Monday, April 11, 2016

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

We have stayed in Frankfurt this past week, but we have not been resting.   In Sister Rueckert's words, we are out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Besides our normal responsibilities, we have added a few more things to do.  We have been called as self-reliance coordinators in our ward and are now responsible for bringing the self-reliance initiative to our ward.  We have an amazing international ward.  It is full of wonderful members of the Church who do not speak German, so they come to the English ward.  This includes many Church employees that have moved here from Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, United Kingdom, U.S. expatriates and senior missionaries and more.  They have strong testimonies and wonderful experience.  Now we will find out how the Self-Reliance initiative will work here.  Last Wednesday we had some time to share our plans with our ward council and on Sunday we were able to train three more self-reliance facilitators in our ward.  Next week, on April 22, we will have our first My Path Workshop.  So far we have been telling others how this should work in theory, now we have to actually do it.  The emotions are quite a bit different.

Sister Rueckert building manuals for our new Finance course which we will be piloting in our ward.

We have also been asked to work directly with the four Dutch speaking stakes in the Netherlands and Belgium.  We will be traveling to the Netherlands this week to meet with one of the stake committees and a few of the chairman of the other stake committees.  Communication is not always easy with these busy men, something we have heard before, but now we are experiencing first hand.  We spent an hour or so with one of the stake specialist couples who were in the U.S. for three months and learned that they are very dedicated but have taken an approach more tied to the prior employment centers.  Welcome to reality!

We also had a chance to talk to the mission president of the Adriatic North Mission where we will be meeting with other senior couples in a missionary couples conference next month.  We learned his concerns and perspective and will need to modify our approach now that we understand this perspective.  

All of this is wonderful but somewhat out of our comfort zone. Today we spent an hour on Skype with a missionary couple that is serving in Kosovo.  Their challenges are so overwhelming, that it makes our challenges seem trivial.

On Saturday we had the privilege to attend the baptism of four more members of our ward.  We continue to have many refugees from Iran joining the Church.  They are wonderful men, but have the additional challenge of not speaking German or English.  They have been involved in our ward due to one of our members, Brother Hassan, who also is from Iran.  He has been a great missionary force and shoulders all of the interpretation responsibility.  After their baptism, we were treated to a banquet of Iranian food, made by Brother Hassan.

The four men after their baptism on Saturday.

Waiting in line to be baptized.

The banquet of Iranian food prepared for after the baptism
We are going to try to do a limited self-reliance course for these great men from Iran after Church each week.  One more commitment.  We need to use existing materials to work with limited English required.  That is a project for the next few weeks.

Before the baptism we were able to buy a new toaster.  Ours died a premature death caused by the jamming of the toaster by oversized bread which is common in Germany.  Below is the photo of the old taster and the new one that can handle large bread.

Spring has certainly come to Germany.  We have had wonderful weather and the blossoms are out on many of the trees.  The following is view from our balcony.

With the good weather, we have been able to run/walk in the cemetery more often in the mornings.  I have enjoyed listening to conference talks while I run.  I usually stop to look at many of the graves.  The photo below is from the large number of graves that were from World War 2.  I notice a full row of graves with the same death date of November 5, 1944.  These are not soldiers but individuals of all ages and some families.  As I checked this out on the internet, I read of a massive bombing attack on Frankfurt on that date.  It is sobering to tie news from the past with actual gravestones.  I have been wondering who will ever do the family history work for total families that were killed in the war.  That is something for which I am looking for answers.

 Other times I look at headstones to see if I see any familiar names.  This morning, I found this large memorial to the Schenck family.  This is the maiden name of Sister Rueckert's great grandmother.  The dates of the family members are very similar to those in her family history which were in another part of the country.  Perhaps we can find a common ancestor if we can go back a few more years.

This is one of my least favorite chores in Germany, taking out the garbage.  I take the garbage to these bins at the base of our apartment building.  The brown bins are for green garbage, the green bins are for paper or cardboard, the yellow bins are for plastic and the natural colors in front are for all other garbage.  There is no simple process to take out garbage in Germany.

Finally, to finish on a positive note, these are drawings that were sent to us from our Pennsylvania grandchildren.  We love to receive mail from our grandchildren.

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