Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was a very formal and proper event. A very wonderful meal, reading of the birth of Christ, telling personal Christmas stories and the lighting of the Christmas Tree. The tree was a real "Tannenbaum" with ornaments that have been accumulated over many years. The candles were real and each candle was carefully lid by our host. Everything was perfect, even the singing of the "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht". The modest gifts were exchanged. A gesture reminding us of the Gift of the birth of Christ. The unwrapping was done in a very orderly manner and the wrappings were quickly disposed. The Spirit of the occasion was felt by us all. All five of us - Brother and Sister Nabrotzky, (A single Sister) Sister Mellet, and Anina and Hugo.

But, where were the children, the joy and laughter and the excitement. The words to the song, "There is no place like Home for the Holiday's" has taken on a real new meaning for us.We enjoyed the evening, but we missed all of you.


Standing (from left to right) Sister Nabrotzky, Brother Nabrotyky. Sitting (from left to right) Sister Mellet and Anina.
Sister Nabrotzky lighting the candles.

Anina and Hugo in front of an 8ft real Christmas Tree, with real candles burning at the home of Brother and Sister Nabrotzky.

4th Advent

In Church today we were greeted by most everyone with a friendly "Guten Morgen" and wishes for a wonderful fourth advent. In our apartment the fourth candle has been lit. To all of you children and those of you who think you are still children, we assure you that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is about to make it's appearance. Just to make you feel jealous, let me remind you that those events will get here eight hours earlier. We would gladly give up this benefit if we could celebrate this special event with our Family and friends. We are convinced that Christmas is meant to be celebrated with the Family and others who have blessed our lives.

People are feeling sorry for us and have invited us to share Christmas with them. Early on Christmas Eve the ward has scheduled a Ward Christmas Worship Service ( at 3:00 PM). Christmas Eve we will spend with the Nabrotzky Family (their children will not be to see them until Christmas Day). It will probably be a rather quiet and relaxed evening. On the First Christmas Day we have an appointment in the early afternoon with the Wahle Family and in the evening we will enjoy Christmas with Deppe Family. We have no plans yet for the 2nd Christmas day, so you are invited to come to our apartment in Dortmund. We have a few decorations and we will keep them up for the event. We also have lots of goodies that have been sent by many of you. We will make sure that we will have some drinks, like "Apfelschorle" or "Traubenschorle", on hand. Anina may even bake some special cookies, just so she will not get out of habit.

At the Center we will not have any Institute Classes or Activities during the next two weeks. The only scheduled event at the Center is Family-Home Evening.

Yesterday we drove to the city of Münster, some 75 km from here. We closed down an apartment and moved the Elders to another apartment. It was a hard and physical strenuous job. I can still feel it in every part of my body. The Elders were asked to have all of the packing done. We found out that thy did not understand what that meant. The one Elder had one suitcase packed and that was the extent of the preparations. They were to have asked some of the members for some help, and that did not happen. We moved furniture and bedding from the third floor of one building to the third floor of another building. We were lucky that the new apartment had an elevator. I don't think that I ever climbed so many stairs in one day. We filled up two dumpsters of stuff. There were some old suitcases, old books and magazines, old maps, old shoes, a couple old suits, old bedding and more. The old bedding was stored under one of the beds next to an outside wall. We had to threw it away because it was all moldy. The only explanation from the Elders was: " a lot of Elder died in this apartment". ( That means a lot of elders were released while serving the last part of their mission in this city.) I had cramps in my legs most of the night and had a hard time sleeping. We had an easier activity at the first part of the week, when we purchased and delivered a new set of bedding (including new pillows, sheets and comforters) to the Elders in Hagen.

Church attendance was quite low today. Many people are sick with the flu. We were hit with it and are just getting over it. It took me about three days to get over this crazy stuff. To get the flu shots here in Germany we have to make an appointment with a doctor, then get the prescription filled and go back to him to receive the shots. So, like most people, we did not go through the trouble to have it done. If next year I am able to remember how terrible it is to have the flu, we will probably go through the hassle to have the flu shots.

This picture shows a Farewell dinner at our apartment on December 17, 2008. Elders Dahle and Petty are going home tomorrow. Around the table from left to right is: Sister Diederich, Elder Dahle, Elder Diederich, Elder Petty, Elder Hartmann and Elder Wilcox.

3rd Advent

Well, the 3rd Candle has been lit only one more to go and Christmas 2008 will be ever so close. This past week we ventured out into the cold again to see another Christmas market. This time we went to the City of Essen. We went to Essen taking a 35 minute train ride. The Hauptbahnhof (the main Train Depot) is in the middle of town in Essen. We enjoyed some more of the good food, but other than that we just looked and resisted buying anything. It was a very cold day and it was good to go into some of the big department stores just to get warm. We don't know how the vendors stay out in the cold all day long. Maybe all of the beer drinking they do keeps enough "antifreeze" in their bodies. It is amazing to see all of the hand-work that is on display and that is for sale. We go from one place to another hoping to find some bargains, but they are not be found. Hearing of all of the financial problems in the world makes me wonder where all of the people come from that spend all of the money. The market goes on for many blocks and town squares and there are literally thousands of people crowded in the streets. The regular department stores around the squares and on the "Hauptstrasse" (Main Street) seem to be busy too. It is fun to see all of the activities.

There is a lot of unemployment in this area, but the government has a very good safety net for those who are not working. The unemployment benefits are very good and it allows the people to spend almost as usual. Besides cash, they also get a good housing subsidy.

This past week we had our Zone Conference here in Dortmund. It was a very busy day for us. We started at 9:00 AM in the morning and the Conference ended at 4:30 PM. We had a lunch break and food was provided at the church. We also had a great Christmas program. Anina sang with the other Sister missionaries a wonderful Christmas song that brought tears to our eyes as we listened and felt the wonderful Spirit. I was assigned to give to last part of the program and say Amen to the program. (I will write the message at the end of this e-mail as a Christmas message to all of you.)

After the conference we did not even have time to go home, for we had to open the center up for the Institute night and meal after institute. We had a good group of Young Single Adults (21) plus six Missionaries and a few adults. After Institute and the meal we had a Youth Council meeting that lasted - it seems like forever. By the time we were finished cleaning up and driving home it was after midnight before we literally fell into our bed. The sad thing was that we were not able to sleep in the morning, for we had to leave to one of the neighboring towns of Hagen by 9:00 AM. to see some of our young missionaries.

Today is another one of those very busy days. Regular Church, Invitation to eat dinner at a members home,(Anina thinks that every time we are invited we need to take some goodies -so she is doing some last minute baking). Tonight will be the broadcast of the First Presidency Christmas Message.There has been a lot of sickness in the Ward, but we have been spared and are feeling good.

I love the words and the thought that I gave at our Missionary Christmas Program. I gave these words as penned by James Willingford right after the whole group song my favorite Christmas Song, Silent Night, Holy Night (Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht).

"Christmas is not a day or a season,
but a condition of heart and mind.
If we love our neighbors as ourselves;
If in our riches we are pure in spirit
and in our poverty we are rich in grace;
If our charity vaunteth not itself,
but suffereth long and is kind;
If when our brother asks for a loaf,
we give ourselves instead;
If each day dawns in opportunity
and sets in achievement,
however small------
Then every day is Christ's day
and Christmas is always near."

At this season our thoughts turn to the Savior and his blessed birth.
This is a picture of Anina with two of our young missionaries.
A couple of the displays of wood art and carvings for sale. ( Each cost between 500 - 800 Euros)

One of the many streets of the Christmas market in Essen. -Notice the crowds.

2nd Advent

Today is the day that the second candle will be lit. There are only two more advents before it is Christmas. The adults are complaining that there is not enough time to finish all there is to do. The children are anxious to light the other two candles. Yesterday was the St. Nikolas day(6th of December). We saw him in many different places, handing out oranges, candy and other small gifts.
Our Ward had the Christmas Party at one end of the Stake Center and the Young Single Adults had their Social at the Outreach Center - on the other end of the building.

It made it very convenient for St. Nikolas to visit both parties. The Young adults were told that the children were a lot better this past year and that the presents on Christmas Eve would reflect the bad behavior of some of the young adults.This past week we spent some time in Hamburg where the Mission had a Senior Missionary Conference. While in Hamburg we took some time out to visit the Hamburg Christmas Market. During our three hour visit we were only able to see part of what was to see. We were told to dress warm and that was for a good reason. We enjoyed walking from one place to another. The sounds, the sights and the smell of the various foods was like something out of a story book. Some of the food was just to irresistible and was it ever goooood.

On our way home we stopped and stayed with one of our friends in Bremen. We stayed overnight with the Pugmire Family. On the next day we visited the Bremen Christmas Market with them. The market was not as big, but the quality was even better than Hamburg. I don't know why it was exactly that we enjoyed these shopping trips so much. In part for me (Hugo) it had to be that we did not buy anything and for Anina it was just a warm up for next year when we will be getting ready to come home.
We have attached three pictures.
This picture shows all of the Senior Missionaries in the Hamburg Mission. The picture is taken at the Mission Home. Bottom Row from Left to Right : Elder and Sister Beazer, Elder and Sister Tingey, Elder and Sister Zander. Top Row from Left to right: Elder and Sister Duerksen, Sister Lutz, Elder and Sister Robb, Elder and Sister Diederich, President and Sister Thompson, Elder and Sister Randall, Elder and Sister Brink.
This picture is Anina with Sister Tingey and Sister Duerksen.
This last picture shows some of our Young Adults at our Christmas Social. Notice the young couple holding hands, they were just engaged last week.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Picture time!

It has been awhile since there has been a post here, but we finally have some pictures so it is time to share! Here are some of the missionaries with a pile of junk we gathered from one of the apartments that the missionaries live in. After a while the stuff starts to pile up. Missionaries would leave things behind that they no longer wanted and it was time to take it to the recycle place. It completely filled our car.
Here is Anina and some of the missionaries with Mr. & Mrs. Frigger. They have rented a basement apartment to the missionaries for 40 years in Hamm. (I don't know why they are not members of the church) They are the nicest people.
Anina and I in our kitchen
Anina and some elders outside their apartment after we finished inspecting it.

Christmas time is here!

Last night we received our first phone call from friends, wishing us a good Christmas season. In Church today we were reminded several times by members of the church and friends that today is the start of the Christmas season. Today is the first Advent. There are always four Advents that lead up to Christmas. Today we are still in the month of November, but that does not matter. I remember from my childhood that my parents had a Christmas wreath with four candles, and on the 1st Advent were able to light the first of the candles on that wreath. On the 2nd Advent we could light the 2ND candle. On the Sunday before Christmas, when we were able to light all four candles, as children, we knew that Christmas was just around the corner and the wait was about over. It is like a countdown. Today we received our first Christmas stocking with some very yummy things in them. Anina decorated our apartment with all kinds of Christmas decorations.Even without snow on the ground, It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas all around the town. The Christmas markets are all in full swing and Christmas decorations and lights are visible everywhere. In the markets live bands are playing Christmas music. The markets are all full of people. The foods that are available are irresistible, even if you are not hungry. We live less than a block from an old market in our old town of Hombruch. One could buy just about everything, but I have yet to see a bargain for things that are made in Germany, that would be of sentimental value. It is fun to walk and look at things and talk to people.On the 6th of December it will be Nikolaus day. St Nikolaus will come and bring some small gifts to all the good boys and girls on this day. It will wet the appetite for bigger and better things to come am Heiligabend (Christmas Eve).Oh, how we wish all of this wonderful Christmas Spirit would translate into a desire to learn more about the life of that baby's birth on that first Christmas Day. Even as it is, it is a wonderful season and this world is better because of it. We pray that all of you will have a wonderful and meaningful season as we think more about the great life, teachings and atonement of the Savior.We have had a wonderful week (even if we did not have a thanksgiving meal of turkey and trimmings) and we are enjoying good health.The missionary work is slow, for that we are sad. We did enjoy the fellowship of the saints in our ward in Dortmund today. All six if us missionaries were in invited to dinner this afternoon at the home of our Relief Society President. She and her husband told us to count this as their Christmas Gift to us. It was a wonderful meal.Tomorrow, we, along with some of the Young Adults will decorate the Outreach Center as part of our Family Home Evening. We have a busy week planned this coming week. We will drive to Hamburg for a Senior Missionary Conference. We are planning to stay with some friends in Bremen for one night on our trip back from Hamburg.We have been very blessed and are enjoying our work.We feel your love. Tell everyone at the Andersen Christmas party hello for us. It makes us homesick to think of not being there!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flag this messageNo Thanksgiving, but we will be thinking about it

It has been along day. We arose at 6:00 AM this morning and left the apartment at 7:30 AM to drive with Brother and Sister Nabrotzky to the town of Münster. The Nabrotzky's live in Dortmund but have been called on a stake mission to serve in Münster and at the same time called to be the Zweig (Branch) president over the Branch. In Münster there is a small branch of the church. The church is leasing the second floor of a building in the center of town. That floor has been fixed up very nice. There is a beautiful chapel, adequately large enough for the congregation. There is a nice foyer and several nice large class rooms, a bishops office, a clerks office, a relief society room, and restrooms. In fact, once you are inside it has a feel that you are actually in a church building. The branch is a rather small unit of the church. There were some wonderful members we met, many of which speak English. Anina and I were invited to speak at their Sacrament meeting. Anina gave her talk mostly in English and she had someone that interpreted for her as she spoke. She gave a very wonderful talk and people felt the Spirit. In fact, even if no one understands her people feel of her spirit and are edified by what she says. She concluded her remarks and testimony in German. As I mentioned, a goodly number understood the English portion of her talk. I debated with myself if I should give my talk in English as well, so at least half of the congregation would understand, rather than to talk the kind German no one understands. I told the congregation that I would try my best not to murder the language to much. As it was, with some help from the Lord words came to me as I needed them. It was a good experience for me and I hope for those who listened.
The Missionaries had a couple of Investigators at the meeting. One of the girls is a nanny working in Münster and is from California. A Chinese student who is a member brought her to church for the first time. The girl from California speaks less German than Anina and the missionaries translated everything into English for her.
We talked to the girls for quite some time and hopefully talked them into taking the 45 minute train ride to Dortmund and join with us at our Institute Outreach Center in Dortmund. We told her that we have a girl coming every week to the Center who is also from California and is a nanny working in Dortmund.
After the meetings we enjoyed a little food that sister Nabrotsky prepared before she left from home. We did not take the normal 45 minute car ride back on the Autobahn. Instead we took a three hour Trip on the side roads and through the small towns. We stoped at a couple beautiful old palaces and grounds. We are convinced more than ever, that anyone who wants to see Germany must get off the autobahn and travel the smaller highways. It sure gave us a different perspective.
This day has gone very well accept for one thing. As we arrived in Münster this morning the great young Elders met us us with a real great smile. We asked them why they were so happy.. the reply was: "Utah beat BYU. I ask them to have some feeling toward me for the sad news they delivered to me. But like a typical U fan, it went down hill from there. I have not looked up on the Internet to see what happened. In fact I will wait a few days for the news to cool down.
This coming week will be our first test of how the holidays will go for us. They do not celebrate the Thanksgiving, as we do and there are no big meals and family get-togethers. This Thursday we will try to stay very busy and not be thinking about all of the good food and family we will be missing. So, let us tell you all now, that we hope you all have a great Thanksgiving Day. We hope that you will miss us just a little.
We have seen our first snow here, but the snow does not stay around very long. The temperature is around the freezing mark today.
Our ward here in Dortmund has been working for weeks for a Christmas bazaar. It was held yesterday, but the turnout was not as good as they expected. A lot of food and gift and decorating things were left unsold. They made several hundred Euros -Around 800.00 Euros.
All of the proceeds from this service project will given the the women's shelter. We were involved and by the time we came home last night it was after 11:00 PM.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas around the corner

We have in the past always complained that Christmas starts to early and that they should wait at least until after Thanksgiving. Well here in Germany they do not have the big Thanksgiving celebration. So thy do not have this magical start of the Christmas season. Last week we went to the Instadt (downtown) and found that they are fast at work putting up Christmas decorations. They were frantically building displays and erecting booths all over the market places. One display seems to be bigger than the other. They were assembling a large (and we mean large) Christmas Tree. The tree is build around a large steel structure and made up of thousand and more freshly cut pine trees. It reaches into the sky and is taller than the six story buildings that surround the large market place. The candles on the tree are over six feet tall and the other ornaments are likewise that big. The tree is so constructed that one could easily think that it is a real giant Christmas tree. We can't wait to see it all lit up and with the Christmas market in full swing. We understand that the city will be all transformed into a large Christmas Wonderland by next week. Anina has already seen so many thing that she said she can not do without, but that doesn't mean will get it! It is interesting as we talk with people, they all have their favorite Christmas market to go to. Some say we have to see the Christmas market in Hamburg, other say it is a must to see the one in Bremen and others say you have to see the one in Köln. We already have a list of some two dozen places people think we need to see. By the way we will be in Hamburg on the 4Th of December for a couples conference and on the way back home we will make a quick stop in Bremen, so we think that we will see at least three of those favorite Christmas markets. Just in case you have not got the point yet; Christmas has begun. You will not get any sympathy from us when you tell us that Christmas in America starts to early.
As I am writing this note, Mother (Anina) handed me a note. I will write it just as she wrote it on the note:" Please tell all of the kids and grand kids- and others --Please do not send us gifts for Christmas. The postage is way too expensive; and because of the limitations on luggage; we have no way to get it back home! Perhaps use that money to help pay for a nice family dinner. You know you will be in our thoughts and prayers. We know that you love us also.!
We have had a busy week at the Out-Reach-Center. The Center is not just to be an place for our Young Single Adults, but also a place for missionary activities for the young people of the same age. We are seeing some progress in that direction. We are seeing a greater number of discussions that are given to nonmembers by our young missionaries. We even had a couple join with us in our Church meetings today. We hope that the Christmas spirit will actually translate into thinking about the Savior and what He has done for us all.
We continue to hear from many of you and for that we are grateful. We are in good health and spirit. Anina complains a little about the cold, but that should not be new to all of you. She did not like the cold in Utah either.
Enjoy the week. Maybe some of you need to tell us if we should cheer for the Y or the U in their game a couple weeks from now. Our Mission President is a U fan and he has been putting the pressure on us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A lot of changes for our Missionaries.

It was time again this past Saturday to join in a conference call with all of the missionaries to hear from our Mission President all of the changes that will be taking place this coming Thursday. Two of the elders in Dortmund receives the word that they will be going to a new area. We will receive a couple of new Elders in their place. We were glad to hear that we will continue our companionship and work here in Dortmund. It is always sad to see the transfers take place because we learn so quickly to love those brave Elders.
This past week we stayed close to our home and the out-reach-center. With all of the activities at the center, that was about all we had time to do. This evening we will be going to the CES Fireside. We hope that we will have a good turnout. Anina is busy right now making cookies for the event. Some of the young adults are also bring something to the fireside and we hope that it will be enough to satisfy the appetites of those young people.
This morning I gave the joint Melchizedek Priesthood lesson. Now I will have to start preparing for my next assignment. It always takes me a lot longer to prepare because of my limited language ability. At the rate I am going right now it will get easier by the time we are ready to go home.
We will have to get ready to go to the Fireside, so this will have to do this week.
We are well, except for a cough that Anina has had for a whole week now. We hope that she will get over it soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A joy to be the missionaries

The time to go to a zone conference seem to come around quite often. It seems like we just had one when it was time to go to Bielefeld. It was a zone conference for two zones. It is a time to get our spiritual batteries filled. Just to be with the missionaries and to see their enjoyment for the work is a thrill to behold. Goals were set and resolves to be better missionaries were made. The day (Thursday) started early. We picked up a set of Elders and drove to Bielefeld. With the heavy traffic it was a two hour ride. The conference started at 10:00 AM and lasted until 4:00 PM.
We had to leave immediately after the meetings, so could be back to Dortmund and get the Institute started and for Anina to fix the meal for after the class. We continue to enjoy a good turnout. Our Center is being used more and more for missionary activities and teaching. We have had six nonmember friend attend the Institute class this past month. Four missionary discussions were given to investigators at the center. We still have a way to go to reach our goal of 20.
Our ward in Dortmund ended the 40-day-fast today. It sure raised the awareness of missionary work. A lot of faithful members participated in that fast..
Today (Sunday,2 Nov 08) was a very busy day for us. We had an invitation to attend the Unn0a Ward. So we attended their whole block. It was very enjoyable to meet the many wonderful saints. We enjoyed the testimony meeting and the Spirit was felt very strong. I did not want to take the time to bear my testimony since I had to speak to the Young Adults in a fireside setting afterward. I was invited to sit on the stand because of my High Council assignment. So just before the close of the Fast and Testimony meeting the Bishop turned to me and said that the Ward sure would like to hear from you. So, I did and I was glad for the opportunity.
After the meeting the Young adults prepared a nice meal. After the meal I had to give a fireside talk. It was very convenient to have sitting next to me a German Young Missionary (who speaks perfect English) whom I ask quite frequently to give me the right German word or phrase when I needed help. It is a little easier to speak in a fireside setting.
Next week, back in our home Ward in Dortmund I have been asked to teach the Priesthood lesson. The week after that we will drive to Münster, where there is a branch, to speak in Sacrament meeting. I think they are determined to have me learn the language. It is a lot of work, but I am glad to do it.
Anina and I are always glad to hear from so many of you. Be sure you know that we appreciate all you do for us.
These past few weeks we missed a lot of family birthday gatherings at home. Anina reminds me a few times a day when it is someones birthday. You grandchildren, be assured that we have not forgotten one of your birthdays. Right now we are just not able to tell you in person. This is the hardest part of our mission.
We are aware that there are some of you in the family and some of you dear friends who's health is not the best, we pray for your recovery and well being. There is some illness in this part of the world as well and Anina has gone to the Hospital almost every day this past week to visit some of the sick.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Out of touch

I prided myself of being in touch with the things around us. I knew how to vote and why I voted that way. I knew the issues and definitely had an opinion. We don't even know who is on first base and what the score is. We received our absentee ballots and we don't recognize any names (almost). And when it comes to the Constitutional Amendments, we don't even know what they are talking about. The propositions we do not even understand. I feel like that we are living on a different planet. To show you of how out of touch we really are, let me tell you that we missed an extra hour of sleep we could have had. In Germany they changed to standard time this morning and no one told us. We don't listen to the radio or watch TV nor do we read the newspapers. For some reason or another the Book of Mormon does not say anything about the time changing to standard time on the last week-end of October. It does not tell me anything about a McCain or an Obama.
All we really know is that the Stake and Ward budget is a little tight this year. The church budget is figured in American Dollars and the dive of the Dollar compared with the Euro makes it a little more difficult to make ends meet.
Today our Sacrament meeting was a little different.The Sacrament meeting took up a two hour block. We had the Sacrament and than we watched the last session of the Sunday Afternoon Conference. The best thing about this Sacrament meeting was that Anina was given a headset and she was able to hear it in English. It was a little difficult to keep the little kids in check that long.
This past High Council meeting was devoted to the question of how to make due with the Stake and Ward budgets for the coming year. It was one of those marathon sessions that we had with the whole Stake council, which included all of the auxiliary leaders. Each organization has their own priorities. It was good to see how the process works.
The more we learn about the people, we find it sad to have so many that are inactive and for some reason or another have not been to church for years. Those who are faithful members with strong testimony's have been disappointed so many times with their efforts to reactivate others. They are good saints and we are sure that the Lord will bless them for all they have done.
We have had a good number this week participate in our Out-Reach Center and for that we are grateful. We think that the Lord is blessing us for our efforts. Last Thursday evening Anina served over 40 people and barely had enough for all. She worried as more and more showed up, but that is a good problem to have. (This is easy for me to say).
We better close for now, we need to get ready to go to our Bishops home. We have been invited to eat dinner with them. The other two sets of missionaries are invited to.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The work never seems to be done and there is always more to do

From some of the trees the leaves are almost all gone. Other trees still have their leaves and the scenery is still very spectacular. The weather is a little cooler, but it is still comfortable to be outside with a light jacket.
Our activities at the Institute-Outreach-Center are going well. We are enjoying our association with the Young Single Adults (JAE's as they are called in German). It seems that every week we need to increase the amount of food Anina must prepare. It is a constant worry for her to fix something that they like to eat and stay within a budget. I have a much easier job keeping a supply of drinks on hand and watching for good sales on drinks that the stores offer.
Our mission president (Pres. Thompson) and his wife were invited to speak at our ward in Dortmund today. They came to town last evening and we enjoyed a wonderful meal together at a very nice restaurant. After church today we invited them over to our apartment where we enjoyed a nice Dinner that Anina prepared. It is so very nice to be associated with such wonderful people. They truly feel the urgency to spread the gospel. Last night at the restaurant the president talked to the waitress and gave her a pass-along card and got her name and phone number and told her that a couple of young men would call on her and give her some good news.
This past week we began our quarterly missionary apartment tour. Some apartments are sure a lot nicer than others. Some Elders know how to keep a clean apartment and other elders need a lot of help. We found everything from broken sinks, to missing shower curtains, to things that have accumulated over the years. While we were there we made some repairs and even purchased some items, such as a ceiling light fixture and a medicine cabinet, etc.. We took along some tools and even installed them. We filled up our car several times with on old refrigerator, old broken cabinets, a kitchen sink. a lot clothing, a few pair of old shoes, may old pillows and many more items. Most of the stuff we took to a city recycle place. It cost a few Euros, but some of the apartment looked a lot nicer by the time we left. We will make a few calls this week to see if some of the major repairs can be taken care of. So far we visited five of the twelve apartments that have been assigned to us. For tomorrow we made appointments with three more sets of Elders. We hope that we will find them in better shape.
To the mothers (and even Fathers) of our grandchildren, We plead with you to teach those kids to keep a clean room and let them know that they need to learn that while they are still at home. Make them clean up their rooms and have them help in the housework (to know how to clean dishes is essential). Let them know that the parents are not going to be there to clean up after them. Dirty clothes on the floor is not acceptable. There is a place for clothing that needs to be washed. Some of the Elders have not washed their bedding for several months. Let them know that you wash your bedding every week or two. Some of the elders don't even see the dirt and clutter. Our missionaries were told by our mission president and his wife that we invite the Spirit into our homes by having a clean and inviting place. We will also live healthier lives by being clean. Our mission president said that some missionaries did not get the necessary basic training before they came on their mission.
Our missionaries are great missionaries and with a little more effort they could be even better. Anina felt sorry for the missionaries and wanted to go right to work and clean up the place, but time allowed us to do only a little. It is going to be interesting how things will look in follow-up visits, but then we will be dealing with new sets of missionaries.
We had an interesting visit with an older couple (about our age) that have rented an apartment in their house to the missionaries for the last 45 year. They have never joined the church, but have been good to the missionaries for all those years. They have had the missionaries for dinner or lunch several hundreds of times in all those years. They have driven them to meetings and appointment and even came to church with them. They have been to Salt Lake and are still in touch with missionaries that served their many years ago. They insisted that we have lunch with them before we departed. Maybe some day we will understand why they have not accepted the gospel yet. They have taken an interest to see that the elders apartment looks clean and inviting. She told us that some missionaries need more help than others. They appreciated our visit and told us that this the first time in the 45 years that someone came by to look at the condition of the apartment. They made us promise that would come again some time and do do something together.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A beautiful week to visit, take walks and talk to people

From all of the reports we hear, we are having much better weather here in Germany than you are having.
It is Sunday evening and we just returned from a walk though a park and the neighborhood. A lot of people were enjoying doing the same thing. Only the Ice-cream stores are open and every one is walking around with their children with an Ice-cream cone in their hand. If it would not have been Sunday we would have bought one also, but, we waited till we got home to have something cool.
Anina is in the kitchen making a couple of batches of cookies. Those cookies we will take with us tomorrow as we will be visiting four sets of Elders. We were asked to do an "apartment tour" of the Elders apartments within our area. There are 14 sets of Elders that we will visit during the next few weeks. The farthest is about 115 km from here and takes about 1 1/2 hour to get to. We will be reporting to the president about the condition of the apartment and any repairs that need to be made. We may even make some suggestions as far as house keeping, if needed. Anina thinks that we need to make those visits a little sweeter by taking some food with us. Some of the missionaries are anxious to have us come and others are in panic mode and asked us to come a little later.
Today was Fast Sunday and we enjoyed the church meetings. I had the assignment to teach the Priesthood class this morning.
One of the recent returned missionaries was still doing some of his missionary work this past week. He talked to a couple of girls on the U-Bahn (Subway). Those girls happen to be from the States and are here for two semesters going to the University. He found out that both were inactive LDS girls. He invited them to come to the Out-Reach Center last Thursday. They both came and attended the Institute Class and had some of the good food that Anina had prepared. One of those Girls came to church today and one could see that she was touched by the Spirit during the meeting and some of the other young adults made her feel welcome. We sure hope that this is a first big step back to church activity.
This past week, Anina was very sick with the flu (we think). She had some very terrible stomach pains and it was touch and go if we had to see a Doctor. The illness came all at once and lasted for about 24 hours. She is doing well now. We are both grateful to have good health.
We sure hope that all went well with Summer's Baptism yesterday. It is hard not to be able to be at such an important event for one of our grandchildren. We sure hope the choicest blessings to be with all of you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

General Conference, a Bit of Home

It is 10:00PM Sunday evening and we just arrived home after leaving our apartment at 8:15 This morning. This morning we had a High Council meeting. It was a disciplinary Court, the one you like to see. It was for the purpose of restoring a persons membership in the church. All went well and it was great to see a person that repented and did what was necessary to be able to be baptized again.
We were able to see two sessions of conference in real time. Both of the morning sessions we saw at the same time you did at home. Mom was able to see the women session on our Saturday morning. The priesthood session we were able to see on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM this morning and than we saw the Saturday afternoon session at on Sunday at 2:00PM. At 5:30PM we watched the Music and the Spoken Word and the the Sunday morning session right afterward. The Sunday afternoon session will be recorded and we will see it sometimes next week. Of Course the messages were great and the Spirit was felt as much here in Germany as we could have if we were in Salt Lake City.
Anina was especially grateful that she was able to understand all that was said. At our Outreach- Center we had the English translation and in the Chapel we had the German transmission.
This past week was a busy week. We received a new set of Elders. We now have two Sets of Young Elders in our city of Dortmund. We attended the institute class in another city that belongs to our Stake (Essen). We hope to talk them into coming to the Outreach-Center at least once a month for an activity.
We are having opportunities to talk to a lot of young adults and many need some words of encouragement and support. Many come from homes where there is not the priesthood. We have been asked on several occasions to give blessings or just talk.
This past week a young lady came to our Family Home Evening and asked if she could practice playing the piano in the chapel. We gave her permission to go and practice. She came back after only a view moments and ask if our family-home-evening group could go to the chapel and watch her play and sing. She was so exited about being ready to play and sing for her close friend at the wedding on Saturday. She wanted to do this as a surprise for her Friend. Everything went well and we all told her how wonderful she sounded. On Thursday evening, just as we were getting ready to start the Institute class, this same young lady came to our Office with her mother and they were just crying. O course I asked , "what is the matter?". She told me that she lost her voice and had terrible chest pains and a sore throat. She was told that she had pneumonia and should go to bed and the doctor would see her next week. She than told me if I would give her a blessing she would get better so could sing and play at her friends wedding. I was taken back by the request for I could see that she was very ill. I invited one of the missionaries to come into our office to give the anointing and I would do the sealing of the anointing. I thought of what I would say in that blessing to comfort her and her mother. The things I thought I would say, I was not able to say. I thought that perhaps I had troubles to express them in the German language. I soon realized that I should just say that came into my mind.
After the blessing they thanked us and departed. Now the worry started for me. How could I say what I did? I began to worry about the promise that was given. I began to doubt. I even apologized to the Lord and than ask for His help. I worried all night and most of the next day. On Friday evening, as I was working at the Outreach Center this young lady knocked on the office door. She was all smiles and said "you see, I knew that your blessing would make me well. A miracle happened last night and I feel well." and than she requested permission to practice one more time for the event that was to take place on Saturday afternoon.
Oh, the faith of some that bring about miracles in spite of the doubt of others. What a lesson that was for me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Beautiful Sunny Weekend

The weather is just absolutely beautiful. It could stay this way all year long. The leaves on a few of the trees are beginning to change colors, other than that it is still very green and luscious. The fall flowers are in full bloom. It is actually warmer now, than it was most of the Summer.
This past Friday morning all of the missionaries joined in a conference call where the we were told of all the transfers that will take effect this Thursday. One of our young missionaries will be going home to Idaho this Thursday after completing a successful mission. Quite a few of our Missionaries from the Mission will be going home, but we will be receiving a large group of "Goldens" (New Missionaries). The Mission will be full strength again and as a result we will receive a second set of Elders in Dortmund. The missionary work in Dortmund is not going as well as we would like to see. The missionaries are working hard and talking to a lot of people and even teaching a lot of lessons, but commitments are few if any.
We had the Elders over for dinner after church today. The two Elders ate as much as our whole family ate at home at our Sunday dinners. It was fun to see them enjoy Anina's cooking.
We are looking forward of receiving the General conference meetings. We should be able to see all of the Sessions.
I will miss going to priesthood meeting with all of our Sons and Grandsons that hold the priesthood. Just hold a place open next to yours for me and pretend. I don't know how I am going to get the Ice Cream to you after the meeting. I will have to make it up to you when we get home.
In a few minutes the phone will probably ring and we look froward talking to some of the family. Thank you, Heidi, for giving us that pleasure almost every week it means so much
to us.
We always talk about the good things that happen, so here to let you know that we are not perfect, we have to tell you this bad thing. Here in Germany they have cameras set up all over that take your picture when you disobey traffic signs. Well, I got caught for speeding in a constructions zone. I was just following the busy traffic. I remember seeing the light flashing one after another. They tell me that it can many pictures in a row and catch a 100 cars at a very small amount of time. We were going only a small amount over the speed limit and we had to pay the minimum amount of 10.00 Euro. Not too bad for a bad experience. I am going to have to be more careful in the future. We have one of those cameras close to our home. They are permanent fixtures and the regular drivers know exactly where they are, so it is a deterrent for driving within the speed limit.
We are in good health and we enjoy our work and our associations we have here in Germany.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

We left our mission area for 4 hours today

It is Sunday evening, about 8:00 PM. We just arrived home after we left at 8:00 AM this morning. We had Stake conference yesterday and today. The Saturday afternoon and evening sessions were held in the Dortmund Stake Center. It is the same place where our Institute Outreach Center is located. The theme of the conference was on Missionary work, and of course it was like music to our ears. We should see some results from the ideas and challenges that were given. Tomorrow in our ward we are starting a 40 day fast for missionary work. From the sign up list we noticed that a different family or person is going to fast for the next 40 days. We signed up for tomorrow (Monday). We will be praying that the Lord will lead us to the people He has prepared to except the Gospel.
The conference today was held in Düsseldorf. Our Stake Center is not large enough to hold the saints and friends that come to Stake Conference. In the past they rented a hall closer to Dortmund, but that has become very expensive, something like 6000.00 Euro.. For us to drive to Düsseldorf took us a little over an hour. The Stake Center there is more the size of a Stake Center in Salt Lake. Next to the Stake Center is a building where the old Düsseldorf Mission Home used to be. They have now turned this building into the Düsseldorf Institute Outreach Center. We met the Missionary Couple that serve in that Center. We had a chance to meet with them a short time to get some fresh and new ideas. They have been on their mission two weeks longer than we have.
This is the first General Stake meeting we had since we were transferred to Dortmund. So, today was the day that they sustained me to serve on the Dortmund Stake High Council. I learned a new meaning of the phrase, "When ye are prepared you need not fear." I assumed that I would be called upon to speak, so I prepared a five minute talk and I did not have to talk. The lesson I learned from that, is that when you are prepared you will not be called upon and it is only when you are not prepared you need to fear because you will be called upon.
After conference we had an invitation with the other missionaries (Elders) in Dortmund for dinner at the home of our Relief Society President. They have 3 small girls and one of them is a baby of only 3 or 4 weeks old. They truly have their hands full, but they still made the time to invite us. We had a wonderful meal.
Last Thursday we had a every six week Zone Conference and as usual it was great to be part of a large missionary group. It is always an inspiration to be with those young missionaries. They are so full of enthusiasm and full of the Spirit. It truly is a joy to see them in action.
You may ask yourself why we left the Mission Area? It is because we went to Stake Conference in Düsseldorf and Düsseldorf is outside the Hamburg Mission. All of the full time Missionaries had to get special permission to attend Stake Conference out side of the mission boundaries.
Thank you for all of your mail and words of encouragement.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Whew...

Dear Family and friends this past week has been filled with a lot of activities, a lot of travel, a lot of visiting, a lot of meetings and even some sight seeing. We had some good news and some news that made us very sad.The news that a dear friend Dick Jensen passed away caused us to shed some tears, but it mostly caused us to reflect about the things in live that really matter. We felt so helpless to not be able to be there and express our appreciation to Joann for the wonderful privilege it has been to count them as one of our best friends. Many wonderful activities came back to our minds that we had with the Jensens. The work of Dick in the Bishopric, the work on the Stake Ranch, helping neighbors, Home Teaching, going out to eat, sharing stories about our children and grandchildren, a trip to McCall, Id., are only a view of the memories that Anina and I thought about. Oh how we wish we could be there to say good bye and in some way give support to the Jensen Family. I think, not being able to do just that is one of the sacrifices we are required to make while on this mission. So, whenever you see Joann, be sure to express our love and admiration to that very special Lady.

Last Monday evening we had a good Home Evening. We discussed the importance of a testimony and for the need to be valiant in the testimony. Many of us have testimonies, but are not valiant.

On Tuesday morning (Sept. 9, 2008) we made a three hour car trip to Bremen. The Mission President ask us to help orient a new couple that just arrived to serve in the Outreach Center in Bremen. We enjoyed that assignment for it gave us an opportunity to visit and see some of the Saints we learned to love while we were there. There were a lot of hugs and tears as we were able to see each other again. (It is still a miracle to us how we grew so close to so many in such a short time while we were in Bremen for only 2 1/2 months.) This was a two day assignment and we stayed overnight in a hotel close to the couples apartment. Is is the same apartment we lived in during our stay in Bremen.

We made the three hour trip back to Dortmund on Wednesday evening. Thursday was filled with preparation for the Institute Evening and Food preparations. The young people lingered a little longer than usual visiting and playing games that evening. It was especially noticeable to us since we had to be up by 5:00 AM on Friday morning so we could make the 4 1/2 hour trip to Hamburg.

On Friday and Saturday (Sep. 12 and 13, 2008) we enjoyed the Senior Couples Conference. The Conference was mostly held in the Mission Home. Altogether there were eight Missionary Couples and the Mission President and his Wife. Those of us that came from out of town stayed in the Mission Home overnight. Friday was mostly filled with social activities and some sightseeing and a wonderful dinner at a very fine restaurant right on the River/Ocean Port/Harbor. The sight was absolutely breathtaking. As we visited and ate our meal we saw several large cargo ships passing by. Each time a cargo ship passed by, the Captain would announce over the loudspeaker in the restaurant the name of the ship how many tons of cargo and than would play the national anthem of the home country of the boat. Earlier on Friday we took a boot tour of the harbor. We saw some of the enormous amount of freight and how the containers are processed. As we came to Hamburg we drove through a long tunnel that goes right under the River /Harbor. That was an experience in and of itself.On Saturday we enjoyed the serious part of the conference. As a result we have a clearer vision of our calling.But mostly we enjoyed the wonderful Spirit that we all felt and our testimonies grew as a result of the experience.

It was a long 4 1/2 a journey back to Dortmund.Sunday, September 14, was a very busy day. The church block starts at 9:15 AM. We had a luncheon appointment with a family (some are active and some have nothing to do with the church). They live some 30 Kilometers from Dortmund. We were sorry that we could not stay much after we ate to visit. When we returned home we had just enough time to take the food that Anina had prepared to the Outreach Center. At the church we had two meetings, the opening of Institute Season and Introduction of the subject material for the year. The other meeting that followed was the broadcast of the Single Adult fireside by Elder Holland. Of course, we had to have some food for the Young Adults after the Fireside. Since it was late, we drove a couple of kids home before we were able to go home ourselves and crash.

Looking over our calendar and appointments, we are looking forward to another busy week.In spite of our busy schedule we do miss our family, especially our Grandchildren. If it were not for the promise that our Children and Grandchildren would be blessed while we serve on this mission, it would be very tempting to just take the next flight home.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer Social with the Young Single Adults

Another month is history. It has been more than 4 month since we embarked on this venture. With the energy needed to keep up with the young singles, we remarked several times during the past weeks:" we should have gone on this mission five or ten years ago.
Yesterday (Saturday, 30 Aug. 2008) we drove to the city of Essen. We met at the Grugapark for activities and some good food. The turn out was not as good as we expected, but we enjoyed ourselves. The park is huge park with many relaxing and educational and beautiful features. Just as we thought that we have seen the most beautiful parks, this one tops them all. It is accessible to just about anyone, by car, by bus or the subway. If we were to walk all day long, one could not see all there is to see. The rose gardens, the other flower gardens, the vegetable gardens, the aviary, the play grounds, the restaurants, the water features, the museums, the animal park, large swimming pools, the many statues, large trees and large lawns all make for a wonderful experience. The parks are full with people , both young and old. The Germans love their parks and there are many of them.
The missionary success, when compared to other parts of the world is going very slow and it is a constant challenge for Mission Presidents to keep the Missionaries motivated and focused on the work. I am amazed at the demanding pace of our Mission President. Every three weeks we have Zone Meetings or Zone Conference and he conducts personal interviews with every missionary every six weeks. This past week we had our Zone meeting here in Dortmund. By the time he makes the rounds to all of the six zones, it is time to start all over again. then there are the meetings with the Area Presidency and the Stake presidents within the mission. There is a lot of traveling involved.
We enjoy our work even if we feel too old for the job. We are able to keep up with what we are ask to do. Our health is good. The weather has been very nice these past few days. We are finding out that there are really days in northern Germany when it does not rain.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A baptism to remember...

This past week President Thompson (our mission President) asked us to drive to Muelheim and interview an investigator for baptism. It was an interview he would normally conduct, but was not able to take the time. I tried to prepare for the interview, but was surprised with the great experience it was. To see the Atonement take effect in her life and the willingness to accept and commit to keep the commandments was a real spiritual experience for me. It is not easy to change from a worldly life where you can do anything you want, to a life centered on gospel principles and commandments. As part of the interview I asked her to read an article from the April 2007 Ensign or Liahona Magazine called "He Will Give You Rest". (You may want to read this article and it will give you some idea of the kind of experience it was for me. - it is only a short one page story.) I was happy that I was able to sign the baptism recommend. This experience took place on Friday afternoon.

Today is Sunday, August 17th, 2008. It is almost 9:00 pm and we just returned home after leaving at 8:30 this morning. We attended our regular church meetings this morning. Anina had to play the piano in our priesthood meeting before she went to Relief Society. We both had an invitation to have an early dinner with an older couple by the name of Nabrotzky. We had a wonderful time visiting and the food was very good. They have been members for over 30 years and are very faithful members. He has been bishop a couple of times and also served in the Stake Presidency in the past. They wanted to visit with us a little longer, but understood when we told them that we had to attend a baptism in Essen.

The baptism was in the ward house in Essen because they do not have a baptism font in the Muelheim ward house. When we arrived at the ward house, Sister Bisong greeted me and thanked me for the Ensign Article I gave her to read. She told me that it made her realize that she was not the only person that had difficulties to overcome and that she hopes to feel the same way as the young sister in the article. once she comes forth from the waters of baptism.

When we congratulated her after the baptism I felt that her wish had come to pass. It was sure nice to see the support each pair brought at least one investigator to the service. I think we could get used to a baptism each week. It is what missionary work is all about.

Zone Conference

This past week we had our Zone Conference in Bielefeld with two other zones (half of the hamburg Mission). It is always great to see the dedication of thse missionaries and the conviction of the work in which they are engaged. The every six week transfer calls were also recieved. To our great surprise the sister missionaries have been called to another area and no new sisters will take their place for a season. The elders that are serving now in Dortmund will stay. We are grateful that we keep our companionship and area. We will have to help out by taking some of their contacts.

I feel that the members of the Dortmund Ward are warming up a little to us. We (all six of us missionaries) just returned from the home of our Relief Society President where we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday meal. It is a wonderful family with two small girls and they are expecting a third daughter sometime this week. It was a real sacrifice to prepare such a wonderful meal for all of us. I know that the Lord will bless them for it.

Will write soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A long but fulfilling Sunday (17 August 2008)

This past week President Thompson (our mission president) ask us to drive to Muelheim and interview an investigator for baptism. It was an interview he would normally conduct, but was was not able to take the time. I tried to prepare for the interview, but was surprised with the great experience it was. To see the Atonement take effect in her life and the willingness accept and commit to keep the commandments was a real spiritual experience for me. It is not easy to change from a worldly life where you can do anything you want, to a life centered on Gospel principles and commandments. As part of the interview I ask her to read an article from the April 2007 Ensign or the April 2007 Liahona Magazine called "He Will Give You Rest". (You may want to read this article and it will give you some idea of the kind of experience it was for me. - It is only a short one page story.) I was happy that I was able to sign the baptism recommend. This experience took place on Friday afternoon.

Today is Sunday, August 17,2008. It is almost 9:00 PM and we just returned home after leaving at 8:30 this morning. We attended our regular church meetings this morning. Anina had to play the piano in our priesthood meeting before she went to Relief Society. We both had an invitation to have an early dinner with an older couple by the name of Nabrotzky. We had a wonderful time visiting and the food was very good. They have been members for over 30 years and are very faithful members. He has been Bishop a couple of times and also served in the Stake presidency in the past. They wanted to visit with us a little longer, but understood when we told them that we had to attend a baptism in Essen.

The Baptism was in the Ward House in Essen because they do not have a baptism font in the Muelheim Ward House. When we arrived at the Ward House, Sister Bisong greeted me and thanked me for the Ensign Article I gave her to read. She told me that it made her realize that she was not the only person that had difficulties to overcome and that she hopes to feel the same way as the this young sister in the article, once she comes forth from the waters of baptism.
When we congratulated her after the baptism I felt that her wish came to pass.
It was sure nice to see the support the Ward members showed by attending the Baptism and the food for the short social afterward.
We had five sets of Missionaries and each pair brought at least one investigator to the service. I think we could get used to a baptism each week. It is what missionary work all about.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Another week to remember...

We enjoyed this past week. We helped in the clean up after the torrential cloudbursts of last week. Things are back to normal. We took a stroll this past week through the botanical garden near our home that was flooded with more than a meter of water. The workers were very busy cleaning up the mud and debris. It is surprising how quickly this huge park returned to the beautiful place it is. The parks and open spaces are treasured and are well taken care of. At the one end of the park is located the Dortmund Zoo. They have trees from all over the world in that park. You can even find some of the tropical trees and plants that are protected in the winter time by large greenhouses.

The past Thursday was our main activity evening with an institute class and a very nice meal. We had 18 young adults in attendance. The lesson at institute was on the Ewige Ene (Eternal Marriage). The instructor was a former Stake President and his wife. They gave a great message. We keep hoping that somehow the young single adults will be motivated to seriously look for a mate. They seem to enjoy themselves, but to get something going romantically seems to be far from their mind. School and work and accumulating wealth seem to be a priority. We keep telling them that if they wait till they can afford to get married, it may be too late.

There is a report that we fill out every month which measures the activity and effectiveness of the Outreach Initiative program at the Center. There are only 12 statistical questions that are asked. There are the usual questions such as average attendance, how many mission calls were extended and questions about missionary activities. The last and one of the major ones is the question: "How many YSA coming to the Center were married in the Temple during the month?" I looked back at the older reports of the past few months and find that a '0' appears for a long time.

This past weekend we took some time from our normal activities and visited one of our extended family some 220 km from Dortmund. We left Friday morning and returned late Sunday night. The home town (Vockerode/Meissner) and birthplace of my mother was a beautiful and inviting as ever. This is a view from above Vockerode.My cousin and family welcomed us with open arms. We attended a Medieval Festival at an old castle. For the first time we visited a beautiful old town where the Fulda River and the Werra River "kiss" each other (or come together) and which is the place where a new river, the Weser River has its beginning. Karl-Heins, Brigitte, Anina and I even enjoyed a boat ride up and down part of the Fulda, the Werra, and the Weser. We were told many of the historical aspects of the area. Walking through the village was a delight viewing the old beautiful buildings. I think that this city of Hann.Muenden is as charming as any of the more famous cities in Southern Germany. With a similar history such as Passau. By the way the three rivers I just mentioned are the only major rivers in Germany that start and end in Germany. The Weser River that runs north through Bremen and on into the North Sea.

A main street of the town on a Saturday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My birth-place

This past Friday we took our P-Day and made the 35 minute drive to the place of my birth. I have not been there before, at least not for the last 72 years. I certainly could not remember the place since I was less than a year old when my parents and I moved from there to Kassel.
From my dad's history that I have in my computer we were able to get the exact address of the house. We programmed that address and the address my parents first lived after they were married into our "TomTom" (GPS Device). It guided us right to the place. The house where my parents first lived is no longer there, but the house just around the corner and down the street, where I was born, is still the same house. The old front door had been filled in and the entrance is now from the back of the house. It is an old neighborhood, but it is well taken care of. This whole storry will not mean anything to most of you, but I had some special feelings that came to my mind. It was a special moment for me. Here are some pictures:

A cool July in Dortmund

The weather is just fine for me in Dortmund. It seems to be raining a little just about every day. The sun comes out only a few minutes for it is cloudy most of the time. Anina is cold most of the time and wears a coat when she goes out. I wonder what she will be doing when it really gets cold. Everything is very lush and green everywhere. At this time of the year there are a lot of fruit and berries that are available and we sure enjoy them.

Last week I was asked to give the High Priest Group Lesson this Sunday and I accepted because I thought that it would be easy with only 4 or 5 in the class. Well, it was a shock in Priesthood on Sunday to hear the Bishop say that the Elder's Quorum instructor did not show and that we would all meet together with the High Priests. The group leader then said "I don't have anything else to say and we will turn the time over to Elder Diederich for the lesson." I responded by saying "I have a lesson for 5 of the High Priests only." After they stopped laughing the Bishop said "That's ok, all the others will just sit here and listen." I made it through the lesson with the help of some in the audience who helped me find some of the words and expressions that I could not draw from my mind. It all seems to work out.

We are in Dortmund

We are almost moved in. It will take us a while to be able to get around. We can drive the short five minute car ride from our apartment to the outreach center or the Stake Center. This town is a lot bigger than Bremen. I am sure we will get lost a few times before we know our way around.

Our church experience this past Sunday was good, except that they asked us to sit up front and give a talk and introduce ourselves. Tonight will be the third activity for us in the Outreach Center. Last Thursday we had 24 kids attending the Institute class and dinner afterward. This is a more active center than we had in Bremen. It is interesting to see the difference as we go from one ward to another. We enjoyed the ward and meeting the people yesterday. In Bremen, the missionaries are treated very well and are loved by the members and there is a lot of interaction. Here in Dortmund there is not that same feeling and concern for the young missionaries. As an example are the invites to members homes for dinner and a gospel discussion. In Bremen, we had at least three or four invites a week and usually two on Sundays. In Dortmund, none of the three sets of missionaries had and invite for dinner this past Sunday. If we would have known that, Anina would have made something for the young missionaries. I asked if this is normal and they told us that they get an invite very seldom. As I think over the past few weeks, it is clear to me that the people I know the best are the one's that we visited with in the home and enjoyed a meal and had a one on one gospel discussion. It is not that we need the meal, but we need the association and friendship.

Here are some pictures of our new place:

Friends from St. Charles, ID

This is Lynn and Johanna Pugmire. Lynn was riased in St. Charles and Johanna in the Sugarhouse area. They know all of the old timers in St. Charles. They have been in Germany for more than 25 years and raised a family here. They have been very nice to us and even had a couple of meals in their home.

Leaving Bremen

(Sorry I am just getting this posted, Hugo!)

Today is June 22, 2008. It was the day that it became public that we will be leaving Bremen. Many were very surprised that we were asked to move to Dortmund. We tried to let them know what brought our Mission President and the Stake President to make the decision. In fact, our Stake President was in our meetings today in Bremen. He did not release me from the stake high council until after the meeting block. He had me participate in the installing of a new Elders Quorum Presidency. I set apart the new second councilor. In our Sacrament meeting Anina and I were asked to speak. There were not many dry eyes in the congregation by the time Anina was through with her talk. She tried so hard to speak German as she bore her testimony and she surprised so many including myself of how well she did. The saints could feel the great amount of love she has for all. This experience surprised all of us how quickly, in only nine weeks, we have become so attached to the wonderful people in Bremen. All wished us well. I am amazed of how wonderful the people have been to us. We have been in many of their homes for dinner. Every week we have had at least three or more invites to have a meal with the members. Often they ask us to bring the young missionaries with us. Today after church we had dinner at the home of the ward Relief Society President. We could not even stay and visit afterwards for we had to take the Elders to an appointment that they had with an investigator. In a few days we will begin our 3 hour car ride to Dortmund with all of our belongings. I don't know how we will do it, but we will do what we have to.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Senior Couple Conference

This past week was another busy week with too much traveling, at least a little more than we would like to do. With the price of gasoline, traveling is one of our major expenses. The outlook for the near future does not look any better. We kind of had a curve ball thrown at us on Friday. The President asked us to go to the city of Dortmund and assess the situation of the Outreach Center there. A couple will be leaving in two weeks to go home. With a very busy and successful Center in Dortmund and with no new couple on the horizon the President needs to make a decision and set a priority. The question is, is it more important to keep a busy and going center open or try to make the effort to build up a struggling and promising center as we have in Bremen. We still keep praying that the church will assign a couple to our mission so our President does not have to make that kind of decision. It will be interesting what the next two weeks will bring.
Other than the above news we had a great day on Friday. All of the senior couples came to Bremen for a one day conference. We spend the morning touring the beautiful "Alt Stadt" old city center of Bremen. They were all surprised of how much there was to see in Bremen and the historical significance of Bremen. The only complaint came from the brethren that the sisters spend too much money on stuff. The sisters also thought that we should extend the conference for one more day to allow for more time to walk around. There is no question that Bremen is the most beautiful city in all of Northern Germany. The city is over 1200 years old. Of course the Weser River played an important part in the development of Bremen. Many of the buildings standing in the old city center had it's beginning before America was discovered. The old city "Rathaus" Hall is as impressive and beautiful of a City Hall as I have ever seen. It dates back to the 15th century. It just celebrated its 600th birthday. The large and ornate churches rival any of the cathedrals I have seen in Europe. Anina has to tell you all someday of the uniqueness of the "Boetchersrasse" and the "Schnoor" section - the oldest part of Bremen.
Saturday the Stake had a "Wiesenfest" - a summer picnic in the beautiful Buerger Park in Bremen. We all brought our own food and drink and we enjoyed playing, meeting, and visiting with the saints and friends of the church. It has been a good and busy week.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PICTURE TIME!

So we have finally got some great pictures for all to enjoy. There is a lot to view so I hope you have fun getting a taste of our little life here in Bremen, Germany.

Pictures of our home in Bremen

This is a view from our back deck The front view of our apartment from the street. The balcony on the 3rd floor is where our apartment is.

This is our front room.

And more pictures...

An old windmill built in 1699 - still works - in another city park near the Old Town center Anina at the "leaning tree" in the old city park
This is me at a statue in front of the Park Hotel Bremen Old Town Center and Market
An old Cathedral in the center of Old Town
The old Bremen "Rathaus" - City Building
Anina and I at the "Talking Animal Statue"

Even MORE fun pictures

This is Anina and I in front of the Frankfurt Temple Two of our favorite young adults, Stefenie Dobberke and Alex Lorenze with Anina on the Temple grounds
Anina with Elder and Sister Meng - one of two couples who coordinate and train new Outreach Couples.
Missionaries from our District at the Outreach Center, Elder Weinle, Elder Read, Elder Riding, Elder Kincaid, Sister Rieske, and Sister Jones.
Anina in the beautiful "Buerger Park", a large park with a lake and Forest in the center of town.

MTC Pics and getting to Germany

Some of our friends in the MTC: Elder and Sister Rust, us, and Elder and Sister Gill
I was the district leader for this group in the MTC... Anina and I in the MTC front lobby
Here we are in Germany with our mission car, a red Opel Corsa
And this is the mission president and his wife, President and sister Thomson