Sunday, August 12, 2012

Small Gifts and Miracles

“the Lord will show miracles unto those who believe…”
D&C 35:8
        From the first day of our mission here in Berlin we were told that miracles happen every day. We know it is true. God gives all of us all small gifts and shows us miracles probably far more often than we realize. Maybe however it is only through our faith that we actually see them as miracles. We believe one of the blessings of a mission is to see and notice those miracles. We are also sure that if we have faith, we can be the instruments through which miracles can occur.
Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles
Mosiah 8:18
        Below are a few gifts and miracles we have witnessed here in Kiel. Though small and unnoticed by most, to us they are some of the daily witnesses we receive that our prayers are answered and that we are watched over by the prayers of others. Most come from the faith of others. A few we hope come in part through our faith.

Getting Lost in Flensburg
        Flensburg is a town on the border of Germany and Denmark. As we learned about the young adults in our stake, we found that Flensburg had many young adults, but because it was quite a distance from Kiel, that they had their own institute teacher and rarely came to the center in Kiel. Pres. Jensen, our stake president, encouraged us to visit all the wards and branches in our stake and to get to know the young adults. We were anxious to follow his counsel so we decided to visit Flensburg first.
        It was a rainy Sunday and we left our apartment about 50 minutes prior to the start of their meeting in Flensburg. We hadn’t done our homework and as I put the coordinates into the “Navii” (our GPS), it smiled and said it would take slightly over an hour to get there. We were going to be late. I pushed the red car as fast as I dared considering the rain and not knowing where I was going. We got to Flensburg and followed the roads as instructed until the Navii said we were there… no chapel. We were on a narrow, hilly, cobblestone road and the address was simply an old white building. I wondered if the ward was meeting in that building. There was no place to park, it was raining and cold. I got out and saw someone and asked about the church. He didn’t know anything about our church, but pointed out a nice Lutheran church. We didn’t know what to do. I turned around and drove into a small lane to think. Everyone I knew would be in church so there wasn’t any use calling. We both thought not only were we not going to meet the members in Flensburg, but we wouldn’t be able to go to church this Sunday. I was wet from walking around in the rain. Sister Frank didn’t know what to do, and in my mind I could only offer a feeble prayer that perhaps we could get some help.
        I decided to see what phone numbers I had in a notebook. I didn’t want to call the Stake President because I knew he would be in a meeting. I did have the clerk’s number so I called him knowing that it would be futile. To our amazement someone answered. It wasn’t the clerk. It was his uncle who happened to be staying there, but was on his way out going back to his home somewhere in Germany. I mentioned our predicament not knowing if he was a member or not. The clerk, by the way, lives at least a hundred miles away from Flensburg. He was a member and said, stay on the phone and I’ll see if I can find the branch on the internet. He was not even aware of at the wards or branches in the stake. Two minutes later, he found the address I thanked him, and Sister Frank and I were on our way. On our “Navi” we had left out one of the numbers in the address which took us to another side of town. Walking into Flensburg late was worth the effort. We met many young adults that come on occasion to special events and were warmly greeted by members who were surprised that we had made the effort to come up. I was asked to give the closing prayer in sacrament meeting even though we were so late. We’re sure our presence wasn’t very important to the members, but being there was special for us.
Parking at the Flensburg branch.

“Consider the Lillies…” Luke 12:27
        Many of the miracles that we see as missionaries come through the beauty of the things we see around us--not just the wonderful people and the beauty of the country of Germany. One such incident occurred as Elder Frank and I were just doing some weekly shopping. In downtown Kiel there is a shopping mall called Sophienhof. There are stores of every kind and each has many wonderful things to see. One of the stores we happened to come upon was a floral shop. The display in the windows showed all kinds of beautiful plants, especially orchids of every kind. We decided to go inside just to look at them.
        When you consider the majesty and beauty of God’s creations, sometimes it takes your breath away. This was one of those moments. Every detail of each was so precise and delicate. We asked to storekeeper if we could take photos of the orchids. I couldn’t help but look at them and consider their splendor without realizing that of all of God’s creations, “man” is the one that was the one most important to Him. Genesis 1:26 and Moses 1:39. I hope these pictures will cause you to ponder the wonder of God’s creations and how much he loves us to have given them to us to enjoy!

Conversion Story
        The process of conversion is miraculous in itself. Though Sister Frank and I aren’t “Finding” and “Teaching” in the normal way our young Elders and Sisters are, we’ve both been asked to help on occasion. Two young men are in the midst of their conversions and their stories though not complete illustrate the miraculous power of the Book of Mormon, faith, and repentance.
        The first young man is a Chinese student studying in Kiel. His Name is Wen Hi. We first met him when the elders brought him to Institute. They had mentioned him to me before and were thrilled with his progress considering that he had no knowledge of God. They met him near the University, began teaching him, and found that he was eager for an understanding of the gospel. What truly was miraculous was that Wen Hi was good friends with a recent convert by the name of Wang. After Wen Hi found out that Wang had been converted, he said “I want to know everything that Wang knows.”
        I watched him during institute. He was taking notes and even asking questions. (His German is pretty good.) Afterwards, I introduced myself and guided him upstairs where Sister Frank was preparing our meal. He was enthusiastic and very friendly. He referred to me as “the old man” to the elders. I didn’t mind. We got along pretty well.
        Since then, the elders have invited me to joint teach Wen Hi. It has been amazing hearing his questions and bearing witness to the truths of the gospel to someone so eager to learn.
        Wen Hi is now visiting his parents in Shanghai for a month. He attended church here every week before he left. I showed him the church’s website (also in Mandarin) and the elders asked if I would email him the address of the branch in Shanghai. I did, together with the photo below. He comes back soon. We are praying for his continued conversion.
Elder Frank, Wen Hi, Elder Lloyd

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rendsburg Branch and a Few Anecdotes


        A week ago last Sunday, we visited one of the smaller branches of our stake in Rendsburg, which is about a 45-minute drive from Kiel. Rensburg is a town west of Kiel. The LDS Chapel is small, but very nice. When we arrived, we were 10 minutes late and they were already administering the Sacrament. The only door to the chapel was right at the front, so we waited outside and the young men brought the Sacrament out to us. Afterwards, as we entered, we could feel the Spirit so strongly. There were only about 14 people there, including us. We were told that several people were on vacation, but the branch is still very small even if you take that into consideration, and there are very few little children. A branch member conducted and gave a great talk about teaching the Gospel to our families, which was followed by an invitation to Elder Frank to bear his testimony, a hymn with the congregation, and then a talk by a High Counsel member. I happened to notice a lovely woman, a little older than us dabbing her eyes throughout the meeting. I introduced myself to her afterwards and she mentioned that she, to, had felt a wonderful spirit there that day. Then she proceeded to tell us that just a couple of weeks earlier, the Stake President had visited their tiny branch and said that they may have to dissolve their small branch and send the members to others branches or wards, if they don’t have enough people to fill the callings necessary to run the branch. She said that she has been a member of that branch since 1965. She was married twice, but both husbands had died of cancer, so she is a widow. Most of her family now lives in the US. She has a car, but doesn’t like to drive on the autobahn. She told me she has had so much joy and happiness through the Gospel that she would do whatever it takes to be able to attend her meetings, even if it means getting a ride with someone else. We also spoke with one of our Young Adult’s, Julia’s, parents, who we know pretty well because they always bring her to Institute. (Her mom always talks with me in German, which I really appreciate because it really helps me with the language.) .

        As we have mentioned earlier in our blog, our Stake President has encouraged us to visit some of the smaller branches to get to know some of the Young Adults who don’t come to FHE or Institute and this was our first visit to Rends burg. We already knew Julia, who is a beautiful young woman in our stake. She is legally blind, due to some kind of a degenerating eye disease that is progressing very fast, in fact, I think it has only been 2 years since it began. We were also able to meet a couple of others young people, a young man named Christopher who we hadn’t met before and who just recently received his mission call to Frankfurt. We also met a young lady named Hanna who is active, but who doesn’t come to Institute either. We don’t worry as much about these young adults when we know they are active. It is a long way to get to the Institute by bus or by auto, but we would love it if they would come and we know they would benefit from attending also.



Rendsburg chapel and members and Rendsburg missionaries

        On our way home, as I thought about the Spirit I felt while I was there, I couldn’t help but get emotional. I would hate to see that beautiful little church being dissolved or even the building sold; and what would happen to the wonderful people there? It was a sobering moment for both Elder Frank and me. In his testimony, Elder Frank talked about the Pioneers and the challenges they had faced. It was on his and my mind because Ben and Bethany had just gotten back from a Pioneer Trek. They both talked about how hard it was: hot weather, always dirty, and the physical and emotional struggles. And yet when they got back, they both said they would do it again “in a heartbeat”. It was one of the most spiritual experiences they had ever had. When Elder Frank mentioned the pioneers and Ben and Bethany’s trek in his testimony he could see several members get quite emotional as did he. Later, a few thanked him and then we also discovered what the Stake president had said might happen to the branch. The people in this small branch are pioneers; their treks are different than those of the Saints coming to Utah, but with difficulties nonetheless. We are praying that they will see some growth in their beautiful little branch, and we know they have excellent missionaries in the area. I know that these people have testimonies of this Gospel and they are wonderful people.

A Klingel Story

        Though not a spiritual story, the story of our klingel (our doorbell) I hope is worth telling. Below is a photo of our nameplate next to the doorbell. As in most apartments, all of the outside doorbells and nameplates are grouped together so that visitors and postmen can quickly see who lives there. In order to get into the apartment door, you have to ring the doorbell, someone answers and either opens the main door or tells you to go away. Its a nice secure feature.


        This story only has to do with our nameplate. Below our name (FRANK) is the name of the church. Apparently, someone in the building took offense at our nameplate. FRANK was OK, but they didn’t like the name of the church being there. We didn’t realize there was a problem until a couple of weeks after we moved in. I went to get our mail (The mail box is inside the main door and also has the same nameplate on it as the one outside) and noticed that someone had replaced our nameplate with one that only had our name on it. The name of the church was missing. I figured that maybe the Hausmeister (House Manager) may have changed it for some reason. I looked outside the main door and that nameplate was also changed. At first I thought he was just trying to make everything look uniform, or maybe he wanted a bigger font. I didn’t like the fact that he didn’t bother to ask us before changing it. We decided to print our original label again and change it back. We did, and again a few days later it was changed back to just our name. While we were going back and forth, we were also waiting for a package to arrive with a new router we had ordered. We didn’t have internet in the apartment and had called our internet and phone company who said our current router wouldn’t work because our computer was too new. The phone calls, by the way, stretched my German vocabulary way beyond its useful life. But, with help from brother Törsten, a German member who is great with technology, we got the router ordered. We were anxious for the package to arrive.

        Getting back to the Klingel problem, after several weeks waiting for the package, I called the company to find out the problem. They said the package had been returned because the postman couldn’t find the address. Now the Klingel problem was getting out of hand. The package was addressed to the church because the church has the contract with the phone company. I called the company, explained the problem and they agreed to send the package again. At that point, we decided to print a whole page of labels with our name and the church’s name underneath. We figured whoever was changing the nameplate would get tired of changing them and either give up or knock on our door and talk to us personally.

        The package arrived and the perpetrator had ceased changing the label. We thought all was good. Then I got a call from the mission home. They had received a formal letter from the corporation who owns our building explaining that a renter in our building took offense at the expression …Heiligen der Letzen Tagen (Latter-day Saints) and they wanted it changed. Neither Elder Williams from the office (a former attorney) nor I could figure why they would object to Latter-day Saints, but if it was a big deal we would change it to just the initials HLT. So that’s when Nancy and I made another page of labels that read as above on photo.

        That was good for another couple of weeks until I got another call from Elder Williams. Another letter had come this time indicating that we needed to get rid of the whole name of the church. Elder Williams said he would forward the email to me and asked me to call the people, explain our position, and take care of it. I said I would. Our position is simple. The room is rented by the church so the name needs to be there and there are various people who come and go, and their name needs to be there also.

        I made the call to a nice lady who I am sure didn’t want to be in the middle of this thing. After several diplomatic attempts at explaining our position, and her suggesting diplomatically that they weren’t good enough, I finally asked her if she was really suggesting that we change the thing or move out because someone doesn’t particularly like our religion. At that she backed off and said of course she wasn’t saying that, and that she would talk to the other renter and see if she couldn’t work it out. A week later she called and said the renter was now OK with things and she was happy too.

        Sister Frank and I are thinking of having an open house and inviting all the renters so we can introduce ourselves. Maybe that would help ferret out our offended party. And who knows, perhaps he/she will turn out to be a golden contact!!

Photos & Tidbits


Road Repair and Parking:

A week or so ago, there was repair done on the road outside our apartment. There went our parking place. I saw the notice on our apartment and all other apartments on our road indicting that repair work would be done and to move your car. I’m glad a read that notice. They started early one morning and when I looked outside there were tractors and equipment tearing up the road and several cars trying to get out by driving on the grass. Some never made it. I had parked at the nearest grocery store. Below was just a photo of the tail end of the work as they were preparing to lay the asphalt.         



I parked at the SKY (the grocery store) for a couple of weeks. While there our cozy red Opel made a friend. It’s the red Alpha Romeo. They’re almost like twins, aren’t they!



Recycling Phobia

Both Sister Frank and I miss our garbage collectors. She has mentioned the several trash bins we use as we separate various materials. Thought you might like to see some additional bins we need to use to dispose of glass. 1. Bin on the left for clear glass 2.) Bin on the right for Colored glass. The Stopp sign near the hole gives you a series of things you better not do before you throw the bottle into the hole. I read it very carefully before throwing everything into the hole. Some day I’ll probably get a call from the “bottle police”.



One of the great German ideas to keep shopping carts in place and not scattered all over-- It costs you an Euro (1,00 €) to get a cart. Notice in the photo, all are chained together. You put in an Euro (about $1.25) and you get the cart. When you’re through you just lock it back up and the Euro comes right back to you. All the carts are aligned and there are no boys outside the store pushing long lines of carts toward the doors, no one just leaves their carts so they don’t run into other autos, and they are all under a little arch covered garage to keep them from getting wet or dirty. Pretty good idea, huh?


McDonald’s in German

I had to take these last two photos. We love our McDonalds here in Kiel. When we are tired, discouraged or just a bit homesick, we can always count on the golden arches to take us back… or at least to give us a laugh. Below is a McRib box from which Sister Frank enjoyed a taste of home. I was impressed with the 21 letter word Geschmacksvolltreffer. As far as I can tell, it means a “full-of-flavor-hit” Sister Frank agreed.


Reading this side panel on the box really makes me hungry. Basically it reads “How much spice can fit into a burger? Those who love strong flavor must come to a ‘McRib’. With its inimitable hearty sauce and the best pork meat, it throws it at you exactly. As it is: Bite firmly.” What can I say. It’s a McRib for me next time.


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.