Returned Missionaries Still Serving
The German Saints


Conversion of Helma Hahn of Rothenburg

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This is my story of Schwester Hahn and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. My name is Fred Ward. I was transferred to Ansbach on the 24th of Jan. 1967 to be Elder Joseph Stobbe's assistant District Leader, as he was already the branch president. He and Elder Williams had met Schwester Hahn the week before. The next morning, we were on the train to Rothenburg for an appointment with Schwester Hahn. I was fascinated by this quaint village. We walked the cobblestone streets to her door on the upper Ploenlein 2. We knocked and she opened the window to let her key down to us. She didn't know me, so she moved the string over to Elder Stobbe. After introductions and how to pronounce my name in German, everything was fine.

My father worked for the Federal Reserve Bank in Salt Lake, and he sent me with a whole roll of Kennedy half dollars to give out to the Germans. I got one out of my pocket and handed it to her. I was surprised at her reaction. She said: Fuer mich? And she started crying and took off her glasses. Vielen, vielen Dank, she said. She looked at the coin and me, over and over and said, Jetzt bist du mein kleiiner Kennedy! We were fast friends from then on and she always called me her kleiner Kennedy. That coin sat in her curio cabinet from then on.

We got down to missionary work then, completed the 2nd discussion and then gave her the 3rd on the Word of Wisdom. She had been an avid coffee drinker all her life, but she committed to us to quit, which she eventually did. We made another appointment with her and had to run to the Bahnhof to catch the 5:30 train back to Ansbach.

The next several weeks kept us very busy traveling to Bamberg, Fuerth, Erlangen, Dinkelsbuel, and lllesheimfor Elder exchanges. Our visits to Rothenburg were short checks on her progress with reading the Book of Mormon and her struggle with coffee.
We look the train to Erlangen for an exchange and found one Elder had been transferred and a note for Elder Stobbe to call the mission home immediately. The Mission President told him he was going home a few days early for some reason. The next morning, I put him on the train for Munich. His farewell to Frau Hahn was in the form of a long letter.

My new companion came in on the train that afternoon. He was Elder Brent Chambers, another Elder with only months left to serve. We became life long friends, as he later was the German teacher at Provo High school and taught my children.
At our next appointment with Frau Hahn, she got to meet Elder Chambers and she fed us also.

We gave her the 4th discussion with good results and a strong spirit. She invited us back the following week for Rothenburg's annual celebration of a medieval siege on the city and we got to watch the parade and the fabulous costumes from her 2nd story windows.
Frau Hahn had invited us to dinner on the 25th. She fed us a delicious meal and was very excited about the fact that she had won the battle with coffee.

On Sunday the 30th’ President Fetzer and his assistant, Elder Oldham traveled to Ansbach and attended and spoke in both our meetings. The members and investigators were overjoyed at this and the house was full. We were especially grateful that Schwester Hahn had come from Rothenburg, had attended the meetings, and got to meet President Fetzer. Unfortunately, they had other meetings and couldn't stay long.

We had made arrangements with Brother Hansen, an American member from the base at lllesheim, to take Schwester Hahn back to Rothenburg in his car.

Schwester Blei, a widow and one of our staunchest members, had met Schwester Hahn in church, and had been invited to visit her in Rothenburg. On the 5th, a Thursday, brother Hansen drove us all to Rothenburg, where we had a fabulous meeting with Schwester Hahn. It actually turned into a very movng, spiritual, testimony meeting. The sisters talked for hours, and even Brother Chambers could hardly get a word in edgewise. The Hansens enjoyed the time sightseeing.

At our next meeting, we had just begun finishing the 4th discussion, when a neighbor and close friend knocked on her door and we spent our remaining time talking and answering questions for her.

The following Monday morning, on a phone call to the Mission home, I was told I was being transferred to Hof as the Branch President. The next morning, the Zone leaders. Elders Schellenberg and Van Orden, came in their car and hand delivered my transfer. We all drove to Rothenburg so I could say goodbye to Frau Hahn. That was a very sad and tearful farewell.

From there we drove to lllesheim, so I could say goodbye to the Hansens.
Early the next morning I boarded the train to Hof and sat next to Elder Cordell Bott, who was being transferred to Bamberg. So ended my time traveling between these beautiful, quaint, towns.

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Joe Stobbe and Fred Ward at a missionary reunion.

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A Kennedy half dollar, like the one that Fred Ward gave to Helma Hahn.