Sunday, July 27, 2008

The day of the huge service project that we have worked so hard on finally came and went. Like many projects there were things that didn't look like they were going to come together but somehow it all did at the last moment. The military chaplaincy staff kept us on edge of our seats until the eleventh hour (and fifty ninth minute). During the last couple of weeks we had checked with the chaplain's staff and encouraged them to "get crackin'" on getting things in place but things just didn't seem to register to them.

As of early Friday morning (the day before the project) the large overhead door on the hanger still didn't work, they didn't have but a fraction of the supplies on hand, they didn't have paper for the labels and inventory sheets, they didn't have the labels and inventory sheets printed, they didn't have portable restrooms in place and on and on the list went. It was serious worry time!

So Friday morning found us a bit worried. Early Friday morning we went to the hanger and workmen were there working on the door. It was good to see some action. There was hope. If the overhead door didn't work then all two thousand (or so) boxes had to go in and out a walk door. That would mean a box had to go through the door about every 4.5 seconds in order for it all to happen on schedule.

Friday was the day when most things did fall into place. The door got fixed, keys were found to the nearby restrooms, the portable restrooms arrived, many supplies started coming in and Friday night things looked better. The weather forecast was not good but we could only pray for good weather.

Saturday was a miracle! The weather was a little hot but it didn't rain or have the thunderstorms that had been predicted. But the big miracle was the number of volunteers that showed up to work. Three hundred and seventy five reported in to our assignment people to be instructed where to work. We know there were a few who just jumped in without asking what to do so we had to be about four hundred strong. It was an amazing sight to behold! Four hundred volunteers working as hard as they could to get the job done. And get it done they did!!

We had scheduled and told people that it would take us from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon to do the work. By one in the afternoon we were pretty much done and with a few minutes to clean up the job was complete. Left behind were boxes sorted, wrapped, stacked and neatly put away in the hanger. And in front of the hanger where four hundred people had worked there was nothing but clean concrete. There wasn't trash left all over or any other evidence that four hundred people had been there for hours. (That is a miracle!)

We believe that work should be an enjoyable thing. Working with good people is an absolute thrill. The senior enlisted person from the chaplaincy asked how we got so many people to come to do the work. She said that when they get volunteers only about ten percent of the ones that say they will be there actually show up. (And sadly only a few from the chaplaincy that said they were going to be there actually showed up.) The only answer is; they are just good people. And they truly are good people. There were no egos to deal with - no wanting to be noticed doing what was good or anything else to deal with. They were just people who knew of a job that needed to be done and they rolled up their sleeves and did the job. What a thrill to be with them.

There were many small miracles that had happened along the way to bring everything together. And certainly there were challenges during the day but we had manpower and willing hearts to solve any problem. Somewhere between two and three pm yesterday afternoon we came back to our apartment tired and happy. The work was done and we could now slow down and relax. And guess what - we did!

What a thrill it is to be here and work with some of the greatest people on earth. We have been so blessed.

We love all of you and pray for you. And thanks for praying for us!

Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Everything was on fire. The trucks. The bazaar. The grass. It looked surreal. It looked like a movie". That was the description given by a wounded soldier as he told it to the press. Last Sunday morning, 9 soldiers were killed in Afghanistan's Kunar province. There were 15 wounded. (Go to to see the full story for the Sat., July 19th issue)
We were notified via email by the Military Relations office at the Church Offices in Salt Lake City late Monday evening that a wounded LDS soldier had just arrived at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. We were asked to check on him. We went to the hospital about 9:00 pm that night after leaving the IOC. We found Jacob and visited with him. His wounds were deep. The battle the day before had been devastating for his company. He and his buddies lost good friends. He had gone without a shower and sleep for many hours. He was anxious to call his buddy's wife back home to tell her that her husband didn't suffer when he died. His singular bullet wound was to his left hand, and several bones were shattered. We have seen Jacob several times this past week and every day he is getting better. Tomorrow he will meet with the hand surgeon to see what can be done. Following surgery he will be taking some leave to visit his family in the States. Then, if all goes well he will return to his unit in Vicenza, Italy. Since he is right-handed, he says he can still hold a gun. Jacob and his buddies were just 5 days away from finishing their 15 month deployment. Perhaps you heard on the national or local news about this. It seems so distant when you watch it on TV. It is entirely another thing to see the tears in a young soldiers eye's when he talks of his lost "brothers" and you see the weariness in his face and the slump in his walk and the bandages on his hand. When we first entered the hospital ward there was a young triple amputee wheeling his wheelchair down the hall. It is all so terribly sad. These are the times we live in. What can we do? We can pray for the wounded and the families of those who have lost loved ones. We can tell each and every service man and woman "Thank you for your service". These are the real super heroes of our time.

Sgt. Jacob Walker, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The above photos were taken on our last P-day excursion to Heidelberg and the castle above the town. It was our first solo on the train and despite the 95 degree sweltering heat, it went well. The train is a great way to travel and the cost is reasonable compared to fuel costs.

The thing about life is that some times as it races by so quickly there is hardly time to see and recognize the wonderful things happening around us. Now I also must add that sure, there are hard times and things that try us and test us but, there are also things that happen to tell us we are not alone.

We have been working on this great service project and it has been a wonderful thing to be involved in. It seems like as soon as a challenge pops up there is a solution that follows. This past week we met with the Stake Presidency to talk about the project and report on our progress. One of the things that came up in the discussion was the weather. If the weather is bad the day of the project we could be in real trouble.

There is no doubt that if the Lord wants us to work in good weather we will have good weather. But like any good parent, sometimes the Lord wants us to overcome some challenges and grow a bit. Perhaps He wants us to find a solution and overcome an obstacle like the weather. So in the discussion of the project and what bad weather would do we identified bad weather as almost a "show stopper". And we don't want the show stopped.

The next day we had lunch with one of the presidency and another leader and as we talked about the solutions this other brother decided to jump on a solution. At an earlier meeting another brother had offered military tents to solve the weather concern but that wasn't happening for him. And with the tents weighing 400 pounds each that would take several men to set up. Transporting and setting them up was going to be a problem.

Anyway, after lunch this other brother called around and found some canopy covers we could rent from the military recreation center and reserved them. They are on hold and we are "covered" in case the weather doesn't want to cooperate. So it is amazing to see the doors open and to watch people step forward to help.

Over the years we have seen the right doctor be in an area when someone needed the special skills of that doctor. We have seen the timing of things be just right when something critical was needed or about to happen. And we are sure that we only recognize a few of the miracles that happen around us all the time. Too often we think that our timing was good or that we were in the right place at the right time. We think it is more, much more than that. It is the Lord's hand reaching out and making things happen. It is good to pause and thank the Lord for the miracles that happen in our behalf.

I know that weather is a recurring theme but it is amazing here. Every area has the TV weather man that says "the weather really changes around here - just wait five minutes and it will change". In Germany that is really true. This past week we were in the 90's one day and in the 60's the next. It can rain one minute and five minutes later the sun is shining. Add another five minutes and we are back to rain. Ya' can hardly put the umbrella up and down fast enough to keep up with the current weather. The good news for the weather folks is that they can say about the same forecast for every day. "Today will be partly cloudy with a chance of showers." He has to be on target then!

The work is good, the people we work with are great and the fruit of the labor is sweet. It is almost hard to understand why some folks stay home when they could be out serving others. There are those moments when we know we were there for someone when they needed a friend or when someone needed us specifically, and it makes the whole day a success for us. We often don't know the burdens another is carrying and when we shoulder just a bit of the load for them or give them a word that helps them carry on. But when we do we know that we have done something worthwhile.

We hope all of you are having wonderful days and feeling the aid of those around you, that is the aid of both those seen and those unseen by human eyes. We are not alone. Everyday we feel the love and help of those around us.

Best wishes,
Elder (and Sister) Karn

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Above is a photo taken this morning just before we drove to Sunday meetings. From left is Elder Karn, Sister Karn, Rachel Whitchurch and her husband Jeff. That is our apartment here in Landstuhl in the background and that is our little red mission car to the left.

We had some company yesterday and today. It was a delight to have my (Pam) niece Rachel and her husband Jeff come and see us. Jeff has been in Belgium doing an internship and Rachel flew over to visit him for a week. My brother and wife back home in Logan are tending their little boy so Rachel could see a little of Europe and her husband for a week. When they drove over from Belgium, they brought two other travelers with them, Justin and Olga. Even though we only have one bedroom and one bathroom, they were amicable about sleeping on sofas and an air mattress on the floor. They arrived last night at 8:45 pm and left this morning at 10:20 am. Thanks for coming!

As of this past week we have a new mission president, President Ninow. He and his wife and 5 children are young compared to most mission presidents. The youngest child is 8 and the oldest is 19, all boys. The oldest is on a mission in Taiwan but the 4 younger boys will be with him and his wife in Germany. We had an interview with president on Friday and were impressed with his humility and enthusiasm. He was very supportive of our special type of mission. He will be great to work with. Tomorrow is Zone Conference (an all day meeting with instructions and classes within our mission zone, including about 18 missionaries). He told us that Zone Conference will mostly be in English and we are excited. German is a hard language to learn and some of the newer missionaries (called "Golden" missionaries here) do not understand the language well. When we do have translators a lot of the message lost as the translator must wait to the end of each sentence to catch the meaning. And then the translator often misses the next sentence. So English will be much better for us. The president said that he may do it in German in the future but for now we are glad it will be in English!

The Fourth of July was observed on the Air Force base, Ramstein, just north of us. Of course it is just another day in Germany. On base, there were activities during the day and fireworks at night. Because we don't especially enjoy large crowds and waiting in a parking lot afterwards we decided to celebrate in our own way. We found a back road to watch the fireworks from - even though the distance was a little stretch. However, the spirit of the matter is that we love our nation, the USA, and we are grateful for all those who have fought and do now fight for the cause of freedom. God bless America.

When we went to do our volunteer service on Friday, the 4Th, there was another volunteer there that met us. Her name is Karen and she comes over to work at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center every 6 months or so and works 6 days a week for a month, all day long. She is an awesome unselfish lady as all this she does at her own expense and time. She is a military wife and motivated and understanding with the young warriors that come through. She jokes with the patients and makes them all feel special. We will miss Karen as she leaves this coming Thursday. For our short morning, we worked hard in moving supplies into another room and we felt like we had really accomplished something afterwards when we could see the difference. The WWMC now has a new room and it is much nicer. It was a great thing to do on the 4Th! As we walked into the building however, we went through the Emergency Room entrance. There were quite a few wounded soldiers being wheeled down the hall flat on their backs on hospital gurneys. Our hearts go out to them. Thank you for your service guys!

This past week we have had really warm weather. One day it was about 88 degrees, although feeling warmer with the humidity. Then the other days have been cooler. Today the high will be in the low 70s. On the whole this is a great season! We confess to be weather watchers. First, because one of us is a pilot and a farmer and that is what pilots and farmers do. And secondly, one of us needs to know if it is a "sweater on" or "sweater off" day. That is important!

Things continue to progress on our service project. We still need to get the large metal rolling door on the hanger to work, keys to the restrooms, and congregations committed to coming!

Have a great week! All our love,
Sister and Elder Karn