Sunday, July 10, 2016

Liberty, "Time" and the Tabernacle Choir

This last week started on the 4th of July.  For us, it was a normal workday.  However we did finish work a little early and got ready for a Senior Missionary Fourth of July family home evening.  It was held behind the apartment of one of the missionary couples near the Frankfurt Temple.  It was well attended by many missionary couples of the Area and also of the Frankfurt Mission.  We also had a few other Americans who participated with us.  The weather had been still fairly mild, the first 4th of July in some time that was not hot.  Summer is coming, but we are not in any hurry for the heat to arrive.

This gathering gave me my first reason to wear my Pirates jersey.  After all, 4th of July and summer also represent baseball!  The good news also, is that the Pirates have been on a hot streak this week, recovering from a terrible June.

With special colored "star" glasses for the celebration

For those that don't remember or didn't know, this jersey was given to me as a retirement present from work.  The 36 on the back represents 36 years of service as a Church employee.

We enjoyed a nice pot luck Fourth of July meal, with plenty of salads, sloppy Joes, fruit, deserts, etc.  After the meal, Elder Caracena shared some inspiring quotes about our land of liberty.  We recognize that there are good people everywhere, including here in Germany. It was nice on this occasion to ponder on our rich legacy in the United States.  The evening finished up with a few sparklers for the senior missionaries to enjoy without needing to share them with grandchildren.

Quite a gathering of mostly Americans in Germany

Enjoying the sparklers

This was a wonderful work week, staying in Frankfurt.   This gave us the opportunity to catch up on so much and prepare for future events.  We also use much of the time to visit by video with many of our missionary couples throughout the Area.  We even had time for each of us to get a haircut.  Mine was free by my favorite barber, Sister Rueckert.  

We also had the opportunity to give some training to Sister Lovell, who arrived the previous week.  She will be helping us with mentoring of Perpetual Education Fund students  who have moved to the northern part of Europe and the United Kingdom.  Below is part of the training while we were watching the early talks by President Hinckley when the Perpetual Education Fund was announced. I never tire of listening to our beloved prophet as he shared his revelation with the world.  It has been wonderful to be involved in helping fulfill his prophecies and promises.

Sister Lovell, being trained in our office

We need to talk just a little bit about time.  I believe that my favorite lesson from My Foundation is lesson #2, "Use Time Wisely".  After taking this class several times, this last time I finally started following the steps as prescribed. 

The results have been amazing.  Each day I list my tasks on a piece of paper.  During my morning prayers I review my plans for the days and ask the Lord of anything else that I should be thinking of.  Specifically, I ask of ways that I can impact the lives of others.  During my prayer, I stop and add to my list.  By the time the prayer is over, my list is complete.  Then during the day, I work on the prioritized items and then review it before reporting at night in my nightly prayer.  I can testify that I have been more productive, but more importantly, I am being led by the Spirit to do specific things that I would not think about on my own.  As a result, we are seeing more miracles and tender mercies in our lives.  I hope that I never stop this simple practice.  It is making a difference!

On Wednesday night, our wall clock stopped working, the battery had died.  I replaced the battery and the clock went wild.  The minute and second hand was moving around at an intense speed.  I could not find how to set the time correctly.  On the back there was only a button to set or reset or "wave".  As I pushed each of them, there was no improvement.  The next morning I looked on-line to see if I could find instructions for this particular model, which was "radio controlled".  It said that it set it's time to a central clock.  So we pushed the set again and it wound itself until it got to 12:00 o'clock and then stopped.  We decided to go into the office and see if it could set to a "central" clock on it's own during the day.  Fortunately, when we came home it was running at the correct time.  Once again we learned from technology that we cannot force things to work on our own.  We need to be patient and wait for things to get in synch.  Sometimes we need to be patient and wait on the Lord to get things in synch in our lives on His schedule.  We are so pleased to have our clock back working on the wall.

On Saturday we were able to be in our home for the first Saturday in over a month.  The last month of travels had taken their toll and now we needed a P-Day to clean our apartment, get caught up on laundry, etc.  We had a very productive day.  When I went shopping, I found strawberries for sale, so we decided to make strawberry jam.  The jam that Sister Rueckert had  made earlier had all been eaten.  So we used the simple process that Sister Rueckert had learned in her German class.  In less than 1 hour the strawberries had turned into delicious jam:

Beginning ingredients

With Sister Rueckert

Smashing the strawberries

Pouring the cooked product into the bottles.  Nice view of Frankfurt out of our kitchen window.

Last little bit, filled 5 plus bottles.

Final product, stored upside down initially.
Final Product

In the evening we got together with three other couples for dinner before the Tabernacle Choir concert in  Frankfurt, Germany.  It is always special to be with other missionaries.  Below are some photos from the concert.  Be bought four excellent tickets for this concert six months ago.  When we arrived, we found that we were sitting in the second row, so close that we couldn't see most of the choir.  However, it did give us a chance to see Mack Wilberg (the conductor) up close and personal as well as the string and percussion section of the orchestra.  We also had a good view of part of the female members of the choir.

In front of the 100 Year Concert Hall
Sitting with our friends, Richard and Ann Smith, who are part of our Sunday My Foundation class
Our primary view from our seats

View of the choir through the percussion instruments

Up close view of Matt Wilberg.  We were really impressed to see all of his facial expressions and special signals to the choir and orchestra during the concert.

Lloyd Newell from Music and the Spoken Word and his German interpreter, choir member from Frankfurt, Germany

The entire choir and orchestra and conductors all singing God Be With You Till We Meet Again, in German. 

The concert was the same as we had seen in N├╝rnberg a week previous, but we got to get a totally different perspective.  We are glad for the different viewpoint.  We certainly enjoyed it very much.  As the choir sang the first encore, which was The Battle Hymn of the Republic, I received some special impressions.

We live in a world that is so full of division of opinions and ideologies.  Each country has different political structures.  There is so much good and yet so much contention in the world.  We see it everywhere.  However, as I listened to this song, sung so beautifully and listened, I was touched by these words:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

As the song finished:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.
While God is marching on.

I know that true glory will only come as our Savior returns to this earth.  It is his truth that marches forward and his return to this earth that will bring eventual peace and joy.  For now we need to make sure we do all we can to keep men free, so that we can prepare the world for his coming.

As the week finished, the heat of the summer is finally arriving and so are the signs of summer.  The photo below is of the heavily pruned tree that I have shared before.  It now is in full foliage and we can see that the pruning was appropriate for it to show it's splendor.

Today we found our first tomatoes ripened on our tomato plant on our balcony.  We picked them and enjoyed them as appetizers to our Sunday meal.