Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pioneers Blazing Trails Then and Now

This week our blog is dedicated to being a pioneer in commemoration of today, July 24, Pioneer Day.

Our week ended with our Pioneer Day 5K Run/Walk event.  Our lead photo shows missionaries, young and old and an employee or two beginning the 5K event.  This was a culmination of weeks of planning and preparation and a lot of prayers.  In the end it turned out perfect.   More on the race later in the blog. 

Our week started with our monthly senior missionary devotional.  It was dedicated to Social Media for Seniors, presented by Elder and Sister Proctor, senior missionaries working with the Publishing Services Department.  Although most senior missionaries are on Facebook, many have not ventured beyond that point.  They shared many other options with us and hopefully a few senior missionaries can learn a few new tricks, one of the key requirements for a "pioneer".  Personally, I have now opened an Instagram account.  At least that is a start.

We had a wonderful meeting with Elder Paul V. Johnson, first counselor in the Area Presidency.  Elder Johnson will assume the role of Chairman of our Area Self-Reliance Committee and this was an opportunity to understand his perspective on Self-Reliance and share and answer questions.  We were very enthused with his support and kindness.  What a blessing it is to work with these inspired brethren.

On Tuesday evening, we took Sister Enger home from the German class that she provides for the senior missionaries.  As always she is so kind to us.  We stopped at her garden plot and she gave us some fresh green beans and a strawberry plant and taught us a few new tricks also.

Picking beans from her garden
A Hummel Bee on one of her flowers

Sister Rueckert got so hungry she started eating flowers
Edible Flowers, quite tasty
Sister Enger giving some roses to Sister Rueckert

Throughout the week we have been preparing newly translated materials to appear on the Country Web Pages, holding video conferences, preparing for upcoming events and reviewing the annual budget submissions of our managers.  It was a full week, as normal, a little slower as many people in Europe have started their annual holiday period.  We will continue to encounter  this challenge over the next six weeks.

On Wednesday we went to check out a sale on ladies clothing at a local mall.  We left after our Finance Group and so had limited time to evaluate the options.  On Thursday noon we returned and found enough clothing to keep Sister Rueckert going for the rest of her mission at very low prices.

On Thursday, July 21,  we celebrated our one year anniversary since we moved to Germany last year.  It is hard to believe that a year has gone by.  So much has changed in a year, hopefully most of it for the better.  We love the work we do and the people that we associate with.  We look forward to this next year with anticipation to what lies ahead.

On Thursday we also met with Elder and Sister Kimball, by video, our new couple in Spain.  We love them and are so pleased with how well they are doing. We wanted them to get a good start on their mission and we believe that has happened.  These results bring great joy and satisfaction to us.

Now on to the event  of the week.   Last year, three days after arriving in Germany, we participated in the Pioneer Day  5K event.  This was the time that I (Elder Rueckert) got lost.  Due to my incredible mastery of the race route, we were asked to organize the event for this year.  Since July 24 fell on a Sunday, we decided to once again hold it on a Friday, in this case July 22.  We had invited the senior couples to participate and also extended the invitation to all Church employees and to the young missionaries that are serving close by.

We had organized several volunteers to be marshals along the route (so nobody gets lost this year) and to help with refreshments.  I had run the route several times to make sure we were clearly aware of the challenges.  The night before we put up plastic arrows throughout the route to help individuals know where to turn (or not to turn).  Refreshments (water, gatorade, oranges) were prepared.

We felt that all was ready when we had an all day rain storm on Thursday with more promised for Friday.  We made provisions to cancel if the rain was too hard and we resorted to prayer.  Our prayers were answered as the weather was perfect.  Rain did come later in the day, but it was perfect for our race, a little overcast, which actually was a blessing.  

We had good participation from the missionaries, young and senior, with only two employees participating.  About 26 finished the race.  The young missionaries took the top honors, the winner finishing the 5K in 21 minutes, which is pretty impressive, especially since he did not have experience as a runner, but was a soccer player.

Elder Rueckert was able to finish first amongst the senior missionaries in about 27 minutes and DID NOT GET LOST!  Quite an improvement over a year ago.

The Public affairs manager took a few pictures and put an article on the German Newsroom.  The following link will get you to the article.

The part about our race in English follows: 

Even in Germany, Mormons continue to remind themselves of the arrival of the pioneers in the Rocky Mountains at summer festivals, cultural events and sermons in church.

For the staff and volunteers of the European church administration offices in Frankfurt am Main, July 24th is an ordinary working day.  This year the special date falls on a Sunday.  Some members didn’t want the day to go by without some kind of celebration.  So they met today, on Friday, July 22, 2016, before the start of the working day, to run or walk a five-kilometer long memory run through the neighborhood of the administration building.

"The early pioneers traveled over two thousand kilometers to get to Salt Lake City. Our five-kilometer run is only one fifth percent this distance.  We run or walk only a short distance, but it gives us a glimpse of the incredible sacrifice and dedication of those early pioneers,” states Elder Thomas Rueckert, who organized the race.  He and his wife, Deborah, are working as full-time senior missionaries in the European church administration.

Written by Ralf Grünke, Public Affairs, Europe Area Offices

The following photos were taken during the race:

Group shot before the race
Before the race began
Beginning with a prayer
After coming up the hill and making the first turn
Staying ahead of some missionaries
He is still on my tail
Nearing the end, most young missionaries are now ahead of me
Some of the seniors coming towards the finish
A few Hi Fives amongst the finishers
Young missionaries awaiting the seniors to finish

Missionaries, young and not so young.  On the right is Elder Sommers, who won the race with his first place  trophy at his feet.
Some finishers enjoying refreshments, provided by Sister Rueckert and her helpers


It felt so good for the race to be over.  There was plenty of positive feedback.  Certainly it was a Pioneer's Day celebration to remember.

On Saturday we chose to stay home and relax.  Actually we had plenty to do to prepare for our next adventure, which is visiting the Pastor's office in Bergbernheim on Monday.  There we hope to identify additional family history information for relatives of my grandfather.  On Saturday I spent hours reviewing and printing 7 generations of family group sheets, identifying where there may be missing information in siblings and their families in each of the generations.

We have found that the Rückert comes into our pedigree chart in about 4 different location when you are on the 7th generation back.  We believe that we are indeed related to the family that we met in Buchheim a few weeks ago.

On Sunday we have enjoyed a nice Sacrament meeting based on our Pioneer heritage.  We will now take time to watch the Tabernacle Choir Pioneer Day presentation that can be streamed in Germany, since it is no longer live.

A few parting shots of additional tomatoes.  They are coming on quickly now, so there will be no more  celebration of 2 or 4 tomatoes.  The following shows our tomato plant with red spots throughout.  Also the picture of our tomatoes growing on the vines that are hanging over our balcony.

We wish everyone a Happy Pioneer's Day!

No comments:

Post a Comment