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.