Going on an LDS mission is an experience that brings much joy and requires considerable preparation. Here at Zion Bags, we want to help Mormon missionaries prepare ahead to succeed when they are in the mission field. To that effect, we will be posting weekly advice on the necessary preparations for elders and sisters going to each specific mission area in the world. This advice will be drawn from experience, official LDS sources, and guest bloggers. In continuation of this series, we will focus on Europe and each week will post about the countries within it. This week: Germany. Feel free to ask us questions or give suggestions in the comments! We welcome your input.
You might have heard that traveling within Germany (or other countries in Europe) is easy and inexpensive. The truth is traveling is not at cheap as you might think. Rates are equivalent or higher than the average price of transportation in the States. Furthermore, there are places in Germany that you can’t reach by train or bus – you might have to walk, or if you are lucky, use your bike to get places. Even if you have a car, gas can take up a considerable amount of your budget. Plan ahead for when you are traveling further than usual, and budget accordingly. In addition, bring sturdy shoes that can take the exercise.
Siesta and Sunday
We talked about siesta in one of our previous posts (link to Spain), but Spain is not the only country in Europe that takes a daily break of a few hours. In most of Germany, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM are considered quiet hours. People are vehemently against anything that breaks the silence during those hours, and they will let you know about it. Shops will close and the streets will be empty. On Sundays, almost all businesses are closed, which is great if you are LDS, but also means that there will be fewer people on the streets to talk to as a missionary. Plan your daily breaks to coincide with the quiet hours, and if you are going to visit a member or investigator on Sunday, plan ahead and be punctual.
Culture and Communication
The following are faux pas that you should avoid when communicating with Germans:
- Hitler jokes – while in the States these can be considered funny, in Germany the subject of World War II is best avoided altogether.
- Too much small talk – Germans prefer speaking about timely subjects and important issues, and generally have a distaste for small talk.
- Wishing someone happy birthday should be done on or after the day, but never before. Other countries can also share in a superstition that it’s bad luck to wish someone happy birthday before the actual day.
- Don’t tell people you would like to visit, or invite them to church or an activity with you, if you can’t make it. Germans will take your invitation as genuine, and will expect you to be there, on time.
Sturdy Clothing and Accessories
While you don’t want to break the bank with your mission spending, you should take into account that if something breaks, it will be difficult to replace because you won’t have too much time to go shopping, and you often won’t find something of equal quality easily. Sturdy shoes and durable clothing are a must, as is a sturdy bag. Check out our offerings for shoulder/messenger bag options and accessories.