Sunday, January 31, 2016

An "egg"cellent preparation week in the office, Saturday at Marburg and the impressions of the Holy Ghost

There are a lot of differences in lifestyle and culture in Germany.  One is the total use of the metric system.  We know that is the case in most locations outside of the U.S., but Germany has taken it to a new extreme.  Take a look at the carton of eggs and tell me what is metric about it.

Hopefully you identified it.  You do not buy eggs by the dozen but by the ten.  However, we must say that we love the eggs here.  They have bright yokes and are very delicious.

Anyway we have had a wonderful week, staying in Germany.  It has been a week of preparation for:
  • An upcoming jobs initiative in Cape Verde (Last few weeks in February)
  • A presentation to the Area Presidency about our Self-Reliance reporting (this Tuesday)
  • Our monthly meeting with our managers (tomorrow)
  • For our Fifth Sunday lesson in our international ward about Self-Reliance (today)
  • For our monthly Area Self-Reliance Committee meeting (Thursday of this week).
(By the way, we felt really good about our fifth Sunday lesson today.  We were able to feel the spirit as we shared spiritual truths and testimony.  Our prayers were answered.)

Add to that, we got registered officially to stay in Germany as missionaries, got a membership in a "Costco" like store and on Friday we had the official annual cleanup day in the office.  This happens once a year when everyone in the office is to clean out old files, storage boxes and all of the offices.

After so much preparation, we felt it was time to take a preparation day in Germany.  On Friday night we ventured downtown to a Japanese restaurant and found that we actually understood some of the items on the menu.  We work hard on our German in the evenings and these are the moments that we start at least recognizing a few words.

On Saturday, we went with Elder and Sister Jensen, a missionary couple that we met in the MTC and arrived in Frankfurt the same day that we did.  They are serving a mission for legal counsel in the Area office.  The following is a photo with them and us inside of Saint Elizabeth's Church in Marburg, Germany.  Marburg is a little over an hour north of Frankfurt.  It is one of the oldest cities that did not have significant destruction during World War I and II.  It was a cold and rainy day as we traveled, but the impressive sights and good company made it worthwhile.

The Church of St. Elizabeth in Marburg was built between 1235 and 1283 over the site of the grave of St. Elizabeth  It is the first church  built in a purely Gothic style.  Let me share with you the story of Elizabeth, which we found fascinating:

Elizabeth, daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary, was born in 1207 and at the age of four came to Thuringia in order to be brought up together with her future husband, the son of the count of Thuringia.  When she was fourteen they were married and very soon had three children, but she became a widow at the age of only 21 when her husband, count Ludwig IV of Thuringia, died on a crusade.  She left the splendid court of the Wartburg and chose to live in poverty in Marburg, where she founded a hospital with a chapel dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.  She spent the rest of her life caring for the needy, in accordance with the words of Jesus: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me." (Matthew 25:40).

After her death in 1231, at the age of 24, pilgrimages to her grave began so that in 1232 a bigger church had to be built.  In 1235, after Elizabeth had been canonized by the Pope, the foundation of the present church was laid under the patronage of the Teutonic Order of Knights.  The Church is full of a canopy over her grave, relics, stain glass windows and many statues and a triptych which sows real scenes from the life and death of Elizabeth.  That is the backdrop of our photo above.    Other photos follow:

Sister Rueckert in front of the High Altar and the beautiful stain glass windows behind.
Stain Glass windows depicting the life and service of Elizabeth

The Golden Shrine was designed in 1240 for the relics of St. Elizabeth.  It is made of gilded silver and copper, richly decorated with precious stones.
Front of the Church
Back of the Church
Elder and Sister Rueckert behind the Church
After visiting the Church we were also able to visit the Castle of the Landgrave.  It was first built around 1000 AD and is situated at the top of the city.  We were especially impressed to learn that Martin Luther and other reformers met in this castle in October 1529 at the Marburg Colloquy.  The Marburg Colloquy was a meeting at Marburg Castle which attempted to solve a disputation between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli over the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper.  

Outside photo of the Castle

Photo of a smaller model to show the overall castle area

Painting hanging in the castle which depicts the Colloquy of Marburg, with Martin Luther and the other reformers
Elder and Sister Rueckert outside the castle overlooking the city (rainy and windy)

One of my insights from my personal study this week has to do with the impressions of the Holy Ghost.  I felt that the words of President Boyd K. Packer describe so well how delicately the Holy Ghost communicates to us.

"We cannot express spiritual knowledge in words alone.  We can, however, with words show another how to prepare for the reception of the Spirit.  The Spirit itself will help. 'For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.' (2 Nephi 33:1).

Then when we have a spiritual communication, we can say within ourselves, this is it!  This is what is meant by those words in the revelation,  Thereafter, if they are carefully chosen, words are adequate for teaching about spiritual things.

We do not have the words (even the scriptures do not have words) which perfectly describe the Spirit.  The scriptures generally use the word voice, which does not exactly fit.  These delicate, refined spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes, nor heard with our ears.  And even though it is described as a voice, it is a voice that one feels more than one hears. . .

Should an angel appear and converse with you, neither you nor he would be confined to corporeal sight or sound in order to communicate.  For there is that spiritual process, described by the Prophet Joseph Smith, by which pure intelligence can flow into our minds and we can know what we need to know without either the drudgery of study or the passage of time, for it is revelation."