Sunday, September 11, 2016

New beginnings, sad good-byes and a whole lot more

On Monday, our week started marvelously.  We started the day with a visit and a devotional with Bishop Gérald Caussé, Presiding Bishop of the Church.  He had not been back to the Frankfurt chapel since he was called to the Presiding Bishopric four years ago.  He was serving as a member of the Europe Area Presidency previous to this calling.  Of course last year he was sustained as the Presiding Bishop of the Church.  He was so personable and down to earth in his talk.   He shared with us how his experience in the Church helped him as an employee and leader in the business world.  He said that the Church experience added much more to his work qualifications than his education.  It was a wonderful devotional.  Bishop Caussé asked everyone to remain seated after the devotional so that he could go to the back door and shake everyone's hand personally and meet them.  

I had met him on a few occasions in my work, he served on the PEF Self-Reliance Committee during part of the time that I took minutes of the meetings.  When he shook our hands, he said, "Haven't we met before?"  Of course we had, what an incredible memory.  He visited all of the employees in the other office in Frankfurt during the day.  We heard of similar experiences.  He had spent the weekend at the Freiberg Temple dedication and visited other locations in the area.

As part of his visit he participated in a meeting with all of the managers that report to the Director of Temporal Affairs.  The time was changed for the meeting to go until 5:30 pm due to other scheduled activities during the day, which created a small conflict.  Read on:

Sister Anderson (from Denmark), Sister Jenkins (from Logan) and the mother and her two daughters
The Brazilian family that we have had the privilege to help with was baptized!  This was scheduled for 5:00 pm so that it could finish before Family Home Evening for everyone.  It was scheduled for Monday because the family needs to return to Brazil.  They had a return ticket for Thursday, just a few days later.  They were not able to resolve their paperwork to stay in Germany at this time and will have to continue to work on it from Brazil though the German consulate.  This is sad for all of us, but we pray that they will have the Lord's blessings with them as they try to put their temporal life together.  At least their spiritual life will now have a better start.

Elder Axel Leimer, the Area Seventy who had first found this family, had been asked to perform the baptisms.  Elder Leimer is also the Area Physical Facilities Manager and was in the meeting with Bishop Caussé.  I went over earlier to help the missionaries prepare the baptismal recommends.  Little things like asking birthplaces, names of parents and dates of birth require a little language ability.  I had the privilege to work with the family and the missionaries to get everything ready.  Even with short notice, many members and senior missionaries came over to support this family.  All was ready for the 5:00 baptism, except for Elder Leimer.

While we were waiting for Elder Leimer, I was able to take a few photos with the family while Sister Rueckert was playing prelude music.  The photo above shows the family with the Sister Missionaries who had taught them through translators.  I also was able to get a picture of myself with the family.

The baptism finally got started and went wonderfully.  Most of the talks were given by Portuguese members of the ward and those that did not had translation.  This ward has reached out so well to this family.  What an outpouring of welcome for individuals who are in such a tough situation.  They certainly felt this outpouring of love.  After the baptism and confirmation, we had to leave for our Family Home Evening commitment but everyone else stayed for a nice reception for this family.

The next night we were asked by the young elders to meet with one of their investigators who is interested in starting a small business.  We were to share the Self-Reliance materials and invite him to get involved.  Unfortunately, he was not at home.  We went with the missionaries looking for him, but for this time it did not work out.  However, it is always good to spend time with the young missionaries.  What great spirits that they have.  This was our fourth day in a row being with young missionaries.  It is becoming a nice habit.  

We arrived home just in time for our 8:00 pm German lesson with Yvonne Peterson in Provo.  She tutors us on a weekly basis in our Zoom room.  

On Wednesday evening we participated with a Starting and Growing My Own Business self-reliance group from our Ward.  They were on lesson 8.  This was a special experience for us, seeing their ideas and plans for their own small business experience.  After the lesson, we held a video conference with the Stake Specialists from the Appeldoorn, Netherlands Stake, who are temporarily in the U.S.  After that meeting, we went to our Wednesday evening Old Testament class with Sister Stay.  She is a senior missionary who has an incredible knowledge of the Old Testament and the Hebrew language.  Her insights give us a more complete perspectives on so many topics.  This week was about "Drinking the Bitter Cup" as a result of the Garden of Eden experience.

Once again we arrived in our home late, tired but fulfilled.  On Thursday we contacted the elders in Ansbach to see how their visit with Marianne and Cristian went last Saturday.  This is the family that lives in the home that my great grandfather built.  They said that she was not too excited about a gospel discussion.  However, they said that Cristian was more interested and that they would return to him with a Romanian Book of Mormon which would be easier for him to read.

  On Thursday we fed the Sister Missionaries. They asked if we could take them to the airport to say goodbye to the Brazilians who had just gotten baptized.  Elder Leimer and the mission has helped coordinate things so that this wonderful family will be greeted at the airport by missionaries.  The local bishop is ready to help them get settled in appropriate housing.  Members here have given of their means to help this family make this transition back.

After feeding the Sister missionaries, we took them to the airport for an emotional good bye to the family.  Their communication was only through translators but love needs no translation.  Photos below show some of the love and tears that were shared.

Group photo in the airport
Tearful embraces between missionaries and new converts.  
More hugs!

That made one more late night arriving home, but it was worth it.  

Our work week was full of preparations for our upcoming managers seminar and our trip to the Netherlands this week.  We seem always to have plenty to do.  It is very fulfilling.  We feel like we do make a difference.

On our Friday night date, Sister Rueckert suggested that we clean our car, including a full vacuum effort.  It was worth it, it now looks all new again.  This was our second time in this automated car wash.  We have learned the ropes and were able to participate without glitches.  The following photos are from in the car during this car wash experience.

Our windshield with the multi-colored suds from the different cleaning agents that are applied.

Side view with Sister Rueckert, I sure do love her!

We were able to eat dinner at our favorite local restaurant that had been closed during the summer months.  They did some remodeling, but still have the same wonderful food and service.  We love the server who comes from Croatia.  Her name is Nicolina, it reminds us of our grandaughter, Nicole.  She is always so kind to us.

We did not have our missionary family home evening on Monday this week.  Instead they scheduled for a Saturday activity, including a guided tour through Windecken, a small town 30 minutes from Frankfurt.  Ralf Grünke from our Public Affairs office is from this city and was our tour guide.
Missionaries together in front of the Windecken Castle

Missionaries listening to Ralf in the city

Throughout Germany there has been an effort to honor the Jews who were victims of World War II.  Part of that is to put copper markers in the sidewalks in front of many of their former homes.  These markers below are for a family that had been deported from this city and killed.

This is the store that had been operated by the Jewish family.  The markers are on the sidewalk in front of the store.

The house below was from the Lindt family that originally lived in this city.  Their grandson left this city and moved to Switzerland.  There he discovered chocolate, which up to that time was only used as a hot drink.  By accident he kept the chocolate machine on overnight and found a creamy substance in the morning that became a staple in many of our diets.  He founded Lindt Chocolate which is one of the leading chocolate companies in the world.  Certainly it is one of our favorite brands.

Former house of the Lindt family

Sister Rueckert with a Lindt chocolate that was shared with all of the missionaries.

From the wrapper of the chocolate, the famous Lindt name.

Ralf, our tour guide and friend.

Sharing the local castle

Witch tower where suspected witches stayed.  This city punished witches even before the Salem witch trials.

Dinner with the missionaries at a local German restaurant

Ralf Grünke returning to check on us after watching his son's soccer game.  The son's team won!

When we arrived home we had some "free" time.  I was able to finish up cataloguing all of the images that we took in the MarktBergl Pastor office.  By the time I identified them to specific names, we had over 600 images to "index".  Thanks once again to our special angels in the U.S. who will do this work as I send the files to them.  Only one more pastor's office images to catalogue and then we are done with the Bavaria visits from this summer.  While I was doing this, Sister Rueckert continued to work on her German language study.  She also continued putting in some of the family history information that we received while in Erfurt into Family Search.  We are starting to accumulate quite a few temple ordinances to be done.  We will be looking to many of our family in the U.S. to help us do the temple work for their ancestors.  

As we looked at our blog this morning and saw a blog from our daughter Gina about the family activity at the Heber Valley Girls Camp cabins.  This is a tradition that we have been carrying on for several years.  We were pleased that our children continued the tradition even while we were away.  It has been a highlight for many of our grandchildren each year.  The photo below was taken during that activity.  It shows most of our children that were at the cabins.  They represented 9 of our children with their children.  Missing in the photo was Beckie who took the photo (we assume) and Jacob who was cleaning up from the meals.

Children and Grandchildren at the Heber Valley Camp cabins on the Friday and Saturday before Labor Day.