has been more dramatic than I had assumed. Our apartment in is a conspicuous little alcove, but once you walk through the courtyard and out the door, we are on one of the busiest streets in Berlin. Every morning, I forget how huge this city is, and so every time we walk out of this door I feel another wave of surprise. I am really enjoying it though, and it is really nice to be able to have sooooo many people to talk to and to share the gospel with. This week, we had quite a few really good street lessons- even a few return appointments and contact info! This is a really auspicious area, and so we are really excited to get the missionary work here going strong. Neukölln is pretty much the melting pot of the city, and so we end up teaching people in English about as much as we do in German. A large percent of the people are Muslim, and so we also have quite a few conversations about how different our religions are. I love the people here, and there are some really, really religious people.
The second thing that made me crazy was the size of the ward here. In Prenzlau, we only had about 15 people in church each week, and of those 100% were adults. This ward pulls in about 100-150 people each week, and it has a full primary, ym/yw programs, and non-imported priesthood holders. It was really awesome to see so many people and to see how strong so many of them are in the gospel. I had no idea what to do with so many people though, and they all introduced themselves like I would remember their names next week. I hope not, or they are going to be sorely disappointed. It is definitely a ward though, and so it is a huge difference between the branches that I have served in so far.
My companion's name is Elder Hansen. He comes from Utah, of course. He has a totally different personality from my last companion, and interesting enough, they were companions in the MTC. He has been in Germany for about 3 months, and I am really grateful for him, because it is way easy to get lost in such a huge city. Every 30 minutes or so I keep realizing that I have absolutely NO idea where I am, and so I am happy just to follow him around for another week or so until I am able to figure out the crazy network of S-bahns, U-bahns, Straßen-bahns, trains, and buses, all of which run 24-7. He likes to sing (he has been classically trained) and loves cars just about as much as a few of my other companions. He has a really good heart, and so I am excited to be able to work with him.
I am also doing pretty well. The people are really nice, the ward is great, and I have now reached the year-mark of having a name tag on. It is amazing how quickly time passes out here, and so I intend to efficaciously use every minute of it. I know that this work is ordained of God, and that he provides a way for each of his children to come back to him. I love you all and wish you all the best for this next week. I am so excited for General Conference coming up. And finally, Happy Easter!
- Elder Eric Gibson
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage