(This photo is taken from the hills above Baumholder where we were taking a walk on a sunny morning.)
Some people have asked, “What do you think of the food in Germany?” Well, the bread is wonderful. The bakeries bake daily and the fresh bread is the best. There are hardy and heavy grain breads, most of which are very delicious. Even the real German rye bread is quite good. Rye bread in the States is not even similar. And then the sweet breads and desserts are also very good. Apfelstrudel is one of our favorites. We can buy it at the local market in the freezer section and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes and it comes out superb. It costs about $1.80 and serves 4-6 people. We have also noticed the potatoes have a nice flavor. They are always good any way we fix them. The meat is leaner and packaged in airtight packages, which keeps it fresher. Although our little refrigerator hovers just above the best temperature we have to cook the meat and eat it quickly. Even the produce, most of which comes from Spain, is also quite fresh. We haven't eaten out in any German restaurants, although we would like to do that. They don't have any non-smoking sections and my going into a coughing fit from the smoke is not real neighborly to the people sitting next to us. We will manage that problem in one way or other. We see there is an Eis Cafe here where we plan to have ice cream on a warmer day. We also know of a Kapob cafe where they serve special Turkish sandwiches. That is many people's favorite also. And everyone raves over the "Doner" (two dots over the o please). We have much yet to experience. When we first arrived in Baumholder it was after dark and we had no food so we stopped in at the local McDonalds for 2 plain hamburgers. That cost us the equivalent of $11.00. Food at the local market is pretty reasonable and we have some testing to do! The chocolate certainly passes muster!
Oh the Autobahns are fun! Most of the cars passing us are going about 100 mph. The Germans know how to drive. Licenses are not allowed until age 18, and then they must take an intensive driving course. If they pass the test the actual license is the equivalent of $3000. They take it pretty seriously of course. So drivers stay in between the lines while driving in a lane; they don't weave in and out or cut you off; you need to stay out of their way if you are not going their same speed; and it is the law the have snow tires on your car after Nov. 1st. When traveling on the Autobahns we usually stay in the right lane unless we have to pass a truck. There are occasional speed limits but only when one is close to a city. The busiest Autobahn is #6 and it is often full of freight trucks. We travel that way when we go to Kaiserslautern for meetings. It is a relief when we get off #6. It is still not as bad as Interstate 15! We are in the process of obtaining German driver's licenses. First we have to have our Utah licenses translated at an automobile club (ADAC) which will take about 2 weeks, and then we have to go to the driver's license bureau here in town. Hopefully we won't have to surrender our Utah license before we have our German one. Otherwise we will be walking everywhere. Bruce does most of the driving, which is okay with me. Germany has a special agreement with some of the States and accepts that state's driver testing. Fortunately, Utah is one of those states. We don't have to pay $3000! Thank goodness. The mission rents us a mission car for $75 a month. It is a nice little red 2007 Opel Corsa. It is a 4 door, 4 cylinder compact car. The transmission is of a "centrifugal" nature and one can either drive it in automatic or shift. Bruce isn't too impressed with the transmission. We are pleased with the 30 mpg though. With fuel pricing at $8.40 per gallon we try to be conservative.
Germans love to recycle and insist on minimal garbage. We have a small outdoor garbage collection can and it has a divider in it that allows us only to fill it half way. This regular garbage is picked up once every 2 weeks. That allows for two scrunched down tall kitchen garbage bags. We put all "green" garbage - fruit peelings, leftover food, bones, etc. in a biodegradable corn plastic bag and deposit in another large container. They empty that once a month. Then they collect paper garbage and plastic garbage once a month also - and we have to have special bags to place this garbage in. And then there are the "junk" days - which we estimate to be once every 6 months. You wouldn't believe what people set out! We picked up a beautiful (well, it is pink) desk chair, a desk, a chest of drawers, a full length mirror, etc. Yes, we are Scroungers! My mother would be so proud. The Germans are neat and orderly and often sweep the streets out in front of their homes. The Americans here, and there are quite a few, are the real slobs. It is embarrassing. We plan to pick up trash along the sides of the road as we walk. Maybe there are some younger Germans that are the litterers too. It is mostly fast food containers (McDonalds!).
We can receive mail up to one pound at the APO box on post:
Unit 23812 Box 7817
APO AE 09034
or at our apartment:
Auf Pfadsback 44E
We had a great Christmas but missed family and friends sorely. We hope you all will have a wonderful New Year! If you want to send an email, send it to:
If you want to visit a great website go to:
Sister and Elder Karn
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
(Our little Christmas tree)
First and foremost we want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! We hope the spirit of Christ abounds in your life this day, Christmas Day and everyday of your lives. If the spirit of Christ is in our lives then we are certain that the New Year will be a happy one indeed!
The damp cold rainy days hve left us for a little while! Out of over a month of stay in Baumholder we had actually seen the sun on only two days. Pam was feeling a bit sun deprived! Then, seven days ago the sun came back. We have had (counting today) seven days with sunshine! It has been cold and windy some times but the sun has been out. The days are short here (shorter than Utah). The sunrise is late in the day and then the sun goes away pretty early - but it has been nice.
Christmas in Germany is very nice! There are many decorations but not as much commercialization as we see back in the states. The stores have some Christmas items but there doesn't seem to be the mad drive to flood everything with "you must have this". Additionally we are told that if we want things we should get them before the holiday. The German stores will be closed Christmas eve, on Christmas and the day after Christmas. We understand that some gas stations will be open but don't expect to get anything else. The Germans consider Christmas a time to be together as a family, and there are not big gatherings as much as it is "the family". Perhaps a couple of friends might visit but there is not normally a big gathering. It will be pleasant to see how it goes!
Our motto has been much like Ammon who told King Lamoni in Alma 18:17. He said in part, "...I am a man, and am thy servant; whatsoever thou desirest which is right, that will I do." We basically say "We are missionaries, and are thy servants; whatsoeever thou desirest which is right, that will we do."
We have been doing a great variety of things! Here are a few of the things we have done: taught Relief Society (Pam of course), taught Priesthood (me of course), talked in Sacrament meeting, taught Primary twice (both of us), taught Sunday School, cleaned the meeting house, visited and visited familes (especially those whose husbands have been gone), taught with the young elders, fed the young elders a few times, attended missionary meetings, wrapped Christmas presents on post for children in need, worked at the post thrift store, visited weekly with the senior post chaplain.
And to top all of that off - we have been working our way through the system to do all that we are supposed to here. Because we are legal aliens here we have to register in each city we live in. When we first got here we were registered in Frankfurt and so we have had to change that to Baumholder. We now have our residence permit so we can stay in the country.
When in Germany we have to pay taxes on the items we buy at the US commissary, Post Exchange etc. To do that we had to register and it was a multi-step process! So we have completed all of those steps. Left ahead of us are getting a German drivers license and a German bank account. (Those steps could not be tackled until we were registered in Baumholder) Oh, the tax rate for the items purchased on the US military is 13%. The tax rate for items purchased off post that all Germans are taxed on is 19%. (They show the price of things with the tax in it so there isn't a surprise when you get to the checkout!) 'Makes the taxes back home seem a little better.
Gas prices fell for a bit! The prices reached a high of about $8.40 per gallon and then fell to about $7.50 per gallon! They have come back to the $8.00 per gallon level and have stayed there the last few days. We are not sure why the dip - but I thought it was moving in the right direction!
The road through life is never going to be all clear sailing with good winds and sunny skies but there are periods of times when it happens and it seems appropriate to express gratitude for those days! One of the amazing things that has happened to us is that we have been blessed with the things we needed just when we needed them. It has seemed almost like as soon as we knew we needed something the Lord provided it. Like the children of Israel when they were traveling in the wilderness and the Lord provided them with manna. Let me give you a few examples.
We were missing a door handle for one of our closet doors - right around the corner we found a door being thrown out with just the right handle. We needed a chair for our desk - right out in front of the building next to ours was an office chair being thrown out - not the color I would choose but it is in perfect condition. We wanted a full length mirror to check to see how clothes looked - one was being thrown away just around the corner. We got a land line telephone and needed something to put it on - on one of our walks we found a small dresser being thrown out. We needed a coat rack - we found one being thrown out that fits perfectly. The list goes on and on: two cabinets to use as night stands, some shelves for our storage area, and there are more items.
The amazing thing is that the items appear as we find the need for them. We didn't find shelves when we needed a door handle etc. We have been blessed with just what we need when we need it. Clear sailing will never prove the skill of a sailer and an easy life will never prove the metal of a person but there are times when the Lord blesses us beyond what we could expect.
When we are in service to others, when we are giving of ourselves, the sailing seems to be the best. It has been so for us. The Lord has truly been mindful of our needs and has helped us in our service to others. What a humbling experience it is to be of service to the young military families who are giving so much for us. It reminds me of what Winston Churchill said of the RAF during the Battle of Britain....."Never have so many owed so much to so few". The military is very small numerically but they are all that stands between freedom and those who would take freedom from all others of the world. Wars and tactics can be debated but the sacrafice of those who serve can never be doubted. They are seperated from loved ones for long periods of time, enter into harm's way knowing they might not return, and live in conditions that most would absolutely refuse to endure. Their families bear the burdens as well! They support their loved ones knowing that there is risk they could lose them, hold the families together in their absence, move when and where told to, and endure long periods of loneliness and seperation. I hope all will remember them each and every day we sit safely with our families in our comfortable circumstances. They desrve our prayers and our full support! Yes, for our day our military men and women are the few that all the free world owes so much to. It is an honor to serve those who sacrafice so much! If we can only lighten their burdens a little it will be well worth our time here!
Our blessing and love to all,
Elder & Sister Karn
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Thanks everyone for your patience. We hoped to be adding weekly blog entries long before this. However, we had to wait until we had DSL service in our apartment. Now everything works and hopefully we can also add photos too.
It will be hard to summarize all that has happened in the last month. Let us just say we are settled and comfortable and busily engaged in helping those we came here to help. Our apartment is cozy and we have all the furniture we need, thanks to the mission office and "junk day" here in Baumholder. We also bought a TV and a dvd player so we can occasionally watch a clean movie to relax. We try to take daily walks which on one day turned into 7 miles because the sun was shining. Yes, the weather here can be dreary. It seems to rain almost every day. Or if it isn't raining it is usually cloudy or foggy. When the sun comes out it is absolutely beautiful and we rush outside to enjoy it.
We live in Baumholder (shown in the photo above as viewed from our upstairs apartment) which is about 180 kilometers southwest of Frankfurt. It is directly east (as the crow flies) of Luxembourg city (within Luxembourg) about 80 kilometers or 50 miles. It is not a large community although the post is pretty big. There are many hills and farms and lots of woods. The center of the village has wonderful bakeries and little shops. We have an outdoor Christmas market tomorrow evening (called a Weihnacht Markt) which we are excited to see. Each village has one for a day or two. Big cities have these markets almost all month. It will be German crafts and Christmas wares.
The military post here in Baumholder was once occupied by the German army and was built about 1937 under Hitler's direction. There were 14 villages that were evacuated to clear the area for housing and training. The US has occupied the post since 1945. The US added a few more buildings for housing. The US Army Garrison here in Baumholder is called "Smith Barracks". It is reportedly the largest gathering of combat soldiers outside the US. Most of the soldiers are away training in Grafenwohr for the upcoming deployment scheduled for late February or March. But that may change if Congress does certain things. No need to go on about that. Sometimes we hear the birds singing punctuated by explosions of artillary over the hills. It could be the US Army or it could be the German army, the Bundeswehr, who also have a nearby post. The town of Baumholder exists because of the military. There are many American interests here and many Germans speak English and are grateful for the help the US Military gives to their economy.
Our LDS branch here is mostly attended by the soldier's young wives and their children. Two weeks ago the soldiers were home and we had a very large attendance. It was wonderful. The soldiers aren't often here but it is a big celebration when they are. So, we are often very short on Priesthood. They tell us how grateful they are to have us. We have already spoken in Sacrament Meeting, taught Relief Society and Priesthood (respectively), and taught Primary twice. It is Thursday and we haven't heard what they want us to do this Sunday. Perhaps we will find out Saturday when we go to the meeting house for cleaning detail. Our branch president is a Major in the Air Force. We are finding out how much nicer the Air Force treats their people as opposed to the Army. Anyway, Pres. Nelson and his family are a great strength to the branch. They should be with us until June 2008 when they are expectected to go to the States.
The greatest worry and stress here for the families of the soldiers is the upcoming deployment. For most of the women it will be their first experience. As you can imagine it can be very depressing, wondering from day to day if your husband will survive, especially since most of them haven't been married very long. Even if they do survive, the husbands will have experiences that will change them. Hopefully, we can be a stabilizing influence for the soldiers and their families. That is why we are here.
Germany is a wonderful place to be at Christmas time. They have an appreciation, although mostly traditional, for what Christmas represents. Today is Saint Nicholaus Day. Many years ago he was a Catholic bishop in Turkey who gave gifts to children. He is not Santa Claus. He visits the children and gives them gifts (or places them in their shoes) if they are good or leaves sticks if they are bad. Or, if he comes in person, he may spank the bad child with the sticks. No one around here has seen that happen lately. Then, on Christmas Day, they remember the Christ Child. I like the idea of reserving Christmas for Christ.
We wish you all a wonderful holiday season. May Christ be a part of your daily life.
Elder and Sister Karn