Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 30, 2008

That little red spot under the bridge in the foreground is our little car. This is a view looking west from the very top of the highest tower at Frauenburg Castle or "Ruine Frauenburg".

Another week has been a blur! Spring has arrived here - well on the calendar it has. We have had more snow the last week and a half than we had had all winter. Then we have had a couple days that have really been Spring. So let me give a quick report of what's been going on in our world.

We did take a couple of hours this last week and went to see a castle that is only about five miles away. It isn't a big castle but perhaps they didn't know it was going to last from the thirteen hundreds until now. There was no one there but us and we had a great time climbing stairs and looking out over the valley. Sister Karn climbed and climbed and almost reached the top. Up, up, up the stairs she went until she almost touched the sky. Well, it seemed that way to her! It was a lot more than the normal "two step high" limit!

On Friday night one of the soldiers that has been coming regularly to our Family Home Evenings and game nights said it was his turn to cook for us. He told us he was going to make hot wings (that had us a little worried about how "hot" was "hot") but the commisary was out of wings so he went for steaks. He bought huge steaks, fruit and dessert. We went for the baked potatoes and vegtable. What a feast we had! And he washes the dishes as he cooks. How cool is that?

Then today two of these wonderful young men showed up at church in new white shirts, ties and dress pants. Hey, we have many returned missionaries that are pretty casual about how they dress. One of them received the Aaronic Priesthood and the other stood in the circle to help ordain him.

One of these young men told me that while they were waiting for the taxi cab to come and pick them up they were talking to another soldier about the gospel and as he stood there he noticed their clothing and he said, "We looked like missionaries." And they are great missionaries. One has passed out six Books of Mormon and talked to many people about the gospel. The other young man has invited many people to join him at our house for dinner and and a great evening. (Many of us could take a page out their book on how to open our mouths.)

Today was probably the last time we will be at church meetings with these guys. We expect to be moving about the seventh or eighth of April and they expect to leave for Iraq about the same time. (Next week is General Conference so we won't be in meetings together again.) We do expect them to be at our home again this Monday and Saturday!

We are sorting through the stuff we need to take with us when we move and the stuff we need to leave behind. It is a job.

Have a great week!
Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter, March 23, 2008

Family Home Evening last Monday evening in our apartment: front left Lt. Merkley from Orem, Ut; PFC Watts from Ypsilanti, Michigan; PFC Jones from Merida, Texas; us on the back row.(Those are not halos over our heads, it is a glare from our white concrete wall!)

Happy Easter everyone! Even though we have had about 6 to 7 inches of snow in the past 3 days the sun was shining for a little while today. It is still very cold yet we have hope Spring won't forget us.

We are adjusting and making plans for the big move. It is hard to say goodbye here since we have actually put down roots in Baumholder. We expected to be here for a full 18 months. We have an adjustment to make but we "will go and do as" we have been asked. This past week we visited the apartment where we will be living. It is quite a bit nicer than the apartment here but also doesn't have all the features either- no spare bedroom or bathroom. However, for all of you planning to come and visit - we will make arrangements for your enjoyment and comfort! Don't change your plans.

Today we had a family and 2 single soldiers over for Easter dinner. All together there were 10 of us. For those of you that regularly feed 10 people at dinner, my heart goes out to you. We are washing the dishes in shifts because there isn't counter space enough and we have to put away one batch before washing more. We are taking turns. It is about a 2 hour job! There are times a dishwasher would be handy!

The meal included the traditional ham and fixings and everyone enjoyed themselves. Then we watched a church video, "The Testaments". It has been a great Easter. The Nelson family includes 3 little girls and a young man age 14. It makes us miss the grandchildren. Perhaps they miss their grandparents enough to let us love them as substitute grandparents. It is the branch president's family and they are wonderful people. Last night we went to the American school's presentation of Robin Hood, produced by the Missoula children's theatre. This company travels all over the world. Right now there are 11 groups in the world going to schools to produce this play. There are auditions for all the parts except the narrator. The children even help direct the play. Everyone practices for a week with shipped in costumes and set - then they present the play for a small cost. It was fantastic. The Nelson kids were all in the play. In June the Nelsons will make a permanent change of station(PCS) to Las Vegas. We wanted to do something nice for them for all their time and sacrifice to the branch.

On Friday we had "game night" with the soldiers here in our apartment. It was lots of fun and we played until 10 pm. Have you ever played "Last Word"? Wow, we were up a bit late for missionaries but they were having such a good time. Tomorrow we have Family Home Evening and dinner with them. They promised to bring more soldiers with them so we prepare a big meal (they eat BIG meals) and a little inspirational message. They keep telling us how much they love us. It is nice to be appreciated. They deserve all the attention we can give them before they are deployed in two weeks.

Our real success story for the week is that we were able to obtain the "Alpha Roster" from the bridage chaplain's office. This is a list of all the soldiers in the 2nd Brigade here in Baumholder that put down "LDS" as their religious preference. We have worked on getting this list since we got here 5 months ago. It is wonderful that our prayers were answered. The timing is good in that now those "group leaders" going to Iraq will have these lists so if an LDS soldier is interested in being involved he will more than likely be found and invited to join with the group. Also, the branch here will be able to keep better track of them. There were 22 on the list that we were unaware of.

And one more success to write home about . . . . we have in our hands our German driver's licenses. All total the cost was less than what the Germans pay. And they are for life! If we live a long time we will get our money's worth. We had to trade in our Utah licenses and we understand we could make the trade again when we leave Germany. But who wants to give up a lifetime driver's license? Not us. We will just pay for a duplicate and be happy to have 2 licenses. Is that legal?

The 2 young missionary elders here are also being transferred, one to Bitburg and the other to Koln (Cologne). There will be young missionary sisters assigned here. It will be great since most of the men will be gone. The sisters will be a support for the women and wives and can teach any female investigators without problems.

We have learned that our assignment will be at the Institute Outreach Center or IOC, as it is correctly named. Our hours will be from 4 pm to 10 pm every week night, Monday through Friday, and occasionally a Saturday, to work with the young single adults in the Kaiserslautern US Military Stake. Evidently the long hours were wearing down the couple that are assigned there now. They are older than us and have a few health problems. So they will come here to Baumholder and we will carry the heavy load for a while. It seems fair. We will miss the country-feel and rural area of Baumholder as we will be located in the center of a city with no view! However, we have feet and can walk and find some new and interesting things to see in Landstuhl. It will be an adventure.

Keep smiling!
Sister and Elder Karn

Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 16,2008


We know that you probably all have huge care packages that you have ready to send to us but we think you better hold them for just a moment more. Things are moving and shaking here!!!

Did you ever get up and go to the office expecting another normal day and then get totally surprised at the turn of events? We did today!! Yesterday we received a phone call from the Mission President telling us he wanted to meet with us today for a little bit to talk about our "Military Relations" mission and how to reach out to the military folks. Being "subject matter experts" (four months experience on the job is nothing to take lightly) we felt really ready to tell all we know. And that shouldn't take us long.

Right after opening the meeting the Mission President said, "Let me lay this out for you......". With that as an introduction he went on to tell us he wants us to move. In Ramstein there is a couple that have been over what is called an "Out Reach Center". An Out Reach Center, ORC, is a place where young single members and their friends can come and hang out. Lots of the ORCs have ping pong tables, pool tables etc and it is a good clean safe environment for young people to go to. In Ramstein there is also a huge military presence and lots of people to reach out to.

So the Mission President went on to say that he wants to swap the two couples around. The couple in Ramstein would come to Baumholder and we would go to Ramstein. We have the "Military Relations" training (four hours worth)and some experience so we could reach out to the military folks and could also be in charge of the ORC.

We came here with two suitcases each but its not the same old game any more! We(especially me) are really good at dragging things home and with the Germans having "junk days" and throwing out good things we do very well! We have gained a lot of things in just four months!! Junking is a blast and junking day is coming up again next week! Moving now will be a huge operation when a fellow doesn't have a pickup truck!

We have always and hope to always do whatever we are asked whenever we are asked. If that is where the Lord wants us - then that is where we want to be. Our answer was simply, "When does this happen President?" It will happen in two to three weeks - about the same time the troops deploy! The other couple will be here to take care of the wives and children left behind.

Baumholder isn't much of a speck on the map and not often heard of outside of a small Army circle of infantry people but we have loved it and much more - we have loved the people! We shed a tear as we move on! We feel a little of what Ammon must have felt when he didn't get to go back and teach King Lamoni's father. He was called "another way" to do another work. We are called "another way".

Ramstein is one of those places that you hear about. It is a huge Air Force base where many injured fly into for treatment before going on to the states. So there is a very large hospital in the area as well as the Air Force Base and several other Army and Air Force Bases. We will be working with two military wards and one German ward.

To put it mildly - we are in way over our heads!!! Only the Lord could possibly help us through this assignment! It would be very nice if you kindly remembered us in your prayers! We need all the help we can get.

So in the next couple of three weeks our physical address will change, our mailing address will change, some of our phone numbers (German) will change, our assignments will change, our branch will change, but we are extremely grateful that we will have the same companion!!!

We love all of you and remember you in our prayers! We will keep you informed as things develop!

Elder & Sister Karn

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March 9, 2008

This is one large delivery truck we decided to take a photo of on a recent walk around town.

"Some days are diamonds and some days are stones" - a phrase from a well known country song seems to describe our week. We have had some diamond days worth writing home about! Every missionary will tell you that there are "ups" and "downs" in a mission, lately we have had "ups".

Last Monday we had dinner and Family Home Evening in our home for three LDS soldiers who are without family or single. One of those had just contacted the Church through the Friday before asking for a priesthood blessing before his deployment to Iraq. Sunday we learned about it and Monday he was in our home. We don't think we would ever have found him otherwise. All three of these men are prospective elders, with the hope of obtaining the higher priesthood. We had a very delicious meal (I love it when everything turns out! says the cook) and a spiritual message and then watched a video. The message from Elder Karn was about Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon and what kind of soldier he was. The video was from the BBC series The Planet Earth. It was a wonderful evening and they all seemed to enjoy it. We hope to continue this Monday evening event as long as they are here in Baumholder which will be about 3 more weeks. Now we have board games! The only problem will be if they get assigned duties on Monday evening.

The next day we had a visit with an inactive family who had been offended by some things someone in the branch said. We are all imperfect and will probably offend someone sometime. Please tell us if we offend you because we definitely do not mean to and we would like to say we are sorry! Anyway, the family has been visited and encouraged and loved and prayed over. Today they came to Church. Hopefully they will continue to come as we need their perspective and personalities to round us out.

On Wednesday, our German elder, Elder Kalmring, the same one that was hospitalized last week, invited us over to the meeting house. He and his companion prepared a wonderful sit down German lunch for us. We were served Eier mit Schinken (scrambled eggs and chopped ham), Spinat mit Sahne (chopped fresh cooked spinach with heavy cream), over Kartofel (potatoes). He told us to mash the potatoes, put the eggs on top, and pour the creamed spinach over it. Sounds like green eggs and ham, doesn't it? But it was delicious and he worked so hard to prepare it. And then we had a German dessert - kind of a pudding and yogurt mix that was delicious. They cooked and served the meal and did the dishes. I was very impressed! And there is one missionary that knows how to cook! It was such a sweet way of saying thank you to us.

Thursday we had interviews with our mission president in K-town (a short way of saying Kaiserslautern - which means the king's fishing resort). It was a great meeting. That same evening Sister Karn went with the Relief Society sisters to a joint RS meeting with the Ramstein Ward (another trip to K-town). That was a lot of fun. And of course on Friday we played at the Art Center in our volunteer positions. Elder Karn has now been assembling frames in miter clamps - a challenge for large frames. The lady in charge said it takes most people 6 weeks to learn how to do that. Elder Karn learned how to do it in a day.

Our investigator continues to attend Sunday meetings and become more involved with the members. It is a thrill for us. She is a bright and outgoing lady whose husband is a seargeant major here at the post. She is busy entertaining because of his position and also has a very responsible job with the MWR on post (Morale, Welfare and Recreation). We can't describe the joy we feel to see her discover the truth.

We have had a great week! The time change doesn't occur here until March 30th. We understand today was the big day for most States. So we are closer in our time difference for a few days. We still see evidences of our approaching spring and hope you are also getting some relief from winter and the snows.

With love,
Sister and Elder Karn

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 2, 2008

These little chalk scratchings written beside the doorway are very traditional here. Businesses and homes alike will have them. They are indicative of blessings bestowed, usually by children, after paying an offering for the blessing. The symbols and numbers stand for the year and specific blessings.

In the Army we used to say, "Every day is a holiday, every meal is a banquet, every gathering is a party and everything that happens is a surprise". That is about the way it is on a mission. Some times we think we know what will be happening but some days turn into real surprises. One afternoon this past week we received a call from the mission president's wife. She told us that one of the young missionaries was in the hospital and she wanted to know if we could go join up with his companion and stay there until the matter was settled down a bit. So off we went.

It ended up being a seven hour mission but it was really interesting. The young missionary was a German missionary and through a number of events he passed out, probably due to dehydration. The German medical system is supposed to be very thorough and they conduct all the tests they can think of and some they can't. He spent a couple of days in the hospital but is back to work now. It was interesting to see the health care system here in operation and to try to deal with folks when we don't speak the same language.

After a couple of hours we thought it best to get the healthy missionary some food. (He is British). He wanted us to take him to Burger King. We took him but it wouldn't have been my first choice. I know there are better places to eat than Burger King or McDonald's!

We were walking to get our exercise this week and saw a slate roof being installed. It was really neat and here is a picture of it. Roofs are made of slate, tile or other very long lasting materials here so it was fun to take a few minutes and watch them installing one. We knew it was slate because a couple of pieces fell and broke. It looked like slate, it broke like slate, and sounded like slate.

Saturday we travelled to Frankfurt to attend the Temple. We rode with others and it was really fun. The wind was blowing so hard that the car was really being pushed around. And the car was a Ford SUV not a little bitty job. Some trucks were moving pretty slow on the Autobahn to keep from being blown over. At times the rain was really pouring down. The weather was better on the return run though.

The weather continues to slowly get warmer and the days get longer. It is getting light by about seven in the morning now and stays light until about six thirty. It is hard to say exactly when the sun rises and sets because we don't see "Mister Sun" very often. And when he does make an appearance it is more of a "cameo appearance" that a real center stage act!

Gas prices had dropped here for a bit but they are back to where they were when we arrived. When we arrived in November the gas prices were 1.449 Euro per liter. If you take that 1.449 and multiply it times 3.8 (liters in a gallon) and then divide it by 0.6443 (the current conversion rate for the dollar to Euro) you end up with $8.546 per gallon for gas. It must be good stuff at that price! We drive a little car made by Opel and it gets 30-31 miles per gallon. Even then we some times put sixty to seventy dollars worth of gas in when we fill up. And that only gets you about eight gallon of gas! Gas has been down as low as $7.40 per gallon and just about as high as $8.60 per gallon.

We still are doing our volunteer thing on post. Mondays we are at the "Thrift Store" and Fridays we are at the "Art Center". This past Friday I cut about three hundred pieces of picture frames for them. They have a really neat machine that cuts two forty-five degree angles in the framing at each slice. If I have a bunch of the same ones to cut I can really chop them up. They had an order for a military unit and needed seventy cut for two sizes and sixty cut of two more sizes. That should make 260 pieces! It was a big order and I understand that it cost about $11,000. It was really fun helping with projects like that. And during the same period of time Sister Karn cut mattes for the frames. She was quicker than I was so I had to work just a little longer than she did - she worked on an art project of her own!

We try to make friends for the church every where we go. We also get to have some neat conversations about "why we are here" with those we work with. And on top of those activities we visit, teach, and befriend everyone we meet!

We sure all of you are doing well - we are! We love and miss you!

Elder and Sister Karn