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



  1. Another great post! Thank you for sharing these experiences. We pray often for the members in Germany. Especially those in the Kiel area. Saying goodbye to Wen reminded me of many people I came to know in Ecuador that moved on from investigating the church. You are right that the road to baptism takes many steps. I love thinking about the great work that you are involved in every minute of the day. Being tired at the end of a busy day of missionary work must feel great! We love you and miss you very much. Keep up the great work!

  2. We love and enjoy each post you make. Missionary work is hard but so uplifting too. To be able to share something you value so much and that brings so much happiness is priceless. We are sad to hear about Wen but know that the seeds are planted. It is amazing how circumstances and life sometimes bring those "spiritual" stirrings back. We love you both and think of you often.

  3. Thanks for sharing your schedule with us. It confirmed what I already know... you guys are working VERY hard. Now I know the days that are best for face timing too. You are such a great teacher dad. I'm sure the young adults in Kiel enjoyed hearing your lesson and testimony and learned a lot from it. I'm glad you had the opportunity to teach. Hopefully you will have another chance when there is more time to prepare. The Halloween party looks like fun! Dad it looks like you did pretty well with your donut! I'm sorry to hear about Wen, but we will continue to pray for him and other investigators. Keep up the good work! Love, Janet

  4. We also loved this post! You are awesome missionaries! Your heart is in the work and in the people you serve! Enjoy another very busy and probably surprising week! Love you both very much!

  5. Simple and beautiful blog
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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.