Monday, December 22, 2008

This is a broken chocolate Santa that crashed off the mold machine as we watched. What a waste!

There is something panicky about chocolate coming at you on a conveyer belt!

This is what the broken Santa would have looked like as a finished product - about 24 inches tall.

This is a chocolate fountain with guilded cocoa bean pods on a tree. They gave us free samples of dipped cookies.

These are the molds that little Lindt milk chocolate bars came out of. We watched the process from beginning to end.

One of 6 Christmas markets in Cologne.

A ceiling view of the flying buttresses in the Cologne cathedral - one of the largest cathedrals in the world.

Another church in Cologne.

Most of Cologne was destroyed in WWII, except for the large cathedral and some of these old row houses.

This is the grand cathedral.

Bruce had the fun opportunity to dress up as Santa's helper for a party. He plays it well.

Merry Christmas or Frohe Weinacht from Germany!

Winter has arrived but it has been hard to tell here in Germany. The weather was actually a little colder last week than it has been the last couple of days. I would tell you about how low the sun is this time of year but we rarely see it so I'm not sure where it is. Are you folks keeping the sun in your area and not sharing it with us????

One of the Young Single Adults was home in the states recently and came back just last Friday. When the plane he was in was high overhead he was in the sunshine and was thinking that it would be sunny here. He said it was sunny just minutes before they landed but during the last few minutes he lost sight of the ground and landed under the cloudy sky. The good news was he was pretty sure they were landing at the right place because the clouds looked familiar. We did actually see some blue sky the other day through a a small hole in the clouds so we think it is still up there.

On Saturday we went on another USO tour for our P-day activity. Christmas markets are a big, big deal over here so we thought we would go on this tour and see Kohl(Cologne). The weather was not too cold but boy, was it wet. It rained the entire time we were there. Pam was pretty wet by the end of the day. We visited a huge cathedral and the markets. By the way, the markets are all outdoors. I have never been much of a mall fan but after a few hours in the 45 degree rain I can see where there are some advantages.

The big danger in the Christmas markets was possible umbrella injuries. At times the crowds were like going through the mall but everyone has an umbrella and some carry them high, some carry them low, and some folks tip them and about take your eye out with those little pointed frame ends. There were a couple of times when I thought I would get one in the eye. But the Germans are fun folks to go out and spend the day shopping in the rain. They stop and have food and drinks out in the rain and are happy as they can be. A little foul weather doesn't stop them. They are all weather people!

We also went to the chocolate museum in Kohl. They had an area where they were making chocolate for bars and for hollow Santas and other hollow treats. The entire process was there to be viewed. I now know how they make those hollow chocolate candies for Christmas, Easter, etc. One of life's important mysteries solved! I also saw one of them fall while it was still being cooled and the folks hurried right over and cleaned that up. It hadn't been on the floor that long - I would have cleaned it up but they had that area closed off to tourists. Besides, it didn't show the right image - a broken Santa on the floor. It was a good tour and it was interesting. There is no doubt we live in the right time. Until not long ago only the wealthy had chocolate and even then they normally only drank it and it was bitter. What a marvelous age we live in - sweet chocolate and we can get it in bars, kisses, candy coated, dipped, on crackers, with carmel, with nuts, etc, etc! Life is good!

The big surprise of the trip came on the bus ride to the markets. We started early and so the bus made a "breakfast" stop at a rest stop along the autobahn. By the way - it was sparkling clean! And the one we stopped at on the way back was just as clean even though it had a BK in it. (BK = Burger King) When we got back on the bus in the morning after our stop the USO tour guide said she had an announcement to make. She said that last year the USO refunded the cost of the trip to the folks that went on that tour and that they were doing it again this year. The USO picked two tours to refund the money on and the one we were on was one of them. She then started passing out checks. That was a Santa Claus act that will be tough to follow. So the trip there ended up costing us nothing. How about that! If you hang around with lucky/fortunate people like Pam some times it rubs off. I always thought the sun shined on her all the time but I just haven't seen the sun much of the time but she still has good fortune!

We are getting ready for Christmas - well we don't have as much to get ready as we normally would. Tonight the Young Single Adults, missionaries, and a few others are going Christmas caroling. Following the caroling there will be hot chocolate and pancakes. (There is syrup for the pancakes not the hot chocolate.) Christmas Eve we will have a big Christmas dinner for the Young Single Adults and we will be watching Christmas movies. Then Christmas Day we will be open in case some of them end up not having a place to go. After about 3PM our time we will wrap up there and come back to our apartment and make phone calls to family! So check your caller ID because it may be us!

Love to all and may the spirit of Christ be the center of your Christmas.

Elder & Sister Karn