Sunday, February 12, 2017

Home Sweet Home

After several weeks of traveling it was great to stay home for a week.  We know that home is a relative term, but we sure enjoyed this past week in Germany.  We have a plaque on our wall in our bedroom that defines home perfectly.

Our home travels with us, as long as we are together.  We are not perfect, but we feel like we are perfect for each other.
This week at home was very much needed and we seemed to use it to the fullest.  

Our week began with a devotional with Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Area Presidency addressing us.  He taught us about being employees and missionaries for the Church.  He taught us about Truman Angell, who was an early architect for the Church.  The following are some of the notes from his talk.
"This work is ONE work.  To God, all things are Spiritual.  They are not spiritual first and then temporal.  When Truman was a Seventy and wanted to leave to preach the word of God to others, the prophet Joseph Smith asked him to stay and build a new store.  Staying and building the store was no less important or no less spiritual than he work would have done teaching and preaching.  Maybe what we are doing isn’t the most glamorous, but it is essential."

Monday evening we had our monthly Family Home Evening with the senior missionary couples.  Before the Family Home Evening we had one of our normal Monday night meals, roterisserie chicken from the "chicken man"

This Family Home Evening was a game night, playing Bunko.  This is a dice game that is totally based on luck, which made it more fun.  We moved from table to table depending on if we won or lost the previous round.  Fun was had by all and we were able to get to know many missionaries a little better than we otherwise would.

Tables of four, winners move forward with new partners  from those who lost at the table in the previous round
We are always blessed with wonderful treats at our FHEs and devotionals.  The treats this evening were amazing!

While in Germany, we spend a lot of our time in video meetings with managers and missionaries.  This week we had our monthly managers meeting for two hours on Monday and our weekly meeting with Miguel Adriano, our Operations manager in Portugal, on Wednesday.

We were also blessed to have nine video conference meetings with many of our self-reliance missionaries.  This included one hour meetings with couples from Greece, Romania, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Scotland, Sweden and 2 different couples from Cape Verde.  We also had telephone conversations with the two couples in England that we will be visiting this next week.   These one on one meetings with other self-reliance missionaries have become highlights of our month. When we see the amazing work that each of them do, their creativity and dedication, we are in awe.  They inspire us and always have something to teach us.  Our role is often to share successes and lessons learned from others.
One of our Video Conferences with Elder and Sister Kimball in Spain.  We caught them right after an exercise session, so Elder Kimball was not yet dressed in his missionary attire.  These are incredible missionaries with perfect capabilities and personalities to serve in Spain.

We have really been impressed with the efforts of Elder and Sister Pettit.  They served incredibly in Ireland for the first year of their mission and now have been reassigned to work in Scandinavia.  They are based in Sweden and in their first month have already visited almost every stake and district in the four countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.  Their efforts are tireless and their ability to inspire and support the priesthood leaders is amazing.  What they are accomplishing in Scandinavian has already surpassed any of our highest expectations.

Our relationships with each of these missionary couples is one of the greatest treasures of our mission.  They have become some of our closest friends.  We are pleased to be able to meet with two of our newest couples in England this next week.  One arrived in November and the other in the past few weeks.  Our goal is always to get to know them in a way that facilitates our working together throughout their mission.

Our week was also full of follow-up items from our previous trips and preparations for the next trips. We standardized our direction in Spain with the unemployed leaders, and got our upcoming filming trip to Cape Verde (in March) better organized.  We also continued our follow-up with the Netherlands Stakes and resumed our efforts with our own ward, preparing to met with our ward council in two weeks.  We have also been invited to help our neighboring German ward to prepare for  their first My Path Devotional in March.

 We also were able to return to most of our German classes.   On Tuesday, Sister Rueckert had her class with Sister Enger and we were able to give her a ride home that evening.  Later that evening we spent an hour with Sister Peterson in Provo, updating her on our recent travels.  Our discussion lasted an hour and was totally in German.  It's not pretty, but it is getting better.  On Wednesday we had our afternoon German class with a member of the Translation team.  Each lesson with her, we learn new phrases and dialogues that help us to be more conversational.  And finally on Saturday, I finished my 12th  level of Rosetta Stone.  That should have been finished in December, according to my goals, but I have gotten behind.  Sister Rueckert has been reading the Book of Mormon in German and is now at Alma 29.

On Wednesday night we had dinner with Elder and Sister Steineckert and shared some of our family history experiences and tried to help them get started in their own family history while on their mission.  Their ancestry comes from the Nürnberg area, same as ours.  We were able to get them started with communication with one of the pastor offices in that region.

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to meet with the Mid Singles of our Stake.  Our manager, Thomas King, and his wife are the Mid Singles representatives and were out of town this week, so we were asked to fill in.  We reviewed the conference talk from President Uchtdorf about Alma and Amulek.  The discussion was very meaningful as these fine single adults shared their experiences and feelings.  One of the sisters was visibly touched by the spirit. As we talked to her after the lesson, we learned that she had recently become active after 19 years away from the Church.  As we read the words of Amulek "I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these this things, yet I would not believe", she said that it perfectly described her past.  Obviously, with the guidance of the Lord we were able to have a lesson that was perfect for her.  This was a wonderful evening for us.  As is normal, when we serve, we are most blessed.

That night as we went home, Sister Rueckert redid our door wreath and prepared it perfectly for the Valentine season.

On Friday we concentrated on preparing for our visit to England and our Self-Reliance devotional that we will share with the other senior missionaries the day that we return from England. By Saturday we were certainly ready for our first Preparation Day in a month.  It was glorious to just work on the many little things that have been neglected.  This included starting on our 2016 income taxes.

We finished up our day with a zoom conference with our daughter Gina and her family.  Her son is our newest little grandchild and he had a tough week, ending up in the hospital with RSV and bronchulitis.  We were so happy to see him home and doing much better.  He finishes off our weekly theme of being "home".  It is truly wonderful!

Little Hudson on Zoom with his grandparents in Germany

Today we attended church in our "home" ward in Frankfurt, the first time in a month.  The meetings were focused on Repentance and the First Principles of the gospel.  Our ward is full of talented members who share the gospel in a very meaningful way.

We are now in an airport leaving for England where we will finish out our Sabbath Day.  It certainly was nice to be home!

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