Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 17, 2008

(Photos from a "P" day in the old German town of Speyer). This "half timbered" house was contructed from timber and then filled in with straw and plaster. It has been restored and looks great.
This is where we had a great German lunch!

Well sports fans, you may not believe it but we have seen the big orange ball in the sky for about a week! Old Mister Sun is alive and well AND visiting Baumholder! How about that! True, with the clear days have come clear cold nights but the sun in the daytime has been worth the cold at night. Besides, that's the time that we are sleeping. It was foggy one morning but eventually the golden sun broke through and we are basking in its glow!

The week has been pressing on in the things that we work at. We continue to try to make friends on post and work with the members of the branch. All of those things are on going projects that are slow and steady progress. I am not even certain where all the time went this week but I can tell you that we were busy!

My work as the branch clerk takes up some of the time and that has certainly been true this week. Today I had a financial audit and so I did some work this week making certain that things were in order the best I could. I am a bit happier tonight - that is behind me!

Pam taught two hours of Primary today and I taught the Young Men. Either one of those jobs can be a challenge. But the highlight of the week came today in the form of visitors. The Area President, Elder Robert C. Oaks,(the man that presides over the church in the central part of Europe who is a retired four star Air Force General) came to our meetings today to speak. (We had the priviledge of meeting him in Frankfurt the day after we arrived in Germany.) He was at a meeting that our branch president was at a couple of weeks ago and when he heard that about 85% of the men here would be deployed to Iraq he offered to come and speak. We were not certain which Sunday he was coming but when we looked out of the windows of the meeting house and saw him sitting in his car talking on the cell phone we were pretty certain it was today!

Anyway, he and his wife spoke in our meetings. They are just wonderful down to earth people who care about others. We even had a chance to visit with them for just a moment. When a person talks with folks like that you just can't help but feel good. They care about people and it shows.

Missionaries are authorizd one "P-day" per week. For those who don't know what a "P-day" is let me explain. Even busy missionaries need a day once a week to get the things done that need to be done so you can run at full speed. Some times they need to clean the apartment, do the laundry, take care of errands or just relax a bit. You know the old thing about taking time to sharpen the axe. Well "P" for preparation sounds better that "Axe-day" so we call it "P-day".

On some P-days there is time for activities. Many of the young missionaries like to play basketball or soccer. We have decided not to do that because we don't want to show off our skills and make the young missionaries feel bad. They would be scared to death of growing older if they saw how poor I was at either one of those sports. So we protect them from the bitter truth of growing older.

This past week we took a P-day and went on a USO tour. I never went on a USO tour in the years I was in the service. We drove to Kiaserslautern and met the group. We were taught how to buy a train ticket and ride the trains in Germany. Buying a ticket needed some explanation but sitting in a seat and looking out the window on the train seemed pretty simple to me. I was able to master that after just a few minutes.

So we went to a town called Speyer. It is an old German city with lots of cool old buildings and history. Some of them were built pretty well - one goes back to the tenth century. That's pretty good construction in most anybody's book!

The town is also known for being the spot where they tried to excommunicate Martin Luther from the church. Some people in town protested and the title "Protestant" came from that. At least that was our guide's story. I believed the story.

Speyer is also supposed to be the home of the pretzel. It seems (again the tour guide's story) that the priests used to fold their arms while praying and they wanted to teach the children to fold their arms so they twisted the bread into an image of folded arms.

I have never been a fan of pretzels. The ones I have had have been dry and hard and tasteless except for some salt. Someone told me to put mustard on them but that just seemed to be mustard on a dry tasteless stick. But while in Speyer I thought I should try the "Real McCoy". I bought a pretzel (they call it a "Bretzel") from a street shop. It was pretty good. I could eat those and I never could see the point of eating those things in a bag that the airlines give you when someone on board is allergic to peanuts!

Since we have been in Germay I had tried German ice cream just once. I bought it in a store and it was terrible. When I buy something I normally fight my way through it no matter what. I add whatever is needed to cover the taste and eat on. I gave up after three trys and threw the ice cream away. I'm telling you it was nasty!

But as I walked by an ice cream place in Speyer I decided to give their ice cream another test. I went in alone and bought a cone. My companion stayed outside and was holding back. When I came out I told my companion that it was very good. "A lick" was requested just to taste it. Then I was told that I should go back inside and buy another cone for myself! I had lost my ice cream cone! Guess what - I went back inside and bought another that no one had taken a "lick" of. It was good. I mean really good! I'm ready for more!

So I can tell that we have had a good week! A good pretzel, a great ice cream cone, sun in the sky, the greatest companion, and work to do that is important! It just doesn't get much better than this! We work to lighten the burdens on our young families that serve our country and the free world and our experiences are sweet!

We miss home and all of you! Our love goes out to you! You are in our prayers and we hope we are in yours.

May the Lord bless and keep you,

Elder and Sister Karn (She is the great companion!!!!!!!)