Since the end of 1998, Falun Gong practitioners in Germany have been gathering together for 4 or 7 days during the Christmas and Easter holiday breaks for group Fa studies and practice. To date, we have met five times. The gathering location was Erbach, one of the quiet and beautiful towns in the famous forest regions in the middle of Germany. We held another gathering there from the last week in December 2000 to New Year 2001.

What made this time unique was the increase in the number of people that participated. About 60 practitioners attended our first gathering, and this time over 160 people attended. The number of western practitioners and new practitioners had increased significantly. The most outstanding characteristic of this gathering was that we tried doing new activities that were easier for the public to see. In the past, we just stayed in the hotel studying Fa, practicing, and exchanging experiences for several days. Our activities were confined to this small circle. The focus at that time was individual cultivation. Now, we decided we would step out to face society and the masses for the sake of Fa-rectification and promoting Fa.

Stepping out of Erbach

In addition to everyone to reading the books, doing the practice, and watching the Teacher's videos, we also organized a two-day outdoor activity for promoting Fa using everyone's suggestions. We went to Frankfurt, about 125 miles (200km) away, and Stuttgart to hold Dafa introduction activities. Germany's weather in December is extremely cold. It was raining and snowing that day. Over 60 practitioners left Erbach early in the morning. We drove 13 cars to the famous old Opera Square in Frankfurt. The practitioners promoted Fa there, collected signatures, and distributed Dafa materials. More than 600 people gave their signatures. A female journalist happened to pass by and was attracted by our activities. She came over and talked with us. When she was told that some other practitioners were in Erbach, she immediately decided to go there the next day. In Erbach she interviewed some practitioners, and took pictures of them exercising together in a snow-covered stadium.

The next day, over 40 practitioners went to the downtown area in Stuttgart. Our peaceful movements attracted crowds of people. Every time we did the exercises, a lot of people would come to watch, take materials, and sign the petition. In the end, we obtained 999 signatures. Encouraged by the good results, some practitioners suggested that we could come to this city and the nearby places to promote Fa during our next gathering.

Stepping out and promoting Dafa on the street

On the last day of the year 2000, some practitioners thought that there must be a lot of people who would be out shopping that day. We had been to this city several times, and there could be some people with pre-destined relationships. Thus, that morning, some practitioners took the petition forms to downtown Erbach. They collected many signatures, and just before they planned to leave, even more people came to sign the petition. During lunch time, some practitioners suggested that we should go out to collect signatures and promote Fa during the two-hour lunch break.

A 71-year-old German practitioner who had obtained the Fa several months ago carried a large stack of newspapers and drove to the downtown area. Upon arriving there he saw our practitioners everywhere. Then he drove to a city near Erbach with some practitioners. Practitioners divided into groups that went to different shopping centers to distribute newspapers and collect signatures. A young couple from this city came to know Falun Gong by signing the petition. They specifically brought their children to our gathering place the next day and talked with us for a long time. They said they would go to the practice site to learn Falun Gong later.

Advertising the lecture

Before this gathering, some practitioners thought of holding a lecture session for local residents. After contacting a local newspaper, they advertised information about the gathering. Before New Year's Eve, we set up the information boards in the activity room, decorated the lecture hall, and prepared coffee and cookies. Even though we did not know whether anyone would show up, we still made good preparations. Later, three local residents came, and some of the practitioners watched the lecture with them. Practitioners did an introduction to Falun Gong and explained about the situation in China. Then, they had a free question & answer period. The lecture was very successful. Two of the guests didn't want to leave after the lecture. They stayed there to exchange views and had dinner together with everyone.

Inviting journalists to attend

In order to break away from the isolated and closed meeting formats we had previously used, one practitioner invited two journalists that were interested in Falun Gong to join us. Practitioners held an informal discussion with them. We asked them to talk about their experiences as journalists and how we could clarify the truth to other journalists and people from all walks of life. They gave us some very good suggestions. In addition, they also attended our experience sharing and asked many questions, which helped them to understand Falun Gong objectively.

We gained much information and experiences through our contact with the journalists. Some practitioners said that in order to be responsible for Dafa we should pay attention to the effectiveness of clarifying the truth. For example, we should be very careful of the formality, try to avoid any misunderstandings by ordinary people, etc.

Holding a Dafa conference

This was our first time to organize a conference during such a gathering. The conference hall was decorated to be solemn and yet had a Christmas holiday atmosphere. More than ten practitioners shared their cultivation experiences, which were closely related to the Fa promotion. Every report was moving and inspiring. The conference was very successful and achieved the goals of helping practitioners identify any gaps in their cultivations and stepping forward in the process of promoting Fa. A western practitioner, who obtained the Fa a few months ago, said he previously could not understand why practitioners went out on the street to promote Fa, and he thought that they were being involved in politics. Then he wanted to take a look what they were really doing. And he found that they were merely trying to let people know the truth with their kind hearts. He attended every Fa-promoting activity after that. He felt that he still had a lot to do after listening to others' speeches. A German college student, who just obtained the Fa a month ago, said he was deeply moved by the conference speeches. Although he was approaching graduation, he wanted to try his best to promote the Fa in his spare time.

The gathering in Erbach is over, and just as a practitioner said, it was a new milestone in the course of our cultivation.

Provided by practitioners in Germany.