Thursday, December 31, 2009

CHRISTMAS WEEKEND 2009

It is Monday morning, the 28th of December 2009. Some of you wrote that we had forgotten to send you an e-mail. Actually, we did not forget, but are late in writing. We did come home early enough, but received a call from the Sister Missionaries that they were without hot water and heat, so we went and fixed the problem.
Christmas Eve we were invited to spend with a couple about our age from near the city of Hagen. It was more of a formal event than what we are used to, but it was nice. We started at 3:30 PM and did not return home until about 10:30 PM. The home was a very nice and typical German Home. Every room is closed with a door leading to a hall-way. Upon our arrival we were taken into the kitchen where we enjoyed some wonderful cake and cookies and some herbal tea. We were told that "der Weihnachtsman" (Santa-claus) was busy in the other room. When we came into the living room we saw a beautiful Christmas tree with around 24 real candles all lit and some packages under the tree. It was a breathtaking sight. Next came the wonderful meal. Of course we ate too much and we even found extra room for some delicious desserts. By the time we were through eating, the first set of candles were burned and we all put a second set of candles on the tree and lit those candles. We read together the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and exchanged stories of our Christmas traditions. It was a real effort for us to leave and go home, for a long day lay ahead of us on the first Christmas day.


On the first Christmas morning at about 5:00 AM we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and make an all anticipated call home to our Family. It was about 9:00 PM Christmas-Eve in Salt Lake City. Our Children and Grandchildren along with Anina's aunt (Darlene) and Anina's sister (Alayna) were all celebrating Christmas Eve at our home. We did get to talk to most of then on the phone. Oh, how we wished we could have transported ourselves to that place, if only for a few moments! We are grateful for the technology that made that visit so memorable. We could not dwell and savor those moments too long, for we had to finish packing and drive to our "second home". It was a very anticipated visit to Vockerode-Meissner. As we arrived for the 3 day visit, the extended family of Carl-Heinz and Brigitte was already sitting at the table for their Christmas dinner. The dinner was more like our Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings. Instead of Turkey we enjoyed a roasted goose, instead of mashed potatoes we had the potato balls, and instead of pumpkin pie we had some wonderful German pastries and cakes. After exchanging many gifts the large room looked very much like the room looked after you opened all of the gifts. It was a great day even with a "touch of family".
As many of you know, in Germany we have two Christmas Holidays, the 25th and 26th of December.


After breakfast, Karl-Heinz and Brigitte suggested that we go for a little ride. After an hour car ride we arrived in the city of Eisenach. We parked at the bottom of a hill and climbed up to the burg that we noticed on top of a hill for some distance. The Wartburg has a very rich and colorful history that date back to 1067. We took an hour long tour through those unique halls and rooms. There are so many things that transpired there, we can not even begin to mentions these in this writing. We will mention only two that were of special interest us.
The story of a Hungarian born princess is a very touching one. She was only 4 years old when she was taken to Thueringen to be the future wife of Ludwig the 4th. She was married at the age of 14. Had children and lived a live devoted to the poor. She started Hospitals, helped the poor and underprivileged and worked hard to make the lives of the poor more tolerable. She did all of this at the objections of the royal court. Her husband died in the crusades. She died at the early age of 24 in the year of 1231. She lived such a extraordinary life that it took only 4 years for her to be canonized by the Pope in 1235. Some day we have to spend some time to talk about some of the stories, miracles and legends of Elisabeth.
At the conclusion of the tour we were taken to an area and museum of the castle that depicts another fascinating event that took place here. Martin Luther, who is regarded by many as the father of the reformation spend some very valuable time here. It was after he (Martin Luther) pinned the 95 Thesis to the door of the Wittenburg church and after he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church as a heretic and outlawed by the emperor because he would not revoke his teachings, that he found refuge and safety behind the mighty walls of this fortress. While here in hiding from the rest of the world, he translated the New Testament from the Greek original into German. It felt like a sacred place as we walked into the so-called "Lutherstube" - the room where he did the work of translation. It was a great experience to visit this historical place.On Sunday we were too far away to go to church, so it turned out to be a day of visiting and meeting with family. We talked a lot of who was related to who. We met for the first time with Brigitte's sister, Sigrid. She is married to Karl Heinz Grebe. Her Birthday is 26 April 1955. She was actually raised by an Aunt in the nearby village of Wollrode. Brigitte has actually one more Sister, Erni. Her married name is Erni Nickel, born 9 July 1949 and they live in Frankenheim.. As a family we did not get to know those sisters because they were born after we last visited the family before our imigration to the USA.It is time to mail this, but do remind us to tell you about the Grimm Brothers story of "Frau Holle" some day.We love all of you and wish you a wonderful "Rutsch" into the New Year.

CHRISTMAS EVE


We are in a winter wonderland. It has snowed off and on for the last three days. There is more snow than we have seen since we have been in Germany. We need to really slow down while we are driving. The car (Opel Corsa) drives quite nice and we are sure the snow tires help. If anyone drives without four snow tires, he is subject to a fine. All of the people change to the snow tires in the first part of October and than change back in the end of March.
We have had a chance to go to a few Christmas Markets. We don't know how the merchants’ stays warn in the cold weather. The markets are full of people regardless of the weather. It is a real wonderful festive experience just to walk around and see what is going on.. It will definitely be one of the things we will miss as we return home at the end of January, 2010.
In fact the whole Christmas experience is steeped in many old German traditions. Many of those traditions have some wonderful meanings. We have noticed that just about every window shows some arrangements of candles (either real candle or electric once) that carry the meaning of "we have not forgotten you" or "we are thinking of you". Just this past week we have bought a very beautiful wooden bow with some carving inside the bow and 10 candles on the outside of the bow. We are displaying it in our outside window and it can easily be noticed as people walk or drive by our apartment. From where you are, you may not be able to see it, but as we see it, it means that we have not forgotten you and soon we will see each other again.
This is a hard time to be away from home. It is made a lot easier by the love and acts of kindness from many of the wonderful Saints here in Dortmund. It is a sweet experience to be associated with some great missionaries. As we get together we remind ourselves often of the great Christmas message we wish to share with all we meet. If in this country of Germany we could only insert and emphasize among their traditions the message of the birth of the Savior and the great blessing this birth is in our lives. The setting would almost be perfect. For us, the beautiful carved peaces of wood depicting the major scene, the Shepherd's, the wise men, the star, the Holy-Land and of Joseph and Mary are representations of a real and important event in the history of the world. The artists are masters at producing such wonderful peaces of art, but fail to recognize the significance of the events depicted.
We are struggling to keep from purchasing some of those masterpieces of wood carvings. They can tell a story that is very dear to us at this Christmas season.
This past week we had our Zone Conference in Bielefeld. We enjoyed being together with the missionaries of the Hannover and the Dortmund Zone. We enjoyed a very spiritual day with a Christmas program and instructions from our Mission President and his Wife (President and Sister Thompson). At this conference we were reminded that this would be our last Zone Conference before going home and that we were to give some remarks to the group. Being obedient, we took a few sobering moments to offer our thoughts about the mission and about our testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Both of us will come home soon and perhaps somewhat changed. One can not be in this missionary service without gaining a greater appreciation of the Savior and Redeemer, whose birthday we remember at this Christmas Season.
We love you all and do miss you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Third Candle is Burning

This is a very busy time of the year for us, but we are enjoying every minute. We have more appointments, more invitations and more get-together's. Three candles are burning. That means, one more candle to go and then it will be Christmas. It is sad that it will be over with so soon, but we sure hope that the Spirit will linger for a long time.
It is past 9:00PM Sunday evening and we are ready to go to bed. We left our apartment at 7:30 this morning. We participated in the meetings at the Münster Branch along with some of the members of our student council. The purpose was to make the young adults more aware of the activities at the "Center For Young Adults".
The Branch President from Münster invited us to have a meal with them after church. Tonight we watched the broadcast of the "First Presidency Christmas Devotional". In the chapel of our building it was broadcast in German and at our Center we listened to it in English. It was especially enjoyable for Anina, for it was the first meeting of the day where she understood everything that was said.
We are grateful for this special assignment that is ours the "invite other to come to Christ". This experience helps us to appreciate more what this Christmas season is all about. We pray that we all may enjoy more of this wonderful Spirit of Christmas in our individual lives and in homes.
Thank you for being there for us. Many of the blessings that are ours are as a result of your prayers for us. We are grateful for the health we are enjoying. (I - Hugo-am now completely recovered from the kidney stone problems.)
We love you and wish all of you a wonderful Christmas season.
See you all soon,

The Second Candle is Burning

The second candle is burning. A sign that the Christmas season is in full swing. Some of you have asked what this tradition of the four Advent candles mean. So, here it is: "Der Adventskranz hat eine lange Tradition, die immer noch sehr gepflegt wird. Immerhin dienen die vier Kerzen nicht nur der zeitlichen Orientierung der Festtage, sondern symbolisieren mit der Zunahme des Lichts die vier Adventssonntage sind of Papst Gregor den Grossen zurueckzufuehren: Die vier Wochen sollen 4000 Jahre versinnbildlichen, an denen die Menschheit auf die Ankunft von Jesus Christus warten musste." Now you know!
This past week was a very busy week, full of activities. There was no time for even a short afternoon nap. We were either driving to, preparing for, shopping for or attending some event. We almost forgot that they even removed three kidney stones for my (Hugo) body. We were lucky and I only had to stay in the hospital on Monday and Tuesday. This coming Wednesday they will go in and remove a stint and the ordeal will be over with.
We had a good group of young adults out for the institute class and the meal afterward last Thursday. We did not get home until quite late. On Friday morning we left before breakfast to take the 2 3/4 hour drive to Hannover for our Senior Couples Conference. The Couples get-together was not all meetings. We even went about the serious business of "shopping". We learned that the Sisters do not loose the urge to go shopping, just because they are on a mission. It may have been the fault of the place we visited. A place like the "Steinbach Nutcracker Factory" was just too much of a temptation. They not only know how to make beautiful things out of wood, they also know how to keep us brethren occupied while the sisters find just the right gift. They served us peppermint tea and all of the great German pastries we wanted to eat. I was proud of Anina; she bought the least amount of all of the couples.
At the "Out-Reach Center" in Hannover we enjoyed a great time with all of the Senior Missionary Couples from our Mission, as we shared ideas and had a nice Christmas program. We had a nice meal together. We could not stay because we had to hurry back to Dortmund. The Young Adults had a Dance Evening and we needed to be back for that by 8:00 PM. The dance was well attended and some came from other places around Germany. We even enjoyed visiting with four Young Adults that we knew from Bremen. We all had a good time. The dance went until 12:30 AM (just past midnight). By the time we cleaned up everything it was 2:00 AM. It was a long and exhausting day.
The next day we could not even sleep in, for preparations needed to be made for our Young Adult Christmas part on Saturday. Also, the kids from Bremen had breakfast with us in our apartment.
Today is Sunday; we are having a hard time keeping our eyes open. Looking at our calendar, this coming week will not be much better. Anina keeps saying, "when we get home in a couple of months, we are going to sleep for a couple of weeks".
We are beginning to worry about a replacement for us here in Dortmund. The Mission President has not heard of a couple that may be coming. There is such a great need for couple missionaries. There are just not enough couples to take care of all needs of our Hamburg Mission. The President keeps asking us if we know of someone we could recommend. There are four couples that will be leaving within the next three months and no word from the Missionary Department of any that are coming. It has even been suggested that if we do not find a replacement that we come back and finish the work. As a second thought, there is no such thing as "finishing the work".
We better close for now.
Enjoy this wonderful Christmas time of the year.
May the Lord bless you all.




All of the couples at the Steinbach Factory ( 4Dec2009).

Sister Thompson (Mission Presidents Wife) accepting accepting a needle point art picture from all of the couples. (Anina found this beautiful picture in an antique store).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BEAR 1999 - 2009




Missing Bear

His warm fur against my feet
His doing a "trick" for a special treat
His big, brown eyes that understood
All my frustrations and efforts for good.

The "Wildness" in him that stirred my soul;
This "silent" friend that accepted my goals.
His soft, low "growl" when he wanted "out",
And the extra nudging with his snout!

He was "Dasher" and "Dancer" all rolled into one!
Our walks on the beach; the chases, the fun!
Brushing his "coat" until it just glistened!
He'd stand there and love it and listen and listen!

He's walking ahead of me now, on the trail;
Shaking his collar and wagging his tail
Checking to see if I'm close with the "truck"
Knowing "his" presence assures me of "luck"!


Anina Diederich

THE FIRST ADVENT

In Germany, today is the first day of the Christmas season. It is the "First Advent". The first of four candles is now flickering. The Christmas Market here in Dortmund is in full swing. Christmas decorations are every-where. We put up our Christmas decorations at the Center For Young Adults only yesterday. It is sad that we are missing another Christmas away from our Family, but we are glad to experience our second Christmas season here in Germany. They have some very wonderful Christmas traditions that we will enjoy. We already have invitations for Christmas Eve with a wonderful couple that lives in the city of Hagen. The Couples Missionary Christmas Conference is this Friday in Hannover. We will have the Young Adult Christmas Party this coming Saturday. The Ward Relief Society will have their Christmas Party this Tuesday. The Ward will have their Christmas party a week later. We will have to be in good shape to participate at all of the activities that are planned.
At our Ward in Dortmund we completed a 40 day fast for missionary work. Every day for the last 40 days a different person fasted and we all ask the Lord to bless us in our Missionary effort. Right after church we all brought something to eat and we all enjoyed a meal together at the ward.
Our Mission President called yesterday and ask us to conduct two Baptism interviews in the City of Essen. We had a great experience doing that this afternoon. We are having two baptism dates here in Dortmund and we hope and pray that those good people will be able to follow through with that commitment. Our missionaries are working very hard.
We don't know where the past week went. It was a very busy one with something to do everyday.
The Elders left a few minutes ago. It was nice to have them with us. Before thy left they gave me a wonderful blessing and put my mind at ease. Tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM I will check into the Hospital. I am scheduled to have surgery in the morning to remove the Kidney Stone. We are praying that conditions will be just right this time so they are able to do that without complications. They told me that I will be in the Hospital for at least three days.
Last night in our sleep we heard some loud noises. It was not until this morning that we recognized what all that screaming was about. The Internet gave the score of the BYU vs Utah football game. It must have been some kind of game with overtime and all.

!!!!!!!!!!GO BYU FOOTBALL!!!!!
We are doing well and are happy to be on the Lord's errand.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crazy Week

We both decided that it was time to find some medical help. We found a good urologist near our apartment and so started a roller-coaster journey of the week. I, Hugo, received a real royal verbal spanking from the doctor, for waiting so long to ask for help. After a short examination and x-rays, etc, he send me directly to the Hospital. Once in the hospital they took me to a surgery room where they relieved me of a blockage between the bladder and the kidney. When I woke up in a hospital room I felt a lot better and thought that we could go home. When later the doctors came into the room, they informed me that they would schedule surgery to remove the kidney stone on Wednesday morning.
On Monday evening a few from the Young Adult Center came to the hospital for a visit and to have our Family Home Evening right in the hospital room. At the conclusion of the Home Evening we all had a prayer to ask for the Lords blessing. It must have seemed strange to the patient next to me. He is recovering from a cancerous bowel surgery. We even asked him before the prayer if he would like us to also pray for him. He did not know what to say, so he just said, no. After they all left, the man asked me what that was all about. That gave me a chance to tell him about a God in which he did not believe. For the next two days we had some wonderful conversations about the gospel of Christ. He told me before we parted that he wished he could believe the things I told him. I told him that this was a good start and for him to pray about it, and the Lord would let him know that there really is a God.
On Tuesday I was told to relax and heal, so I would be ready for surgery on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday morning they took me into surgery to remove the stone. When I woke up after surgery, I felt right away that something went wrong. My thoughts were confirmed later on that evening when a team of doctors came into the hospital room and they told me that could not reach the stone. So, they stabilized the stone and inserted a couple of stints and rod. That way they will try to expand the opening. This process will take about eight days. The bottom line is that I am scheduled to go back to the hospital on Monday the 30th of November for another attempt to get the stone removed. They told me to count on another 3 day hospital stay. We will all be glad to have this experience behind us.

All of the above is probably more than you want to know or more than I should have written.

The institute and out-reach center is still doing well. Today was a busy Sunday with several appointments. Tomorrow morning is our conference call when we will all find out who of the missionaries will be staying and who will be transferred throughout the Mission.
The Lord is directing His work and truly blessing us. We feel of His spirit especially in times of difficulties.
May you all be blessed, We will be thinking about all of you on Thanksgiving day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ST. NICK

The picture is one that Anina took in front of our apartment. It is a couple that has walked by our apartment a few times. Anina one day ran to get the camera and asked the couple if she could take their picture. They just smiled and in German told her that they could not understand her. So, she pointed to the camera and just said "smile". They did and this is the result.
Anina came back into our apartment and said:"I just met and took a picture of Mr and Mrs Santa Claus before they head for the North Pole". For all that I know, she may be right. There is only one problem -- I thought that Santa Claus understood English. Well!!!!!!!

THE BITTER AND THE SWEET

There are lessons we must learn many times during our journey hear on earth. In order to really enjoy and appreciate our heath one must go through some periods of pain. I have had a few moments like those as a kidney stone decided to move. To some of you, I don't need to tell you the pain such a stone can cause. On the other hand it feels so great when that little stone (I hope little) decides to go to a place that does not hurt. So far it has not decided to exit yet. The whole day today was great and we were able to go to church. We will see what the next few days has in store.
It is late and we will make this writing short. The regular Church block was great. We enjoyed having a few investigators to church.
The young adults conducted a special Sacrament meeting this evening. President Zarse, our Stake President was the main speaker. Following that meeting we enjoyed some refreshments that Anina prepared. We concluded the evening by listening to the broadcast of the CES Fireside where President Uchtdorf was the Speaker. We had about 40 of our young adults that really enjoyed what he had to say. Anina and a few others went into another room to hear it in English.
We are doing great and are enjoying our association with all of the Young Adults. We also enjoy our work with the Elder and Sister Missionaries. We have a good group serving within our "Outreach Area". Some are bringing some young investigators to our Institute Classes and to some of our activities like we had tonight.

Halloween in Germany

Anina was home on Saturday evening to answer the door bell for any Halloween "trick or treater's" and we had only one group of three that came to our door. As I came home, I noticed a lot of kids in the town square making a lot of noise. Each of our missionaries carved a pumpkin and that was about all of the Halloween experience for us this year.
The young missionaries have been teaching a wonderful family. The whole family is not yet ready to be baptized, but the mother told us today that she wants to be baptized on the 21st of November. We hope that the rest of the family will not be far behind. The family is a neighbor of the Bishops family and the Ward has been very supportive in befriending them. The announcement was made in our Fast and Testimony meeting today. We had a good and spiritual Sacrament meeting and I was moved to talk about the gratitude for having the Gospel in our lives. We, back home take so much for granted. We sometimes feel that we have to much to do. There seem to be so much more that is expected from the Saints to do here in a part of the world where there are few faithful members of the church. This morning in our combined priesthood meeting the priesthood leaders handed out an updated list of Home Teaching assignments. Most of the Home Teaching pairs have between 12 to18 families to visit each month. They are scattered some 30 to 35 Kilometers apart. Some are very hard to get a hold of and some may have even died or moved away. The priesthood leaders said, that they tried to give at least 2 active families to each pair of Home Teachers. The Bishop said that he would like a report if possible during the next three months about everyone on the list. The thought came to me about how many of us at home (Cottonwood Stake) would be up to that task, besides supporting the missionary efforts, the Temple assignments and others. Some have done this long before we came to help and they will continue to do the work after we go home to our own comfort zone. The longer we are on this mission the less critical we become and the more we are in awe of what they are doing year after year. Many of the faithful members are young families with small children. It makes us tired to just think about the task.
This past week we spent some time working and updating (cleaning) some of the missionary apartments. It seems to be a constant struggle to have the Elders apartment in an acceptable condition. The Elders are hard on apartments and are able to turn a nice place into a disaster very quickly. Oh, Mothers, teach your prospective Missionaries how to clean a place. Fathers, teach your Sons how to make minor repairs. Even if it is a temporary repair with duck tape. Tomorrow morning we will drive some 125 Kilometers away from Dortmund to try to repair a broken drain pipe. We hope that we have enough time so that we are back for our home evening at our Young Adult Center.
We are still experiencing some good attendance for the institute and the meal for our Young Adults. It is a joy to associate with them and feel of their spirit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An extra hour of sleep

We enjoyed a long day yesterday (Saturday). It was a day of activities for the young adults of the stake. In the morning the Stake Presidency conducted a class for the Young married people of the stake. We just called it "eternal marriage". Even us old marrieds learned a thing or two about relationships and how to make things work when two people come together in a marriage relationship. It was of interest to note that couples in Germany experience the same difficulties as they do in the States. It does take some effort and willingness for both partners to make the marriage an eternal marriage. We had a laugh or two as we discussed the difference between women and men. (you know about the Mars and Venus idea).
In the afternoon we enjoyed meeting with the single young adults. We had a class-room activity to begin with. Other activities included cutting up pumpkins, baking pumpkin and baking pumpkin cake. It was supposed to be an American Style Halloween activity. Some kids enjoyed it and others thought that it was crazy!! For some of the young adults it was the first time that they had cut out a pumpkin and they laughed at what crazy things the Americans do on Halloween! Some played games and others just sat around and had a good time. All enjoyed one American food, Chocolate Chip Cookies that Anina made. Altogether we had about 40 young adults (marrieds and singles) that participated in the activities.
We came home very exhausted and we were glad that an extra hour of sleep was ahead of us. Last night was the end of day-light savings time. -I just remembered that there is another clock that needs to be changed.-
We think, that we mentioned before, that as a mission, we are receiving fewer missionaries. There have been some changes and there will be more changes coming as the number of missionaries will be reduced on a gradual basis by the end of the year. Where we had six Zones in our Mission we now only have five Zones. There are still a couple wards in our mission that have two sets of Missionaries, which will change.
There have been some of you dear friends who have written to us about how well our grandchildren doing and how happy we should be for their accomplishments. We are always full of joy when we hear that our family is active and enjoying the Spirit of the Lord in their lives. We all need to work hard to listen to our leaders and parents and to live the gospel teachings of the Savior. This is the only way to truly be happy and find joy and fulfillment in this life. Heaven will not be the same if any of you are missing!
Just a couple of pictures that show a few of the young adults laughing at the crazy pumpkins they carved. The other picture is Anina with a couple of the young adults in the kitchen.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Conferences, A Wonderful Way of Life

There is General Conference, Zone Conference, Mission Conference and Stake Conference. We have had all four of those Conferences within a three week period. We are not complaining, for they all are great spiritual experiences. All of those conferences give us renewed strength and courage to continue the work of the Lord. These are times of learning and help us stay close to that "rod of iron". They are times when we learn to appreciate the leaders the Lord has given us in the Church of Jesus Christ.
Today was the Dortmund Stake Conference. Our Stake Center in Dortmund is not big enough for the whole Stake, so we had to travel to the city of Herne. There we met in a city auditorium. It was not quite the same as meeting in our own stake center. The most important thing, however, was that the Spirit was there and that the Saints were able to be together in such a large group. It was especially interesting to see how many people we have learned to love and are good friends with from all over the Stake.
The highlight of the week was our Mission Conference that was held in Hamburg on Saturday morning (October 17, 2009). It is quite a distance from Dortmund to Hamburg (about 350 Kilometers). We were asked to travel up to Hamburg on Friday and stay at the mission home for the night. We also took with us the two Sister Missionaries (Sister Seiter and Sister Jensen). We left a couple of hours earlier so we could stop and spend some time in Bremen. We spend some time in the old city center and Anina actually did some shopping. It took us a lot longer to travel the distance to Hamburg than was expected. Just like in the USA, there are a lot of construction projects here in Germany. It seems like most of the Auto-Bahn is under construction between Dortmund and Hamburg. (We think that it has something to do with "jump starting" the economy.) There was one stretch that took us 1 1/2 hours to travel that should have taken us 5 minutes. If we would have realized that it was such a big problem we would have taken a different way, but once you get into it there was no way to escape.
The conference was well worth our efforts. It was the first time of our mission that we had a whole mission conference. It was awesome to get together with some 124 missionaries and our Mission President. Then we had the great opportunity to be instructed by Elder Wondra of the Seventy and Elder Russell M Nelson. We did get to shake their hands . Elder Wondra, when he saw our name he wanted to know if we were related to Elder Stephen Diederich. He remembered our Stephen. We told him that Stephen has 2 children and another one on the way. He was glad to hear that Stephen is doing well.
There were so many things said and we made many notes. One of the things that come to my mind now, is that we must do all we can to be ready for that day that Nephi talks about in 2 Nephi 9:41 and what we must do is in vs 45. As good as the words were that were spoken, the most wonderful part was the Spirit that was felt by all. There definitely is something special about the office and the mantel that accompanies the members of the twelve. We were given an Apostolic Blessing at the conclusion of Elder Nelson's remarks. This we will cherish and hold on to for the rest of our mission and beyond.
We are encouraged by the progress that is being made here in our "Center for Young Adults".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We Need the Rest 11_11_09

Besides our normal Missionary Activities and "Center-for-Young-Adult" Activities we were involved in a couple of other happenings. We took the Sister Missionaries from Dortmund to Bremen where they performed during a "musical Open House evening".
The new Ward House in Bremen is finally ready. It is a very beautiful and spacious new building. It is more like a stake center. It also includes a very nice Center-for-Young-Adults. Secretly we are wishing that we could go back and finish out the last few month of our mission in Bremen. --No chance, but it is fun thinking about it!
While in Bremen, we took an hour to visit the old City Center, had an eating appointment at two places, toured the nice new facilities and enjoyed the musical program. It was an exiting time meeting and visiting with some of the Saints from the Bremen Ward. The musical evening was a very nice event.(We will try to send a picture of all those that performed during the program.)
The two Sisters from Dortmund are very talented musicians.(Sister Seiter plays the violin and Sister Moline is good on the piano). Another set of Sister Missionaries drove down from the city of Keil to be in Bremen. (Sister Jones and Sister Folsom.) Both of these Sister have beautiful voices. We will try to send another picture of all the Missionaries that were there for the evening. We sent a picture of the Missionaries to our Mission President and told him that we had a Bremen Zone Conference with-out our president. (We are not going to tell you what he wrote to us in return.)
It was a full day, and then some. We would liked to have stayed in Bremen for the night, but thought it best to return, for the next day was another day filled with activities. We arrived back in Dortmund at 2:00 AM.
Our Ward in Dortmund had a musical program scheduled for a long time. The Sister missionaries were asked to perform. Sister Seiter and Sister Moline asked one of the Elders to come to Dortmund and help with the program. President Thompson gave permission for Elder Wadsworth to play the guitar (he is an amazing guitar player! The Sisters also invited one of their investigators who plays the Violin to join them for the wonderful musical performance. The members of the ward and the missionaries passed out a lot of flyer's and invited many friends to the musical event. We were hoping for a greater turn out, but still had a good number.
Today is Sunday and we just came home from our church meetings. I (Hugo) had to teach a Sunday-school lesson, something that is still stressful because of the limited language skill.
This evening at 6:00 PM the four Dortmund missionaries are coming to our home for dinner. Anina is working hard to prepare for the meal. We wanted to have the missionaries over for dinner, for Elder Thompson is going home this week and it is likely that one of the Sisters will be transferred this week.
This next week there are several places we need to be at the same time, so we need to figure out how to accomplish that.

There is nothing more important than to stay close to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to hold on to that "Rod Of Iron".
We love you all.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Great Conference Week End

This past Saturday was "der Tag der Deutschen Einheit". It was 20 years ago that the two Germany's were allowed to come together. It is a big day of celebration and a national holiday.
It was also the weekend of general church conference, because of that we did not see much of the celebrations. We enjoyed watching all of the sessions (including Priesthood Session), only the Sunday afternoon session we will see in a couple of weeks. (We may jump the gun and watch it on the Internet.)All of the messages really touched our hearts and as a result we hope to be better disciples of Christ. The other plus for watching conference was the feeling of getting a little bit of "Home". Home seems to be so close and yet so far away.
We look forward to enjoying conference with family again. I miss going to priesthood with our sons and grandsons. So, get ready for April 2010.
General Conference was not the only conference of the past week, for we had our every six week Zone Conference. Both the Bielefeld Zone and Dortmund Zone came together here in Dortmund for the conference. It is always great to get together with all of the missionaries.
The other activities also went well for the week with good participation from our Young Adults. At our Institute night we had such a good group that we ran out of food, so the young people could not have second or third helpings.
We look forward to a great and busy week.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A great week and weekend 9/28/09

When we see 3 people join the church, all of the heart aches go away and it makes up for many rejections. Our Mission President called me last week and asked if I would conduct a baptism interview, because of a very sensitive nature. It was a single mother with two of her children being baptized. One is a young adult and has been visiting our young adult program. We have never seen the repentance and cleansing process so vividly before. The great Atonement of our Savior is truly sufficient for us all regardless of our past shortcomings, if we truly repent and turn to the Savior. Our Mission President drove for 3 1/2 hours to attend the baptismal service to see three of his Elders baptize one person each. It was a great event that will not be forgotten by many of us for a long time.It is Sunday today and the meetings went well although the attendance was sparse. If the Saints would realize that it is important not only for them to make the effort, but they would also help the work to progress in this part of the Lords Kingdom if church attendance would become a priority. For the investigators we would like to have made an impression of a more vibrant group of people. It seems that for the slightest excuse people stay home. Even those with assignments sometimes just don't show up and substitutes need to be found at the last minute.
(The above was written during a short period between our church block and our afternoon and evening activities.)Well, it is now Monday morning. It was past 11:00PM when we came home very tired. We celebrated a very successful opening of the Institute year and also had a rebroadcast of the CES Church-wide Fireside. Then we had a wonderful meal afterward. It was a great evening where about 45 Young Adults and about 16 Priesthood leaders with their Spouses were present. I had a speaking assignment, luckily it was a short talk that I was expected to give.
As soon as we get this letter on its way, it will be time to prepare for our Home Evening food and activities.
This week we will be having a Two-Zone Conference here in Dortmund. Our Institute class and meal is scheduled for Thursday. We are looking forward to the weekend of General Conference when we should be able to, via satellite, watch all of the sessions.
We are grateful that our health is doing very well. We do tire a little faster, but they tell us that this is normal. We continue to pray for all of our family and hope that the gospel will always be at the center of their lives.

Oh, the innocence of little children 9/20/09

We just returned home from a wonderful Sacrament meeting. It was the primary's sacrament program in our ward. The language spoken may be different from the one you have had or will have in your ward, but the spirit is the same. Yes, there were some laughs, not for what they said , but the way they said it. We even had a ten year old boy who was visiting with his family as an investigator read a couple of sentences from the "Proclamation of the Family". It was so wonderful to see the parents and grandparents smiling and enjoying every minute of it. It was evident that there was a lot of love and joy. It was contagious and we did not wanted to leave the meeting. To have "joy in your posterity" is a real and a wonderful blessing.
This last Friday we participated in another wedding for one of our Young Adults. The Groom comes from the Southern part of the country, so they had the civil marriage in his home town and afterward drove to the Frankfurt Temple to be sealed and than drove to Dortmund for an "Hochzeitsandacht" meeting (a short spiritual meeting conducted by the Bishop) and then for the "Hochzeitsfeier" (Wedding dinner and Party). It had to be a long and very tiresome day for the Family. The joy was real and wonderful as a monumental milestone in the lives of Aaron and Franziska was celebrated.
Last evening the Stake put on a great musical presentation. They sang and performed to the music from the 1950's. The stake house was filled to capacity with members of the church and many who are not members of the church. It was a great missionary tool. It was a lot of fun!
This past Thursday we enjoyed to opening of the new Institute year and we had a good group of Young adults. It was the start of the Book of Mormon study for the year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pay Days

Sometimes it is hard to measure success. It seems that no one is keeping score. We just work and hope. But every once in while we see a score and that keeps us going till the next time we are rewarded with a success. Yesterday the Sister Missionaries had a baptism. A young adult that they contacted through street contacting, only about three months ago. He is a refugee from Africa and speaks only English. The baptism Service was conducted all in English. A Councilor in the Bishopric conducted the service and the Bishop spoke. They did a remarkable job. Martin is a well educated young men. He lives in a group home with a lot of other refugees. To the baptism service he brought several of his friends. We hope that they too felt the wonderful Spirit that was at the baptism service.
You may have read that the Church closed the Temple in Nigeria for safety and security reasons for an undetermined period of time. There is a lot of unrest in that country and Germany has taken in a lot of refugees from that land. He is taking some schooling in Germany and hopes that he can go back sometime to his own country. The Ward has given him a very warm welcome. It was good for the ward to provide some wonderful refreshments for all of those that came to the Baptism.
Today is Sunday and he was confirmed a member of the Church. We wished we could have been there, but we had an assignment to be at the Mülheim Ward today. It is a Ward that is about an hour drive from Dortmund. Several of our Young adults live there and we were to give them some encouragement to make the effort to come to more of our activities at the center. Anina encouraged them by providing some of her home made cookies at the Sunday-School class and in her way, letting them know that they are loved. At Sacrament Meeting one of the assigned speakers did not show up, so the Bishop asked me to do double duty. It is surprising of what can be done when the Lord helps you. The Spirit was at the meeting and the message was well received.
The other wonderful thing that happened was a wedding that took place on Friday. It was a wedding or sealing that took place in the Frankfurt Temple. In fact the young couple are making their home Oberhausen. Oberhausen is located with in the Mülheim Ward. It was good to see them at the services today.
This next Friday there will be another wedding for one of our Young Adults sisters, who waited for her missionary to return from a mission. One of the barometers of success of an Out-Reach Center is the number of temple marriages that come from a center.
This next week there is another Baptism scheduled in the Hamm Ward. A lady that is originally from Vietnam, who owns a couple of restaurants is getting baptized with two of her children. The Son that is getting baptized is a young adult and has been coming to the center for the last couple of weeks.
Needless to say, with all of that activity we are keeping occupied and are enjoying our work.
We close with this week's report.


The picture shows the new convert, Cyril Martins; the two Missionaries, Sister Seiter and Sister Moline and Bishop Wojciechowski (Bishop of the Dortmund Ward).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Still Going Strong

This past week was transfer week. Our Young Missionaries who received a new assignment had only one day to pack and get to their new field of labor. One of our Elders figured out how to get an extra day. They locked themselves out of their apartment. They took the train and arrived after midnight and rang the doorbell of the Zone Leaders in Dortmund. There they stayed until the next morning. They borrowed our car and drove to Una to see if they could break in. By the time they ruined a door to get into the apartment, it was too late to join the other Elders to travel to his new assignment. Since it is never a good idea to have any missionary travel alone, it was decided to have us drive him to Hannover. We left early Friday morning to Hannover. It took a little longer than we expected because of construction slow downs. We had to be back for an appointment in Dortmund by 3:00 PM. We barely made it and we were only 5 minutes late.
We had some great Institute and Outreach activities with good attendance from our Young Adults. Yesterday (Saturday) the Ward sponsored an Open House. The Missionary Sisters held a musical concert that was a real hit! Both of the Sisters have some great musical abilities. Sister Moline at the piano and Sister Seiter plays the Violin. Sister Seiter is an amazing violin player. The people enjoyed it so much that they were asked to put on a concert. They are planning to do just that on the 9th of October. The Ward had an Emergency Preparedness demonstration, the Relief Society Sisters prepared some food for all of the visitors, the young Adults played games. The Genealogy center gave some classes. A financial adviser gave some tips on how to stay out of debt. At the Institute we taught mini lessons every 15 minutes and Anina served waffles to all that attended classes. Many of our members invited friends and neighbors to the open house. The Missionaries handed out many fliers. We were hoping for a greater attendance, but we were satisfied and feel that it was a great success.
It was fast and testimony meeting today and it was good to hear the wonderful testimonies that were given. We had a couple of investigators at the meeting today. There is a baptism planned for this Saturday and we hope and pray that all will go as planned.
Last evening I woke up in the middle of the night because I could hear some loud noises. I got up, and while I was up, I looked at the Internet and figured out where the noise was coming from. I must have heard the cheers from the BYU fans all the way over here in Germany! This morning I called a couple of Elders and told them of the news and for some reason or another they would not believe me. They may have to wait until tomorrow, their P-day, to learn that BYU really won the game!
We are looking forward to another full week of activities. We may even include fixing the broken down door, if it can be fixed. It is too bad that the Elder that caused the problem won't be here to help in that project!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Senior Missionary Conference

The senior missionary conference turned out better than we had dreamed it would. All of the planning paid great dividends. It was a little stressful to keep a tight schedule and do all of the things we had planned. We learned that it is much harder to get those senior missionaries to follow a planned schedule than it is to get a bunch of scouts to follow instructions. There were always a few that could not keep up and two or three that had a hard time walking. We were glad that we build in some extra time to arrive at the next location. As we visited the small villages, the comments from everyone were "that's the way we pictured Germany" or "finally I see the Germany I thought we were going to see". All of us missionaries work in large metropolitan areas and those cities are very much like the large cities in America. To visit the smaller communities was a real treat for all of the senior couples. The visit to the small country church in Meissner-Vockerode was especially neat for all of us. One of our senior sisters plays the organ very well and it was a joy to hear her play and hear all of us sing some of the stirring LDS Hymns. We are sure that the church has not heard such wonderful music for a very long time. The church building dates back to the year 1540 and the latest restoration work was completed in 1996.
The accommodations for the evening meal, a good nights rest and the breakfast the next morning were very good. Every one could not talk enough about the wonderful food that was provided. We held our conference meetings, Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, in the dining room at the hotel where we were staying. The hotel was in the neighboring Village of Meissner-Germerode (only a 5 minute drive from Vockerode). The conference sessions (two hours Tuesday evening and 2 hours Wednesday morning) were very inspiring and motivating.
Our Mission President just returned from a week long of conferences in England where they met with the new Area Presidency. He tried the best he could to relay the vision that the brethren see for the European Area. We were told that the day of a new awakening in Europe is just around the corner, and that we must prepare the Saints for the challenges that brings. We just kept thinking that we can't wait for that wonderful day.
During the rest of the week we tended to our regular Out-Reach Center of activities. This Saturday evening we held our Young Adult Summer Party. It started at 4:00 PM and ended at 11:00 PM. We had a live musical group from Holland that provided the music for the dance and entertainment. Of course we had a lot of food for all of the young people. After the clean up we finally returned to our apartment way past our bed time.
Today is Sunday and it was nice to relax at church and feel of the Spirit and not have a speaking assignment.
Right now the apartment is filling with lots of good smells from Anina's cooking. At six tonight we are having 8 young missionaries and one student from England join us for Sunday dinner. Anina hopes that we have enough for the "ever hungry" Elders and Sisters.
The every six week "transfer call" was moved from Saturday morning to Tuesday evening. We will learn at that time who will be going where. Those who are being transferred will only have one day to pack up and go to a new field of labor. We feel pretty secure and think that there will be no change in our companionship.
We hope that all of you have a wonderful week. We are being blessed every day. We find great hope in the promise that our families will be blessed during our absence.

All of the Senior Missionaries on the steps of the "Rathaus" in Hann. Muenden. There were 18 of us, and someone is always missing.




The Senior Couples at the "Border Museum" near Bad Sooden-Allendorf.

We are all waiting for dinner to be served. Some of you in the Family will recognize this to be some place where we had a great dinner one evening in Germerode, while Phillip, Heidi and Stephen visited Germany with us a few years ago.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stake, Ward and Outreach Assignment are Plentiful

The longer we are out on our mission the more assignments come our way. We are involved with the young missionaries. We are asked to go with the missionaries as they teach their investigators. It is called "joint -teach". We are involved in the ward activities as much as we can. Then, there is my stake High Council assignment, with all the stake meetings. Today we visited the Hagen Ward and we had to speak in Sacrament Meeting. Two of our Young adult council members came with us to also speak and give the Sunday-School lesson to the Young Adults. Anina baked some cookies for the young adults to enjo after Sunday School class. The Hagen Ward is the largest and most active Ward in our Stake. It was just like going to one of the wards in our own home Stake. They actually had enough Aaronic Priesthood to take care of blessing and passing the Sacrament. The Saints were very friendly and made us feel welcome.
As we talked to the Elders after Sacrament they indicated that they were sad that none of their investigators showed up for Church. As we look back on our experience while on this mission, the saddest feelings come when we think how difficult it is to get people interested in the Church. The push to have greater participation from members to do missionary work is on ongoing struggle. During our High Council meeting the Stake President ask that I give him a report of how all of the Ward Mission Leaders are fulfilling their assignment. So I have been talking to the missionaries and the Ward Mission Leaders. They all are doing a wonderful job, but the work is very slow and very discouraging. I keep having the dreams that we are talking to hundreds of people at the time and that we adding to the fold by the hundreds. Maybe those dreams are a counterbalance to the reality. Maybe, maybe someday these good people in Germany will wake up..
The news is not all discouraging. We are still having good participation at the "Outreach Center for Young Adults". The support from the Young Adults within our Stake warms our hearts and gives us the feeling that the Lord is blessing us.
We have a Sunday Dinner appointment at our Bishops home this evening. They also invited the Elders and Sister missionaries that are serving in Dortmund. We look froward to the visit with that great family.
This next week we will spend a couple of days with all of the senior missionaries from our mission. We are a little nervous for we made all of the arrangement.. We sure hope it will go as planned. We anticipate that we will come away with a lot of new ideas and better ways to be of service.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Somehow We Manage to Stay Busy

Somehow we manage to keep busy. There seems to be something going on every day that keep us out of trouble. We could have had a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon today, but Anina decided to invite the missionaries from our district to dinner. You can always tell on the faces of missionaries when they do not have an invite to dinner, especially on Sunday. So Anina invited the 4 Elders and the 2 Sisters to come and have a pork roast dinner with us. Anina is fixing the meal right now and the table is set already. It is always nice to be with those great young missionaries.
This past week we had our Zone Conference here in Dortmund. The Dortmund Zone and the Bielefeld Zone met together. We are the only Senior Couple in those two Zones. Both of us were given some time in our afternoon session to give a talk. The president called us earlier to invite us to prepare a few remarks on "what a Mission means to us". We were grateful for the advanced notice. It was good for both of us to reflect on that subject. It was surprising to have thoughts that came into our minds as to what we should talk about, so it would be of help for the young missionaries.
The Mission President ask us to plan a Senior Missionary Conference for the 25th and 26th of August. So we have spend some time planning and making arrangements. We are planning to have two conference session where we share ideas and receive instructions concerning our work as missionaries. The rest of the time we will visit places and see things of interest. We just received approval for the itinerary and e-mailed the information to the senior missionaries. We will also send the itinerary brochure to them by mail tomorrow. We will attach for your information a copy of the itinerary. You will see that it is quite detailed and you will quickly see that we will visit a part of Germany where roots of the Diederich Family run very deep. Actually it was fun to put this trip together. We only hope that everything will go as planned. All of the couples seem to be exited about the planes. Most of our work takes place in the large metropolitan areas of Northern Germany. So they look forward getting a taste of small town/village of rural Germany. We will let you know how things went in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

FAMILY

It was a very emotional morning at the Frankfurt Air-Port as we said good by to Heidi and Spencer,Hunter and Heber. The time went by so very fast as we spend ten days together. We were grateful to our Mission President for encouraging us to take some time from our work and enjoy our family. We spend every day visiting places of interest. We were a little concerned if our teen-age grandsons would enjoy the experience. We began our journey in Germany by visiting with some of relatives. Even that turned out great, for the boys had a chance to play some soccer and table tennis with some of the kids their own age. They were taken in by the unique villages, small and large cathedrals, palaces and castles. As we listened to the prayers at meal time and at the family prayers and at the prayers before we left the apartment, we felt that our prayers have been heard. This last Saturday afternoon we attended a major league soccer game. It was a game that was played in Dortmund. It was a game between two great rival teams (Dortmund vs Köln). It turned out that Dortmund won the game 1:0. It was an awesome sight to see 81,300 fans at the largest stadium in Germany. We were lucky that we were able to get some tickets, because this was the first game of the season and it was completely sold out!

We will long remember with fondness the wonderful time we had together.
This coming week, it is back to work. It will be a busy week.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A wonderful relaxing Sunday

It is Sunday afternoon. The sun is out and it is very comfortable outside. It is approximately 70 degrees outside. It is ideal for a nice walk. During the week it rained every day, but that did not stop us from going places or talking to people.
We said good bye to three young missionaries that were transferred (Elder Questereit, Elder Wecker and Sister Fowkes) and welcomed three others in their place (Elder Clegg, Elder Thompson and Sister Seiter).
We have been blessed with good participation in our activities. For some reason we are enjoying good attendance at our Family Home Evening and for our Institute night. Last Monday we had a short spiritual presentation and than had a farewell party for Stephanie Wilson (one of our American exchange students at the university). There were 19 Young Adults, a few over 30 years and a number of Missionaries. We kept a couple of waffle irons very busy, satisfying the hunger for waffles. Stephanie wanted to do something special by getting some American root-beer for root-beer-floats. The comments about the root-beer were from "that's interesting", or "this taste like toothpaste", or "what a way to ruin good ice-cream", or "why would anyone add medicine to ice-cream". The few who had been to America and got used to the taste actually enjoyed it. It is probably not something we will give as dessert after our meals.
Considering that it is Summer break we still had an attendance during the Institute night of 22 Young Adults (plus Missionaries). We hope that this kind of attendance will continue and we can build on that when the regular school year begins..
It has been a week of reflecting on the effectiveness of the work in Dortmund and with the calling that has come to us. There are too many who are not responding, too many we have not reached. We have often commented that we should have had this assignment 5 or 6 years ago when our energy level was 20 years younger. If any of you are thinking of serving a senior mission, our advice is to do it sooner than later.
We can hardly wait for Friday when we anticipate of picking up Heidi and Spencer,Hunter and Heber from the Frankfurt Airport. It will be wonderful to see Family and be able to spend some time with them. Our Mission President suggested that we take some time off and enjoy the visit. We plan to do just that.. If next week you don't receive a note from us, we hope you understand.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Payday, It does not get any better than that!!!!!!

We came home quite exhausted last night and did not have the strength to write as we usually do on Sunday evening. The two trips to the Frankfurt Temple were very special. It was the first time that we went to a Temple in over a year. We attended the Temple on Tuesday as one of our Young Adults that was baptized only a year ago took out his own endowments. It was a great experience for us and for him. We came home that evening and he stayed the whole week. During the week he spent every day, the whole day in the temple doing as much proxy work as possible. On Saturday we drove back to the Temple with many of our Young Adults from the Out-Reach Center. Some of the Young People went on sessions and others performed baptisms. It was a joy to see the young men who went thru the Temple last Tuesday for the first time, doing the baptizing.
It was fun to see a number of young missionaries from the Frankfurt Mission on the Temple Grounds and in the Temple. They get to go to the Temple once a transfer on their P-Day. We told our Mission President about that experience with the Missionaries and he told us that he wishes that our Missionaries could have that experience, but that is not the program since there is not a Temple in our Mission.
Yesterday, Sunday, was a red-letter day in our area. We don't get to see very many people come to the waters of baptism. To have two on the same day is a real treat. In the city of Hamm lives a widowed lady (Monika Della Corte) with three children. The oldest son (Dennis) is about 24 years old. He joined the church some 4 years ago and already served on a mission. His two sister (Davina and Deborah) who are 19 and 20 years old also joined the church. The mother has been very supportive over the years, but efforts by many missionaries and members of the ward seemed to go nowhere. Special fasts and many prayers finally worked a miracle, she was baptized. The Saints in the Ward, the Missionaries from area all showed their support. There were many tears of joy and many embraces. The Spirit of love and true happiness was very evident. She told us that the Temple was her next goal.
We were not able to stay very long in Hamm, for we wanted to drive to the city of Herne. Most of our Student Council and other Young Adults joined us by witnessing another Baptism. It was the Baptism of a very special Young Adult. She had been coming to the Center for the last three months. Daniela Krieger was introduced to the church by her boy friend (Christian), who joined the Church only three months ago. We wish we could show you graphically the influence and difference the Gospel makes in peoples lives. It was a very beautiful service.
The above is the good news. The sad news is, others that we thought who were making good progress decided not to have the Missionaries continue to teach them. So, the finding process continues.
This week is transfer day. The good news is that we are staying in Dortmund. We have mixed feelings about the transfer of both of the Elders. They are being replaced by another set of Elders. One of the Sisters will be leaving us and another Sister will coming to Dortmund.
Tonight, during our Home-Evening we will say "good-by" to one of the students from America that has completed a year of study here at the University. After a short spiritual thought we will have a party for her tonight. We are fixing a lot of fun things to eat and hope the kids will like it. We will miss her, but hope to see her again when we will get home. Stephanie lives in Salt Lake and will finish her studies at the University of Utah.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!


As everyone knows, this past week was Anina's Birthday. We received a lot of cards and e-mails and phone calls from home. We thank you all for the nice things and well wishes that we received.


Her birthday was a very busy day for us. We left early in the morning to drive to the city of Bielefeld where we attended a Zone Conference (a 2 1/2 hour drive from Dortmund). We left the Zone Conference a few minutes early to be back in Dortmund to complete preparations for the Institute and evening meal. The attendance was good and Anina managed to feed some 30 young adults. They enjoyed a nice Salad, Hot Dogs and a Desert and of course some Drinks. During all of those activities we did manage to remember that it was Anina's birthday. During the few minutes at the Zone Conference lunch time the Missionaries (42 of them) sang Happy Birthday to Anina. After the Institute Class and just before the meal the Young adults gathered around Anina and gave her 69 beautiful long stem roses and sang the birthday song again. A lot of hugs were exchanged. It was a very emotional time for Anina and a lot of tears. So, before you ask :"Dad what did you do?", let me quickly say that we did go out the night before and had a wonderful German type meal at a nice restaurant close to our apartment.


Right now, Anina is in the kitchen preparing a meal for 7 Missionaries that she invited to come to our home for Dinner. They will be here in a few minutes. I should probably go into the kitchen and be "good to her", by helping in the kitchen - if she will let me.


Both of us are well and look forward to a very busy week. We are scheduled to go to the Frankfurt Temple twice this week (Tuesday and Saturday). One of our Young Adults is going thru the temple for the first time on Tuesday. He ask the Mission President if we could go with him and his request was granted. The Young Adults of our Stake are having a Temple Outing on Saturday and the Stake President asked for and received permission for us to accompany them.
Thank you for being there for us.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hard Work and Pain

We certainly hope that all of you had a wonderful 4Th of July weekend. We did not hear one single firecracker or see any fireworks on the 4Th of July. The closest thing to a fourth of July get-together came from the missionaries in our Zone. They all got together for a barbecue. We did not even go to that, because of a ward outing that the Elders Quorum sponsored. It was a bike tour, and then we finished with a picnic at the church.


They insisted that I go on that bike tour. They arranged for me to have a helmet and probably the best Bike in the whole group. They kept telling me that the bike would go by itself, it is such a good bike. I will send a picture of part of the group, as we started at the ward. A couple of the older brethren joined us later on the tour. I was by far the oldest in the group. To go on a 46 kilometer (30Miles) ride was not a big deal for most of the young guys, but for one that has not ridden a bike for many years it was a major task. I fell down only three times during the event. It was when we stopped to cross a street or stopped just to rest a minute. I don't know what caused my legs to totally collapse. It was embarrassing. It took a little time to get some life back into those legs and then we were off again. On our way back some of the guys felt sorry for me and offered me a free train ticket to get me back home. We actually passed by a couple train stops as we were traveling. I kept telling them that with such a support group I would achieve the goal and make it back all the way. We traveled on a very nice bike trail (-There are many very beautiful bike trails in this country-). We rode trough tunnels, under bridges, over bridges and mostly under tree lined trails. The scenery was so beautiful and peaceful that there were many times that I forgot the pains in my legs and knees.

There are probably some real good lessons from that experience.
Like;

Many things worth doing takes some real effort and often some pain or sacrifice.
With a good support group we can accomplish many things that seem to be impossible to do.
The reward and joy of accomplishment comes to those that finish, in spite of obstacles.



I am doing well today, especially after some kind and tender care from my Missionary Companion (Anina).

We enjoyed a wonderful fast and testimony meeting in Dortmund today. Anina fixed a very nice dinner for just the two of us. We are in good health and are enjoying our work with the people. We continue to pray that we will find some more wonderful people who are willing to listen to the message of the Restored Gospel.

We are glad that the Stake has called someone to help with meals each week. It should make things a lot easier for us. We have been without any help for the past three months.

May the Lord's choicest blessings be with you all.
Thanks for just being there and being the great support group in our lives.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Joy To See The Fruits of Missionary Work; June 28, 2009



We thought that we wet the appetites of three of our Grandchildren that will visit us just about a month from now. So; Heber, Hunter and Spencer get ready to visit a few of the Historical sights as the Bentheim Castle. The first mention of this largest hilltop castle in Northwest Germany dates back to 1050. We toured the ground of this castle last Saturday. We hope to see it again when Heidi and the three boys come.










This afternoon (Sunday, 28 June2009) we returned from a visit to the Herne Ward. It was great to visit with the Saints and especially to be with the Young Adults. We were surprised to see that Christian Wiezoreck gave the lesson in the Young Adult Sunday School Class. It was the first time that he gave a gospel type lesson. Christian is a convert to the church and was baptized only two weeks ago. The subject was on Belief and Faith. He used scriptures to make his point and he gave his testimony. The class was also attended by a young lady that is investigating the church. In fact the Missionaries told us that she has a baptism date set. Both told us that they would come to the Center for Young Adults this coming Thursday. A couple of others said that they would come if Anina would make the Tacos this Thursday. So, we guess that it will be Tacos for the meal on Institute night this coming week.

We are now in our Summer Institute Schedule. The attendance has been quite good during the last two weeks and we hope that it will continue. Our next challenge will be to increase the participation at our Family Home Evening night.

Next week will be the 4th of July weekend for you in States. For us it will be just another weekend. Our Ward in Dortmund is taking a bicycle tour this Saturday and there are several who insist that I come along. They are trying to find a bicycle for me. I am a little apprehensive about the whole idea. So, wish me well. I will need all the help I can get since I have not ridden a bike for many, many years.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day June 21, 2009


It has been a very hectic week. There has been an activity or event that we enjoyed every day this past week. The most enjoyable event was the wedding of a couple from our Young Adults (Madelein Wahle and Matthias Hiemer). Here in Germany the couple getting married had to have a civil ceremony first: before they could be sealed in the temple. We gathered at an old, but very beautiful palace, about an hour drive from here for the "Standesamtliche Trauung" (the official state wedding). The place is called "Schloss Nordkirchen". We will try to send some pictures of the grounds and palace. Both of the couple come from a fairly large family, so there were quite a few people that witnessed the wedding ceremony. After the ceremony we had a picnic type of a meal as we were gathered in the court yard. I explored some of the ground and found a group that was visiting the palace ground. As I talked to them and asked some questions, I found out that they were a singing group (chorus) from the Northern part of Germany. It was not long until I had a conversation with the conductor of the group. I just mentioned that it would be nice if the group could sing to the wedding party. The reply was instant with: "we would be happy to do that". They quickly assembled on the Stairs in front of us and serenaded the young married couple and us guests. It was cool!

The couple had a lot of pictures taken and then they were of for the 2 1/2 hour drive to the Frankfurt Temple for the Sealing. We did not go to the Temple for we had to be back for the Institute night and the meal for the Young Adults.
The celebration continued the next day with a "Hochzeitsandacht" at 6:00 PM. It was held in the Chapel with the Bride and Groom sitting under an arch of flowers. The Bishop conducted this service. The mother of the bride gave a wonderful talk about the bride and gave some timely advice. The Father of the groom did the same as he talked about his son.

The bishop concluded the service with some remarks. There even was an opening and closing song and prayer. It was a gathering that was mostly spiritual and lasted for about 50 minutes.

Next the wedding party of some 200 guests sat down to a very nice sit-down meal. Many family and ward members were asked to bring some items of food. Anina, for instance was asked to bring a large desert dish. All of this was served buffet style. Right after the meal they showed some pictures on a large screen of the bride and groom. They played some games and even had a dance as part of the festivities. It was a wonderful event. For a few it was a long night to clean up the decorated hall and do all of the dishes. (Everything had to be cleared out, for the Stake needed the hall for a young man and young women event the next day.


Earlier of the week we were asked to help in closing down an Elders apartment in the city of Meschede. Not only did we have to remove all of the furniture, but even had to paint and fix everything that needed to be repaired before we turned the keys over to the landlord. We only had two days to get all of this done. Walking up and down the stairs, to from the 3rd story apartment with all of the stuff dozens of time each day was more than I should have done and I paid for it with some very painful leg cramps most of the night. (I promise to be more careful next time). By the way there was a small Branch of the church in that town and the Branch was dissolved and the few remaining members were added to the Una Ward.
Today, Sunday, we said goodbye to a wonderful family (Roark) that is moving to Budapest. This Ward will miss them very much. She was our Relief Society President and he was on the High Council. In a Ward like we have here in Dortmund it will leave a real void.

In the USA it is Fathers-day today. I am glad that some of the family called today, or we would have missed it since it not celebrated here in Germany.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

When you hear of a special weekend, you may guess that it must have been a baptizing weekend. You are right! We had a baptism this Saturday afternoon. Today (Sunday) at our Fast and Testimony Sacrament meeting Matthias Ilske was confirmed a member of the Church. We felt great to have a couple of investigators to the meeting. We certainly hope that they could feel of the Spirit that was present during the meeting. It is always a boost to our spirits as missionaries to see someone except the Gospel. It gives us hope that there are others out there that the Lord has prepared.

This past Thursday we started our Summer Institute Class. We had some 22 Young Adults (plus 6 Missionaries) attend the class.. Anina was able to make the Food stretch so all were able to have something to eat. We did not expect that many, but hope that we will have this many and more during the upcoming weeks.

Our Mission President encourages the young missionaries to see and experience some of the culture and beauties of Germany, by visiting special places. The Missionaries in our district received permission to visit some of the places that have significant interest to us. So, the eight of us drove in two cars to the small Village where my Mother was born and where I remember some very wonderful childhood years with my Grandparents. We were were able to meet with some family that still lives in that beautiful village of Meissner-Vockerode. We took a stroll in the garden and were able to pick some of the best tasting strawberries on earth. My cousin, Brigitte even had a Strawberry Torte (pie) prepared for us that was out of this world. (My taste-buds are acting up as I write about it.) The highlight was our visit to the very small village church (Karl-Heinz had a key to let us in). One of the Sister Missionaries (Sister Moline) played for us the old pipe organ in that church. It was more than music to our ears, it was an Erlebniss (experience). We visited the Border Museum only a view kilometers away. It was an eye opening experience for the young missionaries to see the "Fence" that separated the DDR (East Germany) from the West. To some of us who remember the "Cold War" between East and West, it brought back memories. To the young people it is only a time in History a long time ago that they understand a little better now.

Before we drove back to our field of labor we were able to visit a couple more beautiful old towns along the way. It was a great way to spend a missionary P-Day.
We are doing great and are still enjoying good health. We do tire easily, but that is to be expected for our "young" age.



The old Pipe Organ in the small Village Church of Meissner-Vockerode. (From left to right, Elder Questereit, Sister Fowkes, Karl-Heinz Bartnig, Sister Moline, Elder Hastings, Elder Wecker, Elder Lawler.






Elders and Sisters (Missionaries) getting ready to enjoy the Strawberry "Torte" (Pie). We (Anina and Hugo) were lucky to a taste of that pie.






We just thought that we show you a tractor that you don't have. Eat your heart out!





Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tagung

A group Picture of most of the Youth at the Moehnesee Tagung.




It is Tuesday morning and we are about to go to our District meeting. We will be finishing this writing probably sometimes later today.
We are finding out that people are reading our weekly message, for some of you wrote to us, saying, that we did not get an e-mail this week.
We returned yesterday late in the afternoon from a four day Young adult "Tagung". (It is like a Young Adult Conference or Super-activity). We left Friday morning to help in setting up and prepare the facility for the arrival of the 48 registered Young Adults. It was a very nice facility in a small village near a most beautiful lake (Moehnesee). The Girls fixed up the upstairs next to the Hall as their sleeping area and boys made their sleeping area in a room next to the Hall. There was a nice kitchen and eating area for the whole group. Two young couple had the assignment to prepare the meals.
3
The activities consisted of a dance on Friday night and one on Saturday night. We held seminars and played a lot of games and listened to a lot of what they called music. In fact we asked at the dance, when they were going to play some music that people could actually dance to, instead of just hearing a loud beat. They did not think that we were funny and told us just to get with it.
On Sunday we held our meetings and had a wonderful Fast and Testimony Sacrament Meeting. A member of the Stake Presidency and many other Young Adults joined us for our Sunday meetings, closing of the Institute Year and Fireside. We were kept very busy in giving talks and helping where we could. Anina spend a lot of time in the kitchen. She also spend a considerable amount of time talking to many of the Young people. They sure love her and treat her just like they would their favorite Grandma. My endurance on the Foosball field with the young men lasted less than five minutes.
We forgot to tell you that we did not sleep at the facility like the rest of the group, but rented a nice "Bed and Breakfast"room only five minutes from the "Schuetzen-Halle" (the Gun Cub Hall). For the mornings we had a nice breakfast with the Host and another couple staying at the same place. The first morning we took the opportunity to tell them what we were doing at the Lake and in general,what we were doing in Germany and told them a little about the Church (Saturday morning). On Sunday morning we again had breakfast with the same couples. We came to breakfast with our Sunday attire, only I did not have a tie. (I forgot to pack one in our suitcase ). I ask the Host if we could borrow a tie for the day. Of course they said, yes and came up with a black tie. The man said that we are lucky, for he bought the tie recently to go to a funeral. He told us also that the tie should be appropriate for me to hold the "Gottesdienst" (Church Services). Next they ask us: "Now, are you "Katholisch oder Evangelisch"? (Catholic or Protestant.) Oh, how did we fail to tell them who we were. So, we tried again and had a very pleasant conversation about the Church and some of its teachings. The next morning (Monday morning) we again sat around the dining room table and having a good German type breakfast.. The conversation started like " I think I know who you are; are you Jehovah's Witnesses?" So, the next 30 minutes we had a good conversation about our Church and a couple principles of the Gospel that made us very different from the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. Just as we thought that we very clearly told them of who we were, came the statement from one of the men: "I think I know now who you are; You are the once that have several wives." With that remark I was never happier to say :"You are getting closer! Let me explain." So we did, and soon left to go to our Young Adult group.
It always surprise us when we think that there are so many people who have never heard of the Restored Gospel. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. We must all do a better job of spreading the "Good News" of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are a little worn out and tired, but we had a wonderful time associating with all of those Young people. Most of the Young people were from the Dortmund Stake. A few (about 12 ) came from other parts of Germany (like Berlin, etc.) There are other "Tagungs" that are held in other parts of Germany and in August is a "Tagung" for all of the German speaking Young Adults for Austria and Germany.
Moehnesee Dam

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Beautiful Day To Go Walking

It has been an absolutely beautiful week. Everything is so green and very colorful. The Germans do like their flowers. In town people may not have much of a lawn or garden, but they have always room for flowers. This afternoon the young Missionaries took our car to make some visits on the edge of Dortmund, so we decided to go for a walk. Our legs are tired, but it was good to have the exercise.
Our Ward in Dortmund had their Ward Conference today. Yesterday they had a Ward cooking contest. The men had to do the cooking and the Relief Society Sisters did the judging. Boy, were they brutal in their comments and judging. I am glad that I decided not to enter the contest and be humiliated. It was really all in fun and we all had a good time. There were even a couple of investigators who joined us for the fun.
We missed the Sunday part of our Ward Conference, for we had an assignment to go to the Essen Ward today. In Essen we actually have a Ward that is larger than the Dortmund Ward. We both had to speak in Sacrament Meeting. We were hoping that the task of speaking would get easier, but it still takes a lot of preparation.
One of our American girls - Stacy, the one that is a nanny, will be going home to California next week and yesterday we met the girl that is taking her place. She is also from California and speaks no German. She took the job that was offered to our granddaughter, Tori, who decided not to come. The good thing about the new girl is that she is also LDS. She is engaged to a young man who will be going on a Mission. We are glad to have another young person that will take advantage of the Center for Young Adults here in Dortmund. We are also glad that the host family is so supportive and allows her to come to the Institute and Ward Activities.
A couple of you have asked how the investigators are coming along.. Even when people are friendly and nice to us, or even when they have that good feeling about the teachings of the Restored Gospel, it is hard to for them to make that big decision. There are a lot of pressures from family and friends not to join the Church. The Missionaries are working hard and some day (we hope soon) we will see some change.