Thursday, December 31, 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.


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


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.