Sunday, August 13, 2017

Missionaries, Missionaries and more Missionaries

We love being missionaries.  One of the greatest blessings on our mission is our association with other full-time missionaries who inspire and strengthen us.  Many of our activities this week relate to this blessed association, which also impacts our self-reliance role and our passion for family history.

After dinner with the young Sister Missionaries in our ward

After our weekly devotional on Monday morning, we held a Zoom meeting with Elder and Sister Hardy who are serving in Athens, Greece.  They have been on their mission just over a month.  We were blown away by the progress they have already made.  They have already started two one on one group sessions with several more individuals identified.  They are taking time with each new senior missionary couple in their mission to teach them about the self-reliance initiative and how it can help in the branches where they serve.  They are also helping one of the missionary couples in Cyprus.  They are from England and their attitude is just amazing.  We identified a few things we could do to help support them.  We could not have started our week off on a more positive note.

We are also uplifted by other senior missionaries throughout Europe.  This week we were blessed to hold our monthly Zoom meetings with our senior missionary couples serving in Greece, Cyprus, France, England, CapeVerde, Spain and Croatia and met a new couple that was just called to the replace our couple in France next January.  The spirit of these missionaries always gives us a boost.

On Monday night we had our monthly Family Home Evening with Missionary couples.  Elder Done, one of our medical advisors, gave part two of his presentation on the Book of Mormon sites in Saudi Arabia.  He has lived in Saudi Arabia for over 7 years and had the privilege to explore the terrain and help identify the route and sites described in the first 18 chapters of 1 Nephi.

Elder Done sharing the route that Lehi and his family probably took prior to leaving for the Promised Land
Those who worked with Elder Done on this exploration have published a book showing 81 documented evidences in Saudi Arabia that tie perfectly to the writings in 1 Nephi.

I share a few of the slides that we found to be amazing.  Although we do not base our testimony of the Book of Mormon on these type of evidences, they certainly confirm what we have felt by the Holy Ghost, that this book was delivered to us in our time from our Heavenly Father for our benefit.  We are thankful for Elder Done for sharing such amazing discoveries.

Descriptions and photos of the land "Bountiful"

Proposed spot for the land Bountiful and the building and launching of the boat

We had a very productive week working with Self-Reliance.  We followed up on previous visits and meetings and worked on presentations for the Area Council and for our Area Self-Reliance Committee meeting.  I spent a full day stuck on how to present our recent self-reliance surveys.  On Thursday morning I prayed about a better solution and some ideas came directly into my mind.  These ideas worked and the improved presentation was completed in minimal time.  We love to let our Heavenly Father guide this work.  His ways are higher than our ways!

On Tuesday evening, we spent a little time following up with Jan, an investigator that we had met with on Sunday.  Our bishop had asked us to give him some self-reliance help.  Jan is an amazing man who is studying with the Sister missionaries and needs assistance to get a job and put his own self-reliance in order.  We loved being able to meet with him and feel of his spirit.  He is willing to do anything to improve his situation.  After our meeting with him, he began a one on one self-reliance group with our My Job Search facilitator. 

Wednesday we had our weekly Book of Mormon class with the other senior missionaries that serve as Europe Area missionaries.  Sister Healy taught (or facilitated) as we started over in the Book of Mormon with 1 Nephi.  As always, the discussion was inspired.  We were especially touched by the discussion of tender mercies that come from our Heavenly Father in our lives and the counsel to record those tender mercies.  Sister Rueckert has now started a daily Tender Mercy journal.

On Wednesday evening we had the privilege to start sharing the My Plan for Returned Missionaries process with a few recently returned sister missionaries in our ward.  Two more will be with us this week and one more missionary will return by the end of the month.  We love talking to recently returned missionaries.  They still have such a strong missionary attitude.  The purpose of these lessons is to help them build a self-reliance plan based on the lessons that they learned as full-time missionaries.  We will be privileged to work with these returned missionaries over the next few months.

On Thursday evening we had the opportunity to provide a dinner meal for the young sister missionaries.  We invited Sister Keyser to join with us, since she has been slowed down with a pulled muscle in her leg.  It is always a joy to have her and her positive attitude with us.  We love feeding the young missionaries and getting to know them.  Their stories of choosing to serve missions and their testimonies that have developed inspire us.  This also gave us a chance to coordinate efforts with Jan and make sure that we are jointly helping him.  We also discussed the sisters plans for after their mission as they are both leaving before the end of the year.  They are certainly in need for self-reliance help.  We subsequently gave them a copy of the My Plan for Returned Missionary lessons that we are using with the returned missionaries in our ward.

At the end of our work day on Friday, we went to the Family Search office to meet with an employee, Richard Walker, who we had been referred to by another senior missionary couple.  Richard is am family history research expert and we were looking for help with our ancestor from Bohemia (Czech Republic).  He was kind enough to give us several ideas of how to proceed, including some names of people that are Czech genealogy experts, both in the Family History department and of a local member in the Czech Republic.  He is currently serving as the patriarch and is passionate about family history.  The following are photos of a book of land holders in Bohemia in the 1600s.  All of this gives more places to look for Samuel Bertram Hartman.  He was our first family history priority many years ago and is still our most difficult and unresolved family history mystery.

Old Czech book of land holdings
Part of the list of Hartmann names in the book

Also during this week, we received a visit from Sister Rueckert's  second cousin once removed. Heidi Patscha came and visited us and shared a photo of her grandmother with Sister Rueckert's great grandmother (they were sisters).  That gave me some incentive to send the voice recording that we got of Heidi's mother last year to Heidi.  I was missing a cable to get it from my voice recorder to the computer.  Elder van Hoff, who works with the technology department, was able to find a cable for me and I was able to get this completed on Thursday night and given to Heidi on Friday morning.  Once more, we were aided by dedicated senior missionaries.

Two sisters.  Heidi's grandmother on the left, Sister Rueckert's great grandmother on the right.

For some time we have been trying to help Elder Steineckert with his family history.  We had planned a trip to the Nuremberg area.  As we started replanning again, I had sent an email to one of the parishes without success.  Finally I had noticed that the parishes in question have their records available on-line through  This is a paid subscription German genealogical service which has many of the Protestant Church books for birth, marriages and deaths available.  Since I had planned on subscribing to this service when we get home, I decided to start the subscription now to help Elder Steineckert, he was willing to pay the extra cost.

Short story, I signed up and found that this is an incredible resource that is super easy to use.  Although they do not cover many of the cities that we wish they did, they do cover quite a few of interest.  While testing it out, I found some continuation of the work that we had started in the Illisheim parish last month.  I have since carried the lines of our friends in Bavaria back quite a few more generations.

Ease of seeing a needed "Endress" record with clearly identified locations in the photo.
With this tool available, Elder Steineckert came to our apartment on Saturday and we were able to identify some of the individuals on the end of one of his lines.  More to come, but an easier solution than driving to parishes, staying over night, etc.

Birth Record of Barbara Meier, Elder Steineckert's great . . . great grandmother

We spent our Saturday getting caught up on laundry, cleaning, family history, etc.  We also decided to start organizing things that we need to send home.  Below is our first box that will be sent home.

DHL delivery up to  20 kilograms.  We weighed in at about 15 kilograms.

 It has been raining most of the week which has kept the temperatures very enjoyable.  The harvest is slowed down with minimal sunshine, but we were able to harvest the following tomatoes and jalapeño peppers.

Saturday's harvest

Sister Rueckert started washing pillow case covers and found my pillow to be yellowed.  So she took on the need to wash a down feather pillow.  After careful washing and many times through the dryer, it all turned out well.  We had to show a photo of the many hours of work.

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