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


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.