Sunday, June 5, 2016

Slowing down to enjoy reflections, fairy tales and spiritual food

We spent the whole week in Germany and it was a nice change of pace.  The week started out a little negative when we were notified that Elder Rueckert was issued a speeding ticket during our trip to the Netherlands in April.  This is done by camera and the photos confirm that it was Elder Rueckert that was at fault.  This ties to our weekly theme of slowing down, an essential step for Elder Rueckert.

This week we worked in our offices all week and were able to get caught up on many tasks that had been neglected.  It also gave us time for forward planning and preparations.

On Tuesday evening we were able to have a good video conference with the High Councilor and Stake Specialists of the Kaiserslautern Military Stake.  We will be joining them next week for their Self-Reliance Committee meeting and were able to review the current status in the stake, make preparations and provide training.

One of our favorite weekly activities is our Wednesday evening Self-Reliance group on Financial Management.  We have learned to love the members of our group and we are all learning so much about Financial Management.  We can probably sum it up with the statement that all that we have is from the Lord and we are only stewards of earthly blessings.  When you start thinking this way, your view of finances changes.  Even for us, living off of retirement and savings, we realize that we need to know how our Heavenly Father wants us to care for the finances that we have so that we can use His resources to bless others.  The course is wonderful and certainly helps us to become more temporally and spiritually self-reliant.

We just finished our 5th group meeting.  Being in an international ward brings some special experiences.  Below, the photo shows Kiever, married and born in Brazil, Natalia, single and born in Spain and Silvia, married with older daughters and born in Italy.  Of course Sister Rueckert and I are from the U.S.  Together we discuss, learn, commit and report on our personal finances.  This includes tracking our expenses and establishing a budget based on spiritual principles.  We have learned how these groups bring a closeness to the other individuals in the group.  We love working with each of these wonderful individuals who have become our close friends.

We also began using our iFit trackers which keeps track of the number of steps we take each day and the distance traveled.  We were inspired by Sister Healy last week as she explained how she uses it.  Even though we acquired it last year, we had not began using it until this week.  The photo shows Sister Rueckert walking in the cemetery amongst the graves from World War 1, with the War memorial in the background.  So far our experience has been good as long as the tracker works, it is a bit temperamental.

On Thursday, we had a special devotional for the transition of a new Director of Temporal Affairs in Europe.  Bishop Davies from the Presiding Bishopric came to honor Craig Hunt, who is retiring and announce our new DTA, Steven Maynes.  The program was very well done and full of emotion for the end of a long career of dedicated Church employment.  The meeting ended with an address by our Area President, Patrick Kearon, who gave an excellent talk on the value of reflecting in our own lives.  We left totally edified.

On Saturday, we decided to make a short trip to explore the site where the Brothers (Jacob and Wilhelm) Grimm were raised.  It is only 45 minutes from our apartment and had a little castle in the same area.  The area focuses on the Fairy Tale theme coming from the Brother Grimm.  We were able to see the castle, attend a puppet show, and tour the home of the Brothers Grimm with same amazing displays of many of their stories, including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Puss and Boots and many more.  It gave us time to reflect on the many childhood stories that originated from these two brothers.

In front of the castle in the middle of the town of Steinau, Germany, built from 1525 to 1560 AD

Standing on the bridge over the moat area of the castle 
Since this is a fairy tale town, we decided to attend a puppet show.  It was quite well done, a one man show, with multiple levels of puppets to tell the story.  The puppet show was all done in German, but through some understanding of the language and the excellent body language of the narrator and the puppets we got the gest of what went on.  Overall an enjoyable experience.

One man actor of a puppet show that we attended.  He was quite good, not only showing the different puppets, telling the story of Captain Sharkey and Mickey but also showing a great variety of voices.

One of the street signs turned into a puppet stage

Closeup of the friendly sea dragon with Mickey and Captain Sharkey

After the puppet show, we went to the Brüder Grimm-Haus, house of the Brothers Grimm.  They lived here for about 6 years, beginning in 1791, while their father was the City Clerk and had to leave when he passed away.  The house has turned into a replica of the time that they lived there.  The upstairs of the house are full of memorabilia relating to many of their stories, with separate rooms for Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Puss and Boots and interactive displays, etc.  Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside.

Sister Rueckert in front of the house

Elder Rueckert in front of the sign of the House

Today (Sunday) we had a wonderful multi-stake conference which originated from Salt Lake City for about 73 stakes in Western Europe.  We were taught by Elder Randall K. Bennett, Quorum of Seventy, Elder Patrick Kearon, Europe Area President, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, YW Presidency,  Bishop Gerald Caussé, presiding bishop and Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve.  What a treat!  Each spoke about different topics, all of which were meant for the people of Europe.  What a wonderful way for the members in Europe to be able to receive customized messages for them from Church leaders at SLC and in Frankfurt (President Kearon).  We surely do love our Area Presidency, we have the rare treat to see them often and to feel of their love and their testimonies.  Bishop Caussé gave a wonderful talk about temple work and Elder Christofferson spoke about the Savior and striving for Christ like attributes.

We were able to listen in one chapel which was dedicated to English, while most chapels had German or other languages available.