Sunday, November 30, 2008

The following photos are from the open air Christmas market in Kaiserlautern.

We had another surprise last week in relation to the chaplaincy here. Two months ago, while meeting with a newly installed Army chaplain, Chaplain Butterworth, we were quite impressed with his openess and willingness to assist us. He expressed a desire that we would always be treated fairly. At that meeting he invited Bruce to read a scripture at a Thanksgiving program. We knew nothing else of the "program" and just planned to attend and for Bruce to read the assigned scripture as asked. And we were delighted that Bruce was asked to participate. We expected it to be a small group as it was planned for mid-day. Last Tuesday was the Thanksgiving program. When we arrived we were surprised to find a very large gathering of chaplains and staff and also wounded warriers from the outpatient units at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. A very nice lunch was about to be served! It was a good thing we hadn't eaten. We had a reserved seat at a table near the podium. Needless to say we were very honored to see Bruce's name on the printed program along with several other officer chaplains. There were five different chaplain's names (captain, major, colonel, etc.) on the program, with prayers, readings, speeches, etc. Matter of fact, and we think this was unintentional, but the name of our church was the only religious entity mentioned on the entire printed program. Bruce's name was listed as "Mr. Bruce Karn, Military Rep., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". It was a lovely lunch and program and it was a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people who have devoted their lives to helping others.

Thanksgiving dinners have abounded! We ate our fourth Thanksgiving in quiet at home with turkey and the trimmings. Our first was earlier this month with the missionaries at a zone conference, where about 100 young missionaries and 4 senior couples were fed a fantastic feast. Our second one was last Monday where we cooked all day for a group of 22 people, including 13 young single adults, that came to the Institute Outreach Center for Family Home Evening. A young adult smoked a turkey and others brought other portions. We were in charge of green bean casserole, dressing, gravy, and pumpkin pie. The meal was good but the company was better. One young German adult brought three fellow college students from Morocco. It just happens that three of the young adults were going on a trip to Morocco this weekend. They had much to discuss. And then there was the language exchange where German, Arabic, English, and other tongues were all spoken. One of our American lieutenant female intelligence officers majored in Arabic. It couldn't have been planned better for three nonmembers to attend! And then our third Thanksgiving was the lunch with the chaplains mentioned in the first paragraph. We hope all of you had a wonderful time on your holiday.

This is the time of year when many Weinacht Markt (Christmas Markets) opens up in cities around Germany. These are open air festive market places, usually in town centers, where seasonal goods, drinks and food, are sold. There is also music with live musicians and other activities. Yesterday, Saturday, we walked through two Christmas markets, one in Kaiserslautern and one in Landstuhl. I think we bought a kasebrezel (cheese pretzel), kinder gluwein (nonalcoholic hot grape punch), brotwurst, a set of suspenders for Bruce, a leatherman case, a chocolate cookie, and a large bunch of mistletoe. You can't buy a small bunch of mistletoe. We paid 3 Euro for this bunch that separated into six smaller but still large bunches. It is now hung in every doorway of our apartment. You won't find that in too many missionary apartments!

Fuel prices dropped to a low of 1.10 Euro per liter today. That converts to $5.35 per gallon. Our highest price was $10.00 per gallon earlier this year. And the current exchange rate is $1.26 per 1 Euro. That is the best it has been since we have been here. The European ecomony is very reflective of the US. For the time we are excited for the drop in fuel costs and the increase in the value of the dollar.

Have a good week! We have another big event this next Saturday, Dec. 6th, with the LDS Military Workshop for the Kaiserslautern Stake. Bruce is the chairman of the committee. We hope it will be beneficial for all the families. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Sister and Elder Karn

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, which would you like first - the weather report or the Ag report? We better go with the weather report because the Ag report doesn't have much to talk about these days. The weather report can be summed up in one word - "Scarves". Scarves are big over here and for a reason - they help keep the cold out and the warmth in better than about anything else. Many folks back home don't use scarves too much any more but let me assure you they make a huge difference. It seems like a good scarf that is worn properly doubles the warmth of a coat. The only science I ever heard about scarves was that the Army folks used to say that in cold weather up 70% of heat loss was around the neck and head. The head and neck are like a chimney. Close the chimney and you'll keep the heat in! Trust me - if you come to Germany and the damp cold, a scarf is a must. (I have three - one for each coat. Three pairs of gloves - one for each coat. Three hats, three ear muffs - yep - one for each coat. 'Don't leave home without 'em!) We have also been told that there are some variations on how scarves are worn in some of the countries over here and if you know the different methods you can tell where a person is from. I haven't gotten that far into the science of it yet. I'm just into staying warm.

The heaters in our apartment are like coal stoves. When I grew up we had coal stoves and then a coal furnace and these heaters remind me of those times because there was always a big delay in getting the heat level you wanted. A coal fire takes time to build up to get more heat out of it and is also very slow to cool down when less heat is needed. Every room here has a heater and each has to be adjusted to get the temperature wanted. But when you get it adjusted the temperature outside will change and because the heaters, or really radiators, are not controlled by a thermostat, they need adjusting every time the outside temperature changes and there is quite a delay in achieving the desired temperature. It seems that learning to run those things is more "art" than "science".

One of the other challenges is that we have a large hall that has no radiator in it and that saps some of the heat from the rooms. The outside door comes into that hall and there is quite a draft under the door. The couple that was here last winter told us that they had to keep the room doors closed to the hall in order to keep the rooms warm. So every time you go from one room to another you have to go through the cold hall - an idea not popular with some residents! So we are still trying to slow the draft under the door and learn how to keep the place comfortable.

Speaking about weather - yesterday one weather forecast called for 4-8 inches of snow. It didn't happen! We got a trace but that was all. Yesterday we needed to go to Heidelberg (about 65 miles away)for meetings so we were concerned about the weather but it all turned out fine except for the 0600 departure time - a 0500 rocket out of bed time! Traffic was very light on Sunday morning at that time of day.

Speaking about Sunday - retail stores are closed here on Sunday. Stores close here fairly early on Saturday and are not open Sunday. Small local stores typically close on Saturdays anywhere from noon to two. Most grocery stores close at 6PM on Saturdays and 8PM most days. Virtually all stores except gas stations are closed on Sundays. Even the IKEA and other huge retail stores are closed here on Sundays. The Germans consider Sunday a family day. Good idea!

Friday we had a nice surprise. Last Friday the folks at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center where we volunteer told us that they we going to take us to lunch the next time we were there. We didn't think much of it but who is going to turn down a free lunch? So when we finished our volunteer work on Friday the staff gathered and told us to meet them at the Schloss Hotel for lunch. The Schloss (called that because it is near the schloss, or castle) is a very nice place and has great food. So we met them there and it turned out that they gave us a certificate of appreciation and unit coins for our volunteer work. Also, they gave Pam a large bouquet of fresh flowers. They said they have a large number of volunteers but only a few are reliable and work hard. Had they given us these things when we were leaving it would have seemed normal but to present them to us midstream is quite something. They kept saying that we make a huge difference. (We are often the ones who work out in the cold area sorting and preparing things while the others stay warm inside where they are seen by the VIPs that pass through.) Sweet Pam had a salad but I had the Jager Schnitzel! Oh yeah!! Jager is "hunter" and supposedly jager schnitzel comes from hunters who were out hunting and made sauce for the schnitzel from things available in the woods. So jager schnitzel has mushrooms and a great sauce - I love it! So Friday was great free food and a pat on the back - cool!

Returning to the topic of weather - except for the folks that have medical conditions that make them cold I don't understand why anyone chooses to be cold. I say "chooses" because there are clothes that can keep just about any body warm. The problem is for most is that choose to make a fashion statement over being comfortable. Did we tell you about the fellow here (a member of the church) that goes to Hungary and takes clothes to the folks there that don't have much. He was telling us that there are folks there that make about 400 Euro (approx $500) a month and their rent is almost that much. So he gathers clothes and small items to take to them to help them out. So we went through our closets and took the items we don't wear and yet are good and sent them to him to give to them. Besides, at the thrift stores (on base used items stores) we find some unbelievable deals. Pam sometimes finds brand new (with price tag attached)Liz Claiborne items for two or three dollars. So we can afford to share some that don't fit perfectly or don't turn out to be needed. It felt really good to help some folks that need our excess stuff! Hopefully they will have enough to stay warm!

Well, that's the news from "Karn woe be gone", where the Pam is always pretty and we are always on the move!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Elder & Sister Karn

Here are the two coins they gave us (made in Ogden,Utah, would you believe?). This way you can see both sides of the coin and the size compared to a ballpoint pen. They are heavy and very nice. Also below is the certificate with a bird's eye view of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on the left. The flowers are behind the certificate. We are still surprised!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

English is a Germanic language and there are quite a few similarities, like the days of the week, months, numbers, etc. There are differences also. One of the differences is the way the Germans stack their words together. For instance, the number 4678 is four thousand six hundred seventy eight but in German the word for 4678 is viertausendsechshundertachtundsiebzig. Translated directly that is four thousand six hundred eight and seventy. English is probably a harder language to learn for a non-English speaker than German, because of so many inconsistencies and different pronunciations for the same spelling or groups of vowels (cough and bough). Yet, German is a hard language to learn and pronounce even though there are more consistent rules for pronunciation. Our German teachers, the young missionary elders, have told us that even some Germans do not speak correct German because it is just too hard. Whew, it isn't just us!

We learned a lot about local German history on Friday evening as we took a tour with the young single adults to Homburg. This was a "Off to America with the Night Watchman" organized tour sponsored by the town of Homburg, which is located about 30 minutes to the south west from us. In 1781 the German-French infantry regiment known as "Royal Deux-Ponts" (2 bridges - or Zweibrucken, a nearby town)were recruited to be a part of the American Revolutionary War. We had a history lesson, ate some food particular to the times (Cod and potatoes and dark bread), and then toured the old city in the evening guided by the light of a night watchman dressed in period costume of the French army who also carried an authentic flint-lock musket from the 18th century. We were also escorted by two German-French soldiers in period costumes. The French and German troops played a decisive part in the battle of Yorktown. We were fascinated by the history and how the French Revolution followed suit after the troops returned home. We had a fun and interesting time. Fortunately it was a relatively warm evening if we dressed well.

This looks like a great week ahead as we have two volunteer chefs among the young single adult student council presidency that will be cooking the meals for Monday and Wednesday evenings. This is a great help to us. All we have to take care of is dessert and making homemade pizza for Movie and Pizza Night this coming Friday. Today we had a student council meeting and the month of December is all planned for activities, etc. We admire their never-ending creativity and energy. It is great to be with them.

We hope you all will have a great Thanksgiving, especially with friends and family. We hope you will pause to remember those who are away from home and family who are sacrificing so that all of us can enjoy the blessings of freedom.

We are thankful for you.
Elder & Sister Karn

Saturday, November 1, 2008

La Creperie - real French crepes on P-Day in Neustadt - now known for the best crepes.

Train station at Neustadt - great adventure finding our way here with train changes.

This is a one-seater electric car. We had not seen one of these before.

Another day we took a walk in the hills and walked by a ripening field of rapeseed. This matures both spring and fall.

The group from the Mystery Train Tour.