Sunday, February 24, 2008

February 24, 2008

Here we have an extra large basin in front of the (Episcopalian)Kaiser Dom in Speyer. 1500 or more liters of wine would be poured into the basin whenever there was a new bishop. The town's people would all be invited to partake. I am thinking they brought cups, right? Our tour guide said they got so drunk they fell in. No one was in the bowl when we looked. Supposedly, when a new bishop is put in today, they still fill the basin with wine.

Hello friends and family! Well - we think spring comes early here. Today we saw pansies in bloom and an early blooming tree. I thought those birds were right. The temperature at 2:30 pm today is 53 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. Fahrenheit looks like a German word - if so it probably means to drive up or travel up. Fahren means to travel or drive. 'Ready for that! We may yet have some bad weather though. Just the other morning we were looking up the hill from our apartment window and saw a gentlemen sliding down the icy road on his stomach. Thank goodness he was laughing! Ice is a real possibility with clear skies at night. For now, we have the west window in our apartment opened!

Elder Karn had a real fortuitous situation this past week when he dropped into the brigade chaplain's office. We have tried for weeks to catch him and this time he was there! The chaplain was especially helpful and friendly and will make it possible for us to know all the soldiers in the brigade that designated "LDS" on their religious preference. At least we can let them know we have services here and invite them. Whether they choose to come is up to them. And also the chaplain wanted information given to him about the group leaders that will initiate services when the soldiers are "down range" or deployed. We are especially excited about the chaplain's help on these issues. It has taken a lot of ground work to get this far and well worth it.

The deployment is coming up in one month or more. It looks pretty certain that it will happen. The early troops will leave mid-March and the rest in mid-April. One sister, a Lt. in the finance area, has already left for Iraq. Her husband is also a Lt. but with a different unit and he will be deployed a little later. It is a good thing they won't be too far apart on their return. They are a great couple, both graduates of West point and great examples.

The other night we had a birthday party for the branch president. I watched one little family whose father and husband had just returned from his 15 months in Iraq. He was playing with his oldest son, who is 4 years old. They were playing and tickling and the little boy was laughing so hard. It is so great to see a happy ending to his deployment. This is the family where we made a weekly visit while the father was away. We will be very busy visiting fatherless/husband less families once the majority are deployed. We will have just 9 Priesthood male members left in the branch. Of those, 3 are Air Force, 2 work for the Air Force as civilians, 3 are in the Army (a dentist, a helicopter medevac pilot grounded for back trouble, and the recent return from Iraq soldier) and Bruce. Home teaching will be divided among them for the remaining 24 families. The numbers really are reduced because of all the single soldiers leaving too. For those of you not familiar with home teaching, it is where two men holding the priesthood visit certain assigned families every month. They are responsible for the general well being of those families, and report to the leadership of the branch if there are problems or needs. That way everyone is looked after. If the men do their job, it is a great help to the branch president or the bishop. The flock is cared for. A good home teacher is worth his weight in gold.

For those of you also wondering what you can do for the troops when they are down range, "the Department of Defense recommends that you log on to the following web sites to show support, to include greeting cards, virtual Thank You cards and calling card donations to help troops stay in touch with loved ones:
Unsolicited mail, packages and donations from organizations and individuals also compete for limited airlift space used to transport supplies, war-fighting material and mail from family and loved ones. As a booster to force protection, persons are urged not to send any unsolicited mail or packages to deployed service members unless they are family members, loved ones, or personal friends." [Taken from a military publication].

Thank goodness for email! Regular mail from the USA seems to take 2 to 3 weeks. What did missionaries in former ages do? And thanks to you all for tuning in to our blog. We hope you find it interesting, uplifting and at times entertaining. We share a little of what we do as missionaries and little information about what we are learning about Germany. Here are two great finds: Germans believe rules are to be kept not broken! One always says hello and goodbye to the store clerk, or politeness is good!

Have a great week!
Sister and Elder Karn