Friday, February 5, 2010


Today is February 2, 2010 and we are back in our familiar surroundings. We arrived Friday January 29, 2010. Family and friends greeted us at the Salt Lake Airport. It was a very joyful reunion. We were especially happy to to see the Grandchildren (15 out of 17 were at the air port). They have changed a lot and it will be fun to get to know them again.Our children did a wonderful job in preparing our home for our arrival. Not only was the home clean and inviting, but we were surprised by a few changes. A new carpet in our bedroom, a beautiful new bed spread and a new flat screen TV were part of the surprises. Family, neighbors, friends came and visited us even before we had time to unpack our suitcases. Everyone brought some wonderful treats and welcomed us back home. We already had a family get-together on Sunday afternoon at our daughter's home (Heidi) with lots of good food. We attended our ward church services on Sunday and the Saints greeted us with open arms and welcomed us back. Our Stake President released us as missionaries and thus ended a chapter in our lives we will not forget. Even tough we will not give our report in our Sacrament Meeting until February 21, we already spoke to a Home Evening group last night.These past few months gave us a greater appreciation of the restored gospel. Our love for the Savior and for His Atoning Sacrifice grew, as we served the the people in Germany. It was easy to love especially the young adults with whom we rubbed shoulders on a daily basis and we were rewarded as they expressed their love to us. These wonderful Young people have struggles and challenges that many of us can not imagine. Many have wonderful testimonies and many more need to be "rescued". We pray that they will be blessed with with people that care and can serve them.Our association with the full time missionaries was very rewarding. Their commitment and hard work was breathtaking to behold. That association we will treasure as one of the highlights of our mission.It is now time to get back to a normal life and hopefully "enduring to the end".We are already doing the things that Grandparents do. At 5:00AM this morning we drove to our son's (Stephen) home to tend two little children as Stephen and Sarah left to go to the hospital. We are awaiting soon the news from them of the birth of our 18Th Grandchild.We have tried to share with you some of our mission experience over the last 22 months. Thank you for for allowing us to communicate with you in this e-mail format. Thank you for your support and prayers in our behave. Please know that it made a difference. The Lord has blessed us beyond our expectations. Now, "may the Lord bless you and keep you".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The unexpected seems to be the trend while on this mission for the church. The language was harder than expected to learn and feel comfortable with, the missionary work the Young Elders do every day is a lot harder work than we had imagined; the disappointments when people did not accepted our message was more painful than we thought; the love for the Saints developed so quickly; the joy of working with the young people with so much potential and enthusiasm was breathtaking; the joy of working with the missionaries has been a blessing and the thought of leaving so many things undone is painful. The Sacrament meeting today was an experience we will not soon forget. We had a chance to thank the Saints for all of the love and support we received from them. We were grateful for so many that came. We felt the Spirit and many were touched. Tears came freely as we communicated with each other. Anina gave most of her talk in English with a member of the Bishopric interpreting. At the end she thanked him for his service, and than talked to them in German for a few minutes. I think people witnessed a miracle. Days before she ask me to help her with a few words and she never was able to say the words in a way anyone would know what she was saying. So, to me, it was amazing how well she spoke and able to bear her testimony of the gospel and of the love she had for the saints, in the German language. It was amazing!!!!!!After the meeting block the ward had a potluck dinner for us. They presented a book of remembrance to us with lots of pictures of ward members. We visited with many for quite a while. We felt a bond of love and respect and the embraces were heartwarming.
This will probably be the last e-mail from this side of the ocean. We hope to see you soon.. Don't be too surprised when you see us and you find that we left part of our heart here among the people that we have learned to love.

The banquet Table

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It is Monday afternoon and we are about to go to the Outreach Center for our family-home evening. We will just send you a short note to tell you that all is well. There is little time left to do all we want to do.We did take two days to visit with our relatives in Bortfeld-Wendeburg near the city of Braunschweig. It was a wonderful visit to meet with my ailing cousin, Hildegard,and her extended family. It was hard for us to part and it was a very emotional experience. We are not sure if we will see them again in this life. While we were there, they could not do enough for us. We visited a few points of interest in the area. We had a wonderful time visiting one with another and talk about the past. (You know, how only the "old people" can do.)We returned home to our apartment just before midnight on Saturday evening. Sunday was a full day. We don't think that we have ever turned down so many invitations, and on our last Sunday in Dortmund, the Ward will have a pot-luck dinner right after our church block. It is also the Sunday we have been asked to speak during the Sacrament meeting.This morning we did our last apartment visit of the Elders apartment in Gelsenkirchen. We finished painting the Kitchen and also painted the Bathroom. It is nice to have this last project completed.There is a lot more that should be said about the past week, but we need to go to our home-evening appointment.We will see you all soon, if we survive the next few days.

Anina sitting next to Brother Rudakowski and Sister Jensen, Sister Simionescu (from Rumania), Elder Smith and Elder Schaefer. Brother Rudakowski takes the missionaries every month to this Mongolian/Chineese restaurant.

Hildegard and her two daughters and their Husbands. (from left to right ; Simona Springer, Wolfgang Ehlers, Andrea Ehlers, and Thobias Springer. Hildegard is in the middle of the front row.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Time keeps ticking away, ready or not! To leave this assignment without having a replacement in view is a scary thought. There are so many things that are hanging in the air, so many more things we would like to see completed and so many things to pass on before we leave. The reality of our return is beginning to take a hold. As we talk to our Mission President about a replacement, he has only one answer; "we must pray someone here." He reminded us that this was the way you (meaning us) appeared on the scene at just the right time. We only have three weeks to go and it looks a little scary.
Even the young missionary force is getting smaller in our missions. We have felt that reality last week as we lost the Sister Missionaries here in Dortmund. The set of Elders left in Dortmund have more to do than they can handle and are asking for help from the members to go "joint teaching" with them.
Today was a wonderful day. We attended our meetings here in Dortmund and right after we drove to the Unna Ward (about a 45 minute drive) to attend a baptism of a mother along with her 8 year old son. The 12 year old daughter did not feel that she was yet ready. I was asked to conduct the baptism interview, which we did this past Wednesday. It has been a struggle for the mother to come to this point. She first met the missionaries some six years ago and had been meeting with the missionaries as she was able to. Her husband was abusive and was against her joining the church.. Since her divorce she moved to several places to get away. This now brought her to the point where she found the Church Building and walked in one Sunday and approached the Missionaries and ask what she needed to do, to become a member of the Church. It is now six weeks later and the baptism ordinance has been performed. Now the big question is how she will be able to travel the 50 to 60 kilometer each Sunday to come to church, with the limited means she has to buy the pass for the transportation. There are no members that live in that part of the Ward's boundaries. She displayed a greater amount of faith than I have, when she responded to our concern with; "the Lord will provide".
Later this afternoon we returned to Dortmund for a dinner appointment with a young couple. Nine (9) months ago both of them were in the young single adult group in our Outreach Center. It was so fun to see both of them so much in love and establishing a wonderful Latter-Day Saint home. By the way the food was delicious! Before we went home they showed us a CD from their wedding festivities. It brought some memories of our participation on this festive occasion.
We have a desire to endure to the end and finish with another baptism on the last Saturday here in Dortmund.
The whole area is turning into a winter-wonderland. It has snowed, of and on since the Year started. They are running out of salt to keep all of the streets clear and are now only keeping the major streets clear of snow and the rest are snow-packed. We are glad for the good snow tires that keep us safe without too much difficulty.
Several have asked again for our return information. We are scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake City on the 29Th of January at 2:05 PM (Delta). It is not until the 21st of February at 1:00 PM that we will be speaking in our home Ward. (Located at 6301 South 2300 East in Holladay,84121).
Thank you all for your encouragement and support.


Two days are past and we are still feeling the effects of our New Years Eve. Four-o-clock in the morning is a bit too much for a couple of old people. Yes, we were not able to bring the New Years Eve party to a close! The Young Adults just did not want to go home! They were just having such a good time, eating, playing, eating, dancing, eating, shooting off fireworks, eating, watching a movie, eating and just sitting around. Actually, we left at 4:00AM and they were still going strong. We were the only seniors at the party and for some reason they made sure that we were involved. After the fireworks, Anina and Hugo baked waffles for every-one, along with some of Anina's home made syrup. We were done with the large batch of waffles before the kids were completely full, so they had to go back to the other goodies and drinks on the table. We don't know exactly when they all went home. We had a very pleasant surprise when we returned the next morning (about 11:00AM) to find the place completely cleaned up! The only task we needed to take care of, was the removal and storage of all of the Christmas decorations we placed in the Center for the Young Adults for the holidays. The kids at the party were all local kids from the Stake, for all of the others left to go home for the holidays.
We were hoping for a quiet evening on the 1st of January, but that was not to be the case. A telephone call from a couple kids changed all of that. There was a group of kids who wanted to come to the Center to play some games and just hang out. They mostly played with our newly purchased "Wii game" and had a blast doing just that.
We are not complaining, for that is exactly what the Outreach Centers are for. We only regret that we did not have this mission experience a few years earlier. All we can say to some of you who are close to retirement or are retired, do it sooner than later!
Today is Fast-Sunday, it was our last Fast Sunday in Germany for this mission experience. The Spirit at the Sacrament meeting was very strong and I bore my testimony and thanked all of the members for the support we received. On the 24th of January will be our last Sunday in Dortmund and we have been asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on that date. If any of you want to be there to hear our "other farewell talk", you must be here by 11:00AM. We know that this assignment will be a lot more interesting than the home coming talks.
This coming week we are scheduled to do a couple Baptism Interviews for the Mission President. This is an assignment that seems to come more frequently to us because we are the furthest away from our Mission Headquarters.
We are beginning to worry about the flight back home. Not the least of our worries is the amount of baggage we are allowed to take with us on the fight. We are allowed only one checked bag and one carry-on.. We brought with us four checked bags 21 months ago and now the rules have changed. Anina is especially panicked, trying to decide what to leave behind.
Some of you have ask about our schedule. We will leave Hamburg at 7:10 AM on the 29th of January and arrive via Paris in Salt Lake City at 2:05 PM on the 29th of January. (We hope that we will have enough time in Paris to make the connection. You know, with all of the new security procedures, that will be a task.-We hope for the best.)
We have been notified by our Home Ward that we will be speaking on Sunday the 21th of February 2010 at 1:00PM.
Time is running out for us. We will leave with some regrets for not having achieved enough. We pray that we will yet do some good during the next 3 to 4 weeks.
One thing we know for sure is that "this work is the Lord's Work", and we have been blessed doing His Work.

Just a couple of pictures of some of our favorite people at the New Years Eve party. 2009/2010