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


  1. We will pray for Colleen. I am thankful she is close to Megan! Being close to family and knowing you love each other is so important!!

    The Copenhagen Temple is beautiful! I love the simplicity of the exterior. I can feel the sacredness of your experience through the pictures and description you gave. How wonderful!!!

    Thanks for sharing these experiences with us! It seems like when we chat via facetime, I am doing the majority of talking and it is mostly about what's been going on here in Utah! So, I enjoy reading your amazing experiences on this blog!

    Many hugs and kisses to you both!
    Love, Jake, Marcie, and kids

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog, we have enjoyed having Nadine here with her boyfriend Christian once in awhile. She is darling. You have a great place to have your JAE activities. We have the stage in our ward building, it is okay. We only get about 8-10 out, sometimes more, sometimes less. We went to the Denmark temple a couple of years ago and stayed in the housing there. The temple president's son had lived next to us in Provo and he told everyone that day that we knew his son and his family. It is beautiful!
    Keep the faith,
    Elder and Sister Weidman in Linz, Austria

  3. Oh you two are having way too much fun. I thought it was interesting about the changes in Zone conferences. I know that it does take such a long time to prepare meals for the Elders and Sisters for Zone Conference; but it was always such a sweet experience. After lunch all of them sang the song: "Called To Serve" and we all cried.
    You two are doing such a great work; I love your stories.
    Because of Roger's parents being involved with the beginning of the church in Nigeria; I am always interested in hearing about conversion stories from there.
    I just finished putting into the computer an oral history of his parents on their experiences there in the beginning and then later when they served together there. It was a huge undertaking; but I have hopes we can put it into a book someday.
    You are going to be so happy that you are keeping this wonderful missionary journal. I love your blog.
    The trip to the temple in Denmark was awesome. I was wondering how many seats they have in the session rooms. Also, in the small temple in Spokane they had clothing sizes and packets for anyone that came and didn't have any of their own clothes.
    Nancy, I just loved talking with you and let's do it again. You are both cherished friends and are grateful you are sharing your experiences.
    Hugs and love to you both!

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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.