Monday, December 31, 2012

Einen Guten Rutsch!

Received December 31, 2012 Here in the German speaking lands the people wish each other "einen guten Rutsch" for the New Year. That means that they hope you "slide well" into the New Year. It sounds really dumb to someone who's not too familiar with the custom, however they say it just like we say "Happy New Year". What the majority of Germans don't know is where the phrase comes from. It's a Jewish (Yiddish) phrase that wishes a good beginning to the new year. I like that better. The idea of people sliding down the street into the new year may seem a little bit humorous, but it would probably end with people just hurting themselves. For that reason, I wish everyone a god rosch to get the year started off right. Hopefully that's with family and friends. I will be too, a little belated but it still counts. For those who read my blog, I am sad that I will no longer be able to report on the miscellaneous happenings of a Baritone on the loose in the German-speaking lands and I hope that you have been able to get a little glimpse into the world of a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have grown so much in this time and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve these wonderful people. I know that my Heavenly Father has blessed me and my family because I have seen the tangible blessings that have come from my service. I must say that my blog won't really change much since the gospel is still a major part of my life, however you can look forward to plenty of musings from the "Baritone". My mission coming to an end also brings with it the unfortunate end of my time in Ravensburg. Elder Pope (also Elder Hustead) and I have really had a wonderful time here in the great City of Games. We've experienced a lot and we have come to really know all the members well. They were really sad to see me go but I look forward to seeing them again sometime in the future. We spent Christmas Eve with the Trautmann family and the Sampsons. We listened to music, sang songs, and ate a wonderful and very German meal from one of the finest cooks in all of Germany. We had dinner with the Sampsons on the next night and I got to call my family which, despite the superfluity associated with a call only two weeks before I go home, was very nice. We then spent the next day with the Kiefers and we ate a Russian meal called Plov. It was really good. I think I may come home fatter that I left. Depressing, I know. Well I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and like my good friend the former Elder Sills I leave you with this scripture: 3 John 1:13-14 Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßß!!!!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Frohe Weihnachten!

Received December 24, 2012 Morgen Kinder wird's was geben Morgen werden wir uns freu'n Welch ein Jubel welch ein Leben Wird in unser'm Hause sein Einmal werden wir nun wach Heißa dann ist Weihnachtstag! Merry Christmas everybody. If you are reading this it means that you have made it a long way with me and my mission history. We've experienced a lot of things and it's (sad to say) almost over. I'm glad that I am able to spend one more Christmas in Germany. It probably won't happen again. It's wonderful and everybody is smiling and happy, a sight which those of you who are familiar with the culture here would know is quite uncommon. Maybe it's because the world didn't end on the 21st. Maybe they're just happy to have work off. Maybe they're going to eat a Döner right now. There could be lots of reasons, but I think foremost there is a spirit to Christmas that no one can really explain. It surpasses all barriers of life and all differences that people have. Rich or poor, single or married, old or young, Turkish or German it doesn't matter. Everyone wishes each other happy holidays and the are happy. And you know what? I can't ask for anything more. That's a lovely way to finish my mission. I only have until next Thursday the 3rd to soak in all the goodness of Southern Germany before I depart for my sunny Southern California. I hope that you all have a wonderful time with your families and I look forward to seeing everyone soon. Until next time, Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßß!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Aufersteh'n, ja aufersten'n wirst du mein Herz

Received December 17, 2012 "In einem Nu" is what it says in Gustav Mahler's continuation of Friedrich Klopstock's poem about the Resurrection. I am above all glad that Grandma Kennedy has passed through the veil and that she could go peacefully. It seems fitting that she leave this life on the wings of that great psalm number 23. Those words give hope to all people who believe in God and I know that if anyone did it was she. I know she doesn't know German, but I have received a lot of joy on my mission by listening to the wonderful words of the poem that I just mentioned, set to music and embellished upon by the great Gustav Mahler. He wrote: Sterben werd' ich um zu leben! Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n Wirst du mein Herz, in einem Nu! Was du geschlagen zu Gott wird es dich tragen! That translates to, "I will die that I might live. You will resurrect, my heart, in but a moment. That which you have suffered will bring you unto God." Not to wax poetic or anything, but I just really like those words. This week went by so fast. As with all weeks for the past few transfers, I can't even remember what we do from day to day. We had a great party with the whole Zone in St. Gallen on Monday and that brought a little bit more Christmas cheer into our weekly activities. On Thursday we were invited over for dinner by a family who are not members of the church. Way back when we had the concert a lady who attended mentioned that they had at one time invited the missionaries over all the time to eat at their house and to talk in english to their kids. Eventually the missionaries just stopped coming for some reason and they never heard from them again. Coming to the concert brought them back in contact with us and they said that we could call them up and set up a time to have a meal with them and their grandkids who are now around the same age. We called up and they invited us over for Thursday last week and we had a great time with them. The husband and the oldest grandson asked some really good questions and we were ready to answer them. It was an awesome opportunity to share the gospel in a very casual way over a few sandwiches. On Sunday we had a great opportunity to go administer the sacrament to a lady who is really a pioneer of the church in Germany. Her husband was the first stake president in the Stuttgart Stake and they saw a good amount of the beginnings of the church in the post war era in Germany. Her husband died a few years ago and she now lives in an assisted living home in Aulendorf which is too far away for her to get to church in the morning and every few months we have a little sacrament meeting with her. Her daughter also comes who is less active. It was really awesome to see this woman and her love for the church. Well I think that will be all for this week. I only have a few more of these left and it's crazy! Until next time, Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüßßßßßßßßßßßß!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Go Down Moses? In A Christmas Concert?

Received December 10, 2012 So we had another "concert" this week. It was actually the Branch Christmas party, but we formed it around a large number of Christmas songs which were all very well received. Even "Go down Moses". We had some Nigerians there and they were rocking out in the back. I have to say that I have had some of the most fun in this little branch that I have had on my whole mission because I really do know everybody pretty well and I'm not always running around to talk to everybody all the time. That's something that really gets lost in a large ward. I am really grateful for the call to serve in the Ravensburg Branch because it has helped me to see that people are individuals and that every person has their own personal conversion to the gospel which keeps them coming every week and keeps them firm in their testimony. This week I also had the opportunity to go out to Winterthur where we had a Zone finding day. Everyone split up into different companionships and went out into the city in different predetermined areas and looked for people. Once again everyone got completely destroyed by the Sisters from St. Gallen. We Elders are just not as charismatic as the Sisters. They had lots of people talk to them compared to Elder Rosenvall and I out in Oberwinterthur. Afterward we all got back together and sang some Christmas songs in the city center. That was fun, but it was not too successful since people were so busy walking "somewhere". An old man did stop and listen. He tried to give us money but a member from the Winterthur Ward explained how we aren't there to take money, we just want to make people happy. (On a side note: It is illegal to do so under the stipulations of our agreement with the city which also excludes the handing out of cards during the singing. Switzerland is a special place.) My Trachtenanzug made it's debut at the party on Saturday and everyone loved it. They thought it was really fitting and said I looked good in it. I guess I don't have a ton to talk about this week. We are still trying to find some people to teach and they're out there. Pray that we will find them. Until next week, Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüßßßßßßßßßß!!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Alle Jahre Wieder

Received December 3, 3012 I just want to say how much I love the German Christmas carols. There are many songs that we know in America too: O Tannenbaum (Oh Christmas Tree), Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo how a rose er blooming), Stille Nacht (Silent Night). However, there are so many that I have learned this week. Since I bought a book of songs for the Christmas party (which is on Saturday) I have spent a little bit of time everyday not just learning the songs that I need to sing in the party, but also just exploring the world of song that has opened up to me. O Jesulein zart, Es kommt ein Schiff geladen, Macht hoch die Tür, Es wird scho glei dumpa, Leise rieselt der Schnee, etc. I think that it is amazing how many songs have been written in memory of the birth of Christ. The German people were then and still are (at least partially) a people that know how to celebrate Christmas and it all stems from their love for God and His Son. With the breaking of the dawn of the Christmas season we received more snow....yay. I woke up one morning and looked outside to see a nice thick coat of that white stuff from heaven laying neatly spread across the ground. Looking out at the snow from the inside is wonderful. Then you go out and it's freezing! It will get worse though. It's only been a few degrees (celcius) below zero so far, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. It's just time to break out the coats, sweaters, long underwear, extra socks, scarves, and anything that gets you warm. It's too bad my ninja-like reflexes are slowed down by all this clothing. This week I really wanted to go to the Christmas market in Ravensburg for some reason. It was really cold already and pretty late and dark and we had planned to just eat dinner, but we went out just to check it out real quickly. I happened that there was a group of German Scouts (Pfadfinder) who had a booth there. As we were walking by a girl in the troop stopped us and we talked to her for a little while. I told her about how I did scouting in America and she recognized us from the bus the other day. I guess she had seen us and wondered what we were doing in Germany. We told her about the church and she seemed genuinely interested in finding out more. She took a card and said that she would look at the website for the church. I'm glad that things like that happen so often in Ravensburg. We can knock on a million doors and we don't find anybody that has interest but random instances like that happen to us all the time. Heavenly Father looks out for us to make sure that we don't get too discouraged. Well, that's all for now folks. We'll have plenty of time to talk about this stuff in a few weeks and I don't want to spend forever on the computer. Have a great week and smile, it does wonders. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüßßßßßßßß!!!!!