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Snapshot of Germany – The official language of Germany is German. Besides ethnic Germans, there are many migrant groups present in the country, such as Turks and Poles. Germany has become an increasingly irreligious country, especially in the eastern portion of the country that was once part of the Soviet Union. About half of Germany’s population identifies itself as Christian, this population is primarily split between the Roman Catholic church and various Protestant denominations. Germany has a rich history of classical composers, writers, and philosophers. In modern times, rock, hip hop, metal, and electronic music are all quite popular, with both German and international artists receiving radio play. Other aspects of German culture and history are preserved in museums and theater. Soccer is Germany’s most popular sport, with the national team having won the World Cup three times. Motor sports such as Formula One racing are also quite popular.
Meals in Germany are usually quite large with heavy emphasis on meat and bread. Even breakfast includes a large spread of breads, cold cut meats, and cheese. Pork, especially in sausage form such as Bratwurst, is the most popular type of meat. Other popular dishes include wiener schnitzel, a breaded, fried meat, as well as potatoes and thick noodles. Cakes and tarts are popular dessert and snack items. There are also several unique foods found in different regions of the country, such as Bavarian pretzels in the south. Other foods from minority groups, such as Turkish Doner Kebabs and Falafel are also quite popular, especially in the form of fast food. Carbonated water is usually preferred over regular non-carbonated water. Quite often, if you want to get non-carbonated water you must ask for it specifically – otherwise, you’ll get carbonated water! Germany is also one of the world’s largest consumers of beer.
The Germany Frankfurt Mission covers most of central Germany including the major cities of Frankfurt am Main, Heidelberg, Nürnberg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Köln.
The Germany Frankfurt mission houses the Frankfurt Germany Temple, located in Friedrichsdorf. The Frankfurt mission serves 11 stakes and 1 district. President Marion G. Romney, in 1973, said of the German saints, “In this country thousands of people will join the Church and Zion will rise up and beam brightly…the Church will flourish in this country, the work will progress, there will be beautiful chapels, and large congregations will gather. We will hold conferences that thousands will participate in.” In 1995, Elder Holland said, “The Church in Europe must live again. From the beginning the work of the Church was borne on the backs of the European Saints. Do not think that the great days of gathering in Europe are past. This is our time. In Europe is the richest collection of Israelite blood that we know about. The blood of Israel from this land has saved the Church. They left behind family, children, grandchildren, and friends. They are still here, and we must find them. The blood of Israel is here.” And in 1976, President Kimball said, “In Germany, Switzerland and in Austria, there will be hundreds of stakes, hundreds! And we want you to count on that, look forward to it, and help with it. For God nothing is impossible.”
German food could be considered “comfort food.” Hot, hearty, and heavy! Potatoes are a staple, along with some sort of meat, typically bratwurst, and pork will accompany your plates when eating with members. Occasionally you’ll see beef, but not as often. Chicken is pretty expensive so you don’t see that as much. Bakeries can be found on just about every corner of whatever city you’re serving in – breads of any kind and pastries that will add a few pounds are incredibly delicious, and always fresh. Another typical meal, when eating with members, is something called “goulash.” Goulash is typically a pasta- or potato-based dish, with meat and sauce. Germans will typically serve a simple salad with the meal. If you’re not used to sparkling water, you might want to try it a few times before you head to Germany because that’s one of the most common beverages. Germans will typically mix sparkling water with some type of apple or grape juice. They’ll also have regular water to mix in. If you’re in a hurry and on the run, a lot of missionaries love doner-kebabs, also known as shawarma, or gyro. It’s a Turkish dish made of meat, usually veal, beef, or lamb, with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, or lettuce, with a garlic yogurt sauce.
The large majority of missionaries in the Frankfurt mission use public transit as their source of transportation. Buses, trains, and street cars. Very seldom do missionaries use taxis – they’re too expensive. Some missionaries have bikes, and even fewer have cars. You will do a lot of walking, so make sure you purchase good shoes!
The Frankfurt mission is a relatively safe one. Driving is safe, public transportation is safe. There isn’t a lot of crime in Germany. There are quite a few drunk, homeless people, so when they’re around, missionaries want to be careful because you never know what they might do. Sisters want to be a little more cautious when in predominantly foreign/ immigrant neighborhoods. Because Germany is a country with a very high beer intake, holidays and soccer games are days missionaries want to be careful. A lot of times, the mission office/ mission president will send out a letter to missionaries notifying them of special rules or circumstances for those holidays. (Example: one sister missionary shared her experience of being in the Frankfurt mission during the European Soccer Cup. The day that Germany played Turkey, all missionaries were supposed to be in their apartments by 5:00 p.m., four hours earlier than normal.) Keeping the mission and White Handbook rules will keep you safe!
In German homes, everyone removes their shoes upon arrival. Most homes will have “hausschuhe,” meaning: house shoes. They remove whatever shoes they were wearing, and slip on house shoes, or slippers. A lot of Germans, especially during the winter months, will provide missionaries and other visitors with a pair of house shoes when they enter the home.
“Doch” is a term that many Germans use, but few missionaries figure out how to correctly use. Doch is positive negation. Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? If I’m asking a German for directions by saying, “The train station isn’t on this street, is it?” and the train station is on this street, the German would say, “Doch!” or rather, “Yes, it is actually!” Another example: German member asks you, “You’re not already full from eating are you?” You answer, “Doch, bin ich!” (Yes, I am!)
All missionaries want to have at least two good pairs of shoes. An umbrella is a must because you will get rained on. A small hand sanitizer bottle to keep in your bag is always nice – you never know whose hand you’re going to shake. Pocket change for using the restroom – most bathrooms are staffed and someone sits and collects tips for using the bathroom. Other bathrooms actually charge you a few cents to use them. Don’t take a large, bulky bag to carry with you everyday. A small “fanny pack” type bag that you can sling over your shoulders is best – make sure it has enough room to fit a copy of the Book of Mormon, your planner, a few pamphlets, and a lot of pass-along cards!
60325 Frankfurt am Main
Straight from the Germany Frankfurt Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Chocolate chips, good brown sugar, Calrose short-grain rice, pies and pie plates, peanut butter”
“peanut butter, reeses candy of any kind, rootbeer, oreos, jello, antiperspirant deodorant, feminine products”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Bread, wurst, doner kebabs, potatoes or noodles with a meat sauce, salad, rotkol, pastries, pudding…”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Blood sausage. It was coagulated blood made into a sausage, but I only had to eat it one time. Also in Germany there are a lot of foreigners from all over so you teach a lot of people from different cultures. We ate this cold meat jello dish that a Russian family cooked for us.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“No air-conditioning in the homes. Thank goodness for our car and also the freezer areas in grocery stores.”
“Aggressive people, it was quite a shock to be attacked by your own people.”
“Germans don’t like ice in their drinks, or very cold beverages for that matter. They also don’t really use laundry driers – they hang their clothing to dry.” -Ashley
“Germans can be pretty private people, and tend not to let strangers in, but once you have built a trusting relationship with them, they are kind, loving, friends who will do anything to help.” -Ashley
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Germany Frankfurt Mission?
“Write down complete names, addresses, and phone numbers and E-mail addresses, not just ‘Brother Schmidt in Nürnberg’.”
“Always listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. You can trust the mission president in any situation. Keep a journal for scripture studying and daily “adventures””
“Remember to be happy. Germans can sometimes be very serious people, and the fact that you are there to serve them and bring them light, is such a wonderful opportunity to smile and glow so they wonder what is different about you. Don’t believe what some older Germans will about ‘smiling being for fools.’” -Ashley
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“More about the wards in the mission.”
“Mission are not as easy as it seems.”
“You may not be facing 100 baptisms every month like they do in South America, but you will see miracles. Expect them to happen, because you’re there to serve the Savior and do His work!” -Ashley
“Love the people, which isn’t hard.”
“Do everything you can to become German – live the culture in every way possible. The Germans will respect you for it and trust that you’re truly there because you want to be, which will allow them to open their hearts a little more to the Gospel.” -Ashley
**Did you serve in the Germany Frankfurt Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**