Wednesday, May 30, 2018

40 Days and 40 Nights

We have just finished our “Family History” visit to Germany.  We have felt driven to seek out our ancestors so that they can be liberated from their captivity in Spirit Prison.  We have probably never worked harder in our lives, but our joy is full with the names of our ancestors that the Lord has guided us to identify.  We have felt help from the other side of the veil and have received many tender mercies from the Lord in the process.

Reading microfilm records from the 1600s at the Magdeburg Archives
Early in our mission we participated in our first Personal Finance Self-Reliance Course.  We knew that we were not wealthy but we felt that we had sufficient for our needs throughout our retirement.  However, in the first week of the course, we learned that we did not have any retirement funds at all, but that we were only earthly stewards over resources that the Lord had blessed us with.  This gave us a total change in our thinking about finances. We learned that what we have is from the Lord and that we should spend it as directed by the Lord.  

As we pondered this idea, we felt that one of the ways that we should use these resources would be to take a family history trip to Germany after our mission, to further the work for our ancestors.  Since that time, we made plans for this return trip.  

As has been the case with everything that we have done with Family History, we didn’t really know where this would take us.  As we are now returning from that trip, we are overwhelmed to see the hand of the Lord in this work and all the blessings that He has given us. 

This time in Europe has covered 40 days and 40 nights since we boarded our plane in the JFK airport on Friday, April 20.  A few summary statistics of this trip:

40 days:

5 in the Magdeburg archive - microfilmed Church books from Thuringia parishes
5 in the Nürnberg archive - original Church books from Bavarian parishes
5 with the caretaker of the Muhlhausen Church books of 6 Muhlhausen parishes
5 days, visiting 8 different individual parishes, searching in original Church books
1 day at the Nürnberg regional genealogical library printing Familienregisters
3 days in the Freiberg Temple (during German holidays) 
2 Saturdays in Frankfurt, including 2 visits to the National Bibliotek & doing laundry
4 Saturdays in Steinach a.d. Ens visiting friends old and new and doing laundry
6 Sundays (2 at the Frankfurt 2ndward and 4 at the Ansbach Ward)
2 car travel days (Mondays) from Frankfurt to Magdeburg and Muhlhausen
2 airplane travel days to and from the U.S.

40 nights:

  6 in missionary apartments in Frankfurt
10 in Bavaria with Cristian and Marianne in the home built by my great grandfather
23 in various hotels
   1 night on the airplane

 4,000 miles (nearly 7,000 kilometers):

Travel by car between locations, equivalent of about 70 hours of automobile travel.

We have found this to be exhausting, but rewarding work.  We have spent many hours outside of the parishes and archives in documenting the thousands of images that we have taken at the parishes and archives and preparing for the next day’s visit.

Most importantly, we have been blessed to extend many of our family lines by additional generations and have identified many siblings and cousins of our ancestors.   Every day has been a new and rewarding experience as we have seen the Lord at work in this research.  Many prayers have been answered, some quickly and some slowly. Many opportunities for future research have been identified as we  discover the original villages of many of our ancestors that we were not able to research on this trip.

In the past week and a half since our last blog post we made return visits to Muhlhausen parishes, Nürnberg archives and the Magdeburg archives and visited a few more parishes that we were able to identify. 

Muhlhausen – extended more generations for the Müller, Michel and Harnisch lines.  Could not make any more progress for the Döring line, Johann Georg must have come from outside of Muhlhausen.   

We spent 5 days working in this office as we searched many different Church Books, identifying many ancestors
Dr. Kublik in Muhlhausen has been our very best help in all of Germany.  During our 5 visits there, he has spent every moment with us, researching and reading the records.  We have given him chocolates and taken him to lunch, but it all seems inadequate to express our gratitude.  We felt prompted to give him also a copy of the Book of Mormon with our thoughts written inside.  He accepted it graciously, we hope that it will make a difference for this great man.

Dr. Kublick, the most helpful person in Germany for our Family History efforts

Grossfahren – Found the birth record of Gerhardt, Wilhelm Arnoldt, one of Debbie’s ancestors, identifying his mother and her birth location in another village.  Also added some members of that family.  The father was a beloved school teacher in this village. This took some promptings to get us to the right village as the records we found in the parish office were incomplete. Working on our German language, we we able to ask for further records.  After communication had occurred, the individual took us to the  Grossfahren Church where we found what we were looking for.
In Gossfahren, looking in the correct records of Grossfahren

Grossvargula – Finally found the birth record of Joanna Margaretha Müller, our number one priority of this trip.  Identified her father who was from another village.  See additional comments about the kindness of the pastor in our Möller summary below.

Cool display of dwarfs and other objects in the yard of a home near the pastor's office in Grossvargula

Nürnberg – took one more effort to find the Herold line in different parish books and found records of several Herolds, including my 5thgreat grandfather and several of his family members. 

Magdeburg - Many records for the Atzerodt, Motz and Kindervatter lines, extending their lines by multiple generations and identifying many,  many siblings and cousins. We also were able to find more about Debbie’s Möller ancestors, see the following comments below.

Searching microfilm in Magdeburg
In front of the Magdeburg Archives

This trip started and ended in the search of Debbie’s paternal Möller line, even though our efforts and blessings covered many, many ancestors.  However, this story was a continuing effort the entire time.  Let me summarize this line and what we were able to identify.  This is part of what makes this work enjoyable.  Our ancestors’ stories are clarified and become more personal as we learn more about the facts.  We know that the Lord blesses us as we do all within our power.
When we started we knew the birth location and parents of Christian Wilhelm Möller, Debbie’s 3rdgreat grandfather.  He was born in Dachwig and we knew that his mother was “from” Gebesee.  That is where we began the search:

·     In Magdeburg we began searching in the Gebesee records.  We found the marriage record of his father, Johann Georg Möller.  In the Dachwig records we found the death record of Johann Georg Möller, his mother Margarethe and his wife Anna Maria Hauss. His wife’s death record pointed us to a different location for her birth, Hassleben.  The records for Hassleben are unavailable in Germany at this time, as the books have been sent to be microfilmed.  In our searching through the records of nearby parishes, Debbie was finally able to find Johann Georg’s birth record (spelled Müller) in Bad Tennstedt, born to a single mother, Anna Margarethe Müller.

·     Through contacts with missionaries in the Freiberg Temple and doing the temple work for Anna Margarethe Müller, we were able to identify her birth location from the birth record of her son.  It was in the village of Grossvargula.  We were also able to identify that he was born in a prison in Bad Tennstedt.  We don’t know the reason, but it adds more emotion to the story.  We were able to visit this prison in Bad Tennstedt, which is now a museum, which is not currently open to the public.

In front of the Fronveste prison where Debbie's great . . . grandfather was born
Bars over the openings in the prison

Internet photo of the prison with the neighboring Church behind.  Johann Georg was born in the prison and christened in the Church.

·     We were blessed to make an appointment with the pastor of the Grossvargula parish.  His name is Klemens Müller.  He was kind enough to arrange for his father (previous pastor) to read the old German script in the books and his daughter to provide translation for us.  His offer for us to come was for a day that we were in the area but not committed to other visits, another tender mercy.  We were able to find the birth record of Joanna Margarethe Möller, but no further marriage, death or birth information in the Grossvargula Church books. Her father, Gottlob Möller (back to ö instead of ü) was from Dachwig, back to where we had started.

With three generations of the Müller family helping us with the research of the  birth of  Anna Margaretha Möller in Grossvargula

·     The last two days we were scheduled to go back to Magedeburg and had access to the Dachwig microfilmed records.  Debbie was able to find Gottlob’s  marriage record  and birth records for some additional children.  Apparently he had children born in Dachwig before Joanna Margaretha was born in Grossvargula and also after.  We were able to identify his wife and her birth location in Herbsleben, a nearby village.  This location has been responding to other questions by email and appears to be a great parish to visit, but we have run out of time on this trip. 
Back to Dachwig where both Christian Wilhelm Möller and his great grandfather, Gottlob Möller was born

·     On Gottlob’s birth record we were able to identify his father as Samuel Möller, but we could not find any marriage or birth records for Samuel.
·     On our last day, Debbie searched the death records in Dachwig and found two different death records for a Samuel Möller, each identifying birth ages at death, so we can narrow down our future searches. We will need to look once again in neighboring parishes.  We assume that he came to Dachwig, already married.  

We have been told that each discovery in family history leads to more questions.  In this case we have identified and documented 3 more generations before Johann Georg Möller.  We have identified the location of birth of his wife and his grandmother and determined that there is no identified father.  His great grandmother has yet to be identified. Neither has the location of his great grandfather’s birth or marriage.  Our work will still continue in the future.

We want to note one other matter in our research.  Before we started on this trip, we spent time identifying many family lines to work on. In that process I had identified three different “dead end” lines, where we knew a father’s name and an identified village where he was from.  These had come from marriage records that we had identified during our mission.  

In three of these cases, Daniel Vocke, Nicol Motz and Ernst Heinrich Atzerodt, we took time to do their temple work completely before visiting their cities or  records.  I felt that if we did their work for them, perhaps we could have additional help from the other side to identify their ancestors.  In each of these three cases, we have found some of our greatest results. In each case we have found at least two additional generations and many additional relatives.  We found Daniel Vocke’s ancestors in our visit to the Fritzlar parish.  We found Nicol Motz and Ernst Heinrich Atzerodt’s ancestors in the microfilm records for the villages of Schönstedt and Seebach in Magdeburg.  Our last day in Magdeburg was spent almost entirely taking photos of many, many records back into the 1600s for the Motz and Atzerodt families, even after we had specifically identified multiple generations.  

When I researched Ernst Heinrich Atzerodt’s family on Monday, I found 10 children, including Debbie’s great . . . great grandmother who was married in another village.  I also searched the marriage records and death records and found two marriages for Ernst Heinrich Atzerodt.  On Monday night I was reviewing my findings and realized that the first wife had died after a few years but that there were still more children born before the second marriage.  So on Tuesday I looked one more time at the marriage and death records and found one more marriage and her corresponding death after three more children were born.  I had missed both of these records the day before, but following promptings, we have now identified three different wives and mothers of the 10 children.  The lives of these families were hard, many of the children died in infancy and wives died young.  In this work that we do, we have become “tied” to these individuals as we have understood more of their lives.  Certainly for Ernst Heinrich Atzerodt, I can say that he has helped us identify his three wifes, 10 children and also his father and mother (also from another village) and many more Atzerodt names that most likely are all related once we figure it all out. I believe that there is help from the other side of the veil when we can “liberate the captives” from spirit prison.

Other Stuff:

When we finished our last visit to the Nürnberg archives last Friday, we decided to take a walk near the Pegitz River at a point that it turns into a larger lake.  The Pegitz River is where my grandfather did his baptizing during his mission in Nürnberg in 1902-1904.  We found it a quiet atmosphere to sit and reflect on the many blessings that we had received.  We could enjoy nature and still see the city of Nürnberg beyond the lake.  Notice the partial blue sky in the photo.

Lake from the Pegitz Rive in the middle of Nürnberg
As we finished we were walking back to our car and it started raining.  The forecast had been for rain later in the afternoon, but it was wrong.  Finally, I ran to the car  to get an umbrella while Debbie waited under the cover of a tree.

Waiting in the rain

When we rented our car on-line we were told that we would receive a 3 door car, which I understand to mean two doors and the hatchback of the car.  Our first car rented was a 5 door car and all was well.  When we got the second car, we thought that we had received the 3 door car.  Look at the photo below and see what you think.  

Rental car, 2 door or 4 door?
 After driving the car for a week, it came to the time to take all of our suitcases on our last trip and we needed to put additional suitcases in the back seat.  As I struggled to find a way to move the drivers seat up, I discovered that there were 5 doors, but the handle was way on the upper rear of the door.

We have found Germans to be the masters of building old buildings.  We saw in Muhlhausen the rebuilding of part of the wall around the old city.  You can see in this photo that this section of the wall will be rebuilt and look totally authentic for the period that it was originally 

Part of the wall of the "old city" being rebuilt in Muhlhausen

On our last Saturday in Steinach, I took the opportunity to jog to another neighboring village, Habelsee, just 2 kilometers away  The photos below help to portray what we saw everywhere, many small villages surrounded by farms.  All of the villages seem to have a Church in the middle and they usually have the cemetery behind the Church.  My jog ended up being from Church (in Steinach) to Church (in Habelsee) and back.

Village of Habelsee in the background of the newly planted farm
In front of the Church in Habelsee
2 kilometers back to Steinach a.d. End
Cemetery behind the Church in Steinach a.d. Ens
That last Saturday was also Cristian’s birthday, so they had a special barbecue, inviting family members to come.  This was a good chance for us to meet Cristian and Marianne’s relatives.  It also gave us an opportunity to use our German more.  I believe if we stayed here more consistently, we could improve our German. Certainly I would say that I feel more comfortable with German now than I did 6 weeks ago.  We found Marianne’s brother to be especially kind to us.  He asked questions about the Church. Afterwards we left a Book of Mormon with Marianne to give to her brother.  She felt very comfortable with that.

Birthday Cake made by Marianne for Cristian

Family members at the birthday party for Cristian
We had brought two Books of Mormon for potential use in some of our earlier visits but we had not felt it was right to leave with them.  In the end we were able to share these same two Books of Mormon with Dr. Kublik in Muhlhausen and with Marianne’s brother.

Tom and Debbie with our dear friends Cristian and Marianne
We wanted to give something to Cristian and Marianne to express our gratitude for their allowing us to stay in their home.  Not only did they allow us to stay in their own bedroom, they also fed us the whole time we were there and would not allow us to bring groeried to help.  We have grown to love them even more.  When we gave Marianne a gift she was so excited. We gave her a little ceramic dwarf for her garden that she absolutely loved.  It was a true blessing to us to see her happiness at the end of our visit.
Marianne with her thank you gift, full of gratitude, we love her
Showing her gift to Daisy, her dog

In the last two weeks of our visit, we have noticed that the beautiful yellow blossoms of the rapeseed fields have now disappeared and the fields are now just green as they get ready to harvest.  We are sad to see them go, but we enjoyed them while we could.
Rapeseed field, with just a few yellow blossoms left

As the yellow blossoms are gone in Germany, so are we. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Celebrations and Family History miracles

We just celebrated the completion of the first 4 weeks of our family history trip to Germany.  This has been filled with many blessings from our Heavenly Father as we work on the other side of the veil.  At the same time, we were privileged to be back in Frankfurt am Main to participate in the Pentecost pealing of the bells celebration and to participate in the live streaming of the cultural celebration for the Jordan River temple rededication.  In another 10 days we will complete this journey and return to our home, which will be cause for one more celebration.

At the "pealing of the bells" for Pentecost in Frankfurt am Main

Visiting Parishes and Archives and the Freiberg Temple (and Poland)

In the past two weeks, we have visited six parishes, one regional family research center and spent 3 days in the regional archives in Nürnberg, Germany.  Each experience is unique.  All are positive, some touch us in very special ways.  

One of these was our first experience since the last blog post, a visit to the small church of Heroldishausen.  We had arranged this visit some time ago, through one of the other pastors that had helped us in the past.  We arranged to meet the pastor of Heroldishausen in front of his Church at 10:00 am on Monday morning, May 8.  Our experience there can best be summed up in Debbie's own words as follows:

"Little did I know when we entered the little village of Heroldishausen that I would have an experience that would change my life forever.  We were scheduled to meet with Hans Siegmund in front of the Church at 10:00 am.  When we arrived at the church we found a sweet old man with typical German attire and a walking cane patiently waiting for us.  After a warm greeting he took us into a building and sat us down.  I could tell that he was excited to share something special with us.  He immediately sat down at a very old piano and began to play our national anthem. When he finished he began playing another song.  It was the German national anthem.  As I listened to this music, I was overcome with feelings of great love for my homeland. Tears streamed down my face.  Even as I write this now, tears  are streaming down my face.  I felt like I was home.  I didn’t want that moment in tome to come to an end.  This kind, sweet, loving man put his arm around my waist as Tom took our picture.

Hans Siegmund playing the Star Spangled Banner for us

Hans Siegmund with Debbie

I felt a kinship with this special man.  He had such peace and serenity about him.  We spent a few minutes letting him share memorabilia from the community that he dearly loves.  He told us about playing the organ with a famous guitarist and showed us some pictures of the event.  Tom told him that I played the organ so he insisted that I play something on the organ. Those that know me know I don’t play the organ.  I play the piano and wish I could play the organ.  This organ was a pump organ.  You had to pump it with your feet to make it work.  So here I am in front of a very accomplished organist being asked to play something without music in an old organ that needed to be pumped.  I made up some stuff, then asked if he had a hymnal which he had.  My playing sounded much better with some written music to follow.  It was an amazing, uncomfortable, “once in a lifetime” experience.

1,000 year celebration of the Church in Heroldishausen, held in 2005

Debbie playing the old pump organ
He had done some research on the family name we were looking for.  He even took us to where the old books were kept, climbing up and down a steep flight of stairs.  We spent two hours searching the records he had.  His daughter came in and asked us what we would like to drink.  We didn’t realize that she would come back with a huge platter of open-faced sandwiches typical of German meats and cheeses.  My heart swelled with gratitude for this amazing experience.  

Showing us some of the very old records from the parish
His daughter bringing us a lunch to share with her father

After eating he took us to the cemetery behind the church and showed us where his beloved wife was buried.  She passed away in 2016 and we could tell that he missed her very, very much.

Hans Siegmund by the grave of his wife of over 50 years

In front of the old Church 
When it came time to say “Auf Widersehen” we wished we could linger longer.  Herr Siegmund watched as we got in the car and kept waving at us until we drove away.  This is something Germans do.  I was sad that we had another appointment because I wanted to bask in the glow of what I would call a very spiritual experience.  I felt we had been in the presence of a very holy man who had ministered to my heart and soul.  Thanks be to God."

This is one of the many blessings that we have received.  Without going into the details of each, let me just cite a few of the blessings that were ours:

Heroldishauen - The full experience is noted above.  It included advancing the "Born" line of Debbie's ancestors for a few generations and additional siblings, including the Faust line, which married into the Borns.

Grossengottern - That same afternoon we visited the Grossengottern office.  We were thrilled to find a Familienregister book in that parish.  It was only for the years up to 1758 but had some great information for the Apel, Born and Hirt families which are Debbie's ancestors.  We were also able to add to the information for these families and build a little more around the Schade family.

Pastor of Grossengottern who has been a major help to us
Thamsbruck-The next day we visited the Bad Langensalza parish where we were able to review the records for Thamsbruck where many of Debbie's ancestors are from.  We were able to finish the photos of records going back into the 1600s from several of our lines and specifically traced back the ancestry of the Heinemann and Schleiffer lines which had married into the Stoll lines.  These families are so interweaved with others in the village that we have taken many photos of these many pages of records.  We feel that we are able to not only extend the family lines but add many siblings and cousins of Debbie's ancestors.

Debbie taking photos from the records in the large Thamsbruck parish book

On Wednesday morning we went to the parish of Allmenhausen.  We had been trying for some time to arrange this visit and were able to confirm this visit only the week before.  There we were met by two ladies who are responsible for the books.  They allowed us to look in the books but not take any photos.  So we had to transcribe everything we could find.  We found the marriage of her Ritter line, but finally realized that they had come from another village, which will be a visit for another time.  However, we did extend the line of the Ritter spouse, which we discovered to be Helderung.  Every time you resolve something in family history you open up additional research needs further back in time.

That left us only a little time to visit the Muhlhausen parish once more.  Dr. Kublick has been so helpful.  In just an hour and a half, we were able to find key information on a Muller line, which opened up a few more generations and left us more to pursue in a future visit.  It may have been our most productive hour and a half during this trip.

With Thursday being a holiday, we decided to go to the Freiberg temple again and did ordinances there on Thursday and Friday, rounding out a productive family history week.  One of the ordinances that we did was the initiatory and endowments for Anna Margarethe Müller, Debbie's great . . . great grandmother for which we are missing all of her ancestors.  After the Thursday sessions, we met once again with Elder and Sister Lindsay in their apartment to see if we could tie better into their family history line and find any hints for Anna Margarethe Müller.  After searching for a little, they were unable to find the on-line version of their genealogy book.  Sister Lindsay called to the U.S. to talk to their genealogist without success.

They had a cooking activity with other sisters from the temple to come to their apartment, so they invited us to stay and join them for dinner with the idea to contact the genealogist after the dinner. which we did.  We had a delightful evening associating with 4 more missionary couples and enjoyed a wonderful dinner together.  The food was extra delicious, German Roulade and different dishes and desserts from the other missionaries.  Senior missionaries are always instant friends wherever we go.

Twelve people eating dinner in the very small apartment of Elder and Sister Lindsay.  
Homemade Roulade and red cabbage, etc. at the aparmtent of E/S Lindsay
After dinner we were able to talk to the genealogist in the U.S. and discussed the situation of Anna Margarethe Müller.  She told us that the best source of birth location often is noted in marriage and death records.  Neither had anything noted in this case.  We sent her copies of what we had copied of the birth record of her son and her death record.

The next morning we received an email back from her, stating that she was unable to see anything in the records but gave us an email of a genealogist in Germany she had worked with for the Lindsays, saying that he was much better at reading old German.  I went ahead and forwarded the images to this genealogist, Ronny.  By Friday night we had received an email back from Ronny with a full translation of the birth record, which in fact did identify her birth place, Gross Vargula.  Once he identified it, it became easy for us and others to see who had looked at it previously.

We were excited because their records are in the archive that we will be visiting before the end of our trip.  However, we sent an email to the parish and he responded immediately and scheduled a visit with us this coming Wednesday afternoon.  In fact, his email was in English.  We are hoping that the long search for Debbie's Müller ancestors may be making a positive turn.

In front or our "German" temple in Freiberg on a beautiful day

Friday we signed up to do some sealings after our endowment session, but there were no others available to participate, so we ended our temple time a little early.  We took advantage of the time available and went to visit Poland, which was only a little over an hour away.  We had tried this once on our mission with serious traffic congestion and ended up giving up.  This time all went well.  We went across the border, stopped and bought some things in a store and had a nice mid afternoon lunch, having a restaurant all to ourselves.  After buying gas at a lower cost than in Germany, we headed back to great grandpa's house in Steinach.  It was a four and a half hour drive, but we arrived by 9:00 pm that evening.

Eating in the Polish restaurant, all to ourselves
Restaurant in Poland
Beautiful flowers on the outside of the restaurant
Polish flag flying on a building near where we bought gas

The next week was spent primarily in Nürnberg, 3 days in the regional archive and 1 afternoon at the GFF genealogical library.  We then drove to Fritzlar, Germany, 3 hours away for a Friday 10:00 am visit with the parish there.

At the Nürnberg archive, we tracked down many of Tom's missing relatives, including some that could be found in no other way.  The archive has the original church books for many of the parishes in Bavaria.  We had started work on the Fuchsstadt church books in our previous visit a few weeks earlier, but this week we finished the extension of our family line to several more generations.  We also were able to identify other names from other parishes and made many copies of books for the side of my Grandmother Schlerf, parish of Rittersburg.  We also copied thousands of cards that had been made from the Marktbergl parish where many of Tom's relatives are from.  Even though most of these lines have been completed back to the 1600s, these cards will facilitate adding many siblings and cousins to Family Tree.

Debbie reviewing some of the old Church Books in the Nürnberg archive
Tom reviewing the old books of Uffenheim
We were trying to research another great . . . grandfather Matthaus Herold from Dietenhofen.  After several miscommunications on the books that we needed, we finally received the correct books on Thursday afternoon.  However, we were unable to find anyone of the Herold family in those books.  We are still stumped on this line.

Each night after visiting parishes or archives, we try to identify all of the images that we have captured and organize our results.  This will save us many headaches in the future and is Sister Rueckert's goal each and every day.  Below shows her working in the hotel room, organizing her efforts of that day.  Then each morning we get up and do it all again with a new parish and a new set of relatives.

Debbie naming all of the images that she captures during the day
On Wednesday we had planned to visit the archives in the morning and the GFF Franken genealogy library in the afternoon. However, the Nürnberg archives were closed on this Wednesday which gave us some much needed breathing room.  The Franken Genealogy library is only opened on Wednesdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.    

It was important that we were able to print all of our Fritz Magerlein Familienregisters on this day as we would not have another Wednesday afternoon available on this trip.  The person responsible for the library arrived about 10 minutes late, so we started on our 6 page list of surnames and villages as quick as we could.  Debbie started on the top of the list and I started on the bottom.  We met in the middle at 5:59 pm, with over 500 pages of printed paper.  On the average they have 25 to 30 names on each page.  These names represented genealogies of names and villages where Tom's family history lines ended.  Of those names, even if only 30% are actual relatives, it would be over 4,000 names that can be taken to the temple.

Debbie reviewing the pages printed from the Magerlein Familienregisters
We were exhausted, but felt totally blessed by our Heavenly Father to complete this major task in the time available.  We stopped for dinner and returned to our hotel totally exhausted but happy.
Exhausted with our pile of over 500 pages of names
The 500 pages of genealogical listings, a major treasure

On Friday morning, we awakened early and drove three hours to Fritzlar, Germany, where we visited one more parish where one of Debbie's great . . . grandfathers was born.  We had seen in an earlier marriage record that the father of the bride, Daniel Volke, was from Fritzlar.  When we arrived the Librarian at the Cathedral was waiting for us with research already completed on Daniel Volke and two more generations.  She was a little protective of her Church books, but with our insistence, she continued with even more research and allowed us to take photos.  With this we were able to identify one more set of grandparents and perhaps some siblings.  We stopped after the primary research was completed.

Debbie writing down the research of the caretaker of the Fritzlar library

This office was housed inside the cathedral and is part of a major library of old documents, including letters and books that are nearly 1,000 years old.  It was a special opportunity for us to see major historical documents, including one of only 9 pages that was first produced by the Guttenberg press.

Tom in the "old" library of documents and books in Fritzlar
The old Church in Fritzlar, the library is housed inside this Church
In the old town of Fritzlar, quite charming and German 

Other week day activities:

When we have a few minutes in the different locations, we try to enjoy where we are.  The following are photos taken during these past two weeks:

Smelling the roses at the Bad Langensalza Rose Gardens

Japanese Gardens, also in Bad Langensalza, near our hotel
More Rapeseed fields near Muhlhausen
Large fields of rapeseed near Allmenhausen
Dinner in our hotel room in Nürnberg, from the rotisserie Chicken truck near the hotel
At a gym, getting some exercise on our Wednesday morning that we had off.  Photo is from my treadmill while Debbie is biking below.

Weekend Activities:

We visit all of the parishes and archives during the week.  That leaves our weekends open.  We try to renew friendships, worship in our Sunday meetings, exercise and relax.  The photos below are from some of these activities.

May 12:
Ruckertshofen, a nearby village
In our May 12 Saturday, we decided to go for a walk and run in Ruckertshofen.  This is a remote village about 10 kilometers from where we are staying.  The village is named for the small river or creek in a nearby forested area.  It made for a nice morning activity.

Ruckertshofen creek in Ruckertshofen
Debbie walking in Ruckertshofen.  The creek is in the wooded area behind her
Near some lumber cut out of the wooded areas

When we got home we helped Cristian and Marianne get their garden planted.  They did most of the planting, but Tom helped dig up the ground in preparation for the planting.
Marianne and Cristian transplanting the plants that have been growing indoors

Tom, actually working on this vacation
View of the garden from our bedroom

That same afternoon we were able to visit Werner and Dorota Rückert, our friends and relatives that we found on our mission.  We had a joyous reunion and were well received.  This is our first visit with them since they have been visited by the missionaries.  They have enjoyed the visits from the missionaries.  We were joined by Elder and Sister Paxton, from the Ansbach branch, who came to meet them.  After a meeting of almost two hours, Werner asked Elder Paxton to come back again.  After that visit, the Paxtons also made a short visit with Cristian and Marianne.  Once again, Cristian asked Elder Paxton (who speaks good German) to come back and visit again.  The Paxtons had offered to help "minister" to these friends of ours.  We feel like we have done our best to introduce them to other good people of our Church and that ministering can continue.
Werner and Dorota and their daughter Claudia with Debbie and  Elder and Sister Paxton
Werner and Dorota with their daughter Claudia

May 19:

This weekend we needed to come back to Frankfurt to exchange our rental car for a new contract.  We decided to spend the weekend here.  While here we had the chance to go back to the National Bibiliotek and review the Church book indexes that were ordered from Leipzig, have dinner with  Tom and Raelene King (he is our old boss in the Area office), go to the pealing of the bells (30 minutes of bell ringing from 12 different church) and attend the Jordan River Temple Cultural Celebration, which was streamed live.  This made for a wonderful and full Saturday in Frankfurt.

The final books that few were able to review at the National Bibiliotek,  retrieved from Leipzig to be available to us
Dinner and Ice Cream with Tom and Raelene King, friends forever
On the bridge over the River Main, during the Pealing of the Bells on the Saturday before Pentecost

The Youth Cultural Celebration of the Jordan River Temple Rededication, watched in Germany, streamed live at 2:00 pm  SLC time, 10:00 pm Germany time

Part of the amazing cultural celebration

President Eyring applauding at the end of the celebration

Sunday worship:

We have been privileged to watch the membership of the Church follow the direction of our prophet, Russell M. Nelson.  On April 15 and 22, we watched new Elders Quorum Presidents being called and sustained in our previous wards in  West Jordan Utah and Frankfurt Germany.  On April 29, we participated in a full discussion of ministering with the combined adult meeting in the Ansbach ward.  On May 6, we were taught in the Nürnberg stake conference by an Area 70 about receiving revelation, as shared by President Nelson.  On May 13 we again attended in Ansbach and coordinated ministering to our friends with  members of this ward and enjoyed a fast and testimony meeting.  Today, we attended the Frankfurt 1st ward and Frankfurt 2nd ward.  Again we heard the Stake President refer to President Nelson's talk on revelation to the Frankfurt 1st ward and our speaker in the Frankfurt 2nd ward based his remarks on President Nelson's recent talk.

We testify that we are led by a prophet and the membership of this Church are supportive and excited to follow our living prophet.  We love to be part of this Church and to see it move forward in so many different settings.

We are also thankful for the many friends old and new that we can associate with in our Church activities.  This certainly is a place where we enjoy a taste of Zion.

The Music Hall in Nürnberg, location of the Nürnberg Stake Conference

Stake conference - Nürnberg Stake

Stake President speaking with translation into English for many English speakers from the military in the stake
Meeting our friend Hanna Frenzel again at the Nürnberg Stake Conference
Revisiting Elder and Sister Kitterman, Self-Reliance Missionaries in Nürnberg

Dinner with Elder and Sister Paxton (Ansbach Ward) and E/S Kitterman, SR missionaries
Same dinner, Elder Paxton taking the photo

Debbie with her Mother's Day gift, a perfect little chicken for her kitchen in South Jordan

German friends from the Frankfurt 1st ward;

Heidi, Debbie's second cousins once removed

Dinner at the home of Martin and Janette Vaughan, friends who participated in a self-reliance course in with us in our ward
With Sister Enger, our first German teacher on our mission
With Rika, our last German teacher on our mission