Saturday, June 23, 2012

Three Weeks "Kurz und Gut" (in a Nutshell)

        June in Kiel is starting to warm up a little. So has our work load. We seem to be behind in many things. We have a long list of Young Adults we need to visit and encourage; we have paper work (reports) to catch up on; our car needs attention (it really needs more than attention… probably a new transmission to starters); and, we have a couple of large young adult summer activities to help with. Among other things we are behind on is our Blog. So in order to make up time, Sister Frank and I decided to give a quick look–short and to the point– of three weeks with a few photos thrown in. In reality, saying less might be just what some of you would prefer. So here goes.
June 3 – 9
Kronshagen Home
        A short seven minutes out of midtown Kiel lies a beautiful, quiet suburb called Kronshagen. That’s where we played house during the first week of June when we had any extra time. The apartment is small, but is on the first floor and is very comfortable for us. Here are some smaller photos: (Our’s is in the middle in the shade of the trees.)
Yes, that is the washing machine right next to the oven. The refrigerator “kuhlschrank” is on the far right and
covered by the cabinet door in the middle. It is very small, but adequate, since we don’t keep much in it.
This is our kitchen table and that is a real orchid on the table which Ben and Bethany and family sent me for Mother’s Day. The climate here is perfect for growing orchids and you see them in many home and apartment windows. In Germany, Father’s day is the following Sunday. I didn’t do any decorating so the things on the shelf were put there by someone else. I’’m going to change it. The tablecloth is hand-embroidered and is really beautiful, but not practical so we bought another that is much easier to take care of.
The beds here all have feder deckes or down comforters on them. But no one (not even in the hotels) puts one large fetter deck on the beds. Each person has their own. It’s really nice because there are no fights over who has most of the covers.
        Our living is the largest room in the house and has two desks (like the one on the left) for studying, blogging, or whatever.
I know the yellow box sitting by the hutch really adds a lot to the ambience of the room, but we keep our newspaper ads and clean papers there because we have so much sorting of garbage to do. Glass goes into recycling bins. One for clear and another for colored glass. Bio or garbage that can be composted goes into another trash bin, plastic or metal food containers into another and any other trash into another. Plastic soda bottles have a deposit that is paid when you purchase them and refunded when they are returned. Oh, and by the way, you need to bring your own bags for groceries (similar to the ones at the grocery stores at home) as they do not have brown paper bags or thin plastic bags. They are so ecologically minded! I can’t remember if I told about the time in Berlin when we purchased toilet paper and forgot to bring our bag and ended up walking about 4 blocks holding a big package of toilet paper, but no big deal, right?
Dinners with Members
        One of the first things we discovered about being a missionary in Kiel was that Sunday means distant meetings and dinners with members. Though our Young Adult Center is in Kiel, our ward is about twenty minutes away in a suburb called Neumeimersdorf. We have the normal three hour block schedule, but usually we spend another hour after meeting talking to members and visitors who may be there. Then we are off (usually taking the sister missionaries with us) to dinner at a member’s home. There is a list in the foyer where each week a family has signed up to feed the two senior missionaries, the two elders and the two sisters. We didn’t realize that we would be fed until a couple of weeks into the routine and a sister pointed out the list as we were about to leave for home and our first Sunday meal in our apartment. These meals are great blessings to us and a great sacrifice to the members. We have watched with amazement at the amount of food necessary to feed the six of us and the families who eat with us. Their homes are vey nice but smaller in scale than many of the homes in our South Jordan neighborhood. Nonetheless, we have all sat around a table and thoroughly enjoyed playing with the children and making acquaintances with the members. Prior to leaving, one of the missionaries will leave a spiritual thought and a then we have a prayer with the family.
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Above: Dinner with the Timms, their children and a couple from Nigeria (L. Jeremiah) and Cameroon (R. Genevieve a non-member) who were also invited to dinner. The couple is interesting because they are married but neither speaks a language common to the other. They communicate with what the brother (Jeremy) calls an African form of pigeon English. Sitting next to me are the two sister missionaries, Sister Peltier and Sister Tidwell.
Above: Dinner with Uwe (pro. /uva/ ) and Sabina Zickler, who are the ward member couple assigned to the Center with us. Uwe is the institute teacher, and both he and his wife are great to work with. He also likes to make special ice cream desserts that we all liked. In the picture Sabina is sitting to your left and Sister Tidwell is on the right of Uwe. Her new companion Sister Laubaugh is on the lower right hand side. Elder Cottrell is on the opposite side and his companion Elder Lloyd is taking the picture. All of them are great missionaries.
Dinner with the Labahn family. Lysaan (second from the right) is anxious to practice her English with our granddaughter, Allison, as a pen pal. I’m sure some of our other grandkids will want to do the same with other members we meet. Their sons are Lennart on the left and Levin (in the Kermit outfit and hat and Sister Labahn’s sister who also lives with them. Levin is quite a little character and we had lot of fun teasing him.
Church Meetings
        What would Sundays be without a few church meetings. On June 10, I was excited to see the Neumunster Stake Center located in the town of the same name. We had been to our three hour block, had dinner with a member family, then I left sister Frank at our apartment and took the 30 minute drive to Neumunster for a stake High Priest meeting followed by a Stake General Priesthood meeting. I think having meetings that follow one another helps because of the distances members travel to attend. The meetings were great and I was asked to offer a prayer in one. The only bad part was having to concentrate so hard on the talks. My German is coming back, but way too slowly to be able to sit back and relax while listening to a rapid-fire gospel discourse. So, after another 2 1/2 hours of meetings, I was ready to head home. We had left our apartment at 8:15 a.m. and I arrived home about 11 hours later.
Above: Neumunster stake center.
June 15-24
Institute Graduation Dance
        All of the Young Adults who had graduated from Institute within the stake got together at the ward, in Kiel, on Friday, June 15, for a dance. Some came from as far away as Hamburg and Flensburg. They had decorated the place from floor to ceiling with a “harbor theme,” since it was the beginning of Kieler Woche. The ceiling was covered with a huge sail from a large sailboat and they had lighthouses, buoys, lifesavers and seagulls. Even the stage was covered to look like water with waves on it. It must have taken all of the night before and the day of the dance to decorate it. Unfortunately, Elder Frank didn’t have his camera with him so we have to wait for Uwe to e-mail us pictures. There were at least 7 or 8 married couples and 80-100 Young Adults who came. They love dancing and they are very good at it. There was no bear hugging, but actual dancing. Even those who are dating each other don’t always dance with their partners. I didn’t see anyone not dancing at one point or another. They also had a pot luck and “grillin“ dinner (their term for barbecuing). Everyone brought a pot luck dish and their own meat to grill.
Soccer Nights
        The Young Adults are really into the “European Cup” soccer playoffs right now and not just the guys. Each time there is a game with Germany playing another team, they get together at the Zentrum to watch. One of our “Techies”, Victor, hooks up his computer to a projector (which they call a “beamer”) and they watch the game. Everybody brings some kind of snack food or drink and they really have fun getting into the game. It’s funny to hear their comments in German when there is a good or a bad play. They even have one of those big horn blasters for when a goal is scored. We really want to see Germany take the Cup!
Kieler Woche – Walking & Boating
        Though some of you may have heard us talk of Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) before, others may not understand it’s significance. Kiel is not a Munich, or Hamburg, or Berlin. It is a smaller city with a history built upon its deep ocean access, its Förde (fjord). The city has used the great sailing conditions on the water to build up a weeklong celebration and competition known world-wide. So, for about nine-ten days visitors come from all over the world to compete, or witness, or just to party as the yachting regattas and the old sailing vessals come into town and bring around 3 millions visitors with them. So, as far as missionary work goes, it’s hard not to be involved just a bit. Even our Stake President told us we had to see a bit of it. We took his advice.
        Our first opportunity came as we walked to the Alte Stadt, which is really the town center with a large walking street that extends for several blocks. It is always interesting, but, last week, it was fun and amazing. We saw different countries represented in food stands all over. Everything looked good to eat, but we had to make a choice of which food we wanted to try. If we could have, we would have had a taste of each one. A person could find anything from Argentinian Steaks, to Danish wursts, to Mexican Food, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Romanian, Polish, Austrian, Swiss, Grecian, Italian, Austrailian, Nigerian, Somalian, and many more. It seemed like the only nation not represented was the US. One of our favorites was a booth with Finnish waffles covered with a berry sauce, whipped topping and more berries on top. (see photo). Besides the food, there was entertainment, international jewelry and trinket vendors and the usual or for us unusual sidewalk circus type acts. We stopped in front of the Rat Haus (Town Hall) to watch a group of Romanian dancers and musicians perform on stage.
        To really see Kieler Woche, however, we knew we had to get on the water, so on our next P-Day we booked a spot on a large boat and headed into the Förde. It was relaxing and a beautiful way to see a few of the boats, get a different view of Kiel and talk to some of the Germans on vacation. The rain came briefly, as it does in Kiel, but in between was sun and kiel’s wonderful breeze.
Going out of the dock we noticed Russian sailors on the large sailing boat tying the sails up. Can’t even imagine
what it would be like out on a rough sea to have to be up there.
Several Nordic cruise lines dock their ships in the Kiel bay.
Going out we saw some of the more exclusive home sites along the waterfront.
We watched the rain come and tried to gauge how much time we had before we would go inside for a few minutes.
We passed a variety of sailing vessels, and took way too many photos for a couple of missionaries.
Hamburg, Trains and Zone Conference
        On June 21, we left Kiel for a zone conference held in Hamburg. The Hamburg Stake Center is larger that the one in Kiel, and is more centrally located, which I’m sure is why they always have the two zones come together there. Elder and Sister Marks had advised us to not drive into Hamburg because of the traffic, and instead to take the train. I’m sure it cost us more, but I was all for relaxing on the train, and it would give us a chance to be with the missionaries. Hamburg is really not that far from Kiel. The train ride was an hour with only a couple of stops. They are quite, clean, and used by a lot of people. On the way back from conference, we couldn’t even find two seats together. In the late afternoon, rush hour exists on the train, also, as many workers head home to Kiel and other smaller towns from their jobs in Hamburg. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and to many missionaries and Germans we speak to, the most beautiful city in the country. We’ll talk about Hamburg in another blog after we have taken a good look.
         This was the last opportunity President Pimentel and his wife would have to speak to the missionaries, so they used it as their “mission farewell.” However, their talks and lessons were still directed toward the work and helping the missionaries make the best transition to President Kosac and his wife. As in our first zone conference, we were edified and taught in a way that made us want to be better missionaries.
        The relationship between missionaries and their mission parents is difficult to describe. I know that it differs from mission to mission, but these two were well-loved and there were many tears shed at the end of the conference as the missionaries stood spontaneously at the end of the last session and sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” in German.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

FHE -- Introducing Ourselves to YAE

President Jensen and New Assignments        

        It was our first real week at the center. The Marks would be leaving Tuesday morning and we were getting all the information we could from them before they would head home and pack. They had been so thorough in creating typed instructions for us that we couldn’t have asked for much more. That evening, all the Young Adults had planned a going-away party for the Family Home Evening and it was quite a party. It was obvious to us that the Marks were well-loved. Gifts and tributes were abundant. We told them we would take care of the dinner and cleanup so they could enjoy being with everyone one last time. It didn’t end until well past 11:30 p.m.

        Tuesday was transfer day and we were at the Bahnhof (train station) seeing the Marks off together with one loan sister and one lone elder. They both had lost their companions to transfers, so they would be with us until later that afternoon.

        On Wednesday, we went to the center to get ready for our meal preparation and the evening institute class. When I opened the office door I inadvertently interrupted a meeting that Pres. Jensen our stake president was having with the missionary zone leaders. He motioned for me to come in, apologized for not meeting with Nancy and me sooner, and asked me if we had time to meet now. I said yes, but Nancy needed to start the dinner. It as our first institute meal: spaghetti, salad, and Grandma Woods’ brownies. I knew she was a little worried about her dinner, and I had planned to help, but I didn’t want to say no to the Stake President.

        The meeting included a skyped conference call with Brother Dietmar Matern, a former German mission president originally from Switzerland who is now on the NeuMünster Stake High Council (our stake) and is over missionary work in the stake. I listened while missionary work was being discussed with the elders. After the call, Pres. Jensen asked if he could meet with my wife and me for a few minutes. I ran upstairs to see how Nancy was doing. The two sister missionaries were there helping her and I explained the President’s request, and the sisters said they would take over. Nancy and I went down to talk to the President.

        President Jensen is young. I don’t think he would be any older than Ben or Jon and perhaps younger. I had heard from Elder Marks and his wife that he is a great man, and our first encounter with him confirmed that comment. He sat us down, apologized again for not meeting with us sooner then asked us about ourselves. We chatted a bit, all in English, and Nancy made a comment about how she was just learning German. He assured us that there had been ehepaare (married couples) at the center who never learned German and were good missionaries. Then in a very kind but serious way, he told both of us that we haven’t been called to speak German, but to love the young people. Later, he would emphasize that again.

        His and our goal is to increase attendance at the center. He suggested that we travel on various Sundays to other branches outside Kiel to attend church and meet with leaders and single adults and encourage them to attend institute at their own branch and family home evening at least once a month at our Kiel Center. He wants to meet with us regularly with others assigned to help with the YSA and made us both feel that the Center and YSA were very important to him. He spoke individually of several with whom he was concerned. He seems genuinely concerned with all the youth and expressed his support for whatever we needed to help with the center.

IMG_0281-2012-06-9-09-44.JPGPresident Jensen and the two of us.

        One of the interesting things that happened at the end of the meeting with President Jensen, was in answer to his question of how we like Kiel. We proceeded to tell him of an incident in Berlin where we had talked to Brother Berndt, the former regional representative who had us over for dinner. Knowing that we might go to Kiel, we had asked him what he thought of Kiel. He answered, “I don’t like Kiel very much. It is too cold.” After we mentioned that we also told the Pres. how we had secretly wanted to go to Dresden because of the history and cultural aspect, but now after being in Kiel for a week, we are convinced that this is where the Lord wants us to be and we already love it.

        He then took out his iPad expanded a view of the area around Kiel and asked when our Pday is. We told him Saturdays, but it can vary. He then suggested four different places we should go to really see the area around Kiel. The first would be attending a primary activity on on next Saturday, June 9. It would be held in an Plön about 40 minutes from our home in Kronghagen. We were happy with the suggestion which would also afford us an opportunity to meet new members, and maybe help with the kids.


        Saturday came and we were excited for our activity. We called sister Timm, the primary president in the ward, and she and her husband were anxious for us to come. The drive to Plön was spectacular. Plön is surrounded on all sides by five connected lakes in the midst of lush rolling green hills and forests. Brother Timm had said we could help at the tower, which would be the end of a long journey the older primary children would make as they simulated trek back to Jerusalem made by Nephi and others to gain the Brass Plates. We would have the plates at the top of the tower. Little did we know how high the tower really is. It was put in place for military reasons during the 18th century. Now it is sort of a monument that is visited by many people who would like to get a good view of the area around Plön. Below are some of the photos we took of the primary activity next to one of the lakes and also a few shots from the top of the tower.









The next two show brother Timm and me, then Sister Frank enjoying a Kiel breeze.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Assignment To Kiel

Leaving Berlin

Tuesday evening May 29, 2012, we got a call from President Pimentel informing us that we would be serving in the Kiel Young Adult Center and would work with Brother and Sister Marks for a week before they returned home from their mission. We would stay in a hotel near the center. He told us he had prayed fervently about the decision and was certain the Lord wanted us there. We have watched and listened to President Pimentel. He has great faith in the Lord and an absolute knowledge that matters in the mission are directed by the Him. He talks continually about the miracles that are happening throughout the mission. We receive a text message each morning sent to each missionary announcing the miracles called into him each evening by those missionaries. Those most often are the investigators who have committed to a baptism date.

We accepted our transfer wholeheartedly, but in both of us there was a slight sense of disappointment that we wouldn’t be going to Dresden. When I think back at it now (we are finishing this blog a couple of weeks later) I’m not sure exactly where the disappointment came from. Maybe, for me it was again that sense of returning to where I had been years before. For Sister Frank, it came perhaps because office staff had hinted that we would be there and of course, there were all the cultural treasures that made Dresden famous. In any case, we stuffed our luggage and found that in a month we had acquired enough to make our luggage bulge to the max and still had a few bags besides. Below is a photo of Nancy on the balcony of our homely but now loved first apartment. Next to it is a photo of us and the Johnson’s standing on Potsdamer Platz next to a few pieces of the “Wall” conveniently situated for tourists to enjoy.


Moving to Kiel

Kiel is a beautiful city, much smaller than Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, or Dresden. It is situated on a coastline of a Baltic Sea fjord. The air is clean and there is always a breeze blowing. It is an hour’s drive to Denmark and in the northernmost part of Germany. The weather has been colder than either one of us expected. Nancy’s uninsulated jacket which we bought in Berlin is hardly enough to keep her warm when we are outside on cool days in Kiel. We did say in our mission application that we would rather be cold and know that we could layer our clothing, than to be too hot. We didn’t think we would be in an area where the warmest days of summer will probably reach 70 The couple we are replacing, the Marks’s, are incredible people and very easy to get to know and love. We hope that the Young Adults and the people in our Gemeinde (ward) will come to love an appreciate us for who we are.

The Center is in an older LDS church, but now is used only for the Young Adults. It’s called the RIZ--pronounced Ritz (which stands for Religious Institute Zentrum in German), so you could say that we are at the Riz everyday. The building itself has that old world charm, although the equipment and facilities are modern and the kitchen we have here is very nice for preparing dinners on Mondays (FHE) and after Institute class on Wednesday evenings. Below is the RIZ and next is a sign the JAE (young single adults) had placed inside the door to welcome us.



Our hotel accommodations the first week we were here were modern and clean, however, the bathroom is worth mentioning because of its size (about 3’x3’). That includes the shower, the sink, and the toilet. We didn’t do much unpacking because we would just be packing again on Monday the 4th of June. Living out of suitcases has never been something we enjoy doing. The six days we stayed there seemed long because of it.

On Sunday June 4th, we were welcomed into the ward by everyone, and of course, they asked the missionaries who are leaving and the new missionaries (us and those mentioned in the next sentence) to bear testimonies. Elder & Sister Marks will be going back to Oregon. They live in a small town on the coast about 100 miles from the California border. Sister Peltier, from Vernal, Utah is finished with her mission and her companion Sister Tidwell is from St. George, UT. Sister Tidwell will be getting a new companion tomorrow and getting new companions is always hard for the first few days. Elder Skoczyliz, from Heidelberg is also finished with his mission and his companion Elder Cottrell will be getting a new companion tomorrow, also.

Our Gemeinde (ward) is a large ward (by German standards) and they usually have about 120 people there. There were a few less this last week though. We, along with the sister missionaries and a couple from the ward (Jeremiah, from Nigeria, and his wife Genevieve, from Kamaroon) were invited to dinner by a wonderful young family, the Timm’s. The couple provided a very interesting conversation, since Jeremiah speaks some English and is learning Deutsch, but Genevieve, who is not a member, (she is being taught by the sister missionaries) speaks only French. The couple does have one language in common though, “Pigeon English” which Jeremiah explained is a language used by many in Africa. Back to the Timm’s: They have five children ranging in age from 7-1/2 years old to a baby about nine months old. We figure the Timm family is about the same age as Janet and Chet and their kids, plus one more than Janet and Chet. It wasn’t long before Elder Frank turned into his “Grandpa mode,” playing with and teasing the kids. The kids loved it, and of course it reminded us of our family and grandkids. Their daughter Lani was the oldest and was telling us how she was going to be baptized in October. She played the piano for us--every piece she had ever learned, including Weinachtzeit music. Her younger brother who is about a 6 years old proceeded to ping on the higher notes of the piano, just to bug her. Sound familiar? Below is a couple of photos of the Timm family, the Sister missionaries, Jeremiah and Genevieve and our dinner with all of them:



Our “Wohnung” in Kronshagen

Below are just a few photos of our apartment in the town of Kronshagen. The town is a beautiful small suburb of Kiel. It is clean, with beautiful smaller homes and a few smaller apartments. All of the landscape is very green and we are totally happy to have landed in such a great home. There is an added bonus as we have a very nice grocery store just around the block within walking distance. Another interesting sideline is that because the Germans are so eco conscious, you have to purchase grocery bags, like the ones we have at home, otherwise you must carry your groceries whatever way you can or purchase another new bag. You must also deposit a coin (,50 Euros-1,00 Euros) for your grocery cart. When you return your cart, you get your coin back. The great thing about it is that all of the carts look like new and all of the wheels work properly, and they are all in order and none left standing in the parking lot. We have had great experiences in Kiel and look forward to sharing them with you as we get more time.


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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.