Friday, May 13, 2016

Worn out in the service of the Lord and loving it

This blog entry is different than most.  It is our effort to identify the variety of tasks that we work on in a given week, at least in the past four or five days.  This week was an unusually busy week and we wanted to record the events and our feelings before we embark on our next adventure in Rome, Italy.

When we left the office last Saturday night, after final preparations for our Sunday My Foundations class, we met a new missionary couple that had just arrived the day before, Elder and Sister Proctor.  They arrived to serve a mission with the Publishing Services Department.  We had a wonderful time getting to know them in the parking lot.  On Sunday, we felt that we should invite them to dinner to get to know them better and to help them in their transition to the mission.  The only evening we had open this week was Monday, so the invite was made and accepted.

Our Foundations lesson this week was Use Time Wisely, so we were conscientious to prioritize our daily tasks, confirm them with the Lord and report back each evening.  We are also taught to be open to promptings from the Holy Ghost as we go about our day.

When we arrived at the office on Monday morning, the Welfare Manager asked Sister Rueckert to organize a farewell and welcome social for Elder and Sister Sharpe that were leaving this week and Elder and Sister Healy and Elder and Sister Proctor who had arrived in the last few days.  All serve with us on the 3rd floor of the office building.  After moving the social from Thursday to Tuesday, Sister Rueckert made necessary arrangements with many employees and missionaries helping out so well.  Our days on Monday and Tuesday were loaded with nine videoconferences with senior missionary couples and others, but we did have time for a luncheon social on Tuesday.  We also had a meeting with visitors from outside and needed to get ready for our Area Self-Reliance Committee meeting on Thursday morning.  Throughout the week we were working to get our first  reports to stake presidents ready after a few glitches the prior week.

Monday night we had a wonderful dinner with E/S Proctor.  One of the true blessings of our missionary service is to associate with other missionary couples.  Their consecration to the Lord is so inspiring.  After dinner, Sister Rueckert made chocolate chip cookies for the social the next day while I worked on summarizing our Jobs Initiative in Cape Verde for our Thursday meeting. 

The social went well on Tuesday, thanks to the help of so many, especially our administrative assistant, Constanza, who made wonderful croissant sandwiches for everyone.  We had a few misses with some of our missionaries this week, which was too bad, but gave us some important time to deal with other pressing issues.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was committed to go with Sister Rueckert to the weekly German class that was at a nursery to see and purchase flowers and vegetables.  This turned out to be a bigger experience than planned. We not only bought flowers and a large tomato “tree” we also had to purchase flower boxes to hang on the walls of our balcony.  After returning home to put together some dinner we had our weekly German Zoom session with Sister Peterson, a wonderful sister in Provo who is helping us with our German.  After finishing with her, we then set up our flower boxes and planted our flowers.  Once again, I had to spend a few more moments later on working on our monthly reporting of Self-Reliance activity.

Sister Rueckert with our flower boxes hanging on our balcony

We got to bed early enough to be able to get up and go walking/jogging in the cemetery on Tuesday and Wednesday.  This is our goal each day, but it is not always possible. I had been told about a Christus Statue in the cemetary on Tuesday and found it on Wednesday morning.

Christus Statue in the Cemetery
Wednesday our day was more open for final preparations for the Area Self-Reliance Committee the next day.  However first, I had to teach the weekly Book of Mormon class taught at noon with the missionaries.  This had occupied most of my personal study time the last few days.  With the help of the Lord, it went well and we were onto finalizing the presentation for the Area Committee.  At the end of the day, right after Sister Rueckert went for a hair cut, we facilitated our Finance Management Self-Reliance course at the Church, which is always a joy.  We love this course and even more we love the members who are in this group.  They inspire us with their friendship, creativity and desire to improve their own situation.  The course is also making a difference for us.

After the course, we went back to the office with Kiever, Constanza’s husband to finalize some issues with our reporting to priesthood leaders and to get one more graph for our presentation to the Area Committee the next morning.  After finally returning home, preparing and cleaning up after dinner, I prepared the final slides for the presentation and we feel into bed exhausted.

Thursday morning started out early so that we could be in the office before our 8:00 a.m. committee meeting.  We are blessed to be able to meet monthly with Elder Timothy Dyches in this meeting.   After the meeting, he spent an additional hour with Thomas King and ourselves discussing many of the issues and challenges in more detail.  Thomas King commented afterwards on how amazing it is to spent two hours with a General Authority.  We agree! 

As soon as we got back to our offices, we were invited to go with another couple to pick up our German drivers licenses according to letters that we had received. , We found out that we cannot pick them up until we have been in Germany for six months and returned home empty   We spent the rest of the afternoon, preparing minutes of the meeting, processing our expense report for our travel in April and May and preparing for the evening activities.

We left the office at 4:00 pm to head to Kaiserslautern, an English speaking military stake a little over an hour from Frankfurt.  With traffic it took us right up until our scheduled 6:00 pm meeting with their stake self-reliance committee.  They have a new missionary couple that has been called as their stake specialist, who was also in attendance.  After this meeting, we held a facilitator training session with this couple and another couple that are acting as facilitators in one of the wards.  In both of these meetings, we were assisting our German SRS manager, Günter Borcherding.  We will become the primary contact with this stake going forward.  After additional discussions with Günter, we finally left for home at 8:45 and with less traffic arrived home a little before 11:00 pm.

Beautiful fields of yellow rape seed plants, part of  the landscape on our trip to Kaiserslautern
This did allow us time to sleep before arising early and preparing to leave for our trip to Italy.

It has been an incredible week with so may different activities.  Our days and nights have been full.  Hopefully our time has been used wisely in the service of the Lord.  We are blessed to have a mission that has so much opportunity for us to serve.  We pray that we can truly make a difference in the lives of those that we work with and serve.  We have learned to take one commitment at a time, planning the very best we can.  Sister Rueckert is amazing at moving from one priority to the next.  The second we have finished one major task, she is preparing for the next.  We know that the Lord gives us strength and direction.  This is His work and we are on His errand!