Sunday, September 28, 2008

This beautifully restored antique tractor was German made from the late 1930s or 1940s, 3 speed forward and 1 reverse with high-low range making 6 forward and two reverse gears. It was on rubber tires but was probably originally on steel. It has a good wide seat that two people can go on. It was probably a 2-cylinder as it sat there idling slowly and popping and vibrating (and mesmerizing Elder Karn).

Pumpkin Fest and Farmers Market in Hitscherhof.

A bed (planted in grass) with 2 huge (like 3 foot long) zucchini - a funny site.

Those delicious grapes that are ripening everywhere!

We were referred to this week as "pastors of their church and they run their own church". This is how we were introduced at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center by the departing senior chief. That's okay. I think they like us anyway.

We still volunteer every Friday morning at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center WWMC closet where donated goods are given to patients that have been "down range". We are always amazed at the sacrifices so many give. We love them.

Our Young Single Adults program has just rocketed! We have a new Student Council President and she is a fireball. So far we have activities planned for the whole month of October to include 2 movie/game nights (one where we were told to wear stretchy pants!) including a lasagna cook off, 2 potluck dinners with General Conference live broadcasts on Sat. and Sun., a fireside, a Mystery Train Tour, a pumpkin carving activity, and a Halloween Costume Party. Hold onto your hats! She is one of those people that shouldn't eat sugar! But we are excited.

The past 3 days have been sunny and blue skied and in the 60's. We would just like to package those 3 days and pack them away for the gloomy days ahead. There is nothing like opposition to make one appreciate the good. 'Absolutely perfect weather! Yesterday we went to a farmer's market and pumpkin fest in a nearby village. There was even an antique tractor there! We ate pumpkin soup, and flammkuchen and bought freshly bottled alcohol free grape juice, a hard thing to find in this wine county. And it tastes good!

So we have some busy days ahead with the YSA. They are growing on us and we enjoy them so much. They are starting to ask us questions - probably because they are wondering where these two came from! But, if our assignment is to have fun with them that is a very easy job. If we can keep up and stay well that would be super. Right now we are fighting colds. How can one get a cold in such good weather?

May you have just enough cloudy days to appreciate the sunny ones.
Elder and Sister Karn

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some shots from the high ropes course activity with the young single adults yesterday.

The blue hats are ours.

A summary of the week will make you dizzy but here goes: Sunday - regular set of meetings and then evening fireside at the Institute and potluck dinner; Monday - shop for groceries and prepare a large dinner and dessert for the evening and then have Family Home Evening at the Institute; Tuesday - pay our local customs taxes and attend the Institute; Wednesday - morning district meeting, prepare dinner, German class and Institute class at the Institute; Thursday - a "P" Day for preparation and relaxation; Friday - all day conference in Heidelberg for senior missionary Institute couples; Saturday - afternoon activity at a high ropes course and a baptism of a young single adult investigator in the evening. And it's here we go again this week but a little slower. Our schedule mostly revolves around working at the Ramstein Institute Outreach Center with the young single adults (ages 18-30) in our area. We have many more to find but the attendance is improving.

Our average attendance on Monday evenings is 8 which is up from 1 or 2 when we started in April. And yesterday at the high ropes course we had 9 attending. Everyone had such a great time. It took a lot out of the Institute budget but it was well worth it. We can only do those kinds of activities every now and then. That one was a super idea. There are a few photos for your perusal. This coming month we will have 2 young adults leave for missions, 1 get married, and 1 has just left for permanent station change to Alaska, etc. We have a new president of the student council that is a fun "live wire" so we are very excited about that.

Our activity at the high ropes course was a little daunting for those afraid of heights. Who me? We took photos from down below. Elder Karn would have loved to be up there swinging too. But since I retired from my high wire act in the circus I haven't had much need to get back up there. The thrill is gone.

The baptism of Joshua McCormick went well. He is a security policeman with the Air Force and has been looking into the church for several months. He has not had much happiness in his life. He seems to be more content now to have found some answers to his questions. It is great now that he can be in the company of his peers who are not out "partying" and drinking in their spare time.

Baptism of Josh McCormick yesterday. He is the taller one in white. Brother Tarin from the ward (the other one in white) performed the baptism although much shorter. Josh just fell backwards and fortunately didn't hit his head. So they got the job done the first time. The Elders are from left Elder Reynolds from Provo, Utah (a center for BYU football, his dad is assistant coach), and Elder Moulding from Ogden, Utah.

Today is our 11 month mark and it seems that we just turn around and another whole month has passed. We are looking for activities coming up with the cold weather such as movie nights at the Institute now will be twice monthly and we hope to sponsor a stake wide young single adult conference and dance. Activities will follow the sequence of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are really the only family here for a few in the military. And they are also our family over here. Being with them really makes you feel younger.

The heat is turned on! Some couples were saying that the heat has not been turned on in their apartments by their landlords. I am so glad to have heat. We have had it from day 1 as the control is in our apartment. We have 40 degree nights and mornings so I am one lucky girl to have warmth when others have to wait for a landlord to decide when it is cold enough. It's a blessing.

This past week there was a welfare bazaar held by the military spouses association at Ramstein Air Base. They used 2 huge airplane hangers and a large part of a paved area. The vendors (131 of them) were from many countries around the world. The wares and displays were amazing and one could purchase some amazing items. The only problem was the prices were out of this world. We suppose that there was an entry fee, shipping costs, set up costs, besides travel and perhaps an import tax. People were leaving with purchases but the prices were unbelievable! It was a great place to shop if you had money to burn. And as retirees, we would have had to pay another 13% customs tax if we had purchased anything. If anyone tells you everything is expensive in Europe, you might want to believe that. Window shopping can be fun and we went home with a few coins in pocket!

From pennies in our pockets,
Sister & Elder Karn

Monday, September 15, 2008

We have had rain and cool weather. Some of the trees have started dropping some of their leaves but we haven't seen any turn bright colors yet. We are hoping for a colorful Fall but it may not happen. I guess New England and upstate New York are the places to go for colorful Fall pictures.

So there is the weather report and next comes the "Ag Report". Fall wheat and winter rye are planted and up and the fields look great. Most of the hay fields around here are grass and not the alfalfa we are used to at home but they sure look good. Some have a nice Fall growth that is up about eight inches. 'Makes me want to turn cattle into the fields and graze them off one more time. And many hay fields have big round bales still in them that need to be picked up. Every couple of days we see a tractor rolling down the road with some load. The other day we saw a tractor with a huge wagon that had about twenty five large bales of hay on it. Fall is a wonderful time of year!

Our work continues to be sweet and quite time and energy consuming. Some times other missionaries ask, "What is it that you do?" or "What do you do when you are not at the Institute Outreach Center?" Like just about every other thing that happens in life, if you don't know what it takes to make it happen or put it together you think that some how things just appear all ready to go. Things do appear and just happen after a great deal of work!!

There are the times the IOC is open and we are there and there are many meetings that we attend but what most people don't know is that we also wear a lot of other hats. Sister Karn is what our British friend calls "the galley slave". She does a tremendous amount of cooking. It's like having company come three to four times per week and at each gathering you don't know how many will be coming but you prepare for any number and any number of tastes. And for just about every one of these gatherings she makes dinner and a dessert.

With that said let me tell you that that isn't the full story either. Before the cooking starts there is the shopping and and planning that have been done. We are also the janitors and cleaners for the IOC. The IOC being right next to a bar makes a bunch of trash outside of our door that is left behind and because we don't want a messy place out in front we also clean that on a regular basis. Just about every gathering requires us to make some rearrangements in the furniture and the tables for eating or classes. Then there is the money tracking and the attendance rolls and the world of paperwork to keep up on. It all happens smooth and easy because of the work that happens behind the scenes! It is so worth it!

Now I am going to return to a familiar old song. I know some may feel that I am beating this one to death but there just aren't enough voices speaking this theme any more. I can't begin to tell you of the debt that we owe to the military members and their families. Everyone should know we owe our freedom to those who have gone before us and many paid a huge price that others can not even fathom. To many it is all an academic study in school and then it is forgotten. Our society is becoming more and more of a society that never has to make many sacrifices. We consider having to wait to have a new Ipod a sacrifice. When we have never felt the hardship of separation and felt the risk of loss of life we just can't imagine what it really feels like. And it worries me that few in our society or government have ever served in the military much less felt the pain of lost friends.

Today's military members are doing deployment after deployment and taking the beating for all of us. Until every heart has the courage to stand up and say, "I'll do my share" I think the service members and their families should stand at the front of the line and receive the very best care. In the Vietnam era and prior, there was a draft and the burden of combat was spread over a greater portion of our population. I don't know what is right but my concern is that more and more of our population is uninvolved and apathetic towards freedom, it's cost and those that bear the burden. Our mission to work among the military couldn't be a sweeter one for me. It is an honor to hold the coat of those who carry the burden today. God bless our military men and women and their families!!

With love,
Elder & Sister Karn

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Elder Kimball, from Texas, teaching our Conversational German class, held at the Institute every Wednesday at 6 pm. Elder Kimball, our zone leader, was just transferred.

After we fixed the Elders a Mexican lunch, they sang us a hymn to show gratitude. There are some very good voices here - all parts.

Brother John Troke, a retired British Bobby, is our Institute instructor. The class is every Wednesday at 7:30 pm.

This is our district; 6 Elders, and 2 Senior Couples. We have district meeting also every Wednesday.

The Middle Eastern meal we fixed to start off the New Testament Institute course last Wednesday; fish cakes, lentils, flat bread, grapes, tangerines, almonds, date cakes, hommus, olives, grape juice . . .

'Another one one of those weeks when you just keep swinging because the pitches are coming so fast that there is no time to do anything else. Monday we were at a family's home for a Labor Day BBQ with the Young Single Adults. The food was great and then the Young Single Adults did some canoeing on a small lake near the home. The weather was pretty normal for Germany this time of year - it is cloudy and rains and then you might see a few minutes of sun and then we start the cycle all over. Tuesday was a reasonable pace day but then Wednesday came along.

On Wednesday morning we left early for District Meeting with the young missionaries. We had told them that we would bring them lunch. It was a high risk operation because I, Elder Karn, told Pam not to worry about this one and that I would do the cooking. I normally don't use recipes or cookbooks- I just start and put things together. It was a Mexican lunch. They ate it up and then we downed a half gallon of ice cream. (The half gallon was between ten of us not per person - I wasn't going to give them that much!!)

Then Wednesday night Sister Karn did a high speed dinner for the start of the Institute year. We will be studying the New Testament so she made it a "Middle Eastern" dinner. She had worked on it a couple of days and it was a huge success.
Everyone enjoyed the food and the lesson. And the refreshments after the meeting were frosted brownies and that topped the meeting off.

Then we finished the week by working at the hospital on Friday morning and then on Saturday and Sunday were Stake Conference. It was one fast passed week but it was great.

One other side not is that we are in one fantastic district. There are three sets of young missionaries in our district and they are super. They have some of the best meetings and are the most fun to be around. Hopefully they are still our friends after the Mexican dinner!

The WX report ....... It has continued to cool off here and the days are getting shorter. Today we topped out at about 62 degrees and the nights are just above the 50 degree mark. The clouds are often pretty dark and Fall-looking and drop some rain. We may have some more days of "Summer" but I am not sure how many there will be.

We still love home and look forward to seeing all of you in a few short months. Our love to all of you.

Elder & Sister Karn