We also took Flat Stanley along for the ride as part of a school assignment for our grandson Ashton.
This is an assignment for Ashton to gather photos of Flat Stanley in travels with others over the next two weeks. He asked us to take Flat Stanly with us and take photos of him wherever we go. Several of our blog photos are those that we took with Flat Stanley in the first part of our trip.
|Back looking out at the skyline of Frankfurt, Germany from the apartment where we are staying for our first two nights. Flat Stanley is enjoying the view with us.|
Each of our days and weeks are full of opportunities for service and the joy that comes when we serve. We will try to cover the past three weeks by general topic.
Jordan River Open House and Ordinance Worker Training
We had one more opportunity to take some of our grandchildren to the Jordan River Temple open house. Since we are no longer in Utah, we have invited several others to participate. On our last visit, we went with Gina and Pollyanna and their children. As usual, this was a wonderful experience and an opportunity to teach our grandchildren about "Jesus' House". Our granddaughter, Addisyn was looking for the bed where Jesus sleeps in "His house".
|Gina and Pollyanna and their children with us in the Photo opportunity|
|In front of the Christus statue after the open house tour|
|Selfie taken by Pollyanna from the back of the cart|
|Jonathon and Ashley and their first son Noah|
|The whole family at that time, including their daughter Beth|
|About half of the participants waiting in line to receive their temple ordinance name badges after the training.|
Since we would not be around the last half of April, we needed to celebrate some grandchildren birthdays ahead of time. This was for Tiancom (turning 7), Olivia (turning 3) and Charlie (who turned 5 while we were in Pennsylvania with him).
|Tiancom, right now the only male "Rueckert" amongst our grandchildren|
|Olivia, opening her two Olivia books|
|Charlie opening one of his books on his birthday in Pennsylvania|
|Ashton and Dawson at the playground|
|Natalia and Tiancom on the stair chair|
|Grandma reading a birthday book to Charlie|
|Ellie and Olivia at McDonalds while their parents where enjoying an anniversary date|
|Grandma reading the Olivia books to Olivia and her sister and mother|
|Ellie playing her first soccer game|
|Dinner at Burger King with the DeVore Family (and Flat Stanley)|
Before our trip we were able to complete the 12 week Personal Finance class for our family members. We are pleased with the six individuals who completed the training. We learned a lot more about each of them and feel that each of them are making positive steps in their own financial and spiritual self-reliance. The photos below show Melanie and James receiving their graduation certificates from the course.
|Graduation certificates for James and Melani|
We also finished 10 weeks with our young missionaries at Welfare Square. We will finish their course up with them soon after we return from Germany. The photo below was with all of them in our 10th lesson. Some will be finishing their mission before we return home.
|With the young missionaries at Welfare Square|
We were also blessed to attend the graduation ceremony for our exchange student daughter Giovanna. She and her husband both graduated from LDS Business College. We love being part of her family. She always treats us with so much love.
|Debbie and Giovanna|
|With Giovanna, her parents, and her husband Leo (also graduated)|
There are always lots of little things going on that make our days special. Here are a few of them:
|Our neighbor George LeBaron fixing our bad outlet. Example of Zion!|
Right before leaving for our trip, we had a double missionary Sunday. WE started by going to a missionary talk for a young man who was my home teaching companion before our mission, Michael Nelson. He was a great missionary companion and will be a wonderful missionary. The double blessing of this was a chance to return to our long time ward and to renew acquaintances with so many.
After that we went to the missionary talks of Tom and Ruth Rich, a wonderful missionary couple friend that we served with in Europe. As always, they taught with the Spirit of God and edified us. One of the real blessings of these occasions is to see other missionaries from Europe that were also in attendance. There were nearly 20 of our missionary friends there. The photo below just reflects those that ended up in the photo at their home afterwards. E/S Healy, E/S Burt, E/S Thomas, Sister Keyser, Sister Hacking and others were also there. This was a great warm up for our return to Europe, with fond memories of every day of our mission.
|E/S Mills, Rueckert, Rich, Swenson, Proctor and E. Jensen|
|Our tulips from Holland are starting to flower beautifully. However, the best tulips will be coming after we leave town. This is one of our best groups, still with flowers to come.|
|We were able to attend the BYU ballroom dancing show. It was great, full of talented and modestly dressed young people. It gives us hope for the future.|
The first part of our trip, 4 days in Pennsylvania
When we visited our daughter and her family last December, we felt prompted by the Lord to spend more time with them and help more than we had in the past. We believe that in President Nelson's words, we were to minister to them. They are a wonderful family of 8 who have had their share of challenges in life, especially temporally. However, they have never faltered in their desire to serve our Heavenly Father and teach their children the gospel.
Based on the promptings received, we decided to come and spend more time with them, participating and helping them facilitate their daily responsibilities. We weren't sure how this would turn out, but we trusted that the Lord would guide us. With humility, they accepted our offer. In the end, it all turned out wonderfully and we were able to get to know this special family on a much more personal basis.
We finished our visit with a visit to some family historical sites, near their home and participating in a major league baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tom's favorite baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. It also happened to be Charlie's 5th birthday.
|Melanie and Timothy with Timothy's "Grandma" blanket that he had not previously received. Debbie is now caught up.|
|The children around their new kitchen table, playing games together with their grandparents|
|Henry vacuuming the floor, his newly assigned responsibility in the dining area|
|Timothy asleep after a long day, while the parents were able to have a night out without children|
|With daughter, Melanie under the Northkill Amish marker|
|With Charlie in front of the ball stadium on his birthday (with Flat Stanley)|
|Everyone "enjoying" the game. Not too many other spectators were in our section.|
|Tom in his Pirates jersey in the Phillie ballpark|
This is the purpose of our trip to Germany. We have felt prompted to use some of our resources and time to pursue additional family history opportunities. During our mission, we were blessed to find the names of many ancestors and other relatives. However, that was not our full-time assignment, but merely time that we were able to squeeze out of our other missionary responsibilities.
Now, we will spend our full efforts for the next 40 days visiting parishes and archives and trying to find many ancestors that have not yet been identified. We have spent the past 5 months summarizing the family history findings of our mission so that we could see where else we could search effectively. We have been blessed to schedule specific visits with many parishes and archives and are looking forward to this opportunity. While we have prepared we have already seen several "miracles" beginning to unfold. Let me share a few of them:
We have been stuck on the Moeller line, Debbie's paternal line. We had thought we had found more information about Johann Georg Moeller, but have determined that we were wrong. We had been able to take a picture of the birth record of his son, which identifies his name and the name of his wife, but we have not known where to take the next steps. I sent the photo of the birth record to Debbie's brother Doug who is much better than we on reading the old German Script and the language. Two weeks ago he sent back his translation in which he says it identifies where the mother was from. However, he could not decipher exactly what it was saying. We decided that the place began with a G, had a b in the middle and Doug thought that there was a "l" or an "f" towards the end. I began to search using the Meyers Gazeteer on-line tool to identify the original name of the city, using "*" as wild cards. I spent over an hour on this without success. So I decided to start looking at Google maps, identifying all of the cities and villages in the area where the son was born, which was in a little village named Dachwig.
When I began to look, only 5 kilometers away, I saw a village with the name of Gebesee. It fit perfect, the third identified letter was not an "l" or an "f", but an "s". It was also close to the birthplace of the son. I then looked at the records that will be available at one of the archives that we will be visiting this coming Tuesday, and the records of Gebesee are there. As I made this discovery, the Holy Ghost came over me and I felt chills going up my spine. I knew that I had been guided to find this. We will still see what more we find, but I know that we are heading in the right direction. When I showed the record to Debbie the next morning, she quickly agreed that the word did say Gebesee. This is just one of many experiences that we expect to have during this visit.
Also, as we add records into Family Search we are becoming acquainted with other individuals who are our relatives, also working on these same family lines. As I was working on records we had found in Muhlhausen, the home of one of Debbie's great grandfathers, I discovered another individual who had put many records into Family Search. Her name was Sharon Tristani. I reached out to her and found out that she had spend years doing family history research for Muhlhausen, the city where her late husband's ancestors were from. We were able to visit her in Orem and receive a flash drive full of her years of efforts. Many have touched on Debbie's ancestors. This was certainly a miracle and we are now going armed with some specific research needs for Sharon that I believe we will be able to find.
|Debbie with Sharon Tristani in her home. One of those angels who spends her life trying to help our kindred dead. She has identified around 5,000 individuals in the city of Muhlhausen from her work so far.|
Each day other occurrences are happening. A week and a half ago, my mother received an email from a German who noticed that she was adding information to his family line. This is based on information that we had gathered during our mission. We have since entered into contact with this good German (we don't think he is a member of our Church) and we have been invited into his home this coming Friday. He lives near where we will be staying, which is near some of the cities that we have visited in the past.
Just last night as I boarded the plane to Germany, I noticed one more email that my mother had forwarded to me of another person in Germany who has seen her efforts and wants to collaborate with us. I have sent him an email and hope to make contact with him also during our trip. Each one of these examples is a witness to me that the Lord's hand is in this work. It can and will move forward if we do our part, for the greater blessings will come from above.
Today as we arrived in Frankfurt, we were able to go to the National Bibiliotek and found 9 more books of alphabetical listings from Church books in Erfurt and Muhlhausen. An additional 8 books were not available at this site. However, the people at the Library are willing to request those books from Leipzig, where they currently are located. These will be available to us in 4 weeks when we are back in Frankfurt.
|Nine additional reference books that we had not been able to access earlier. Today we were able to add this to our resources as we look for our ancestors.|
“I wish many times that the veil were lifted off the face of the Latter-day Saints. I wish we could see and know the things of God as they do who are laboring for the salvation of the human family who are in the spirit world; for if this were so, this whole people, with very few, if any, exceptions, would lose all interest in the riches of the world, and instead thereof their whole desires and labors would be directed to redeem their dead, to perform faithfully the work and mission given us on earth; so that when we ourselves should pass behind the veil and meet with Joseph and the ancient apostles, and others who are watching over us and who are deeply interested in our labors, we might feel satisfied in having done our duty” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, ed. G. Homer Durham , 152).