Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nature's Beauty and Ancestors; walking, trams, boats and trains

Our week began in Croatia.  After our self-reliance work of the previous week, we took a P Day on Monday before flying home early Tuesday morning.  We went with Sister Ezard and visited the Plitvice Lakes, which are the most renowned national park in Croatia and one of most beautiful sites of nature in all of Europe.

Near one of the many waterfalls in this paradise

The Plitvice Lakes are 16 terrace like lakes, all interconnected by waterfalls. Kilometers of wooden bridges and forest paths allow for a close encounter with the lakes and waterfalls created by nature.  These are located at the spring of the river Korane, at an altitude of 480 to 636 meters, between the mountains Mala Kapela and Ličke Plješevice.
This national park includes many trails, panoramic tram and boat transportation.  As we planned, to minimize the extensive walking, we chose to begin at the top of the 16 lakes and  work our way down with the help of one boat ride across the largest lake.  This plan (Tour H) began from Entrance 2 and a tram ride to the top lake.  It ended with a tram from the bottom lake, returning to Entrance 2. This plan still included 9 kilometers of walking and had an estimated time of 4 to 6 hours.  We thought that Sister Rueckert could handle that if we didn't go too fast.
Our plan seemed to work.  We enjoyed walking past the beautiful sites.  We did follow one incorrect path, which added at least one more kilometer to our plan, but it was through a beautiful area.  Every turn revealed a different view of waterfalls and nature.  The water in the lakes was a beautiful turquoise and was very clear.  The weather was perfect for this trip, a little cool in the morning and a little warm in the afternoon. The following photos are a futile effort to convey this beauty.
One waterfall into one of the lakes

Waterfalls, even going under the walkways

The water is bluer than the sky

Overlooking one of the lakes, waterfalls in the back of the lake
Directly in front of one of the waterfalls

With Sister Ezard in front of the same waterfall

Perhaps our most picturesque photo of the waterfalls in the greenery

Sister Rueckert and Sister Ezard walking over one of the falls

Sister Rueckert in front of an array of waterfalls
Waterfalls in the background of this incredible clear lake
So clear, easy to see the timber in the lake as well as a few fish

Another multitude of falls
Going across a major lake on a boat

Fish swimming upstream with mouths open to catch feed that is coming down in the water

Beautiful pools with waterfalls in the background

One of the lower lakes cascading into each other
Once we got to the end of the lower lakes, we were ready to finish.  We had walked almost 10 kilometers and had a wonderful time, but we were tired and ready for our tram ride back to the entrance number 2.  However, we found an unexpected problem.  We had arrived at the end of the lower lakes, but we were in the bottom of the canyon.  This meant we now had to climb all the way out of the canyon, following switchback trails going up the mountain.  The views were breathtaking, but the effort was strenuous.  We weren't sure Sister Rueckert was going to make it, but she did.
Looking down on some of the lakes and falls that we walked by

A view of the great waterfall and other waterfalls below from the path going up.  Gives an idea of the depth of the canyon.
We started the walking at 11:00 am and finished at a little after 5:00 pm.  Even though we had the trauma of climbing out of the canyon, we were still on target to return to Sister Ezard's apartment before 7:00 pm, when she had an appointment to go with the sister missionaries for a teaching appointment.  The park was a little over an hour away from her apartment.  

We were doing just fine when the traffic came to a total standstill.  After waiting some time, our estimated arrival was now surpassing her 7:00 pm appointment.  No one knew the extent of the problem.  However, we were able to see across the mountain side and see cars also stopped in the distance.  Several cars were turning around.  The problem was that this was a mountain road with no other alternatives to go around the traffic problem.

Cars stopped on the road out of the mountains

We decided to turn around and search for a different route that would eventually be picked up by the GPS.  We drove back up the canyon for 25 kilometers without any changes on the GPS. Finally we found a person on the street and Sister Ezard was able to communicate with him in German.  He called a friend with the police that confirmed that the problem was an accident and the delay would be at least 3 hours.  He told us to continue driving the other direction for 30 kilometers and catch a different road on the right.  By the time we got there, the GPS did self-correct and we headed home.  It took quite a while and we arrived home around 9:00 pm, but that was still faster than waiting stopped in the canyon.  Obviously, the sister missionaries needed to find help elsewhere that evening.

We got up at 4:00 am the next morning, drove to Zagreb, which was 45 minutes away and were able to catch our 6:45 am flight back to Frankfurt.   After returning to our apartment, getting showered, etc., we went and worked the rest of the day in the office.  Our key task for the day was our monthly meeting with Self-Reliance senior missionaries.  This is always one of our highlights of the month. This month we had the opportunity to hear farewell thoughts from Elder and Sister Neiswender who will be leaving for home before our next meeting.

Good participation from 11 senior missionary couples or singles (and us)

On Wednesday noon, it was my (Elder Rueckert) turn to teach the Book of Mormon class with the other Senior missionaries, so Tuesday was an opportunity to make last minute preparations.  The lesson was on Ether chapters 3 to 6.  I broke it into 5 topics: 1) The Stones 2) The Faith 3) The Sealed Portion 4) The Three Witnesses 5) The Journey to the Promised Land.

The lesson went well and the spirit bore witness of eternal truths.  That should be my last turn to teach on our mission.  Sister Rueckert still has one more opportunity scheduled.

Besides trip reports, follow through and planning, we used Wednesday to prepare for our next adventure on Thursday.  This was a visit to the Magdeburg regional archive of parish records for the area where Sister Rueckert's family came from.  We had scheduled a visit and purchased train tickets for a one day adventure on Thursday.  On Wednesday we printed out the Family Group Sheets for the end of the line genealogy of Sister Rueckert, trying to identify where we could search the next day.

On Wednesday evening our Finance Group got cancelled so we attended the Old Testament class on the period prior to the flood taught by Sister Stay.  She has such amazing understanding and such a willingness to teach those of us who want to learn.

Sister Stay and her amazing white board of information
Thursday morning we got up early again and caught a train to the train station a little after 5 a.m.  The first train for Magdeburg left at 6:13 am and with one transfer it arrived in Magdeburg at 9:55 am.  The cost of the train ticket was about the same as fuel for the trip.  By going and returning in the same day, we did not need to pay a hotel, so we thought this was the most economical method.

Waiting for the train at 5:10 am on a rainy morning
Relaxing on the train on the way

The almost four hour trip went quickly as we used the time to organize our papers and our priorities.  We found it a much more relaxing way to travel.  We arrived on time and with a short taxi ride to the archive, we were able to begin our search of records.  We found that some of the cities we were looking for where in a different archive in Eisenach, but we still had plenty to look for.  Sister Rueckert jumped on our prime focus, which was the records in Gisperleben, Erfurt, where the Möllers came from.  She started on the alphabetical index (lessons learned in France earlier in the month) and found a familienregister for Gisperleben.  

This was our number one treasure of the trip.  These are similar to those we found in Bavaria, but had not seen before in the Erfurt area.  They were on microfilm and not quite as complete, but still an amazing treasure.  Right away she found the familienregister for Christian Wilhelm Möller, who is her 3rd great grandfather.  It showed him and his wife and their 5 children.  As we looked at this together, the spirit filled our souls and we knew that once again we had been blessed from above. 

Family Search only showed 2 of the 5 children and none of their children.  Here we found 3 pages of descendants of Christian Wilhelm Möller, including Sister Rueckert's 2nd great grandfather.  This also added three additional children to his family that had not been sealed to their parents.

Familienregister for Christian Wilhelm Möller, his children and their children over 100 years

Familienregister for Carl Bernard Eduard Möller and his family.  We corrected some info and added three more children.
For those who are not direct ancestors, all of the information was new and is now being added to Family Search.  We found similar records for 3 other surnames that are direct ancestors of Sister Rueckert.  What a joy it is to find this type of information.  We estimate that nearly one hundred additional names will be identified for temple ordinances as we finish reviewing all of this.

Familienregister for the name of Finz.  The above includes four brothers of Sister Rueckert's 3rd great grandmother, who was Karl Bernhard Eduard Möller's mother-in-law and their families.  Only two of them had been identified in Family Search and none of their posterity.
We then worked as well as we could with alphabetical listings and identified some of the names in her ancestry.  We found the actual records from the 1600s and 1700s very difficult to read and took photos of many of them to work on later.

We also found records for the village of Bad Tennstedt and found the actual record of her 4th great grandfather Jeske.  This gives us additional information about his parents, once we are able to completely read the information.

Birth Record for Heinrich Justin Jeske
We were working from alphabetical indexes for the other years and making good progress when we were told that the archive closed at 3:00 pm.  So we had to leave with still unfinished work.  It gives us a reason to return when we can find another day to spend.  Overall, it was highly successful, but we know that there are still many other ancestors or relatives awaiting our efforts to find them.

Our train ticket was for 8:00 in the evening, so we had time to walk back to the train station and enjoy the city.  From there we walked around the town a little and had a nice dinner.  We were going to visit the main cathedral, but it ended up being further than we had thought.  Sister Rueckert waited while I scouted it out.  I found it but we decided it was too far to be worth the effort.  It also was closing at 6:00 pm, so our time would be limited.    It is a cathedral from the 1200s that was not bombed during the war.  It is currently under renovation.  The photos below include the cathedral and other sights around Magdeburg.

One of the fun yard displays that we saw as we walked the neighborhood

Magdeburg Cathedral
Interesting buildings in Magdeburg
Interesting Building in Magdeburg #2

We found a nice Croatian restaurant and meal, fitting since we were there earlier in the week.  The bread is a noodle bread, very unique but tasty with a goulash soup.
Finally we returned home on the train, with two transfers.  We arrived safely and comfortably a little before midnight in Frankfurt.  The train by our apartment was now on a every 15 minutes schedule, allowing our return by 12:30 am.

Enjoying an ice cream while waiting for our train
Sister Rueckert studying Duo Lingo on the train which is equipped with Wifi

Friday morning we did a make up lesson for Telma to finish her Education Self-Reliance Course.  She has five children and brings her two year old twins to the course.  We love getting to know these members.  She is from Portugal, so I had a nice time playing with her kids in Portuguese while Sister Rueckert facilitated the last lesson.

Finishing the Education for Better Work class with the "twins"

Friday we also had the opportunity to have video conferences with E/S Pettit in Sweden and a newly called missionary couple from Brazil who will be serving in Cape Verde.  We also met with a couple that is considering a SR mission in England next year.  We will have seven new SR couples arriving in the last three months of our mission.  That will keep us busy until the end of our mission.

On Saturday we enjoyed a day off to get our apartment into order, clothes washed, etc.  I attended a summer barbecue with the Ward while Sister Rueckert cleaned our balcony, cleaning up the mess caused by pigeons over the past 6 weeks.  I finally finished Level 4 of my German Rosetta Stone training.  One more level to complete before the end of our mission.  Sister Rueckert updated our decor for the 4th of July.

Completed Level 4, Unit 16
New 4th of July Wreath
Our Patriotic Tree

Family History Update from my cousin Gloria, great results from data that we gathered during her recent visit with us:

"I wanted to give you a brief update on my progress in working with the parish records we were able to obtain when I visited.

I began with and have been working on the records from Betzenstein.  You may not remember, but the main reason I wanted to visit Betzenstein was to find the record of Johann Steger who, based on my research, was born about 17 November 1684 in Hüll.  I believe that his information in FamilyTree is incorrect and the data for his parents and ancestors connect us to the wrong Steger line.  Finding Johann Steger from Hüll would prove it and enable us to connect to the correct line.

I began with the images from Elder Rueckert's phone and my phone.  I renamed all the images, giving them a name that was meaningful to me and that would enable me to easily find the image should I need to recheck my data.  Once the images were renamed, I entered all the data off each one into an Excel spreadsheet.

I saved the images from Sister Rueckert's phone for last.  She was the powerhouse of the team and had almost (or maybe even more than) double the images from the other two phones.  I have renamed the majority of the images from her phone and was beginning to despair ... I still had not found my Johann Steger from Hüll.  Tonight as I was working on the images from Sister Rueckert's phone I came across the birth record for Johann Steger from Hüll.  I believe he is the person I have been looking for.  The birth date is one day off of my calculations based on the information contained in his burial record (in Archion) and, true to the information I found in his marriage record, his father is listed as Hanß Steger, Bauer zu Hüll.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat there and read it.

Once again I thank you and Sister Rueckert.  I am hoping that when I complete the images from her phone and enter them into the spreadsheet, I will be able to connect not only Johann Steger from Hüll, but many more individuals from the parish of Betzenstein to our FamilyTree.  Without your assistance this would not have been possible.

Thank you again,"


Last Pigeon Update:  When we returned from Croatia, our pigeon was still here.  He seemed to be walking around our plants more and flexing his wings.  The mother pigeon kept coming and talking to him.  On Friday he flew from one side of the balcony to the other and then took off from the balcony.  He came back to sleep that night but was gone by morning.  On Saturday we cleaned up after him and consider ourselves to be pigeon free.  We shew them off if they come back again.

Upon our return from Croatia on Tuesday
Strutting through the geraniums, practically destroyed by the pigeons
Being talked to by the mother

Contemplating the big flight

Testing out his wings

Last view before he flew off the balcony for good
Cleaned up balcony, no more pigeon poop

No comments:

Post a Comment