Sunday, July 30, 2017

Great Finds in Local Places

Not all weeks are full of great miracles and places to visit.  Sometimes we go to the office each day to work and go home to our daily routine.  This week, we never even drove our car except to a nearby restaurant on Friday night.  However, we still see opportunities to serve and many blessings in our lives, right here in Frankfurt.

Sister Rueckert teaching the Young Women how to make her famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
We love the Sabbath Day!  It is the highlight of each week.  We love the chance to worship, serve and study.  We testify that the Lord asked us to honor the Sabbath for "our sakes".  When we learn to do that, the blessings of heaven are open to us.  We also believe that sometimes it is a day of rest.  I caught Sister Rueckert meditating on her scriptures this past week.

A day of rest
Just like in the U.S., Monday was the 24th of July.  However, here it was not a holiday but a normal workday.  We had plenty to do, so we worked.  However that evening we thought we should also celebrate.  After returning home, I went down to our store which is one of the great blessings of our mission, and bought the fixings for our own barbecue.

With purchased hard boiled eggs ( a German specialty), Sister Rueckert made deviled eggs.  We then fried up some hamburger patties and had our own hamburgers with all the fixings.  We also found some corn on the cob and some watermelon.  Sister Rueckert got out some paper plates to give us more of a barbecue feeling.

Table set with our 24th of July Barbecue

A nostalgic and tasty meal

After our Pioneer Day dinner we watched the concluding video of The Work and the Glory.  We have loved studying the history of the Church this year with the Sunday School curriculum.  We are so mindful of their extreme sacrifices of the early Saints to help establish the Kingdom of God on the earth in these latter days.  We are amazed how much was restored in just a few years.  We can only imagine how difficult it was to get the Church organized and functioning while growing so rapidly.  Thank goodness that the Lord is in charge.  He sorts all of that out, puts things in perspective and provides needed revelation for all of his saints, including those of us who came 150 years later.

It has been a cool week, temperature wise.  On Tuesday July 25th, the high was 60 degree Fahrenheit.  We have had a lot of rain, but we aren't complaining.  It beats the heat in this humidity.

Tuesday was our monthly meeting with missionary couples.  Two more couples are going home in the next month, Elder and Sister Simoncini (Italy) and Elder and Sister Vernon (London).  Their replacements are not yet here, so our numbers are getting fewer.  Some of the other couples had conflicts this month.  Our numbers will increase greatly over the next few months.

Sister Simoncini on the upper left sharing her testimony with us.  Elder Vernon is on the middle right.

Wednesday, after our Book of Mormon class taught by Elder Garrett, we (Thomas King and us) spent the rest of the day in a video conference with our SLC SR interface, Jorge Alvarado.  We used this as a preparation conference for the new general authority leaders that will begin their new assignments on August 1.  That includes Elder Mervyn Arnold who will be our first contact in Self-Reliance in SLC and Elder Maximillio De Feo who will join our Europe Area Presidency and will be the chairman of our Area Self-Reliance Committee.  After this joint planning meeting, we spent the rest of the week, preparing the preliminary draft of our August Area Committee presentation. We needed to send that to SLC to give Elder Arnold an update of where Europe is in the Self-Reliance Initiative.

Wednesday evening, Sister Rueckert taught the young women of our ward how to make her famous chocolate chip cookies.  This was a chance for service.  She also brought a few cookies home to share with her husband, which was an additional blessing.

Thursday and Friday we worked hard in reviewing the self-reliance status of each of the stakes in Europe and summarizing results to be presented.  I enjoy analysis and presentation.  Much of my career was spent doing this, so it is a pleasant task.

While analyzing results I came to a pleasant realization.  We have generally assumed that only 60% of our self-reliance activities get registered on-line by local SR facilitators.  As I looked back to the early part of the year, I found that the on-line registration has mostly caught up with the manual reporting.  What this means is that the data in the database, although not 100% complete, is much closer than we had expected.  This is the purpose of analysis, not only to present, but more importantly to learn.

Thursday night we enjoyed a Chicken salad.  This is a normal meal for us, but it was more special because the pepper and tomatoes we used were grown on our own balcony.  There is always a special joy to eat the food that you have been able to produce.

Chicken salad with home grown peppers and tomatoes
The number one priority of the Area Presidency is to help unemployed leaders in Southern Spain to get jobs.  We have put great effort into this this year, with some improved results.  However, they still fall short of what we want to accomplish.  Too many leaders are still unemployed or underemployed. Part of our current plan is an even more intensive effort in the Granada Spain stake.  We will begin a pilot with this stake next month.  On Friday night we had a first training meeting with the Stake President, high councilor and stake specialist.  This included us, our Spain manager, our Area manager, our Director of Temporal Affairs and a few individuals from SLC.  So this became part of our date night this week.

When we have a week at home like this week, we have a chance to more consistent  in our exercise and eating habits and in our study of German.  When we do, we make more progress.

For just a minute I want to share our current diet that is bearing great fruit.  Last March we heard from our German teacher about a diet that she was doing that was working.  She simply fasts three times a week.  That means three days of the week, she eats nothing until dinner, but does drink water. We decided to give it a try and have been doing it for almost 4 months.  When we travel it gets more complicated and we fast a bit less.  When we are home, we get better results.  In the first 15 months of our mission, we added quite a few pounds.  Now in the last 4 months, we have lost more than we had added and are now under our pre-mission weight and continue to lose pounds.

Most diets require a lot of extra effort and costs to prepare special foods, etc.  This one goes the other direction.  We don't have to buy as much food or spend as much time in food preparation or doing the dishes.  We are feeling liberated from many of our daily tasks and finding more time to study, etc.  When we eat, we try to be careful but are still able to eat normal foods and also some desserts  Our bodies appear to have adapted well to this new approach and we are feeling good.

This week we also have been preparing for a family history week next week.  We will be spending the week visiting parishes and archives for Debbie's ancestors.  A big part of our current strategy is to do what needs to be done here and leave what can be done after our mission for then. This means mostly we are data gathering in the best quantities possible.

As part of this strategy, I found that some of the records we are seeing are available on microfilm in the Family History library in SLC.  So we decided to order a few of the films to make sure that our assumptions were correct.  This week  some of them arrived at our Family History center  in Frankfurt.  We also discovered that some genealogical books about the Erfurt area (where Sister Rueckert's father was born) are available in two locations.  One is at the Family History Center in SLC and the other is in the National Bibliothek (library) in Frankfurt or Leipzig.  So we ordered a few of these books to review on our date night on Friday so that we would understand what is otherwise available.  When the Video Conference with the Granada stake got scheduled on Friday night, we switched our plans from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

So our Saturday activities were Family History oriented right here in Frankfurt.  We walked to our Church and accessed the new microfilms that had arrived and I took the train for two stops to the National Bibliothek to review some of the books that they had.

Sister Rueckert taking pictures of microfilm in our local chapel

A record from 1739 with the Möller name

Reference to my Great Great Grandfather's birth in Alsace Lorraine, France (alphabetical index).  Can't yet find the record on a microfilm, but at least we know where to look.
Reference to the Church where the alphabetical index referred to
 We find this work with microfilms very tedious and difficult.  We can often identify some names, but the rest of the information is almost illegible or only able to be read after much time, zooming in and study.  We know this is part of the price that we must often pay to find important information about our ancestors.  Both of these examples above were on films that we had seen in recent visits to Magdeburg and Strasbourg.  So even though our progress was limited, we confirmed that we don't need to spend time looking at films that we can review when we return from our missions.

In the afternoon, Sister Rueckert was invited to a baby shower for Constanza, our administrative assistant. I went to the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek on my own to see the books that we had reserved.  It was a quick trip on the train and much easier than driving and parking.

Train station sign with the building behind

Street view of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

Official sign of the library
When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find these books below waiting for me.  They are books with many of the details of Church Books in the Erfurt area.  They don't have this for Gispersleben, the home of many of the ancestors, but they are of the neighboring area and should have some of our ancestors going back.

There are over 20 books like this prepared once again by an individual who probably didn't have any idea why he was doing this.  We know that the Lord was inspiring this work to be done to facilitate family history for us and so many others.  Much of this information is available on microfilm but so hard to access and read.  Here the results are summarized by names and with specific reference to the Church Books where more information is available.

One of several pages full of Möllers, with birth years and references to Church books
These particular books are mostly from the 1600s and 1700s and I have not found any ancestors to tie directly in, but we believe that eventually this will greatly help our research in a very readable format.  These books are also available in the Family History Library, so we don't need to capture all of it now.  While also at the library, I had reserved a book of the history of Gispersleben.  This was very interesting to learn about the very town where Sister Rueckert's ancestors lived.  I took a few photos of some of the pages.  We hope to be able to tie some of it to the house that we have visited during our visits to Erfurt.

History of Gispersleben, going back to 1142 AD

When I returned from the library, Sister Rueckert was still at the baby shower.  A few photos that I took in my short visit:

Sister Rueckert with Sister King, wife of our Area Manager

Wider view of the shower, Constanza is on the left of the group standing
Sister Rueckert won this prize for being the fastest to identify potential baby names for each letter of the alphabet

After Sister Rueckert returned home, we went downstairs for a group missionary dinner.  11 senior missionaries decided to go to a restaurant downtown together on the train.  This was a good Thai restaurant that came highly recommended.  We love socializing with other senior missionaries.  It was a fun way to finish our day and our week in Frankfurt.

Five elders trying to figure how to buy two group tickets on the train
All the missionaries standing in the train on the way home

We did stop for Ice Cream on the way home at the world famous Christina's Eis.  As we walked from the train to the ice cream parlor, we saw this history of the Mormon Church in the window of a book store.

1 comment:

  1. I will be very interested to see what you come up with on the Moeller line. I only know of 4 microfilms available at the SLC FHL. I've searched them all but another set of eyes will be helpful. The books with names and corresponding church book reference sound interesting as well as the book about the Gispersleben history. Keep up the good work and my the Lord bless you. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks so much?