Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fond Farewells; Finding Jobs, Fried Fish and a Feathery Surprise

We finished our time with my mother and cousin, visiting one of our favorite castles, which also happens to be our family history castle.  We took them to the airport on Wednesday morning for their return to the U.S. and proceeded to catch our own plane to Malaga, Spain to participate in an accelerated job search event.  We are now back home with time to regroup and prepare for our summer activities.  As we returned we found that the pigeon in our vegetable boxes was now sitting on a baby pigeon, the egg has hatched!

In front of the Hohenzollern Castle with Mom and Gloria

Monday morning we left to visit the Hohenzollern Castle, about 2 and a half hours south of Frankfurt.  Along the way our GPS offered a detour due to bad traffic conditions.  We accepted and even though it took longer to get to our destination, we believe we saved time over the alternative.

I point this out due to a little challenge and tender mercy that we received along the way.  When we were about one hour away from the castle, we stopped at a gas station to fill up and take toilet breaks.  As we may have mentioned before, on these road side service stations, you need to pay cash to use the toilets, about 70 cents.  We also decided to purchase a little snack food to carry us over until a later meal.  I mention this because I keep receipts of everything I spend ever since we took the SR Personal Finance course.  This time, I misunderstood the cashier who was asking if we wanted a copy, which I declined.  I thought no big deal, I can live without this receipt.  Gloria had made a purchase of her own right after.  

After coming out of the bathroom, Sister Rueckert had commented that her purse seemed light.  We proceeded onto the castle and right before we arrived, Sister Rueckert remembered that she had left her wallet in the restroom.  She had taken it out to get cash for the "toilet fee" and not put it back into her purse.  The problem now was that I had no idea where the gas station was, since we had taken the detour and in this unique case, I had not received a copy of my receipt.

In our moment of panic, Gloria told us that she had received a receipt for her purchases in the gas station.  Fortunately, it had a phone number and an address.  We were able to call the station and confirm that they had Sister Rueckert's wallet and would hold it until we picked it up on our return.  With the address we could find the station again and we were able to rest our minds in peace for our visit at the castle.  This little receipt below, was a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father.  We definitely know that our Heavenly Father looks after us.  No matter what our challenges, we always feel his guiding hand and tender mercies.

Our tender mercy small receipt which had the answers to our lost wallet challenge
One reason why we like this castle so much is the approach where we can see the castle on the top of the mountain, majestically in the clouds.  The moment we were calling the gas station, we were pulled off of the road with this beautiful view of the castle.

Another reason that we love this castle is the beautiful vistas that can be seen from the castle.  This is one of the panorama photos that I took from the castle with my dear mother included.

This castle is the full deal, with quite an approach through draw bridges, inside tunnels, etc.  The following is of Sister Rueckert and Mom before entering the last gate to the courtyard of the castle.

This castle was the home to the kings of Prussia (Preussen) in the 1800s, which was the ruling empire before the country of Germany was formed.  This castle was the primary home for many of the kings.

The following photo is taken in the inner court of the castle

We arrived in time to take the only English tour of each day, which began at 2:00 pm.  The tours through the inside of the castle do not allow photos.  However, I did receive permission to take one photo from the first room, which is the family history room.  In this room is a gigantic family tree on all of the walls, tracing the royal lines down to different origins in the 11th century.  The following photo from one of the walls shows the line since the 1500s up to the present royal family.  If you look  close on the upper right, one of the circles is still without a name, awaiting the next generation of royalty. This brings our castle visit in line with the family history theme of our visit with Mom and Gloria.  This is another of the positives of this castle.

On Tuesday we attended to many Self-Reliance responsibilities while Mom and Gloria finished packing, cleaning and preparing for their return home.  

This included a meeting with all of our senior  missionaries, a visit with a newly called missionary couple, a farewell lunch for Sister Lovell and our last Health and Well-Being self-reliance group that evening.  Everything worked out well and we were ready for their return to the U.S. and our trip to Malaga, Spain.

We must share at least one story that was shared by Elder and Sister Geddes who are serving in France.  They had the opportunity to help in the Paris temple open house and shared a little of their experience.  They told us of one of the local residents who went through the temple open house.  This individual had led a petition to try to stop the temple from being built.  When he went to the temple open house and arrived in the celestial room of the temple, he fell to the ground.  He explained that he had seen his deceased father standing inside the celestial room.  Obviously, he is no longer in opposition to the temple.

We went to the airport on Wednesday morning, leaving Mom and Gloria at Terminal 2 to catch their flight and then we moved onto Terminal 1 for our flight to Spain.  They were our first and probably our last visitors to stay with us during our mission.  It was wonderful!  We got a chance to know Gloria much better and to benefit from her amazing family history experience.  With her we were able to identify many more ancestors (see last week's blog).  We were also able to visit special sites in the Netherlands and throughout Germany.  We were watched over by our Heavenly Father and all turned out well!

Saying good bye at the airport

We arrived in Malaga a little after noon.  We met our manager later that afternoon and we began our accelerated job search group that evening at 6:00 pm.  PAco, our manager, had just finished a three day event in the northern part of the stake during the first part of the week.

Two different tables of participants on Wednesday night

We met again on Thursday morning and again on Friday morning.  Most of the participants were in each of the groups.  Some missed one or two of the sessions due to work or other commitments.  We started with 14 and had 12 or 13 in the last session besides the stake leadership and visitors (us).

The following photos are from the Thursday and Friday sessions.  Once again, we found that those who made and kept their commitments found some immediate results.  One young man called some friends on Wednesday night and received a temporary job opportunity on that Saturday.   Others shared their experiences that gave hope to all participants to do their part so that they could receive blessings from the Lord, who "will provide for His saints".

Thursday morning group session

Group activity on Thursday morning sharing their personal contacts with each other to build their "network"
From the Friday morning session, applauding those who shared their experiences
Friday morning group, High Councilor at the end of the table, next to PAco

Besides the accelerated job search event for these 14 individuals, we were able to visit with a national hiring firm who asked to create a country wide relationship with Self-Reliance Services so that our members can get higher priority in all of their contracting efforts.  This firm hires over 400 people each month in the Malaga region.

On Thursday evening we had a two hour meeting with the Stake Self-Reliance Committee.  Many of the members of the committee are new to their roles, but they are very committed.  The high councilor participated in five of the six workshops during the week.  The stake specialist also was with us most of Wednesday and Thursday, including the visit to the contracting company.  These two will facilitate the ongoing job search self-reliance groups for the 14 individuals that participated with us this week.  They will also invite others in the 4 wards in Malaga to participate.

Members of the Committee after the meeting.  The stake presidency member participated by phone, since he lives in the northern part of the stake.
This is a photo of our manager PAco, who was first baptized in this city many years ago.  He remembers taking a picture of him under this sign at that time.  This is a follow-up many years later under the same sign.

PAco's father lives in Malaga and was hospitalized on Wednesday night, so PAco took advantage of any open moments to be with his father.  With that we had a few hours on Thursday afternoon to have lunch on our own.  We had been told that Malaga is famous for their "Fried Fish".  We decided to check it out.  We were told that the best fried fish were served near the Marina.  We walked most of the way and then took a taxi after we got turned around.

The surroundings were very nice, full of tourists.  Malaga is on the southernmost part of Spain opening up to the Alboran Sea, between Spain and North Africa.  This is an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean.  The photos below are from the marina that we walked around and the restaurant where we had our "fried fish".
In front of one of the yachts in the marina

View of the marina and the boardwalk on the side

With the marina and boardwalk behind Sister Rueckert
In the restaurant with a shared fried fish and tuna salad

"Fried fish", including many small fish.  You eat the whole thing.  The small ones don't have bones  large enough to bother  you.  It was a good experience, but not one that we would try to duplicate on an another occasion 

When we arrived home on Friday night, we went out to water our vegetables and flowers.  Normally, our pigeon flys away when we are near.  This time the pigeon stayed on the nest until we watered the tomato plants right next to the nest.  When the pigeon flew away, we were surprised to see that the little egg had already hatched.  We will be home for the next few weeks and will be able to watch our little pigeon grow.  More updates to come.

Clump of feathers is the baby pigeon in the nest next to the tomato plant

Pigeon coming back to sit on the baby

Sitting more carefully, baby pigeon below
Facebook also reminded us that June 2 marked the two year anniversary of our first visit to transition with Elder and Sister Vassel.  How time has flown.

A final Sabbath thought:

Today as we sang the Sacrament Hymn # 185 "Reverently and Meekly Now", I was especially touched by the last verse, which goes as follows:

At the throne I intercede; For thee ever do I plead.
I have loved thee as thy friend, With a love that cannot end.
Be obedient, I implore, prayerful, watchful evermore,
And be constant unto me, That thy Savior I may be.

I love the concept that our Savior is asking us to be obedient, prayerful, watchful and constant so that He may be our Savior.  

We testify that he loves us and all that we are asked to do is to help lead us back to Him!