Amid Europe’s difficulties, Elder Uchtdorf spends a few minutes of quiet remembrance in Germany

BERLIN, Germany — On the day prior to Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s expected visit with Ukrainian refugees, the German member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spent a Saturday afternoon of quiet remembrance in Berlin.

With his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, at his side, Elder Uchtdorf visited several commemorative sites — including the Berlin Wall Monument, the Holocaust Memorial and the Plötzensee Memorial Center. The Memorial Center is at the site of an infamous prison where more than 2,800 inmates were executed, including a 16-year-old teen named Helmuth Hubener, a devout Latter-day Saint and reportedly the youngest person ever ordered to his death by the Third Reich’s People’s court.

The April 9 visits marked a somber afternoon as the Uchtdorfs reflected on the region’s difficult past and the challenging circumstances facing many today in Europe.

But there was also unplanned hope and promise on Saturday. While Elder and Sister Uchtdorf were visiting Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate — itself an architectural witness to many turbulent days — they were greeted by several missionaries who also happened to be visiting the familiar landmark.

No surprise, the young elders and sisters were thrilled to bump into Elder and Sister Uchtdorf. The couple spoke to each missionary, shook their hands and took a moment for a quick photo.

That chance encounter with the missionaries seemed to buoy the Uchtdorfs’ spirits. Each missionary, they said, was a messenger of hope. “There is always hope for the future,” Elder Uchtdorf told the Church News. “That is the beauty of the gospel even during difficult times.” 

The missionaries, added Sister Uchtdorf, are the face of hope.

Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, pose for a portrait in front of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, pose for a portrait in front of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, April 9, 2022. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Elder Uchtdorf reflected on his own life when considering Europe’s newest refugees. Twice he and his family found themselves to be refugees. As a 4-year-old boy, young Dieter Uchtdorf was forced from Czechoslovakia because of the horrors of World War II. Years later, the Uchtdorfs fled their home in East Germany in search of safety in West Germany.

Now he regards the plight of many in Europe and recognizes an all too familiar pain and disorientation. “But even during these difficulties there can be hope and peace. That is the reason why we need to help each other.”

Read more: President Uchtdorf recalls being a refugee during a 2016 ministry in Europe, visit to hometown

Elder Uchtdorf encouraged Latter-day Saints and their neighbors everywhere to seek opportunities to lift another’s burden. For some, that might mean inviting refugees into one’s home. For others, it can be sharing a portion of one’s good fortune. And for still others, burden lifting might simply be a kind word of encouragement. “You can endure things which are frightening and painful,” assured Elder Uchtdorf. “We can put our trust in God and receive help from His children.”

Later in the afternoon the Uchtdorfs participated in a Germany Berlin Mission Conference.

After shaking hands with every elder and sister in the mission, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf offered counsel on why the missionaries can find hope in their own labors. “You can offer something lovely and beautiful, and that is what the world needs,” said Sister Uchtdorf, who was clearly happy to be back in her native Germany.

Sisters laugh as Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a meeting with missionaries at the Berlin Germany Stake Center in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Sisters laugh as Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a meeting with missionaries at the Berlin Germany Stake Center in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, April 9, 2022. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Sister Uchtdorf spoke of her own gratitude for the missionaries in bringing her the gospel. She encouraged the missionaries to care for one another and others. “Treat each other with forgiveness and patience. Be a valiant example to others.”

Elder Uchtdorf also encouraged the missionaries to seek ways to be kind to others. Remember, he said, deeds count more than words.

He also counseled the missionaries learning German to avoid being fearful of making mistakes with the language. Just open your mouth and do your best, he said.

“When someone hears you’re attempting to speak their language, it is a great compliment. You will have the chance to touch the hearts of others.”

Read more: During Sunday devotional, Elder Uchtdorf, a former refugee, promises Ukrainian refugees in Poland, ‘You are not alone’

Above all, become fully converted to the gospel. “The first person you must convert is yourself,” he said. “When you go home you need to carry the gospel in your heart.”

Fight back fears by trusting in the Lord. “When God is with you, nothing is impossible.”

Immediately after Saturday’s missionary meeting in Berlin, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf flew to Warsaw, Poland.

They were expected to meet Sunday with local members, youth and refugees from Ukraine who have found shelter in Poland.

Elder Robin Uchtdorf hugs his grandmother, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, as Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles smiles before a meeting in the Berlin Germany Stake Center in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Elder Robin Uchtdorf hugs his grandmother, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, as Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles smiles before a meeting in the Berlin Germany Stake Center in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, April 9, 2022. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Read more from 2016: President Uchtdorf visits refugees; presents $3 million from the Church to help refugees