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