Sunday, April 2, 2017

Outpouring of the Spirit

We enjoyed a week at home in Frankfurt, full of joys of missionary work.  More specifically, we have enjoyed several manifestations of the Holy Ghost in our personal and missionary lives.  One of those was as Sister Rueckert taught the weekly Book of Mormon Class to other senior missionaries.  The Spirit abounded, aided by her preparation and participation by other missionaries.  We are watching the current General Conference sessions and enjoying what Elder Rasband describes as the outpouring of the spirit.

Sister Rueckert teaching about the pride cycle from Helaman 11 to 14.

Our week started with our monthly senior missionary devotional.  It was entitled "From Janna Flavius to Bernie Caracena: Two Millennia of Ancestors".   Elder Caracena, shared his experiences in Family History during his mission.  Using any down time available, Elder Caracena has prepared over 1,000 family names for temple work.  He also has developed a timeline of his ancestors dating back to 1 A.D. (Janna Flavius).

Elder Caracena sharing his visual summary of his  two millennia of Ancestors

 On Tuesday, we had our monthly meeting with senior missionary couples.  Although we missed a few this month, we still had 12 different groups participating.

Before the Book of Mormon Class on Wednesday, we had a luncheon to honor two missionary couples that are finishing their 23 month missions in the next 30 days.  We will truly miss Elder and Sister Caracena and Bausman.  They had each arrived right before we started our first pre-mission time in Germany and have become dear friends.   They will certainly be missed by all.

Sisters Caracena and Bausman, also celebrating Sister Bausman's birthday

After the lunch celebration, Sister Rueckert gave her lesson to the other Senior missionaries on Helaman chapters 11 to 14. This is intimidating for most but generally turns out very well, always aided by great participation of the other missionaries.  Sister Rueckert has worked on this for quite some time and did an excellent job of organizing the material and her thoughts.  She started talking about the question, "Why don't people pay attention to living prophets?"  After about 15 minutes of discussion and a few scriptures on this topic, she moved into a review of the Pride Cycle.  Her part was very well done, but more importantly, the Spirit of the Lord was clearly present.  Several missionaries commented on this.

On Thursday night we were able to have a dinner with Elder and Sister Bateson, who are the Executive Secretaries to the Area Presidency.  They also shared with us the presentation that Elder Bateson had made the previous week about the translation of the Book of Mormon.  He had served for many years as the Director of the Translation Department.  We loved the evening together and also a beautiful plant arrangement that they brought with them to our home.

Part of our efforts this week have been to make sure our Self-Reliance Groups in our ward are supported and functioning.  On Tuesday night we facilitated the third lesson of the Health and Well-Being group.  Today we started the first meeting for our Sunday Finance group.  It is amazing to see how well these groups work.  People really bond together and have a true enthusiasm for the group experience

. All together we have about 36 individuals participating in 7 different groups in our ward.

As normal, our week was filled with follow-up from our previous activities and preparations for upcoming trips and meetings.  We don't ever seem to run out of things to do.  We also were able to meet a couple from Australia (by video) who is preparing to take our place in the fall.  That day will come sooner than we want, so we better make sure we are ready for a successful transition.

The weather has been beautiful this week in Frankfurt, with clear sunny skies.  We have been back walking and running in the cemetery again.  We are loving the springtime.

Sister Rueckert in the morning in the Cemetery 

As we exercise outdoors, or in the gym in Cape Verde, we listen to talks from General Conference.  In the past month, we have been able to listen to all of the talks of the last general conference again.  As I listen to talks, there are often certain comments that make a strong impression on me.  I know that this comes from the Holy Ghost, so I have tried to save these and review them often.  The following are a few of the comments from last conference that have come to mean a lot to me:

I promise that if you will do this--even until the fourth floor, last door--you will receive the answers you seek. You will find faith.  

by loving and serving God’s children . . . we will suffer less spiritually.

I have had prayers answered. Those answers were most clear when what I wanted was silenced by an overpowering need to know what God wanted.  

All we have to do to receive this heavenly help is to ask for it and then to act on the righteous promptings we receive.

we also know that the preferred strategy of the adversary is to lead people away from God and cause them to stumble by emphasizing the philosophies of men over the Savior and His teachings.

God will always love us, but He cannot save us in our sins.

When …  have faith in Jesus Christ . . . they will trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments--even when they do not completely understand the reasons for them.

What matters is that you love your people and are fulfilling the commandment “to watch over the church always"

There are many Amuleks in the Church today.  Perhaps you know one. Perhaps you are one.

I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.

My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

spiritual experiences have less to do with what is happening around us and everything to do with what is happening within our hearts.

Believing Him is trusting that His bounteous blessings are available and applicable in our individual lives and families.

I encourage you now, to recall, especially in times of crisis, when you felt the Spirit and your testimony was strong; remember the spiritual foundations you have built 

But blaming others, even if justified, allows us to excuse our behavior. By so doing, we shift responsibility for our actions to others. 

As we now listen to General Conference again, we are feeling many of those same impressions from the Holy Ghost.  We are so thankful for that experience and for the Holy Ghost in our lives.  It gives us much to work on.

Saturday, before the General Conference sessions (which begin at 6:00 pm our time), we took time to try and visit an Easter Market close by.  We went back to the Ronneburg castle where we had a delightful experience visiting their medieval Christmas Market.  We once again found fascinating medieval displays and a few Easter displays, not as many as we had hoped for.  The following are a few photos that we took on a beautiful spring day:

In front of the Ronneburg Castle

We are always impressed how the locals who are visiting the market also dress up in medieval dress.  Above they are sitting and eating.
Since we did not come prepared, we took this photo in our own medieval dress

The same for my wonderful bride

Cooking lunch inside the castle
 Many activities to enjoy, especially for young children:

Sword fighting display
Puppet show for the children and the adults

Watch this video we recorded in the castle, where one can throw the water down the well.  It is so deep, that you can count 9 seconds before you hear the splash below.

Painting a large Easter Egg
Finally a wonderful display of beautiful easter eggs of all sizes (Ostrich, Turkey, Goose & Chicken).  Decorated in many different ways.

Wide variety of sizes, styles and colors

Different views, note those with holes in them, which were done by a dentist drill

Decorated with beans on the outside of the egg for special effect

View of the Castle from a short distance