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 M√ľnster, 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!