After Einar Ellmer was baptized, he rolled up his sleeves and entered the construction trade. That's because the former Lutheran minister had to find a another job when he joined the Church.
That was in 1979. Today, he is still rolling up his sleeves, but now as custodian of the Berlin Tiergarten Ward, a job he has had since 1986."It's not as difficult as construction" he said quietly, "or as cold in the winter." But what he likes best, he admitted, is that it gives him a chance to do waht makes him happiest-to be of service to those around him.
"Ther's such a great feeling of brotherhood in the Church," he related. He remembers how, just after being make ward custodian, he hadn't been able to figure out the carpet-cleaning machine, so he simply did the job by hand.
"One day a man in the ward noticed this and asked what the problem was, and, when I told him, he showed me how to operate the machine," he recalled. "In fact that day he cleaned the carpets in the foyer." Typically, Ellmer was inpressed with the man's willingness to help him. But what is impressive is Ellmer's own willingness to do the job even if it meant cleaning the carpets by hand.
That's dedication, something that has been true of him all his life. The ministry, for example, was a family tradition-his father and sister were pastors-and even after joining the Church he did not abandon his congregation until all the necessary preparations could be made for them.
Even before he was baptized, however, he was seeking. "There just didn't seem to be answers," he reflected. Then in 1978 he saw an ad in the Reader's Digest for the Chruch's Family Home Evening packet and wrote for some literature. That brought the missionaries to his door, and despite strong opposition from his family ("Remember, their livelihood depended on my work," he said) he pondered the message and felt that at last his answer had come.
"From the first I felt they were messengers from God," Ellmer said of those early encounters. "But it wasn't until I was preparing for a group ministerial trip to West Africa that I knew what the Lord wanted me to do." As part of that preparation he was taking a class in English at a school in West Berlin, and one night the teacher wrote two sentences on the board, boxed and in big, bold letters: "Finish the job" and "Receive the message."
"I decided that was what I should do," he remembered. "And as soon as I did, I felt such happiness and feedom, along with a sense of relief, that I did not have to be a minister any longer." On July 21, 1979, Ellmer was baptized a member of the Church, and practically the entire stake turned out to hear him bear his testimony. Still, he had not told his family.
"That same week we were leaving for a family excursion to Bayreuth," he recalled, "and I was afraid to tell my wife for fear she would stay there." (She later admitted that, had she known, she would have stayed.) But although even today none of Ellmer's family has followed him into the Church, they are much more supportive than they used to be.
"Occasionally, they will come with me to Church, and my wife is very good about feeding the missionaries," he said. He added that the week his son, Matthias, received his driver's license, he let him break it in by driving the two of them to an early-morning seminary-and-institute meeting.
As ward mission leader, Ellmer shares the gospel in other ways. "He does a good work," his former bishop and home teaching companion, Hilmar Girra, said of his friend. "When he was working construciton, his co-workers were always coming to him for spiritual help."
"He is here every day," Girra said, "And whatever help you ask for, he will give it. I can't think of anyone in the Church here who has bad feelings against him-he has only friends. That's a wonderful thing."