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.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another Lesson Leared or The Same Lesson Learned Twice

Last Thursday I came in late to a High Council Meeting because of a Young Adult activity. I barely took my seat when the Stake President ask me if we could go to the Una Ward this Sunday. I quickly responded with an enthusiastic: "we love to go". It was ten minutes later that I learned that I was to replace a High Councilman that was out of town and give a Sacrament Meeting talk. If I would have known the whole assignment, the response to the question would not have been the same. Burning some midnight oil we completed our preparations and things went well.
We had to decline an invitation for dinner from one of the members of that ward, so we could get home and make preparations for another event on Sunday evening.
It was our turn to host the "Pauderstunde" in our apartment for our Ward in Dortmund.. Even if you are German you may not know what a "Plauderstunde" is. We looked it up in the dictionary. We did not find it in a small dictionary, so we looked into a big dictionary. Sure enough there it was. It is "ein angenehmes zubringen" or "to have a pleasant chat" or to have a "cozy little chat" or "a chatty conversation". Actually it is kind of like a "Fireside", only not as formal. The host chooses a short subject. It does not have to be on a religious subject, but something uplifting. After that we just visit and eat and drink.
It was fun to fit all of the people into our apartment, but it worked well. This is a monthly activity when friends just get together. It is a good chance to get to know some of the people.
Last Tuesday we drove to Kassel with another couple to work on the Elders apartment. The project was a little bigger than we could handle or that our car could hold. We drove down with a Van. Made some very needed repairs, cleaned out the apartment and Keller (Basement room) and took out all of the accumulated "Stuff" that was no longer useful or needed. It was a long day, but we finished the task.
We are sad to hear that some of our dear friend at home have health problems. We pray for you. We know that our family and you friends pray for us. We are being blessed and we are grateful.
Before this turns into a "Plauderstunde", let us just say:
" Till next time."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Our Hopes are High

We know it is late, but there was no time to sit down and write to you yesterday (on Mothers-day). We had a great week and especially a great Mothers-day Sunday.
The Elders and Sisters did not have invitations for dinner, so we invited them, along with a couple of young adults (who are here without family) to dinner. Anina prepared a good meal, very much as she did at home on Sunday for the entire family. By the time we finished eating, it was time to make those phone calls to family and especially to the mothers at home. All four of the missionaries and the two American students, made a call to home or received a call from home during a four hour period after dinner. Our land phone line and three cell phones were going the whole time. As you know the missionaries can only call home two times a year (Mothers-day and Christmas), so it was a big event. Every room in our apartment was used for some sort of privacy during the phone calls. Of course it was great for us to also talk to some of our own family.
It was also a big day for missionary work here in Dortmund. We had 10 investigators join us for our Sunday Services. This is a big number of investigators for this part of the Lords vineyard. It was fun to see the enthusiasm and excitement of the missionaries. We never prayed so hard to have the Spirit of God come into our Sacrament Meeting. We prayed that they would feel that Spirit and recognize it and understand the messages that were given. The special messages about Mothers-day were great. The children's part on the program gave it an extra dimension. Oh, how we prayed that hearts would be softened. At the conclusion of the meeting each one of the Sisters received a potted plant from one of the children. We could not help to see some extra smiles on the face of the investigators. We think that our Father in Heaven heard our prayers and blessed us with our wish. We have high hopes that something is about happen, yes, even a baptism or two.
Last Saturday evening I attended a Stake Priesthood meeting. I am still thinking about a statement our Stake President (President Zarse) made during the meeting. He said that he envisions a time when my grandchildren will ask me: "Grandpa tell me about the time when we had to travel a long time to go to Stake Conference or to our own ward meetings." He further said that he envisions the time when there will be a stake in every city and even more than one stake in some cities.
Maybe, just maybe, this will be the start of something big--even a baptism or two. Our hopes are high!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Only The Right Question Will Give You The Whole Story

On a weekly basis we have been asked to write a report of our activities to our Mission President. As part of that report we told him of one of our experiences during the week.
We made a visit to one of the Elders apartment to make some very needed repairs. (Replace a kitchen faucet and repair an electric outlet.) While I was making the repairs, Anina had a very pleasant conversation with the Elders. Past experience always prompts us to ask the Elders or Sisters if they have a basement room where they store unwanted items. We have for the past nine month always asked the question. The answer for this apartment was always:"we do not have a Keller (Basement room)". Anina happened to comment that it is nice that thy do not have a Keller and than came the right question: "Do you have any place where you store the unwanted items?". The answer was immediately and direct : "we have an attic!"
Anina's reply was: "let's see it!
A trap door was opened, we climbed up the stairs and the shock could not have been greater. It will take a moving van to remove all of the stuff that has accumulated over many years. Old newspapers, broken Christmas ornaments, Church magazines, empty boxes, old clothing and shoes, broken furniture are just a few things we saw. Who knows what more is up there when we get to the bottom.
We asked the Elders to take down the back seats in the car and carefully stack as much into the car as possible. We filled the car completely to the top with bags of old clothing. As I was finished with the repairs, we took one more look and found that we barely made a dent. It will take a larger truck or several trips to clear out all of the "Stuff".
The moral of this story is; "if you don't ask the right question you may not get the whole story!"

All of our experiences are not always very spiritual and faith promoting, but they are experiences from which we can learn.

This past week-end we had a visit from the missionary couple that we replaced here in Dortmund. They are from Provo and made a return trip in less than a year. They attended church with us and afterward we enjoyed a nice meal with them at one of the Dortmund members home.
We had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. The young missionaries even had a couple of investigators, including an elderly couple. It was great to see them and to talk to them. We think that did feel the spirit and we have high hopes.