Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Mouse Tower or Mauselturm on the Rhein, where greedy Bishop/Prince Hatto was devoured by the mice.

The next photo is of the large Rheinstein Castle: "One of the first castles you reach traveling north from Bingen along the western shore of the wandering middle Rhine is Castle Rheinstein, which sits perched 270 feet above the river, perfect for it's original purpose as a customs post to watch over the traffic that traversed up and down the river road. The Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph von Hapsburg lived in the castle from 1282 to 1286 to gain control of the trade area from the unruly robber knights of the area like the family of nearby Castle Reichenstein".

The last photo of die Pfalz, is of a customs house built directly on the Rhein river on a small island. It was built mainly to levy tolls on the Rhein. Chains were pulled across the river to stop all traffic. If a ship didn't pay a toll the crew would be inprisoned.

Ha! We've had more good weather! That is a very big deal in Germany because it doesn't happen too often. And as my father would say, "Once you've had good weather they can't take it away from you". Of course then he would add that things average out so perhaps down the road the weather might be extra bad to average things out again.

This past week we attended a farewell for an LDS chaplain that was leaving. We have gotten to know him a little bit while we have been in Ramstein. He is a dynamite guy who is always hustling and making good things happen. On top of that he has one of those wonderful personalities that just makes everyone like him. Everybody knows him and likes him! He has worked at the Landstuhl hospital and has been through some tough times with wounded and their families. Anyway, we went to the farewell that the military held for him. And let me tell you, if all of us get to have as many nice things said about us as was said at his farewell about him we will be mighty lucky and mighty well liked.

One volunteer told a story of a soldier that they thought would not live but he came in and met with the family and prayed with them. The volunteer said that the family said every time he entered the room there was such a peaceful feeling and they knew everything was going to be all right. The soldier recovered with very few long term problems and everyone was amazed. There are some folks that carry a spirit about them that gives comfort and confidence to everyone around them. This chaplain was and is such a fellow. What a priviledge to know him.

The other thing that we did this week is on our "P day" (which stands for "Preparation day") we shot over to the Rhine River and took a cruise up and down the river. (Oops, a little mistake there - we went "down" and then we went "up". It flows from Switzerland to the north.) We only went a little ways but we went through some of the best castle portions. These guys had castles every where! And many of them were not nice guys.

One big time castle dude taxed his people very heavily and then when they had a bad year and were starving to death they asked if they could have some grain from his vast storage. He said "no" and that he would rather see the rats have it than his subjects. They then demanded food so he promised them grain and let them in the store house. Then the rascal/rat had the storehouse locked with them inside and had it set on fire. They all died in the fire. But then the rats were fleeing the fire and he couldn't get away from them. He went to his small island castle to escape them but thousands of rats also made it to that castle. Then the rats ate the boy alive. That's the story they tell. Seems like the lesson here is don't be a jerk 'cause sooner or later you will get your just rewards.

Most or at least many of the castles have been ruined at one time or another and some have been trashed a couple of times. A few have had bad fires but many have been trashed when the wars have not gone well. In 1689 many of the castles along the Rhine were destroyed by King Louis XIV. (French on top at that time. I think I have that right.) He was on a roll and felt like trashing all of his neghbor's houses. Then many were rebuilt in the 18th century. Like everyone else that has cruised the Rhine on a nice sunny day, we have lots of pictures of castles so we can prove "we were there and saw that"!

And to keep you posted on other things: Gas prices topped out at about $9.73 per gallon but have fallen back to about $9.30 now. In any day there may be three or four different prices at the same set of pumps. And the price ranges up and down about $0.15 during the day. The rule here is: "If you see a decent price fuel up now because in an hour or two we will have a different price".

Other news: On Tuesday night Germany won a soccer game that puts them in the finals for the European cup. I understand it happens every four years and so it is like having the Super Bowl only every four years and it is done by nation so there is a great deal of national pride riding on the thing. So on Tuesday night it was not good to be on the streets because the fans go wild. Tonight they play Spain for the title. If they lose tonight there will be many unhappy Germans and if they win there will be some really, really happy celelbrating Germans. Either way we will be keeping a low profile. During the game there will be nothing happening on the streets but afterwards it will be wild!

To explain a little about the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center from the Clinical Pastoral Division, here is how the senior chaplain, Col. Griffith, describes it. "The WWMC started in Oct. 2002 at the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom and continues today to provide service members needed comfort items. Initially wounded military began arriving at LRMC dressed in operating room gowns. Our medical system is so responsive to our wounded that from the time a military member is injured downrange until he/she arrives at LRMC can be as little as six hours. The WWMC provides new, essential clothing/toiletry items which are available to all US service personnel, Department of Defense employees, coalition partners, and US contractors regardless of race, religion, national origin or gender.... The WWMC continues to be supported by military and civilian volunteer efforts, and by individual, organization and corporate gifts and funds. . .Because there is no organizational overhead, one hundred percent of all donations directly support our wonded and ill military members. . . . Please continue to pray for our wounded warriors and their families. . . ". We are grateful to be involved in some small way in the WWMC.

All our love,
Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goodbye to Major Jared Nelson and Jeannette and family (Nelsonville) as they have moved to Las Vegas. President Nelson was our branch president in Baumholder. What a great family. They will be sorely missed.

Summer is here and it is so lush and green. I want to memorize how beautiful it is with all the wildflowers and vegetation. It is hard to believe that the barren and dreary landscape could change so dramatically. I don't know why it is so amazing because it happens that way at home too. It is just that the humidity and rare sunny days of a German winter made it seem different. When in the middle of this coming winter I will remember the beautiful days of summer. Today we started out with blue sky and in the 80 degree range. During Church meetings the clouds darkened the sky and we had thunder and lightening and rain showers. I didn't look out the window but I could see the skies darken from the middle of the chapel and also the flashes of lightening. When we got out of meetings 5 hours later there were light fluffly clowds, blue sky and sunshine. There was just a little dampness under the car where the sun hadn't evaporated the rain. 'Missed that altogether. It is now 8 pm and still 82 degrees. With the humidity at 65 to 70% it feels much warmer. Although I always feel cool if I am not exercising! I wear sweats unless I am in the sunshine. Yes, I am weird.

When it is my turn to write the blog you certainly get a varied perspective of our mission. My organized and efficient Elder Karn has this huge service project running like clockwork. To me it is overwhelmingly difficult. But we keep marching forward. Now we have posters in most of the wards and the plans for the day have been announced to the bishops. Tomorrow we meet with Senior Chief Campbell (works in the Wounded Warrier Ministry chaplaincy) at the large hardened aircraft shelter (HAS) or hanger, to re-assess the project. The large overhead roll-up steel door isn't working and must be fixed soon. The list of supplies to order include 18,000 feet of package sealing tape, 300 empty cardboard boxes, 50 markers, 10 reams of colored paper, box cutters, etc., etc. We plan on between 150 to 200 volunteers but that could change radically. Everyone is invited to bring a friend and neighbor. We will pray that it won't rain that day as the work will mostly be outside. A little breeze and some cloud cover would be nice though.

We had a trade-in on our mission car. We went from a red 4-door Opel Corsa to a red 4-door Opel Corsa. The one we had before had a ding in the rear door from when someone backed into it in a parking lot when it was being used by another couple. We inherited it and often had to explain that we didn't do it. The mission was going to fix it but the estimated cost was $2,490. So it was never fixed. Then 3 weeks ago the mission office called the night before and the next morning we had a new car with only 300 kilometers on it. We don't have cruise control but otherwise it is pretty much the same. We put 7000 miles on the older one. Every once in a while we see the red car with the ding in it at a district or zone meeting. It was nice they gave us a newer one. Fuel is running at $9.70 a gallon right now. Maybe we will even get better gas mileage!

No "P" (Preparation Day) day this past week as we had more meetings than you can imagine. Yet there were days we still had time to take a walk, or take a nap, or watch a movie. If we don't take the time to regenerate ourselves periodically we will crash. Well, somedays we do crash, but we recover. Fortunately this week we will have a full P Day.

We continue to get better attendance some evenings at the Institute Outreach Center. Some college students are home for the summer and have been coming to some events. We always get new young single adults through the military while others are transferred or PCS'd (permanent change of station). This past week we had a young adult that came back from Iraq. He was from the Baumholder Branch so we had lots of questions for him about our friends that were deployed with him. It was all good news and our hearts were warmed to hear of them. We will lose about 5 young adults in August as they leave the military or go back to school in the states. We hope we get some new energetic active young adults to take their places.

Today we printed off an Air Force alpha roster (list of those in the military who put what religious preference they want on their enlistment papers)for the new missionary elders. Also we printed off some copies of the brochures about our church we made up for the chaplains to hand out on the base or post. There is a map of the meeting house and the times of the meetings, along with the names of the bishops, etc. This would be very helpful for the missionaries when they meet someone that is interested - either a non-member or a member. Then we printed off the young single adult contact list for one ward for the elders. We were just finishing our printing as we walked out the door for meetings this morning. Thank goodness for a printer that was left here by the couple before us!

We have two new zone leaders to work with at the IOC. One is from Texas and the other from Ogden. They are great but need some orientation. And unfortunately neither has a German driver's license so they are doing a lot of biking and walking and riding the trains. For zone leaders that is hard as our zone is pretty big. One has applied for a German license and that is the one from Utah as Germany has an agreement with Utah to cooperate with their driver's testing and licensing. The cost is only about $150 and the paperwork is not difficult. However, the elder from Texas would have to pay $3000 if he were to get a German license as Germany does not have an agreement with Texas. So - mostly the elders that drive here are from Utah. And also anyone can drive here with any state license for the first 6 months. After that you must have a German driver's license. Elder Karn and I both have a German driver's license. You won't catch Sister Karn driving the autobahns unless it is an emergency however!

Have I told you about the bells?? There is a clock or a church steeple somewhere here in the village that rings a bell every 15 minutes. We usually have the windows closed and we can't hear it. When we open the windows like today we can hear the clock bells and the church bells announcing mass. The bells are wonderful and make Germany even more quaint. I love the bells. I also love the sound of freedom - large jets taking off or landing just north of us. We owe so much to those who sacrifice so much.

Volunteering at the Wounded Warrier Ministry where new clothing and toiletries are given out to the wounded or the patients at the hospital, we have learned more about the war. It is gratifying to tell those who come in that we care.

God bless,
Sister and Elder Karn

Sunday, June 15, 2008


First of all - Happy Fathers Day to all the Fathers! We wish you the very best in this most wonderful role. May the moments you spend with your families be the best in your day! The best for them and the best for you.

The days are long this time of year and it is a good thing because we have so much to put in them. We get up when the sun is coming up (it starts getting light here about 5AM) and normally we get home before it is completely dark (about 1015PM). I know we said we were busy before but the pace just seems to pick up every week. This past week found us either running in the door from one thing to get ready for the next thing or running out the door on our way to the next thing. But there have been some wonderful things happening here.

We have one young airman that hangs out at the IOC a lot. We can almost say that if we are there - he is there. He is a great young man and he is trying to do good things rather than hang out with the wrong crowd and do things that will lead him into trouble. He has even spent hours talking with us when there was nothing else happening. So you know he is trying hard to hang in there.

And there have been days when the grocery bill has been huge. I've heard cars that were "gas-guzzelers" talked about as being able to "really empty a gas tank". Some of these guys can "really empty out a refrigerator". No doubt about it, some of these guys really like the "home cooking" that they get at the IOC. It does require a lot of work on Pam's part but it helps to keep them coming back. And I help to the extent of my abilities in the kitchen. (That means I get to eat there too!)

The weather has changed and perhaps our summer is over. Now you may think that is a little pesimistic but they tell us that last year they had great weather in May and from then on it was a cold damp summer. This year we had tremendous weather in May. There were many sunny days and the temps were sometimes in the 80's. Now that is really unusually good weather for Germany. So this past week we dropped into the low 70's and even had a day or two that didn't get to 70. Today we topped out at 62and we are supposed to have a few more days like today. Add clouds and dampness to that and it feels pretty cold.

The work on the big stake project continues. This week we went back and looked at the 40 tons of material and it's still there and as big as ever. We counted 94 pallets of boxes. So we estimate 1,500 to 2,000 boxes. If there are only 1,500 boxes and we do the project in 5 hours that is turning out 5 boxes per minute. That means unboxing, sorting, catagorizing, re-boxing, labeling, taking inventory, stacking on a pallet, wrapping the pallet and putting the pallet back in the Hardened Aircraft Shelter 300 boxes or 20 pallets per hour. And the plan is to do it with an untrained volunteer force. We think it can be done but it will take planning, hard work and the Lord's help.

We are busy and happy but we sure miss all of you. We miss being there for days like today (Fathers Day) and all the things that are happening in your lives. Please know that we think of you often and lovingly speak your names as we ask the Lord to bless you.

Love to all,

Elder (Bruce/Dad/Grandpa/Friend/Who?) and Sister (Pam/Mom/Grandma/Dear Friend) Karn

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Without Hesitation . . . .

Today I watched evaporation. I know what evaporation is but I have never seen it. While we were driving to Heidelberg for meetings where Bruce was to speak as a high councilman, I saw it. There were many many cloud-like mists floating upwards. They were moving and drifting in all shapes from treetops, valleys, fields, etc. These past few days we have had some heavy rain and today the sun came out. It was amazing to see water fall up. I was thinking it wouldn't be long before we had some reverse evaporation (precipitation) as there might not be room for all the water in the air. Nope, just perspiration from all the humidity.

Where did the week go? We had some large events to cover this past week and this afternoon we can sit back and go, "Whew". The biggest event in terms of trepidation was yesterday. We were asked to teach together a family home evening for the Primary children and their families at a Primary activity for Kaiserslautern Ward. It was to teach the Plan of Salvation, with handouts so the children could later teach the same lesson in their homes. We had 3 groups, 15 minutes each. Even though our responsibilities are quite weighty in terms of who we meet with, those Primary children had us in consternation. How could little children do that? We were both glad when it was over. And it went well we think. At least they didn't throw us out.

On Friday where we were working as volunteers for the Wounded Warrior Ministry, Bruce had the chance to give a review of the plans for the very large service project to the senior chaplain over the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. It was an "on the spot" opportunity but he was prepared because he expected that it could happen. So he showed the chaplains and other staff how the project would proceed.(See newsletter for May 25th for description of this project). Anyway, 40 tons of a contribution to the Wounded Warrior Ministry need to be sorted, labeled, re-boxed,etc. The stake is marshaling its ranks and anyone interested in helping and Bruce is in charge. It will be in celebration of Pioneer Day on July 26th. It is going well.

We made up some brochures on the Church to give to the chaplains around the bases/posts here in the Kaiserslautern military community. The brochure was approved by the stake presidency. It has meeting times, maps, directions, bishop's names and phone numbers, information about the Institute, etc. When members of the Church inquire where we have meetings the chaplains now have something to hand to them. We hope they get into the hands of those who want to know. We appreciate the chaplains being willing to hand them out; cooperation.

The last big job was for Bruce to speak today in Heidelberg. He did very well. It was probably the best talk I have heard him give. 'Wish you all could have been there; inspiration.

This coming week should be pretty normal. Plans will continue with the service project with ordering of supplies and advertising to all the wards and branches. Several questions still need to be worked out - food? parking? time? etc., etc.(finalization).

We are planning our meals and desserts to serve at the Institute Outreach Center and we will shop for that tomorrow morning; spaghetti. If you have any recipes that you love that are economical to fix and will feed at least 20, please share (extraction):

Speaking of Italian food, there are some great Italian restaurants in Landstuhl that are owned and run by Italians. They know how to cook! That is one of my favorite things about being here - Italian food! I know. But I love German schokolade (chocolate); perfection.

Thanks for all your prayers and interest in us. We are doing great. At times we have a nice slow-down in our pace and we rejuvenate and re-energize. It is amazing how organized one can get under pressure. We get so much more done! (Regeneration)

Have a great week. Sorry about too much information!
Sister (and Elder)Karn

Forty tons of a DONATION needing classification.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The ferry that we rode across the Rhein River.There were castles on each bend of the river. This was just one on the right bank. We took the photo from the Rheinfels Castle. The Rheinfels Castle was very large with many levels and many rooms. When the castle was under seige there were about 4000 to 5000 inhabitants, including soldiers. All the levels of this wall had holes from which some of the soldiers defended the castle. The weapon was probably the deadly crossbow.

Another week went by with blistering speed. It's hard to remember all that has happened but I can remember that just about every day was extremely full of things we needed to do. "I was so busy that ....". I know it sounds like a war story but the next line fits too - "This ain't no lie!" It was so busy that I didn't exercise once - not good!

Monday we had a full day of preparing for the Family Home Evening with the Young Single Adults and working on the other major project that is coming up. Tuesday was institute night and Pam makes a big meal for those two nights (Monday and Tuesday) so we have to shop for the needed items and then prepare every thing. I move the tables and set things up and do some cleaning etc, etc.

Wednesday was our last day to have Annie and Kirk (they had left on Saturday to go see some sights out of the mission) here so we went over to the Rhein river and traveled up and down that. We went castle exploring and really found a great one. In peace time it was home to about 300 - 400 people but when they came under siege they would have about 4,000 folks hold up there. It was a city! The bad news was that most of those rascals that lived so well along the river were bandits. I would call them bandits. They had chains across the river and wouldn't let anyone pass without paying a toll. As if they made the river and it was only theirs. Reminds me of some folks with their roads. I have felt a bit held-up by some of them. Perhaps some day some one from the future will tour the toll booths along our roads today and be amazed at how they held us up for money. Or perhaps more likely they will think the fare we had to pay was cheap compared to what they will have to pay five hundred years from now.

Because Annie and Kirk had never crossed any rivers or bodies of water on a ferry, we decided to take the ferry across the Rhein. It was a really cool quick trip. It took a total of about 2 minutes to cross the Rhein! We were the first on and the first to come blasting off the ferry and on to the road. It cost 6 Euro for the 4 of us and the car.

On Thursday Annie and Kirk packed their bags and fled. We prepared for the days ahead.

Friday was our first day to work as volunteers at the Landstuhl hospital. The wounded and sick from Iraq, Afganistan and other places come here before moving on to other places. Normally they arrive with little after being wounded, having clothes cut off them and patched up for movement. We will be working and handing out clothing they might need for the next few days. We thank every one of them for their sacrafice. We thank them for all folks who breath free air.

A side note on that subject. Today I was in a Priesthood class with the LDS chaplain who is leaving in early July. In the class we were talking about being perapared for things by the Lord. I am not sure if the chaplain said over the last year or the last three years that he has worked there at the hospital that he has been with families of about one hundred service members who have died. He said that in a huge number of the cases the family said they had known their last goodbye was coming or that they had said their last goodbye. Or they knew they had embraced their spouse/son/daughter for the last time before they had left. A little while back someone told me that chaplains had a cake job in the military . . . that they had an office that was open limited hours and that they had a quick service on Sunday and that was the extent of their job. After hearing this chaplain speak I couldn't help but think they have one of the hardest jobs in the military. Being so close to heartbreak on an almost daily basis would destroy many people. They have to have faith that there is more than this life or their hearts would break. In my experience in Vietnam, I saw many people that had a premonition or were prepared by the Lord and knew that they would be departing before their scheduled departure. Some were wounded and sent home and others went all the way home to Heavenly Father.Often they would call a friend over and tell them what they wanted sent home to their family and what to divide up among the guys there. They would share with friends that they felt they were going to "get it".

Saturday was another busy day. We started with interviews with the Mission President - he thinks we are doing okay. (Those were our last interviews with this dear man and his wife because they are leaving at the end of the month.) The rest of the day was a big BBQ for the Young Single Adults. It went well but was a lot of work.

Today we went to five meetings and are all done except for a bunch of reports and work to do for the upcoming days ahead. This life is a wonderful life and the nice part is that you don't have to sit around trying to come up with things to do. There is enough and to spare! And we love it! We love being of service to those who need us.

And we love you folks! Thanks for all you do! Thanks for who you are. The world is a better place just because there are friends and family. People who love us. Thank you!

Elder and Sister Karn