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.