Sunday, December 28, 2008

There is nothing as constant as change! We had the wonderful opportunity to talk with family on Christmas Day. Wow, there is a lot going on with everyone, as is probably the case with all your families. Grandchildren are growing and changing and doing good things - there are newly arrived babies and babies expected yet to miss. Thank goodness for photos passed through modern technology. 'Don't forget to post the photos! We congratulate all the grandchildren on their achievements and growth. Mostly we are proud that you are the people you are. We pass on our gratitude to the parents of these our wonderful grandchildren for your love and care of these precious people. And we pass on our love and devotion to all our friends and family, individually and collectively. We have come to learn that what is really important in this life is the people you know, the people you have known, and the people you will come to know. Some of our favorite people are in our families!

Speaking about what is really important, that brings to mind a recent talk by one of our favorite people, President Thomas S. Monson. He said,"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important - and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. . . . we will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us".

We express our thanks for all of those that pray for us. We have been richly blessed by our experiences here. And, "our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings". It has been a great opportunity to work with the military, the chaplains, the wounded warriors, the young single adults and our fellow travelers along the way.

We are blessed to know the answers to life's greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where does my spirit go when I die? This we know through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are grateful for Him.

May your new year be one of no regrets. "Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family". As the in musical Music Man, there is a caution to the librarian, "You pile up enough tomorrows and you'll find you've collected a lot of empty yesterdays". One day each of us will run out of tomorrows. Tell those you love out loud that you love them, today. Express that love in word and deed. We will try harder to do so.

With all our love,
Elder and Sister Karn

Monday, December 22, 2008

This is a broken chocolate Santa that crashed off the mold machine as we watched. What a waste!

There is something panicky about chocolate coming at you on a conveyer belt!

This is what the broken Santa would have looked like as a finished product - about 24 inches tall.

This is a chocolate fountain with guilded cocoa bean pods on a tree. They gave us free samples of dipped cookies.

These are the molds that little Lindt milk chocolate bars came out of. We watched the process from beginning to end.

One of 6 Christmas markets in Cologne.

A ceiling view of the flying buttresses in the Cologne cathedral - one of the largest cathedrals in the world.

Another church in Cologne.

Most of Cologne was destroyed in WWII, except for the large cathedral and some of these old row houses.

This is the grand cathedral.

Bruce had the fun opportunity to dress up as Santa's helper for a party. He plays it well.

Merry Christmas or Frohe Weinacht from Germany!

Winter has arrived but it has been hard to tell here in Germany. The weather was actually a little colder last week than it has been the last couple of days. I would tell you about how low the sun is this time of year but we rarely see it so I'm not sure where it is. Are you folks keeping the sun in your area and not sharing it with us????

One of the Young Single Adults was home in the states recently and came back just last Friday. When the plane he was in was high overhead he was in the sunshine and was thinking that it would be sunny here. He said it was sunny just minutes before they landed but during the last few minutes he lost sight of the ground and landed under the cloudy sky. The good news was he was pretty sure they were landing at the right place because the clouds looked familiar. We did actually see some blue sky the other day through a a small hole in the clouds so we think it is still up there.

On Saturday we went on another USO tour for our P-day activity. Christmas markets are a big, big deal over here so we thought we would go on this tour and see Kohl(Cologne). The weather was not too cold but boy, was it wet. It rained the entire time we were there. Pam was pretty wet by the end of the day. We visited a huge cathedral and the markets. By the way, the markets are all outdoors. I have never been much of a mall fan but after a few hours in the 45 degree rain I can see where there are some advantages.

The big danger in the Christmas markets was possible umbrella injuries. At times the crowds were like going through the mall but everyone has an umbrella and some carry them high, some carry them low, and some folks tip them and about take your eye out with those little pointed frame ends. There were a couple of times when I thought I would get one in the eye. But the Germans are fun folks to go out and spend the day shopping in the rain. They stop and have food and drinks out in the rain and are happy as they can be. A little foul weather doesn't stop them. They are all weather people!

We also went to the chocolate museum in Kohl. They had an area where they were making chocolate for bars and for hollow Santas and other hollow treats. The entire process was there to be viewed. I now know how they make those hollow chocolate candies for Christmas, Easter, etc. One of life's important mysteries solved! I also saw one of them fall while it was still being cooled and the folks hurried right over and cleaned that up. It hadn't been on the floor that long - I would have cleaned it up but they had that area closed off to tourists. Besides, it didn't show the right image - a broken Santa on the floor. It was a good tour and it was interesting. There is no doubt we live in the right time. Until not long ago only the wealthy had chocolate and even then they normally only drank it and it was bitter. What a marvelous age we live in - sweet chocolate and we can get it in bars, kisses, candy coated, dipped, on crackers, with carmel, with nuts, etc, etc! Life is good!

The big surprise of the trip came on the bus ride to the markets. We started early and so the bus made a "breakfast" stop at a rest stop along the autobahn. By the way - it was sparkling clean! And the one we stopped at on the way back was just as clean even though it had a BK in it. (BK = Burger King) When we got back on the bus in the morning after our stop the USO tour guide said she had an announcement to make. She said that last year the USO refunded the cost of the trip to the folks that went on that tour and that they were doing it again this year. The USO picked two tours to refund the money on and the one we were on was one of them. She then started passing out checks. That was a Santa Claus act that will be tough to follow. So the trip there ended up costing us nothing. How about that! If you hang around with lucky/fortunate people like Pam some times it rubs off. I always thought the sun shined on her all the time but I just haven't seen the sun much of the time but she still has good fortune!

We are getting ready for Christmas - well we don't have as much to get ready as we normally would. Tonight the Young Single Adults, missionaries, and a few others are going Christmas caroling. Following the caroling there will be hot chocolate and pancakes. (There is syrup for the pancakes not the hot chocolate.) Christmas Eve we will have a big Christmas dinner for the Young Single Adults and we will be watching Christmas movies. Then Christmas Day we will be open in case some of them end up not having a place to go. After about 3PM our time we will wrap up there and come back to our apartment and make phone calls to family! So check your caller ID because it may be us!

Love to all and may the spirit of Christ be the center of your Christmas.

Elder & Sister Karn

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Well folks, another week has raced by. Some times looking back I wonder where did the days go? This past week held some very busy days for us and some were pretty special. Our "P-day" (preparation day) floats around in the week based upon what we have going that week. This past week we took our P-day on Monday evening. We signed up for a USO tour to a city about an hour away for a quick tour around their Christmas market and then to attend the play "A Christmas Carol" and it was in English. We left about 4:30 in the afternoon and got back about 11:30. The Christmas market was a little disappointing but the play was quite fun. After that the rest of the week was back to work.

The week was filled with our regular activities of working with the Young Single Adults and the military folks. We wrapped up this week in a very big way. We had chaired a committee to put together a "Fireside" for the service members and their families that deal with the challenges of deployments to dangerous areas of the world. There was a great deal of work involved and the last few days were full of making it all come together. Saturday was the day and when it was all over we were about worn out but happy that everything came together so well.

The keynote speaker at the fireside was Elder Robert C, Oaks of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He is also a retired Air Force four star general who has served in combat. His wife also spoke and they did a job that probably few if any others in the world could have done. They have been through the challenges of military life and long separations for combat service. Sister Oaks comments were sweet and comforting to all who are waiting for the return of loved ones. Elder Oaks spoke right to the heart of serving in the military and especially in combat. Their experiences are so important to share with those who are going through similar things now.

We also had two workshops presented twice by five people (two couples and a brother). They were all so good. There are some times in life and certainly on missions when you look back and say, "Perhaps that is why my road took me to that place at that time. I was there for that person or those folks." When we look upon events like yesterday we think perhaps that is why the Lord sent us here. Now if we get a couple of nights of good rest we will be back to full power again! (Until the next rush of events which happens this next week.)

I'm sure we told you before but Germany really gets into the Christmas season. Decorations are everywhere! Stores and homes are really decorated. Yet it doesn't seem near as commerial as all of our ads at home. Things are decorated but there isn't the push to get you to buy things. Yesterday was Saint Nicholas Day here. Saint Nicholas not Santa Claus is the one who brings presents and they are brought on 6 December. Children put their shoes outside their doors to see what they will be given. If they have been good they receive presents or candy but it they have not been good they get a branch - or to be more exact a "switch". This type of "switch" is not the one to turn a toy "on" or "off" but one to be applied to the child for correction out in the woodshed. I forgot to put my shoes out so I didn't get any toys (which I am sure I should have had I remembered). The good news is that I didn't get a switch!

I think that is about it for now! I'm worn out for the day and we have yet to go to an open-house tonight. By the way - the weather report is - cloudy, damp, and dark. The farm report is - a few big round bales being hauled in from the field and that is it. I saw only a couple of tractors this past week.

We are well, happy, and working hard.


The Karns in Germany

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The following photos are from the open air Christmas market in Kaiserlautern.

We had another surprise last week in relation to the chaplaincy here. Two months ago, while meeting with a newly installed Army chaplain, Chaplain Butterworth, we were quite impressed with his openess and willingness to assist us. He expressed a desire that we would always be treated fairly. At that meeting he invited Bruce to read a scripture at a Thanksgiving program. We knew nothing else of the "program" and just planned to attend and for Bruce to read the assigned scripture as asked. And we were delighted that Bruce was asked to participate. We expected it to be a small group as it was planned for mid-day. Last Tuesday was the Thanksgiving program. When we arrived we were surprised to find a very large gathering of chaplains and staff and also wounded warriers from the outpatient units at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. A very nice lunch was about to be served! It was a good thing we hadn't eaten. We had a reserved seat at a table near the podium. Needless to say we were very honored to see Bruce's name on the printed program along with several other officer chaplains. There were five different chaplain's names (captain, major, colonel, etc.) on the program, with prayers, readings, speeches, etc. Matter of fact, and we think this was unintentional, but the name of our church was the only religious entity mentioned on the entire printed program. Bruce's name was listed as "Mr. Bruce Karn, Military Rep., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". It was a lovely lunch and program and it was a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people who have devoted their lives to helping others.

Thanksgiving dinners have abounded! We ate our fourth Thanksgiving in quiet at home with turkey and the trimmings. Our first was earlier this month with the missionaries at a zone conference, where about 100 young missionaries and 4 senior couples were fed a fantastic feast. Our second one was last Monday where we cooked all day for a group of 22 people, including 13 young single adults, that came to the Institute Outreach Center for Family Home Evening. A young adult smoked a turkey and others brought other portions. We were in charge of green bean casserole, dressing, gravy, and pumpkin pie. The meal was good but the company was better. One young German adult brought three fellow college students from Morocco. It just happens that three of the young adults were going on a trip to Morocco this weekend. They had much to discuss. And then there was the language exchange where German, Arabic, English, and other tongues were all spoken. One of our American lieutenant female intelligence officers majored in Arabic. It couldn't have been planned better for three nonmembers to attend! And then our third Thanksgiving was the lunch with the chaplains mentioned in the first paragraph. We hope all of you had a wonderful time on your holiday.

This is the time of year when many Weinacht Markt (Christmas Markets) opens up in cities around Germany. These are open air festive market places, usually in town centers, where seasonal goods, drinks and food, are sold. There is also music with live musicians and other activities. Yesterday, Saturday, we walked through two Christmas markets, one in Kaiserslautern and one in Landstuhl. I think we bought a kasebrezel (cheese pretzel), kinder gluwein (nonalcoholic hot grape punch), brotwurst, a set of suspenders for Bruce, a leatherman case, a chocolate cookie, and a large bunch of mistletoe. You can't buy a small bunch of mistletoe. We paid 3 Euro for this bunch that separated into six smaller but still large bunches. It is now hung in every doorway of our apartment. You won't find that in too many missionary apartments!

Fuel prices dropped to a low of 1.10 Euro per liter today. That converts to $5.35 per gallon. Our highest price was $10.00 per gallon earlier this year. And the current exchange rate is $1.26 per 1 Euro. That is the best it has been since we have been here. The European ecomony is very reflective of the US. For the time we are excited for the drop in fuel costs and the increase in the value of the dollar.

Have a good week! We have another big event this next Saturday, Dec. 6th, with the LDS Military Workshop for the Kaiserslautern Stake. Bruce is the chairman of the committee. We hope it will be beneficial for all the families. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Sister and Elder Karn

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, which would you like first - the weather report or the Ag report? We better go with the weather report because the Ag report doesn't have much to talk about these days. The weather report can be summed up in one word - "Scarves". Scarves are big over here and for a reason - they help keep the cold out and the warmth in better than about anything else. Many folks back home don't use scarves too much any more but let me assure you they make a huge difference. It seems like a good scarf that is worn properly doubles the warmth of a coat. The only science I ever heard about scarves was that the Army folks used to say that in cold weather up 70% of heat loss was around the neck and head. The head and neck are like a chimney. Close the chimney and you'll keep the heat in! Trust me - if you come to Germany and the damp cold, a scarf is a must. (I have three - one for each coat. Three pairs of gloves - one for each coat. Three hats, three ear muffs - yep - one for each coat. 'Don't leave home without 'em!) We have also been told that there are some variations on how scarves are worn in some of the countries over here and if you know the different methods you can tell where a person is from. I haven't gotten that far into the science of it yet. I'm just into staying warm.

The heaters in our apartment are like coal stoves. When I grew up we had coal stoves and then a coal furnace and these heaters remind me of those times because there was always a big delay in getting the heat level you wanted. A coal fire takes time to build up to get more heat out of it and is also very slow to cool down when less heat is needed. Every room here has a heater and each has to be adjusted to get the temperature wanted. But when you get it adjusted the temperature outside will change and because the heaters, or really radiators, are not controlled by a thermostat, they need adjusting every time the outside temperature changes and there is quite a delay in achieving the desired temperature. It seems that learning to run those things is more "art" than "science".

One of the other challenges is that we have a large hall that has no radiator in it and that saps some of the heat from the rooms. The outside door comes into that hall and there is quite a draft under the door. The couple that was here last winter told us that they had to keep the room doors closed to the hall in order to keep the rooms warm. So every time you go from one room to another you have to go through the cold hall - an idea not popular with some residents! So we are still trying to slow the draft under the door and learn how to keep the place comfortable.

Speaking about weather - yesterday one weather forecast called for 4-8 inches of snow. It didn't happen! We got a trace but that was all. Yesterday we needed to go to Heidelberg (about 65 miles away)for meetings so we were concerned about the weather but it all turned out fine except for the 0600 departure time - a 0500 rocket out of bed time! Traffic was very light on Sunday morning at that time of day.

Speaking about Sunday - retail stores are closed here on Sunday. Stores close here fairly early on Saturday and are not open Sunday. Small local stores typically close on Saturdays anywhere from noon to two. Most grocery stores close at 6PM on Saturdays and 8PM most days. Virtually all stores except gas stations are closed on Sundays. Even the IKEA and other huge retail stores are closed here on Sundays. The Germans consider Sunday a family day. Good idea!

Friday we had a nice surprise. Last Friday the folks at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center where we volunteer told us that they we going to take us to lunch the next time we were there. We didn't think much of it but who is going to turn down a free lunch? So when we finished our volunteer work on Friday the staff gathered and told us to meet them at the Schloss Hotel for lunch. The Schloss (called that because it is near the schloss, or castle) is a very nice place and has great food. So we met them there and it turned out that they gave us a certificate of appreciation and unit coins for our volunteer work. Also, they gave Pam a large bouquet of fresh flowers. They said they have a large number of volunteers but only a few are reliable and work hard. Had they given us these things when we were leaving it would have seemed normal but to present them to us midstream is quite something. They kept saying that we make a huge difference. (We are often the ones who work out in the cold area sorting and preparing things while the others stay warm inside where they are seen by the VIPs that pass through.) Sweet Pam had a salad but I had the Jager Schnitzel! Oh yeah!! Jager is "hunter" and supposedly jager schnitzel comes from hunters who were out hunting and made sauce for the schnitzel from things available in the woods. So jager schnitzel has mushrooms and a great sauce - I love it! So Friday was great free food and a pat on the back - cool!

Returning to the topic of weather - except for the folks that have medical conditions that make them cold I don't understand why anyone chooses to be cold. I say "chooses" because there are clothes that can keep just about any body warm. The problem is for most is that choose to make a fashion statement over being comfortable. Did we tell you about the fellow here (a member of the church) that goes to Hungary and takes clothes to the folks there that don't have much. He was telling us that there are folks there that make about 400 Euro (approx $500) a month and their rent is almost that much. So he gathers clothes and small items to take to them to help them out. So we went through our closets and took the items we don't wear and yet are good and sent them to him to give to them. Besides, at the thrift stores (on base used items stores) we find some unbelievable deals. Pam sometimes finds brand new (with price tag attached)Liz Claiborne items for two or three dollars. So we can afford to share some that don't fit perfectly or don't turn out to be needed. It felt really good to help some folks that need our excess stuff! Hopefully they will have enough to stay warm!

Well, that's the news from "Karn woe be gone", where the Pam is always pretty and we are always on the move!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Elder & Sister Karn

Here are the two coins they gave us (made in Ogden,Utah, would you believe?). This way you can see both sides of the coin and the size compared to a ballpoint pen. They are heavy and very nice. Also below is the certificate with a bird's eye view of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on the left. The flowers are behind the certificate. We are still surprised!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

English is a Germanic language and there are quite a few similarities, like the days of the week, months, numbers, etc. There are differences also. One of the differences is the way the Germans stack their words together. For instance, the number 4678 is four thousand six hundred seventy eight but in German the word for 4678 is viertausendsechshundertachtundsiebzig. Translated directly that is four thousand six hundred eight and seventy. English is probably a harder language to learn for a non-English speaker than German, because of so many inconsistencies and different pronunciations for the same spelling or groups of vowels (cough and bough). Yet, German is a hard language to learn and pronounce even though there are more consistent rules for pronunciation. Our German teachers, the young missionary elders, have told us that even some Germans do not speak correct German because it is just too hard. Whew, it isn't just us!

We learned a lot about local German history on Friday evening as we took a tour with the young single adults to Homburg. This was a "Off to America with the Night Watchman" organized tour sponsored by the town of Homburg, which is located about 30 minutes to the south west from us. In 1781 the German-French infantry regiment known as "Royal Deux-Ponts" (2 bridges - or Zweibrucken, a nearby town)were recruited to be a part of the American Revolutionary War. We had a history lesson, ate some food particular to the times (Cod and potatoes and dark bread), and then toured the old city in the evening guided by the light of a night watchman dressed in period costume of the French army who also carried an authentic flint-lock musket from the 18th century. We were also escorted by two German-French soldiers in period costumes. The French and German troops played a decisive part in the battle of Yorktown. We were fascinated by the history and how the French Revolution followed suit after the troops returned home. We had a fun and interesting time. Fortunately it was a relatively warm evening if we dressed well.

This looks like a great week ahead as we have two volunteer chefs among the young single adult student council presidency that will be cooking the meals for Monday and Wednesday evenings. This is a great help to us. All we have to take care of is dessert and making homemade pizza for Movie and Pizza Night this coming Friday. Today we had a student council meeting and the month of December is all planned for activities, etc. We admire their never-ending creativity and energy. It is great to be with them.

We hope you all will have a great Thanksgiving, especially with friends and family. We hope you will pause to remember those who are away from home and family who are sacrificing so that all of us can enjoy the blessings of freedom.

We are thankful for you.
Elder & Sister Karn

Saturday, November 1, 2008

La Creperie - real French crepes on P-Day in Neustadt - now known for the best crepes.

Train station at Neustadt - great adventure finding our way here with train changes.

This is a one-seater electric car. We had not seen one of these before.

Another day we took a walk in the hills and walked by a ripening field of rapeseed. This matures both spring and fall.

The group from the Mystery Train Tour.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Because this month has been so busy and we have not been steady on writing in the blog every week we thought we should try to get in one more blog entry this month. Right this minute we are in between required tasks for the day. (Between our volunteer service and being with the Young Single Adults tonight.) And there is a cake to make for tonight.

This morning we did our three hour volunteer work at the Landstuhl hospital. The danger in doing a fairly good job is that it is likely that you will continue to have that job. Since we started volunteering we have spent quite a bit of time sorting and organizing the materials as they come to the Wounded Warrior Ministries Closet. That wasn't a bad job in the summer time but now that the weather has turned cold we don't seem to have a lot of folks that want to come out in the cold storage areas and help us. There is heat in the storage areas but it is always off over night and when we arrive in the morning it is like an ice box. After a couple of hours the rooms warm up but the floor stays cold and by then we are pretty well cooled down too. So while we reload for the next round we are warming up.

Last Saturday we went on a "Mystery Train Tour" with the Young Single Adults. In case you are one of those folks who have never been on a "Mystery Train Tour" I will tell you what it is. We bought train tickets good for up to 5 persons and for travel anywhere in Germany for the entire day called "Happy Weekender" tickets. Then we all went to the train station and rolled the dice. If it was even we would go west and if it was odd we would go east. We went east. And then you roll the dice to see how many stops you are going through before you get off. When you get to that number stop and you get off the train and see what you can find to see and or do in that town. Some of our stops worked out pretty well and others were not the greatest. We started in the afternoon and about seven PM we stopped for dinner. It was about ten PM when we arrived back at the train station where we started. It was fun and I think all had a good time. The only casualty was one sprained ancle but the sweet young lady is doing better now.

Our group of Young Single Adults is of course ever changing but right now we are having big changes. Jana is gone on her mission to Italy. Brandy is gone home after getting our of the Army. Micah is gone and will go on his mission to Wisconsin. Freemont is getting out of the Air Forse and should be flying today. Oh yea big changes! We sure miss them when they go!

Tonightt the Young Single Adults are going over to a member's home for a Halloween Party. It will be interesting to see what they dress up like. They hope to play some games outside tonight but it has been pretty wet and cold lately so we shall see if that really happens. They may well go outside and play games but they may be pretty wet and muddy afterwards. It will be dark before we get there and the temperature is supposed to be about forty degrees - forty and damp, damp, damp! It is unlikely we will be playing in the wet and cold.

I'm sure you have been wondering - fall wheat, barley, and rye are looking really good. Most of it is up about four to six inches and the stand looks good. There is some that is only two or three inches high but it too is looking good. There is a lot of grain grown in this area. Hay all seems to be just grass. 'No alfalfa or clover grown here. There is some corn but not a tremendous amount. There are huge grape vineyards about thirty miles away in a couple of directions. Some folks have told us that this summer was a bit cooler than normal but it looked like a pretty good crop year from what I could see.

Recently we have been topping out in the forties and at night dropping down to the thirties or possibly forty. Our long range forecast looks a little better next week with a couple of days with temperatures back in the sixties. It will feel good.

Speaking about good - we are doing good! What we do is important to some folks and that is what it is all about. Helping folks who need a hand is a great joy. We sure miss home and all of you.

Happy Halloween!
(Will add some photos another day)

The Karn clan (of two) in Germany

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ever played "Curses"? This young man had his wrists glued to his head!

And this was an old thresher at a farmer's market is Erbach, to our east. We drank the most delicious freshly pressed apple juice (Apfelsaft).

And this is what it looks like behind those old "half timbered" buildings. What is "half-timbered" construction? A "half-timbered" building has exposed wood framing. The spaces between the wooden timbers are filled with plaster, brick, or stone.

In Medieval times, many European houses were half-timbered. The structural timbers were exposed. The construction methods used in half-timbering allow buildings to be easily dis-assembled and put up again elsewhere. This has helped salvage houses which would otherwise have been destroyed to make way for new development. At any rate they are very charming.

We have tried to write this blog faithfully every week but we may be cutting back to monthly! There are just a lot of things that require more of our attention. We are having so much fun that sitting at the computer doesn't sound all that exciting. However, we want to keep in touch with you all. Here goes . . . .

Bruce was recently named as chairman to a committee for a seminar for military families. After two planning meetings the seminar will probably take place on Sat., Dec. 6th, with a follow up seminar on Jan. 24th. This will be a stake wide affair. There will be a keynote speaker followed by 3 sessions, the last a panel discussion for answering questions from the audience, and then lunch. The title of the seminar will be "LDS Military Workshop" and the sessions will be on stress, communication, and support sources. There are many families that are in the midst of deployment and all the issues that surround that. This seminar is intended to be mostly a help to them. I don't know how he gets in the middle of these things but this is another big one. And we're off!

We have had some really fun times with the young single adults at the Institute Outreach Center. Just last Friday we had a Lasagna Cook off and Game Night. They did the cooking and there were 4 large dishes of lasagna. It was great as 18 people came to dinner and I didn't have to cook. Then they played 3-D Twister which involved 3 Twister mattes, 2 on the wall in the corner. Nobody was injured!

This coming Saturday is a Mystery Train Tour and the following week is the Halloween costume party. Sounds like fun!

In addition to the above duties we are also involved with Stake Auxiliary Training twice a year and we also participate at each ward/branch conference. It keeps us busy we often find the opportunity to help the wards become more aware of the needs of the young single adults. They get lost easily.

A couple from the States called us and told us they were going on a Military Relations mission and that they would be replacing us in February. What? We think their mission call will probably be to Africa or Egypt. That is usually how it goes. Someone in the Military Relations department in Salt Lake probably confused our release date with someone else. At least we think that is what happened. And even though the department may give an indication as to where a couple will go, the final decision is up to the Lord and he often has other ideas. You see, we were told we would probably go to Aviano, Italy. We are glad we were sent here!

The Fall season is very beautiful here. We have had moderate sunny days with lots of colored leaves. They are now falling and we have some rainy weather every now and then. Snow flurries were predicted but didn't happen. It will soon enough.

We hope your Fall is a lovely one too. Our clocks will be turned back one hour next Sunday, Oct. 26th. That will be ahead of the States. So, those of you that are 8 hours away or 9 hours away, that will increase 1 more hour for a week or until your clocks are turned back also.

Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This beautifully restored antique tractor was German made from the late 1930s or 1940s, 3 speed forward and 1 reverse with high-low range making 6 forward and two reverse gears. It was on rubber tires but was probably originally on steel. It has a good wide seat that two people can go on. It was probably a 2-cylinder as it sat there idling slowly and popping and vibrating (and mesmerizing Elder Karn).

Pumpkin Fest and Farmers Market in Hitscherhof.

A bed (planted in grass) with 2 huge (like 3 foot long) zucchini - a funny site.

Those delicious grapes that are ripening everywhere!

We were referred to this week as "pastors of their church and they run their own church". This is how we were introduced at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center by the departing senior chief. That's okay. I think they like us anyway.

We still volunteer every Friday morning at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center WWMC closet where donated goods are given to patients that have been "down range". We are always amazed at the sacrifices so many give. We love them.

Our Young Single Adults program has just rocketed! We have a new Student Council President and she is a fireball. So far we have activities planned for the whole month of October to include 2 movie/game nights (one where we were told to wear stretchy pants!) including a lasagna cook off, 2 potluck dinners with General Conference live broadcasts on Sat. and Sun., a fireside, a Mystery Train Tour, a pumpkin carving activity, and a Halloween Costume Party. Hold onto your hats! She is one of those people that shouldn't eat sugar! But we are excited.

The past 3 days have been sunny and blue skied and in the 60's. We would just like to package those 3 days and pack them away for the gloomy days ahead. There is nothing like opposition to make one appreciate the good. 'Absolutely perfect weather! Yesterday we went to a farmer's market and pumpkin fest in a nearby village. There was even an antique tractor there! We ate pumpkin soup, and flammkuchen and bought freshly bottled alcohol free grape juice, a hard thing to find in this wine county. And it tastes good!

So we have some busy days ahead with the YSA. They are growing on us and we enjoy them so much. They are starting to ask us questions - probably because they are wondering where these two came from! But, if our assignment is to have fun with them that is a very easy job. If we can keep up and stay well that would be super. Right now we are fighting colds. How can one get a cold in such good weather?

May you have just enough cloudy days to appreciate the sunny ones.
Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some shots from the high ropes course activity with the young single adults yesterday.

The blue hats are ours.

A summary of the week will make you dizzy but here goes: Sunday - regular set of meetings and then evening fireside at the Institute and potluck dinner; Monday - shop for groceries and prepare a large dinner and dessert for the evening and then have Family Home Evening at the Institute; Tuesday - pay our local customs taxes and attend the Institute; Wednesday - morning district meeting, prepare dinner, German class and Institute class at the Institute; Thursday - a "P" Day for preparation and relaxation; Friday - all day conference in Heidelberg for senior missionary Institute couples; Saturday - afternoon activity at a high ropes course and a baptism of a young single adult investigator in the evening. And it's here we go again this week but a little slower. Our schedule mostly revolves around working at the Ramstein Institute Outreach Center with the young single adults (ages 18-30) in our area. We have many more to find but the attendance is improving.

Our average attendance on Monday evenings is 8 which is up from 1 or 2 when we started in April. And yesterday at the high ropes course we had 9 attending. Everyone had such a great time. It took a lot out of the Institute budget but it was well worth it. We can only do those kinds of activities every now and then. That one was a super idea. There are a few photos for your perusal. This coming month we will have 2 young adults leave for missions, 1 get married, and 1 has just left for permanent station change to Alaska, etc. We have a new president of the student council that is a fun "live wire" so we are very excited about that.

Our activity at the high ropes course was a little daunting for those afraid of heights. Who me? We took photos from down below. Elder Karn would have loved to be up there swinging too. But since I retired from my high wire act in the circus I haven't had much need to get back up there. The thrill is gone.

The baptism of Joshua McCormick went well. He is a security policeman with the Air Force and has been looking into the church for several months. He has not had much happiness in his life. He seems to be more content now to have found some answers to his questions. It is great now that he can be in the company of his peers who are not out "partying" and drinking in their spare time.

Baptism of Josh McCormick yesterday. He is the taller one in white. Brother Tarin from the ward (the other one in white) performed the baptism although much shorter. Josh just fell backwards and fortunately didn't hit his head. So they got the job done the first time. The Elders are from left Elder Reynolds from Provo, Utah (a center for BYU football, his dad is assistant coach), and Elder Moulding from Ogden, Utah.

Today is our 11 month mark and it seems that we just turn around and another whole month has passed. We are looking for activities coming up with the cold weather such as movie nights at the Institute now will be twice monthly and we hope to sponsor a stake wide young single adult conference and dance. Activities will follow the sequence of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are really the only family here for a few in the military. And they are also our family over here. Being with them really makes you feel younger.

The heat is turned on! Some couples were saying that the heat has not been turned on in their apartments by their landlords. I am so glad to have heat. We have had it from day 1 as the control is in our apartment. We have 40 degree nights and mornings so I am one lucky girl to have warmth when others have to wait for a landlord to decide when it is cold enough. It's a blessing.

This past week there was a welfare bazaar held by the military spouses association at Ramstein Air Base. They used 2 huge airplane hangers and a large part of a paved area. The vendors (131 of them) were from many countries around the world. The wares and displays were amazing and one could purchase some amazing items. The only problem was the prices were out of this world. We suppose that there was an entry fee, shipping costs, set up costs, besides travel and perhaps an import tax. People were leaving with purchases but the prices were unbelievable! It was a great place to shop if you had money to burn. And as retirees, we would have had to pay another 13% customs tax if we had purchased anything. If anyone tells you everything is expensive in Europe, you might want to believe that. Window shopping can be fun and we went home with a few coins in pocket!

From pennies in our pockets,
Sister & Elder Karn

Monday, September 15, 2008

We have had rain and cool weather. Some of the trees have started dropping some of their leaves but we haven't seen any turn bright colors yet. We are hoping for a colorful Fall but it may not happen. I guess New England and upstate New York are the places to go for colorful Fall pictures.

So there is the weather report and next comes the "Ag Report". Fall wheat and winter rye are planted and up and the fields look great. Most of the hay fields around here are grass and not the alfalfa we are used to at home but they sure look good. Some have a nice Fall growth that is up about eight inches. 'Makes me want to turn cattle into the fields and graze them off one more time. And many hay fields have big round bales still in them that need to be picked up. Every couple of days we see a tractor rolling down the road with some load. The other day we saw a tractor with a huge wagon that had about twenty five large bales of hay on it. Fall is a wonderful time of year!

Our work continues to be sweet and quite time and energy consuming. Some times other missionaries ask, "What is it that you do?" or "What do you do when you are not at the Institute Outreach Center?" Like just about every other thing that happens in life, if you don't know what it takes to make it happen or put it together you think that some how things just appear all ready to go. Things do appear and just happen after a great deal of work!!

There are the times the IOC is open and we are there and there are many meetings that we attend but what most people don't know is that we also wear a lot of other hats. Sister Karn is what our British friend calls "the galley slave". She does a tremendous amount of cooking. It's like having company come three to four times per week and at each gathering you don't know how many will be coming but you prepare for any number and any number of tastes. And for just about every one of these gatherings she makes dinner and a dessert.

With that said let me tell you that that isn't the full story either. Before the cooking starts there is the shopping and and planning that have been done. We are also the janitors and cleaners for the IOC. The IOC being right next to a bar makes a bunch of trash outside of our door that is left behind and because we don't want a messy place out in front we also clean that on a regular basis. Just about every gathering requires us to make some rearrangements in the furniture and the tables for eating or classes. Then there is the money tracking and the attendance rolls and the world of paperwork to keep up on. It all happens smooth and easy because of the work that happens behind the scenes! It is so worth it!

Now I am going to return to a familiar old song. I know some may feel that I am beating this one to death but there just aren't enough voices speaking this theme any more. I can't begin to tell you of the debt that we owe to the military members and their families. Everyone should know we owe our freedom to those who have gone before us and many paid a huge price that others can not even fathom. To many it is all an academic study in school and then it is forgotten. Our society is becoming more and more of a society that never has to make many sacrifices. We consider having to wait to have a new Ipod a sacrifice. When we have never felt the hardship of separation and felt the risk of loss of life we just can't imagine what it really feels like. And it worries me that few in our society or government have ever served in the military much less felt the pain of lost friends.

Today's military members are doing deployment after deployment and taking the beating for all of us. Until every heart has the courage to stand up and say, "I'll do my share" I think the service members and their families should stand at the front of the line and receive the very best care. In the Vietnam era and prior, there was a draft and the burden of combat was spread over a greater portion of our population. I don't know what is right but my concern is that more and more of our population is uninvolved and apathetic towards freedom, it's cost and those that bear the burden. Our mission to work among the military couldn't be a sweeter one for me. It is an honor to hold the coat of those who carry the burden today. God bless our military men and women and their families!!

With love,
Elder & Sister Karn

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Elder Kimball, from Texas, teaching our Conversational German class, held at the Institute every Wednesday at 6 pm. Elder Kimball, our zone leader, was just transferred.

After we fixed the Elders a Mexican lunch, they sang us a hymn to show gratitude. There are some very good voices here - all parts.

Brother John Troke, a retired British Bobby, is our Institute instructor. The class is every Wednesday at 7:30 pm.

This is our district; 6 Elders, and 2 Senior Couples. We have district meeting also every Wednesday.

The Middle Eastern meal we fixed to start off the New Testament Institute course last Wednesday; fish cakes, lentils, flat bread, grapes, tangerines, almonds, date cakes, hommus, olives, grape juice . . .

'Another one one of those weeks when you just keep swinging because the pitches are coming so fast that there is no time to do anything else. Monday we were at a family's home for a Labor Day BBQ with the Young Single Adults. The food was great and then the Young Single Adults did some canoeing on a small lake near the home. The weather was pretty normal for Germany this time of year - it is cloudy and rains and then you might see a few minutes of sun and then we start the cycle all over. Tuesday was a reasonable pace day but then Wednesday came along.

On Wednesday morning we left early for District Meeting with the young missionaries. We had told them that we would bring them lunch. It was a high risk operation because I, Elder Karn, told Pam not to worry about this one and that I would do the cooking. I normally don't use recipes or cookbooks- I just start and put things together. It was a Mexican lunch. They ate it up and then we downed a half gallon of ice cream. (The half gallon was between ten of us not per person - I wasn't going to give them that much!!)

Then Wednesday night Sister Karn did a high speed dinner for the start of the Institute year. We will be studying the New Testament so she made it a "Middle Eastern" dinner. She had worked on it a couple of days and it was a huge success.
Everyone enjoyed the food and the lesson. And the refreshments after the meeting were frosted brownies and that topped the meeting off.

Then we finished the week by working at the hospital on Friday morning and then on Saturday and Sunday were Stake Conference. It was one fast passed week but it was great.

One other side not is that we are in one fantastic district. There are three sets of young missionaries in our district and they are super. They have some of the best meetings and are the most fun to be around. Hopefully they are still our friends after the Mexican dinner!

The WX report ....... It has continued to cool off here and the days are getting shorter. Today we topped out at about 62 degrees and the nights are just above the 50 degree mark. The clouds are often pretty dark and Fall-looking and drop some rain. We may have some more days of "Summer" but I am not sure how many there will be.

We still love home and look forward to seeing all of you in a few short months. Our love to all of you.

Elder & Sister Karn

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The town of Idar-Oberstein, home of the "Felsenkirche", or as it is often called Church in the Rock. It sits high above the town, carved into the stone. The view is from the church overlooking the town. Parts of the church date back to the 1400s. The old scriptures are impressive.

Idar-oberstein is the German capital of the gemstone industry. The gems are depleted in this area, but they now import from Brazil and other countries. There is wonderful gemstone museum there. This is an amethyst geode - big isn't it?

Larger than life crystal.

Some of you may be getting tired of hearing about castles and ruins, etc. How can you get tired of castles? Actually, sometimes we are tired of castles. We don't get as excited when we see them now as we did at first. The first two or three castles I saw were unbelievable. I wanted to know everything about them. It is like living in Germany. We have been here for more than 10 months and it has almost become routine. However, we have many more adventures and experiences ahead of us. We still see the miracles from day to day. We love Germany and we love working with the US Military. We try very hard every day to help some one.

Back to castles . . .just think about what life was like back in the middle ages. No one washed and deodorant wasn't invented, the peasants were terribly oppressed and overworked, the dampness and cold were brutal, disease was rampant, the rich were tyrants and lived off the poor, hardly anyone could read, the church/government state was corrupt, and it was often "kill or be killed", etc. It was not the glamorous romantic era portrayed in the movies. I am grateful to live in modern times. I can pick up the Bible and read and ponder what is there on written page. So few had that privilege. The castle ruins remind me of that privilege.

However, the castles in Germany also have something else to share. There are sagas, tales, and legends associated with the castles' histories. It is doubtful if all the stories are true, who knows? The fact is this, moral values can be learned if we apply the lessons from the stories. Take the Brother's Grimm, compilers of fairytales and folklore from Germany and surrounding countries. Look at their tale of Cinderella. Does it pay to be wicked and selfish? Or, does the hard working innocent girl get the prince in the end? See, just be good.

Castles (from the Latin word castellum, meaning fortification)were built by noblemen or monarchs for fortification or defense. As part of the castle, there was usually a "keep" or a tower, also a fortification. Sometimes the treasury was kept there. Isn't it clever to name where you put your treasury a "keep"? Germans love traditions including those of knighthood, castles, dark forests, and old legends. Castles are an integral part of Germany and its past. To visit German castles, one travel guide says, "is to get to know Germans in all their cultural and historical diversity". It has been reported that there are over 20,000 castles in Germany. Some are barren ruins while others are restored or preserved architectural wonders and give us a nearly medieval experience. There are many wonders in Germany; ancient history with the Roman Empire, kings and queens through the ages, wars and conquerors. And most wonderful is that it is a modern progressive orderly country of today, having recovered mostly from two horrible world wars. One thing is prominent, history can be a teacher.

So, we hope you will enjoy our continuing to share stories about travels and adventures around this wonderful country. The people are smart and kind with a past I don't envy. We want to learn from it.

Have a great week. We will!
Sister and Elder Karn

Sunday, August 24, 2008

TO ALL: Greetings from Germany!! Here are the things I'm sure you all want to know.

Most of the crops are harvested now and the hours of sunlight are getting shorter. The nights are cooler and it looks like soon we will be back to the damp and cold weather. Days top out around 65-75 and the nights go down to 50-60. (Some of you have come to expect a weather and crop report and so I thought you should have one.) I always enjoy traveling though the heartland of America and see the evening news brought to you by seed, fertilizer, and farm equipment ads. There are places where crops and farms are tops.

Anyway, things are moving along here. Dear Sister Karn has had a very busy week of creating things. Yesterday we went to the on base (The Air Force has "bases" and the Army has "posts", "forts" and "camps") and found the Craft Center. I covered the place in about five minutes and was done looking but she got bogged down in crafty things and took a bit longer. Part of the week she has worked on invitations for the start of the new Institute year. Personalized invitations have gone out to all of the Young single Adults. She has spent many hours putting them together. I thought it best to let her run wild in the "art-sy" stuff so I did the dishes and worked on the laundry or any other task that needed to be done. The Craft Center gave her more ideas!

There are some very special Young Single Adults we are working with right now. Some of them we are losing to school as they head out for the states. Three will be heading out for missions over the next three months. One gets deployed this week and still others will soon be leaving the military or moving on to a new assignment. One of the things about being in the military or working with them is that the change is often and comes when you just get to know them. What we can't see is down the road and see who is coming in. Wonderful people come and wonderful ones go.

German school children went back to school two weeks ago. We see them coming and going wearing back packs just like in the states. Some ride the train and some ride public buses. The schools on the military bases start this coming week.

It's hard to believe that we have been gone from home for ten months. This past week we passed over another month and now we have just a couple of days under eight months left. In the military we would express our time left as "seven months and change". We have a lot to do in those few days ahead so we will be busy. We wish all the very best. May your days be filled with work that makes you happy and blesses you and those around you!


Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Photos from a couple of nearby villages we recently discovered: Freinsheim and Neuleiningen (with the castle).

I thought this was a tool of torture but Elder Karn says it was used as a farming implement to harrow the ground before planting. It was one of those "combo" tools I think.

It is one of those weeks we could have been more useful at home than we were here. Some of our family are experiencing crises and concerns. It feels as if we were in another world being so far away. We want so badly to be there for family and almost feel guilty that we are not there. However, what we CAN do we SHALL. We offer our love and interest and concern and fervent prayers.

Our week here has gone well. We had some great attendance at our weekly Monday Family Home Evening where we have an evening meal, a spiritual lesson, and dessert. Sometimes we also play a game. Our lessons are usually taught by the young single adults themselves. We have some great lessons. We also had good attendance at our monthly Pizza & Movie Night on Friday. It is great that the young single adults have a safe place to go to be together with their peers. All we do is love them and make sure they feel welcomed and fed. Some are leaving for college or missions, others leaving for special military training, and others have schedule changes that make it impossible to attend for 6 weeks at a time. We often have a radical change in who we see. Our Institute Outreach Center is unique.

The days are much shorter and the nights much cooler. The autumn season seems to start in August with the leaves even changing color. The few (you can guess who is writing this easily) hot days are gone. It is interesting that in the summer we have more hours of daylight and in the winter we have less hours our daylight than our hometown of Ogden, Utah. I am not excited about the long cold winter ahead but having been through it once, perhaps my blood is a little thicker. I also know how to keep warmer this time (layer, layer, layer and hot food!).

We had a very positive meeting with the new Kaiserslautern Army Garrison chaplain last Thursday. He was honest and straight forward and said he would not treat us any differently than he would any other religious denomination. It was refreshing. We offered our services to help with any community event. He said he may have Elder Karn read some scripture or say a prayer in a non-denominational religious service at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I can always offer to play the piano (with practice first).

We continue to volunteer at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center and enjoy the other volunteers that fly over from the states to volunteer for a month at a time, all at their own expense. They often work for 7 days a week, for 10 hour days, up to 30 days. They are some of the best people we have ever met and good examples of service to us.

We hope your week will be good.
Much love,
Sister and Elder Karn