Monday, June 27, 2016

Saying Hello and Goodbye

When we returned from our trip to the British Isles, we arrived home just in time to celebrate Fathers Day.  Little did we know that we had other special surprises awaiting us when we got back to our office.  One of the biggest surprises came in a visit from Heidi Patscha.  She is a secretary to the Area Director of Seminaries and Institutes.  She met us in the Monday morning devotional and told us that she had found out that we were related.  The next day she appeared in our office and showed us her connection through her family history line.  It seems that she had somehow seen our blog through Facebook and had noticed our entry in March 2016 about our family history visit to Erfurt, Germany. Since her mother was from Erfurt, she read further.  She also had seen the name of Thomas Rueckert as reserving temple ordinances for some of the relatives in that line.  So she put the pieces together and came and found us.

Sure enough, her grandmother was Frieda Auguste Verges, youngest sister (19 years younger) of Sister Rueckert's great grandmother, Friedericke Sophie Wilhelmine Verges.

When Sophie came to the U.S. with her husband, her younger sister, Frieda, was the only other member of the Church in her family.  She remained in Germany and ended up in East Germany after the Second World War.  Her daughter, Heidi's mother, was able to marry a member of the Church and moved to West Germany in the 1950s before the wall went up.  Heidi is  Frieda's granddaughter. Heidi's mother is now 90 years old and lives in Berlin.  She remembers traveling to Utah in 1995 and visiting with Debbie's father.

So when we went to Erfurt in March of this year, our goal was to find her father's home in Erfurt, Germany and to find a living relative.  The first goal and many other special blessings  had been completed, but no living relative had been found.  Now, a living relative found us and she works in the same office building as us.  What a tender mercy and the completion of those initial goals.

Sister Rueckert with  Heidi Patscha, her second cousin, once removed

This was the first of many special surprises for us this week.  When we arrived in our office on Monday, we found a card from our grandchildren and their parents, Dan and Amy Digerness.  We thought that the card was really special, so we include a photo of it below.  Sure enough, being a grandpa is the best!

This was also a week of farewells.  In our devotional on Monday night we heard from three dear missionary couples who are completing their missions.  They shared their experiences and testimonies with us.  This is one of the hardest parts of our missions, saying good-bye to these wonderful couples.  The three are Elder and Sister Baker (family history), Elder and Sister Biddulph (Mental Health) and Elder and Sister Hawkins (Finance and Mental Health).  The photos below do not include the Hawkins, due to my neglect in not taking a photo of them speaking.  

Elder and Sister Baker, Family History missionaries

Elder and Sister Biddulph, Mental Health missionaries
We managed to keep busy the rest of the week, once again getting caught up with back work and preparing for future self-reliance activities and trips.  On Tuesday night we took Sister Enger home from the German class that she teaches and then spent an hour with Sister Peterson, in Provo, via video who volunteers her time to help us with our German.

On Wednesday we had our last interview with Elder Timothy Dyches, the second counselor in the Area Presidency.  He will be completing his assignment soon and will be serving in Salt Lake City.  He has been the chair of our Area Self-Reliance Committee and has been our direct ecclesiastical leader on our mission.  He was so kind to spend over an hour with us.  He will surely be missed.

That night we held our Finance Self-Reliance group and then went home teaching to our wonderful family that is making such progress in the self-reliance groups.  They are moving next week into a new home that will better accommodate their family, supplied under the German social system.  On the way to their existing residence we passed what we always see as a very unique contrast of buildings in downtown Frankfurt:

This view of an older castle type structure right next to a very unique modern building.

We were not able to get a meal to eat until almost ten o'clock, but the opportunity to serve others filled our souls.

On Thursday night we were able to invite another missionary couple to dinner.  We are trying to do this when we are in town, so that we can get to know these amazing couples on a more personal basis.  We are inspired by their stories and their dedication!

On Friday morning we left for the airport for a visit to Spain.  More on that in the next blog.