Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Unexpected Tranfer

        I’m sitting in a comfortable room in the Huntsman Cancer Hospital right now. It’s Christmas Eve and snowing lightly in Salt Lake City. Not too far from me is my loving wife and companion in a bed having a pretty good day, considering she has just finished up her last of seven days of chemotherapy. It certainly isn’t how we expected to be spending Christmas Eve. But in many ways we are blessed to be here with Nancy receiving care as she battles the Leukemia that has shortened our mission. Had it not been for two gifts of the spirit, we might not be here today and the cancer might still be growing uninhibited inside of her as we continued our work in Kiel.

        Our unexpected transfer started at a time still unknown to either of us. Cancer doesn’t announce itself. The doctors in Kiel and in the U.S both agreed that the Leukemia probably started maybe 2-6 weeks before Nancy went to the doctor. But, going to that doctor was our first in a series of blessings.

        Nancy had served her mission with regular bouts of pain. Arthritis in her Hip and Scolioses in her back were afflictions we knew about when we applied for the mission. She accepted the fact that standing or walking for long periods would cause pain and probably headaches that would become part of our work routine. It was. She told me it didn’t matter. We would do the best we could. When we needed to work the Lord would help us and when she needed rest He would understand. That had seemed to work for our whole mission. Nancy would often say to me how amazed she was that on our heavy cooking days, the Lord would give her the stamina to work from morning until late at night. She wouldn’t feel the pain until the following day when she needed to rest a bit. I was always amazed at her ability to bounce back from the pain under which she worked.


        As it came close to the Christmas season, she started to have headaches each night whether she was working or not. We had talked about going to a doctor, but it was inconvenient and we really didn’t know a particular doctor. On Dec. 6, and institute night, Sister Frank had mentioned her headaches to a sweet member of our young single adults, Anna-Katherina Marak. Anna had recently been to a doctor in Kiel who accepted walk-in patients and he had helped her quite a bit and mentioned him to Nancy. We continued to work that night and had a great time mingling with the young people during dinner after institute class. It was around 11:00 when we finished cleaning up and headed for home. Snow had been falling off and on for several days and continued that night. When we arrived home snow covered the roads and we couldn’t find a parking place. I passed our apartment, found a place to turn around then went to drop off Nancy at the apartment. She didn’t have her key with so I tried to get mine off of the key holder. Then I noticed the lights of two cars coming up behind me. The road is only one lane next to our apartment with the cars parked in the snow. I asked Nancy if she would mind walking with me from the Sky Market (our next choice for parking) then I could get out of the way of the two cars behind me. She agreed and that became our second blessing. After we parked and began walking home, Nancy would walk for a few hundred yards then need to stop to get her breath. After a few times, I told her we needed to see a doctor about the headaches and she mentioned that she might also be anemic. Had she gone straight to the apartment instead of walking that night, we might not have visited the doctor so soon.

        The next day we walked into Dr. Geraedts office and after a short wait, Nancy explained about her headaches. It was quite different from an office visit in the US. Dr. Geraedts sat in a chair and interviewed Nancy about her history and medications, but never physically examined her or took blood pressure etc. In fact we weren’t in an examination room, but rather an office with a library and the the Doctors own desk and computer. After his interview his assessment was that Nancy’s headaches were rebound headaches caused by the lengthy use of OTC drugs she had been taking. He presented a new routine for her and we were about to leave when Nancy asked if she could get a blood test because she thought she might be anemic. That was the third blessing. We made the appointment for that for the next morning. The nurse took the sample and we left. Nancy followed the Dr’s. plan and, in fact, was headache free for several days. But on Tues. Dec. 11, we received a call from the Doctor who said that Nancy needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible. We had a Zone Conference in Hamburg with a visiting general authority so I asked at first if we could wait until Friday. The doctor hesitated, then said yes, but that we shouldn’t wait longer. After the phone call, however, we talked and knew that we needed to go in and find out what was up.

        Wed. I took Nancy to the hospital admitting room, but then left her there when I realized that I had nothing from the doctor to show that she should be admitted. I went back to the Doctor’s office and the receptionist called him, and he said to her that he wanted to see me rather than just to give me a note. At that point, I had this pang of fear hit my stomach and I knew things weren’t good. He met me in a side room and said “I’m nervous about her tests.” Then he spoke of her low white blood cell and platelet count and for the first time mentioned the word Leukemia. It wasn’t the only thing he brought up, but even the sound of the word gave me fear. When I joined Nancy, I never mentioned what the Doctor had said, but it lingered in my mind as she was taken to a room placed on an IV so that they could give her a unit of blood and eventually platelets.




        Our stay at the Städtische Krankenhaus Kiel (one of the main hospitals in Kiel) wasn’t long, but we went through some of the most excruciating moments of our marriage and mission. We had a young doctor who was caring, helpful and very honest. After the check-in on Wednesday, They took more blood from Nancy, did a couple of tests, then we waited until the results on Thurs. I went home for the night, but sleeping alone in the apartment was the most uncomfortable night of our mission. We had heard jokes about being with your wife 24/7 on a mission. Here I was without her for the first time, and I hated it.

        The next day, we received the results from the blood analysis. Our nurse didn’t hesitate. I don’t even think she said, “ I’ve got bad news.” She just told us that the results were clear that it was Leukemia, and the “acute” kind. She said that Nancy would have to have a bone marrow biopsy on Friday and then she would begin treatment. We listened but the words were so unbelievable that we didn’t know quite what to say. To this day, I haven’t asked Nancy what she thought at that moment, but for me there was only one thought. “We are going home.” It wasn’t a thought prompted by lack of confidence in the Kiel doctors or hospital. The doctor had told me that the doctor at the Kiel Hospital, Dr. Michael Kneba, was a world famous oncologist and since then we have heard about him in Salt Lake. I just knew that we needed to be around family. We needed to have their support and help.


        The doctors were very helpful in getting Nancy ready for the journey. She needed platelets and a blood transfusion, and she needed a hospital ready to take her. Of course we needed a flight, and we needed to pack up everything from our apartment. It was mid-afternoon, Nancy and I were both in shock, but we didn’t have time to think about it much. They had told us time was important. The first hard thing was telling Nancy I would have to leave her to make calls and get things started. I remember that ride to the apartment just trying to organize everything in my mind and not allow myself to wander into the future.

        I called Uwe first thing to ask his help in getting a plane ticket, and in one comment he set me right. First call the mission president. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about that. I had just thought I would have to do everything myself. President Kosak was shocked but effective in telling me what to do. He would call the church in Salt Lake and they would take care of the flight. They would also notify a doctor to talk to me. I hung up and decided to call my son, Jon, and have him contact the Huntsman Cancer Institute. In my mind it was the only hospital I could think of that concentrated strictly on cancer. In a few minutes Jon called back and gave me a name and number to call. However, he said that there would have to be a doctor to doctor conversation in order to admit her. I hung up and looked around the room and wondered how this would ever work out. I know I offered prayers that day pleading for all the help the Lord would give us. They were all answered.

        First, the mission president called me back and told me to pack up and leave for Berlin as soon as possible. He said the church would arrange and pay for a flight. A doctor had called me from Frankfurt and said he would make arrangements in Salt Lake if I couldn’t connect with the Huntsman doctor. Second, one of the young doctors found a phone that could make international calls, and together with me and another doctor who spoke pretty good English, we made the call to Dr. Newalin at Huntsman, who said everything would be ready and we should travel there immediately from the airport on our arrival in Salt Lake. Third, the sister missionaries, Sister Laubaugh and Sister Thornton called and were worried because we hadn’t come to the zone conference that day in Hamburg. After I explained everything, they offered to come to the apartment and help pack. They ended up packing everything with the help of Sabina Zickler, who dropped whatever she had going on and without car made her way to the apartment and stayed until everything was done. Uwe was spreading the word and before I knew it other people were calling and expressing their love. Lastly, the stake president came to our apartment as the packing was concluding and said he would send us a few items that we just couldn’t fit in the suitcases. He also was a great comfort to me as I tried to say our goodbyes to him and the few others there helping us get everything ready. When we finally left for Berlin, it was 9:00 p.m.

        We were both physically and emotionally tired. Nancy asked if I would be OK driving because she needed to sleep. We drove away from Kiel and in an hour we received the next answer to our prayers as Elder Spendlove called me on my cell phone and told me to wake up. He was under orders from Pres. Kosak to call us every hour until we reached Berlin. He was faithful in his duty and we were embraced by Pres. and Sister Kosak a little after 1:00 a.m. He offered us a room to sleep and his office if needed, but said we would have to be up at 4:00 a.m. to make it to the airport on time. Nancy slept, I sent messages home and we ended our final day in Germany with fear in our hearts, but grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thanksgiving and Weihnacht's Preparations

Thanksgiving Dinner

        We decided it would be fun to prepare Thanksgiving for the YSA’s, and of course, for us it is one of our favorite holidays. We decided to have it on the Monday before Thanksgiving as a Family Home Evening. Normally on FHE the Elders and Sisters are only allowed to come when they have an investigator with them, but this time we decided to invite them to come.
        Of course no Thanksgiving would be complete without turkey and all of the trimmings, so we went a week before to our neighborhood grocery store to order the turkey. They eat quite a bit of turkey here so we didn’t think there would be any problem getting one (or two). The man in the meat department told us they had plenty of turkey breasts, but weren’t sure they could even get a whole turkey before the day that we needed them. So it was off to Citti Markt, a huge Costco type of store, where we had seen all kinds of frozen poultry. There we were able to buy two good sized turkeys (each about 13 lbs costing $28 dollars each.). We bought potatoes, bread and other items for stuffing them. We also bought a 20 lb. bag of potatoes for mashing. Elder Frank said he would be happy to make homemade rolls. We also remembered that we had a can of Libby’s Pumpkin in the pantry at the Institute. The Sister Missionaries said they would bring green beans and one of our YSA women said she would cook a green bean casserole.

It's all smiles as we prepare the Thanksgiving Meal.
Gravy and dressing and more turkey to come.

Elder Frank's homemade rolls
Sabine and Victor helping in the kitchen.
One turkey ready, stuffing roasting on the top rack.

Tonya (Russia) and Jules (USA - Provo, UT)
Our Thanksgiving group
Everyone's had their fill
Elder Gerhardson helps with dishes
        We knew we would need to use our oven at home and the oven at the Institute. We made the pumpkin pies on Sunday evening. Even though I had to use butter for making the crusts, they turned out to be really good, albeit a little bit rich with the whipping cream on top.
        When Monday arrived, we made the stuffing at our apartment, even using fresh roasted chestnuts. We decided not to stuff the turkeys, but rather to bake the stuffing in casserole trays. We had thought through everything down to the most minute details, but It literally took us all day getting ready peeling potatoes and cutting them up, making the stuffing, roasting the turkeys and making the rolls, gravy, etc. We even set the tables with placemats and had sunflower centerpieces. We were sure we had thought of everything, but as it was, we didn’t have room for baking the yams, so we went without. We didn’t have any cranberry sauce because we couldn’t find it in the stores here. In addition, we needed every possible burner, oven, and even the microwave for cooking and keeping everything warm. Also, Jorge, one of our JSA’s brought a wonderful käsekuchen with him. He makes the best we’ve tasted--anywhere.  All in all, it was a great evening and we hope everyone enjoyed it because afterwards we were exhausted.

Christmas Preparations: Zone Conference

        Our "Christmas" zone conference was special.  Since we changed to having individual zone meetings (held in Kiel) we hadn't gotten together for a large multi zone conference until Nov. 27 in Hamburg.  It started the holidays in a great way.  The President's and his wife and several missionaries gave inspirational talks and lessons on obedience, teaching,  and always the savior.  There were also several Christmas musical numbers   The meal was a Subway Sandwich (may not seem very Christmas-like but the missionaries loved them), a chocolate santa and a gift (white elephants brought by each missionary).

President and Sister Kosak 
Elder and Sister Neslen (Senior missionaries Hamburg YSA) 
We love Zone Conference too!
Senior missionaries from the different zones... and Elder Spendlove.
(L. to R.) E. & S. Smith, S.  Neslen, E. & S. Wilhelm, E. Neslen, Franks and Spendlove
Lunch in Hamburg Stake cultural hall
Sister eating together, of course.
Santa and Mrs. Santa (LOL) 
Everyone playing musical white elephant.
Elder Clayton and Elder Lloyd in his white elephant Santa outfit.
 Christmas Preparations:  Weihnachtsmarkt

        We know you are all getting ready for “Christmas” at home with your decorations and shopping. Maybe you're already finished. For the most part Christmas is the same here in Germany, but there are some things that are different and really fun. Here in Germany there are little Christmas Shops in all of the cities called “Weihnachtsmarkt.” These town markets that spring up in late November through December include little cabin-type shops that are decked with pine boughs and lights that line many of the shopping streets. The fronts of these little markets are open to display all of their different foods or wares and they give such a festive atmosphere to the cities. Plus, they have all different kinds of fun things to buy or just look at (some of the prices are too expensive). Of course, we decided that we needed to get our shopping done in a hurry, since we haven’t had time to go shopping and we knew their would be a deadline for shipping packages to the USA in time to arrive for Christmas. After several afternoons, we finally finished our purchases. It just so happened that when we went the Post to get them mailed they said it was a good thing because that day was the deadline….a small but great blessing for us.

This Weihnachtsmarkt wasn't quite ready yet.
Here is the real thing, all decked out.
After an afternoon's shopping.
Can we go back to the apartment now?
Kids love the lights and toys.

Preparing for the Message
        As missionaries, our thoughts during this season include the spiritual preparations we need to make to show our Savior that we are truly believers in Him, doers of His word in thoughts and example. He is The Savior of the World, Our Redeemer, Our Older Brother, Our Perfect Example, and we need to be striving to show him that as his disciples we know this. As missionaries, we feel the joy this knowledge brings to us, as well as the joy it brings to those who are willing to hear His words. He was born to take upon Him the sins of the world so that we might live again with Him and our Heavenly Father. He completed His mission through the atonement and his death and resurrection. We wish to share our testimony of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is true! It is the greatest gift and blessing any one of us has ever received or will receive. The Book of Mormon is a witness of it’s truthfulness and was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith through the power of God. It’s teachings can increase our understanding of our relationship to God, increase our ability to love and obey our Savior, give us a better understanding of our relationships to our families, our friends and neighbors. This is our wish for each of you this Christmas…to know these things are true. We send our warmest greetings to our family, friends, and anyone else reading this blog. May the Lord bless you and help you in your preparations for the Christmas season.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Schedules and Changes

What Are We Doing?

It looks easy on paper.  It's the "doing"  that's hard.
        After a little more than six months, I think Sister Frank and I both thought we would be settled into a routine, the language issue would be gone; we would know everyone and would have brought many back into the fold. Actually, that last part was really optimistic thinking, but we did expect a little more routine than we sometimes find. Below is a general schedule of our work. We are writing this partially for ourselves…that we can remember years from now what we used to do, but also, because we have been asked by many what a CES Young Adult Mission actually entails. Remember, however, that nothing stays constant. No week has actually been exactly like the outline below, only vaguely so.
        All of our days begin with prayer, study, and preparation (all in various quantities). After that, we take a good look at our calendar.
        Mondays start with helping the elders and sisters at the RIZ (it’s their P-day so they use the computers at the RIZ to communicate with family and friends). That day we do janitorial work on the building; keep our records and reports up to date; get groceries for the FHE meal (family home evening), dessert, or both; prepare the meal; attend FHE; clean up after FHE; help the YSA get home (not very often); go home and find no parking place; park at the local grocery store (called SKY); then walk home; look at the clock; take an hour to unwind; then go to bed at around midnight.
        On Tuesday, we sleep in try to recover from Monday, then get our old bodies going and expect and hope the phone will ring. We make ourselves available to the missionaries for joint-teaches and really enjoy them. They come unexpectedly, but on Tuesday that isn’t much of a problem. As on most days, we always check email for messages from home, mission, ward, and YSA information. Messages from home are a highlight. Later Tuesday, we have opportunities to meet with the other missionaries in our ward missionary meeting. There is also a German class taught by the ward missionaries and that can be helpful, but most of the time we have other commitments, i.e., home teaching. We have been assigned to 11 families and many live quite a distance away from Kiel, but usually not more than a 30-minute drive.
        Wednesday is similar to Monday except a little more stress. It starts with our weekly district meeting. Training and learning together is such a great part of missionary work. We normally have an assignment and try to help the missionaries with their work as they also help us. Though we may be anxious to get going on our own assignments, the district meetings have become an integral part of our preparation also. Then abut 11:30 a.m. we are off to get our shopping done for the Institute meal. There isn’t as much time to prepare because of our early meetings and we have later afternoon obligations. The YSA council meeting starts at 6:00 p.m., followed by a missionary preparation class that sister Frank and I teach. So far we have only had two students, but expect more following the age change announced by the First Presidency at the last General Conference. After that our meal and table setup has to be complete because Institute follows at 7:30. We like to attend Institute for at least an hour to see who is there and participate in the discussions. Then it’s up to the kitchen to finalize the meal. After cleanup we follow the Monday pattern ending up at home close to midnight.
        Thursday and Friday we recover a bit and have freedom to organize our work and make personal contacts. We have a few obligations at the center, but not every week. Zone Conferences are held on Thursdays. We also catch up on items that never seem completed: making appointments and doing more home teaching; working on ways to activate and contact less active YSAs; making sure that we are keeping up on birthdays and special events back home; endlessly organizing lists so that we have a better understanding of who needs what help; writing our blog; and always trying to work on our Deutsch. Sometimes on Friday nights there is a special event at the RIZ for the YSA that we also attend.
        Saturday is P-day sometimes. (Other times we substitute a Thursday or Friday). We clean our apartment, relax, enjoy our area and think about family, friends and home. This is also the best time for sight-seeing.
        Sunday we worship and enjoy the company of the great members and missionaries in Kiel. Often we are invited to delicious Sunday
meals at member’s homes. Once a month we have a High Priest’s fireside and these provide a wonderful opportunity to get to know the members better.

The Sisters Plan Halloween
        When the sisters signed up to plan FHE for Oct. 29, they simply said, “Halloween Party.” Below are some of the results. We had a great time and even began with a nice spiritual thought. After that, we got out the three pumpkins sister Frank and I had purchased (expensive compared to home) and watched the fun. On many Monday FHE evenings we have visitors and this time we had a young woman from Russia, Tanya, who has visited once before. We were very happy to have her back. She has a cute personality and a very Russian accent in her German. She is a nanny working in Kiel and taking a classes at University. She enjoyed the pumpkin carving adventure and seemed to get along with everyone. After FHE, she missed her bus, so sister Frank and I took her home. We hope she will visit our Center again and, of course, learn about the Gospel.
        Christoph won the prize for most artistic Jack-O-Lantern. His 3-D teeth and tongue were impressive. I couldn’t get sister Frank to go for a chocolate covered donut, but I couldn’t resist.

Halloween and the sculptors begin their work.

Saher, Sara, and Malta have been watching too many horror movies!

Jules (from Provo), Tonya (from Ukarine) Benny (from Kiel) need practice. 

Christoph and the sisters win only because the sisters just watched.
They only participated because the donut was dessert.
I didn't win, but the half I ate was pretty good. German donuts are not as sweet as in the US, but the chocolate on them is delicious. 
        When we first received our call to work with YSA, we thought that teaching institute might be part of the call. Fortunately, there are so many gifted CES teachers called throughout Germany, that we have several who alternate throughout the year here in Kiel. Some are experienced in CES teaching and are even employed by the Church. Others are teachers by profession which also helps as they try to involve the YSAs in gospel subjects. The young people are great students, very involved in the discussions. As is the case in all gospel learning, it is the spirit that truly teaches. These instructors do a wonderful job bringing the spirit to our Institute. So anyway, most of the time there has been no need for us to teach
        Recently, circumstances came up at about 5:00 p.m. on a Wed., however, and I received a call from our Institute instructor, Uwe Zickler. He couldn’t get out of his Flensburg office on time and wouldn’t make it to instruct institute. I said I would be happy to fill in, got off the phone and started to worry. The teaching aspect didn’t bother me. Not knowing the material and nor being able to express it well in German bothered me. The lesson was on the calling of the twelve apostles. I used the forty minutes as best I could then watched as the young people filtered in. It’s always amazing what prayer and the spirit can do in spite of our weaknesses. I asked them to leave the student desks and come back to the comfortable couches and chairs and we would sit together and learn together. My part of the lesson wasn’t great, but we all shared our feelings of what it must have been like for these men to have followed and watched Christ perform great miracles and teach profound lessons, then to be called to follow him and eventually spread the gospel to the far ends of the world. We moved to the present and talked about what it must be like to receive phone call from the prophet’s office that would then lead to an apostolic call to serve. From there we ended talking about our calls to serve and the differences, but yes, the similarities. Uwe eventually arrived and shared a brief ending. I didn’t walk away thinking I had given a great lesson. I really just walked away having had my testimony strengthened concerning the power of the Holy Ghost as a teacher. So much of our teaching jobs at home and in the church require creating opportunities for those we love and teach to be in a position to feel and hear the spirit themselves. Rarely does that occur as we lecture. Am I lecturing now? Sorry. Old bad school teacher habits.

Saying Goodbye
        We’ve talked before about saying goodbye to missionaries as they are transferred to other areas or as they leave for home. Over the past couple of months, we have learned about other goodbyes. Some are student goodbyes. Kiel is a University city, and many of our young YSAs are students who have moved here. As they finish their studies they often move to other schools or back to their home areas. We have had at least three YSAs leave Kiel on military assignment, and because it is a career, probably won’t be coming back this way. And of course, there are those great goodbyes caused through missions and marriages. In all, we have had 15 active YSAs who have moved since we arrived. At home that might not seem many. To our group, it is a large change. Even the ward feels the change. Several families have moved out of Kiel. At least two very active families have moved to the U.S. For us, each goodbye just reminds us of how brief our stay here is and how changes in a ward here in Kiel are just things the members have to get used to.
        The only goodbyes that are truly sad come when those with whom the missionaries are working say they can’t go any farther. As we watch testimonies grow stronger, it’s easy for Sister Frank and me to make assumptions that that brother or that sister will be baptized soon. The road to baptism requires many steps and some who begin the process find that they can’t quite make it all the way.
        We felt that sorrow when Wen Hi emailed the Elders to say that he was finished. He is a great young man, and I believe he is better off for having studied the gospel and having felt the spirit. He will have another day. To him and others like him, we can only wish them well and and say goodbye for now.

"We love you Wen" -- Sister Frank


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Comes to Schleswig-Holstein

Changes in the Mission
        We’ve mentioned before how adapting to changes is important in a mission. Recently, we experienced a large change in our mission conference procedure. Previously, when we had a zone conference (usually every 6-8 weeks), we would travel an hour to Hamburg where a large conference of two zones would meet. Now we are meeting as separate zones and the Mission President will not attend all zone conferences. They will also be shorter and will not include a lunch (usually provided by members who have to donate an entire day to the preparation and cleanup.)
        I think the change will help in several ways. First, it gives the president a chance to slow down just a bit. In a mission as large as ours (in area as well as number of missionaries), it can be taxing on the mission president and his wife just to attend all the zone conferences. I believe the mission president was traveling to conferences every week or two. Now that has slowed down a bit. He also has a bit more time interviewing missionaries when he is here because there are fewer at any one meeting.
        That’s at least what we experienced as we had our first new “Zone Meeting.” Instead of Hamburg, we met at the RIZ here in Kiel. Less travel time for the elders and the president, the same good instruction and interaction, and I’m sure it saves the church money.

Elders and sisters at the RIZ getting ready to start the zone meeting.
These two elders were the hit of the conference.  Here, they sing a duet for the conference.  They serve in the small town of Heide about an hour from Keil, and create quite a sight as they walk along side by side. 
Our Neumünster zone missionaries with Pres. & Sister Kosak. 

Visit in Heide
        On a beautiful fall day, we decided to visit Heide. We hadn’t been to the branch before, but we knew there was one Young Single Adult who lived there. The problem was that we didn’t have her phone number and Heide is an hour away. We had always wondered if it would be a good use of our time and gas to go there.
        On Oct. 19, however, we decided to go. It is always amazing to me that when we begin our days praying for an opportunity to help someone, the Lord never fails to provide those opportunities for us. We knew that the chances of finding a young woman home in the middle of the day weren’t very good, but our backup plan was that we would enjoy the nice fall day and count it as a P-day if we couldn’t talk to anyone.
        We found the address, knocked on the door and introduced ourselves to a young girl named Megan. Her sister, Colleen, the one we wanted to meet, however, didn’t live there. We asked if Megan, at least, had a phone number. She invited us in, dialed a number on her phone and then handed it to me. Almost immediately, a young woman answered and seemed surprised that a man was on her sister’s phone. I quickly told her who we were, and that we were here to talk to her and had instead been talking to her sister. She said she would come right over and visit with us.
        The meeting with Colleen and her sister was great. They are both lovely and personable. Megan had talked to us quite a bit before her sister arrived, and we gathered that her sister no longer wanted to attend or be associated with the church. When she arrived, we talked to her about the church in Heide and how we wanted to come once a month to Heide in order to provide an institute class for her. Though Colleen was very appreciative that we would be willing to come so far just to speak to her, she did tell us that she no longer believed in the church. She obviously loved her sister and family, who are members, but had been alone in Heide as a young member for a long time and had lost her faith.
        Though we encouraged her to continue in the gospel, she seemed set. She is a wonderful young woman and was very willing to meet with us again, if we were to call and make an appointment. I gave her our personal card with our web site on it, and I hope she will read our blog a bit. Though we only talked briefly, we could tell how much love there was between her and her sister. We pray that the Lord will bless them both and their father. We look forward to our next visit to Heide.

Had to take a photo of Sister Frank along side this road to Heide.

Probably the only site you can find if you Google  Heide is this Water Tower  (Wasserturm).

A little church stands near the old town in Heide

Baptism in Kiel
        Steve is a young man from Nigeria who has been meeting with the missionaries and coming to church for about two months. We have mentioned him before and are grateful for his outgoing and friendly personality. He was baptized on Oct. 21 in Kiel by Elder Lloyd. We are always amazed at the international way in which the gospel is spreading. Steve’s story keeps growing as we hear and learn more about him and his family. He met the elders while they were tossing a basketball around, I believe, in a store. The conversation started and proceeded and Steve became interested in the gospel. We first met him at church after he had had several lessons. He came to church several weeks in a row, but had difficulty because he is slowly learning to speak German but really only communicates in English right now. He has a masters degree in Environmental Science and had come to Germany seeking employment. He still hasn’t found a job in his field, but is very positive about the future. One Sunday in church prior to his decision to be baptized, we sat together in priesthood meeting. I commented to him, “Steve, where did you get that big smile of yours?” He laughed. He is always smiling. Then he said in his African tinged English, “I guess I got it from God.” Later, we heard the story concerning his mother. He had called her and told her he was investigating the church. Later, when he called her shortly before his baptism, he found out that she had already been baptized and that several of his brothers and sisters were also listening to the missionaries in Nigeria. The Lord works in mysterious and wonderful ways.

Here Steve and all the missionaries in Kiel pose after the baptism .

Esang came to be part of Steve's baptism.  We hope his will come in the near future.

Nancy fixed two large pans of lasagna for a dinner following the baptism.
Though only YSA were invited, we also included a few others including the bishop and his family.

Fall Cleanup at the RIZ
        One thing about all the green during the summer…it will eventually turn color and fall to the ground in fall. And that offers plenty of cleanup opportunities for sister Frank and I in the fall.

The RIZ in the fall.

Next week I'm sure we'll get around to raking these leaves.

We gathered up a handful of huge leaves to press.  Probably won't make it home, however.

The Copenhagen Temple
        A couple of weeks ago, we got a call from a sister in the ward asking if we would like to go with ward members on a temple trip to the Copenhagen, Denmark temple. It is actually the closest temple to Kiel and though it isn’t the assigned temple for our stake (the Frankfurt Temple), the ward usually plans one temple excursion a year for the Copenhagen temple. Our only problem was clothing. There aren’t temple clothes available at that temple. Sister Timm, who had invited us, said not to worry. She would arrange everything…and she did. The next Sunday, Brother Benn handed me a bag with his shoes and temple packet. Sister Frank and I were both able to get some clothing from the ward’s baptismal clothing supply, as well a packet from Sabina for Nancy. When we only had a few days remaining, the only thing needed was a pair of shoes for Sister Frank. We made a quick trip downtown to Woolworth’s and she had a pair of white slip-ons.
        We called to get permission from Pres. Kosak and he said to go, but that we wouldn’t be able to take the mission car because they don’t carry insurance for the car anywhere else than Germany. That made things a little problematic since I had suggested that we could drive. I quickly called Sister Timm and told her not to plan on our car, but she still felt we should go and that she would take care of that too.
        The trip was an early morning trip (we were up at 4:30 a.m.) by auto, then a ferry from Puttgarden, Germany to Rodby, Denmark. Seven of us boarded the bishop’s van and after an hour or so arrived at the ferry port, drove onto the ferry in the the car and had a nice forty-five minute ride on the ferry to Rodby. The day was cold and cloudy early on and we didn’t step outside the ferry, but it was modern, and quite comfortable inside. When we arrived at Rodby, we still had another two hour drive to get to the temple. The ride was uneventful but we enjoyed a slight change in scenery from what we were used to in Schleswig-Holstein. Denmark is very flat, and though there is a lot of water, the farms we passed were showing a lot of late fall brown and mowed-down harvest stubble.
        The temple was beautiful. The interior was small but elegant, with hand painted murals, toll-painted door trim and finishes on the furniture and if you looked very closely, you could see slight, but insignificant differences in the pattern, enough to know that they were hand painted and not stenciled. The baptistry was one of the most beautiful we have seen. We were fortunate to be able to attend both sessions held that day (one in Swedish and one in German). Before we left, one of the temple presidency took us down and explained the murals depicting John the Baptist baptizing Jesus Christ, on one half of the circular room. The other half of the mural depicted people of different generations, or those people who have died who are waiting for their opportunity to follow the example of the Savior and enter into the waters of baptism. It was simply beautiful. The artist’s name is Brickey.
        Evidently the exterior was formerly used as a ward house. When they remodeled it into a temple, they removed virtually all of the interior and added all of the rooms necessary, and only added the Baptistry and the square column with the Angel Moroni atop.
        By the time we arrived home it was about 9:30 p.m. It was a long but wonderful day!

Here we are on the Ferry.  Jules on the left is an American living in Kiel for a year.
 Sister Kamm and Sister Strelow are also shown.
Though the temple sits near the center of town, the grounds create a separation
that brings the kind of tranquility that is part of every temple.  In summer the area with plants in the forefront is a reflecting pool.

The classic columns of the temple seem somewhat different for a temple,
but they make a beautiful exterior.

Ward members attending the temple with us

About Us

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Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
We have been called to serve the Lord in Germany as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormons). We are witnesses to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who has blessed our lives in every way. We hope to help others in their efforts to find true joy and happiness in their lives and in the lives of their families.