|Our new friends in Nürnberg, the Frenzel family|
This was our week for our monthly senior missionary devotional. This month we were privileged to listen to Janet Nelson, a member of the International Young Women General Board. Janet has been living in Frankfurt for the past year with her husband who is the Church Legal Counsel for the Europe Area. Previously, they lived in Brooklyn, New York, where Jeff Nelson also served as the Stake President.
Sister Nelson shared with us her feelings and experiences as a member of the International Young Women General Board. She was called while living in Brooklyn and continues to serve while here in Europe. This Board includes sisters from around the world, so her move to Frankfurt made it fit even better.
Her presentation gave us additional insights to the roles of these sisters and the strong desire of the leadership of the Church to understand and serve young women all over the world. All were deeply appreciative for the additional insights that we received.
|Sister Nelson sharing her experiences with the Young Women General Board|
Sister Rueckert has taken all key materials that we feel that new missionaries should have and put them on flash drives to be shared with the 10 new missionary couples arriving in the next six months. We have also taken time to create a standard template for training new missionary couples and have created a more complete role description of the many things that we are doing as Area Self-Reliance missionaries. As we organize our thoughts on paper, our thinking becomes more clear and complete. We pray that the work that we have experienced can continue to grow as we leave our missions.
We also received word of a new couple that has been called to serve in Portugal. We will be meeting with them for the first time tomorrow. That will bring the number of filled senior missionary complements in the Europe Area to 14. We only have one open complement, needing to replace our couple that recently returned home from Italy. Part of our work this week has been to make sure that all incoming missionaries have accommodations, vehicles, cell phones, etc.
We also spend our available time to plan training activities that we will take part in the next few months. We will begin this week with a visit to Hungary to be with Elder and Sister Bradshaw who recently arrived as SR missionaries.
On Tuesday, we had our monthly Zoom conference with these wonderful missionaries. This included E/S Bradshaw for the first time. This meeting had 10 couples. The numbers should increase to 14 in the coming months.
That night we continued our meetings with three recently returned missionary sisters. We love these meetings and are always inspired by these good sisters.
One of the major events this week was Sister Rueckert's turn to teach the Senior missionary Book of Mormon Class. She has been working on this for the past 6 weeks. I felt like the lesson was very inspirational, as she shared specific insights that came to her during her preparation. Of course, the comments from others always contribute greatly.
|Sister Rueckert sharing her Book of Mormon lesson on 1 Nephi 8 to 12|
As I read 1 Nephi 11:1 in preparation for leading a discussion on 1 Nephi 9-12 in the Book of Mormon, my thoughts center on the word "pondering". I decided to do extensive studying on pondering and meditation. The favorite quote I found on this subject is from President McKay. "I think we pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion . . . Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as 'a form of private devotions or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep continued reflection on some religious theme.' Meditation is a form of prayer . . . Medication sone of the most secret, most sacred door through which we pass into the presence of the Lord" (McKay 'Consciousness of God," 80). I committed myself to pounder more and have found it to bee like a muscle. The more you e exercise it the stronger it gets. I bear testimony that this is true. I invited all who attended Book of Mormon class to do the same.
Right after the class completed we left for a quick trip to Nürnberg, two hours away. We wanted to make one more visit to the regional genealogical society to print out more family registers for several of the family lines that we had identified. We had hoped to spend a few hours there and then to visit Hanna Frenzel in Nürnberg.
First of all, we arrived at the genealogical society only to find that they are on vacation this week. I forgot to verify that they were open and now we were in Nürnberg two hours before our meeting with Hanna.
However, as always, the Lord knows better. We decided to make the visit to Hanna Frenzel earlier than originally scheduled. Let me give a little background before I go forward.
As we have been working with the genealogy of our friends Werner and Dorota Rückert (who we have been able to confirm are our distant cousins), we have pursued his mother's line. Werner told us that his mother's grandmother was without a father, being raised by a single mother. When we visited the local parish last month, we were able to find the marriage record of her daughter. On this record the parents of the bride were both identified with some annotations that the bride had been accepted into someone else's home. There was also an annotation with a ? if the parents had been divorced.
As I put this information into Family Search, the identified father was already registered as part of a family that had temple work completed. The marriage record showed this girl as being born in 1915. The father that we were able to identify in Family Search died in World War I in 1916. This seems to clarify the situation of the girl being raised without a father.
As I looked at the entry of the father in Family Search, I saw that it had been updated in June by a Hanna Frenzel. In the month earlier, parent information had been updated. As I looked further, I could see that the niece of this person had temple ordinances completed while still alive. I realized that I had linked into living members of the Church. I was elated.
I went ahead and sent a message through Family Search to Hanna Frenzel. She returned the message. Finally, her nephew who speaks good English gave me a call. We then arranged for this meeting.
So even though we were not able to visit the genealogical society, we had extra time to visit with Hanna. Her nephew Markus came over with his parents a little later and we had a joyous meeting. If all of our facts are correct, Hanna is a second cousin once removed to our friend, Werner Rueckert. Hanna's parents were baptized into the Church in Nürnberg in the 1930s and their family has been faithful members ever since. Hanna and her nephew Markus agreed to go with us on our next visit to Werner and Dorota next month. We are delighted that we will have some German members of the Church who are relatives to work with Werner and Dorota. We don't know where this all will go, they have accepted missionaries to visit with them. We have since communicated with Werner and Dorota who have agreed upon this visit on September 23.
While we were visiting with this special family, we found out that Hanna's brother Helaman had been baptized in 1950 by Christian Schwemmer. I told them that Christian Schwemmer was my home teaching companion when I was a youth. We have since confirmed with Christian's daughter in law (who met in our MTC language training two years ago) that Christian was the branch president in Nürnberg in 1950 and moved to Utah in 1951.
In further discussion, Helaman asked us if we knew J. Peter Loscher. Sister Rueckert and I were in shock. I explained that J. Peter Loscher was my bishop when I was baptized and the bishop that sent me on my young mission. He was an amazing man who served many missions for the Church, including one as a building supervisor of construction missionaries in Germany. Helaman Fenzler was one of these construction missionaries that served with the bishop of my youth over 50 years ago!
|Helaman Frenzel and Elder Rueckert, two friends of J. Peter Loscher|
We also discussed the Self-Reliance initiative with these good members. Our new self-reliance missionary couple will be based in their ward when they arrive in Germany in October. I believe that they will be well received into this ward. It is amazing to see how the Lord can orchestrate all of this. This day was full of tender mercies, not what we had planned, but certainly what our Heavenly Father had arranged.
As we drove home that night, we were full of amazement at the goodness of our Heavenly Father. We drove by a field of sunflowers and saw beautiful sunsets. In a way it was our own experience with the beauty of the sun, just two days after the U.S. experienced the Solar Eclipse.
|Field of sunflowers with the setting sun|
|Our German solar eclipse, sun being covered by the clouds in a beautiful sunset|
Tuesday morning Sister Rueckert woke up with a bad cramp in her thigh. It only hurt when she walked. We hoped that it would go away but it did not. As the week progressed, it got worse, although the pain was inconsistent. We feared that there was something related to her previous hip replacement issues. Finally on Friday morning, Elder Garrett helped me to give her a blessing. In the blessing she was promised that she would be healed and that she would be able to complete her mission without difficulty. The blessing was totally fulfilled! God is good!
Friday night we went on our weekly date night at our local Italian restaurant. We saw two missionary couples leaving and found three more in the restaurant. We joined them for a delightful meal.
On Saturday, we had been invited by our dear friends Christian and Marianne, who live in the house built by my great grandfather, to come down to Bavaria for a barbecue. We gladly came. Marianne had been hospitalized for three months following a nervous breakdown. She is fighting a daily battle with the devil inside of her head. However, her love is so strong and her spirit is so tender. We feel of their love and count them among the very best of friends that we have made in Germany.
|At the barbecue with Christian and Marianne|
|Homemade Raspberry cake|
|Homemade Lemon Cake|
After long hugs and a few tears we shared goodbyes for the last time during our mission. However, we made arrangements to continue our friendship with Skype calls, etc. They even opened their home to us if we are able to come back to Germany for some family history visits next year. Once again, we left fully edified by the goodness of our Heavenly Father.
Today, we were once again invited to be fed. Elder and Sister Cottam invited us to come to Sunday dinner. They are so kind and treat us so well. Last week we ate good Brazilian beans. This week we have been fed by good friends, old and new. They have fed us with delicious food and more importantly, love.
When the week started, Sister Rueckert received an email asking her to speak in Sacrament Meeting this Sunday (today). So once she was able to finish the Book of Mormon lesson, Sister Rueckert went to work on this next assignment. She spoke about Hope and did a wonderful job.
I stand amazed at the eternal companion that I have been blessed with. What a joy to serve a mission with her as my missionary companion. As missionaries we generally serve together and she always does her share and more. This week, I was mostly an observer as I watched her teach the Book of Mormon, talk about hope and minister to a friend in need. She is the first to say that she is only sharing what she is prompted to share. I am thankful that she is in tune with the Holy Ghost and has learned to listen to and obey promptings.