Thursday, October 18, 2012

Visiting the Temple, Conference, Family and President Monson Come to Germany


        With the approach of General Conference and the announcement that President Monson would be coming to Germany, Sister Frank and I wanted to attend the temple in Freiberg both as a preparation for those events, and as an opportunity to visit the southeastern part of our mission. We had a break in the work at the institute. Wednesday, the 3rd of October is National Unity Day in Germany, and because of the holiday, there would be no institute or mission preparation class on that day. We called President Kosak and got permission to travel to Freiberg and attend a temple session. On the way, we would stay in Dresden. That in itself would be a reminder of an experience I had on my mission years ago. At that time members who lived in or near Dresden (which was behind the Iron Curtain) were meeting together near Dresden for a conference with a visiting general authority, S. Dilworth Young. I had been called upon to interpret for Elder Young and still remember that experience. Now as we entered Dresden, we saw it quite differently. We had heard from Jon and Larissa how beautiful it was and it certainly was all of that.
As you enter Alte Stadt (old city) Dresden the view is impressive. 

Everywhere you look there are Baroque structures creating the skyline.
Here, Sister Frank is standing on the Alte Stadt side with a view of the bridge.

Freiberg Temple

        From Dresden, we traveled to the small town of Freiberg only half an hour away. There we came to the historic temple in Freiberg. It again reminded me of the last year of my mission in Berlin when this area was deep in Communist East Germany. At that time there weren’t many chapels in the country let alone a temple. The saints in the East were very strong, but since religion was virtually forbidden by the government, their only hope hope for temple ordinances would come if they were somehow given a visa to visit a western country. That was rare. Then, of course the miracle happened and through the work of Pres. Monson and others, a temple was eventually built in Freiberg. The story is worth reading.
        Our day in the temple was perfect. Though a very small temple, the significance of the Freiberg Temple is large in the hearts of the German Saints. We felt blessed to meet with the Temple presidency and be part of a small session. It certainly rejuvenated us and prepared us for conference.

The Freiberg Temple is a small temple, but beautiful both inside and out.

For us, going to the temple again after so many months, was an edifying event.  We met other missionaries working at the temple and also spoke to the Temple president.  Meeting them always reminds us of what a great cause in which we are engaged. 

General Conference - The Prophet Comes to Hamburg

        General Conference is always a tremendous spiritual event, but on a mission it becomes even a greater blessing. For us, it brought us closer to home for a couple of days. It also taught us much in regards to our mission.
        Another unanticipated, but particularly spiritual event for us was the announcement that right after General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson was coming to Germany and speaking to all members of the Church who could come to either Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich. We were able to get four tickets and attend the special conference held in Hamburg on Saturday, October 13th with Tim and Nicole. TIm and Nicole were only here for three days and to think that, even though it was not planned, we were able to share such a spiritual event with them was very special. The visit from the Prophet was such a joyous occasion for everyone, and you could literally see it in their tears of joy as the saints sang Gott Sei Mit Euch, (God Be With You) as President Monson left the building. They especially loved it when he said Ich liebe dich (I love you), before he left the podium. The next day was Fast and Testimony Meeting and if you wanted to bear your testimony, you had to be fast on your feet. Everyone wanted to express their feelings about Pres. Monson’s message and his visit. We are so grateful to have a living prophet on the earth today.

That President Monson decided to come to Germany so soon after General Conference was a thrilling surprise for the German members.  They had little time to prepare, but were able to secure this large Sportshall in Hamburg for his first of four conferences.  The other three were in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. 

After the end of the conference, he started to leave guided by security then turned and moved into the crowd greeting many of the children,  their parents and others.

What a blessing it was to have Tim and Nicole with us for this special occasion.  I believe they felt the great spirit of love for the prophet that was there and were edified as much as we were.

Tim and Nicole Visit Kiel

        While Tim and Nicole were here we were also able to show them a small sampling of Schleswig-Holstein sights. Just as it had been with Jon and Larissa, saying goodbye was hard, but the time we had spent together was worth a moment of sorrow.

Sister Frank and I took Tim and Nicole to one of our favorite places in Schleswig-Holstein – the tower overlooking the lakes surrounding the beautiful town of Plön.  It was a clear, windy, and cold day, but we loved it.
After we had been to Hamburg to see President Monson speak, we took Tim and Nicole to Laboe hoping to visit the Monument you see rising up the the photo above.  Unfortunately, it was closed but the U-boat and monument are interesting even from outside.    From there we went to Stein were we walked out toward the ocean and took a few photos of the monument as the sun was setting.
On Sunday the Zicklers (Uwe and Sabina) had all the Elders and Sisters over for dinner after church.  They also insisted that Tim and Nicole come too. It was a large group but Sabina fixed a wonderful meal.  They couldn't stop talking about their trip to Utah and the great conference they has seen.
Dinner was a wonderful German meal (…mmm lecker!)  We had three different kinds of pork (stuffed, smoked and plain), rotkohl, klöße, potatoes and gravy, green beans and Brussel sprouts.  Then, of course, there was Uwe's usual oversized ice cream fantasia.  Missionary life is tough!
The Work Goes On

        Together with the visit of Tim and Nicole, the coming of President Monson, the wonderful time we had in the Freiberg vicinity, there is, of course the great work of the mission still moving forward.  We are excited about the progress of several investigators, and saddened by the loss of others.  We are thrilled to have new elders and sisters move into our area and that means we have to see others go.
        In the past while, we have seen two of our great Kiel missionaries leave, Sister Dieterich and Elder Lloyd. They both have given much to the ward members and to those non-members they have taught. They have also meant a great deal to us. We wish them well and pray they Lord will be with them both.
        We are also excited about the new missionaries in our area. In our next blog we will introduce you to two new elders and one new sister.

Elder Lloyd, Sister Diederich, Sister Laubaugh and Elder Spendlove are cleaning up the chestnuts that fall on the ground at the RIZ and make such a mess.  (It was even worse the next day.) 
Elder Lloyd, Elder Frank, Sister Diederich and Sister Frank 
Sister Frank, Sister Diederich and Sister Laubaugh at the bahnhof seeing Sister Diederich off to her new area in Leipzig.

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.