Gentz's musings through walks in Rostock

Feb. 15, 2018

I feel like Billy Keene when he would periodically take over the responsibility for the Family Circus cartoon for his father ,Bill Keene. Jeri has commissioned me to do the weekly communication/blog for this week so here goes.

I was taking my morning walk this week and taking pictures like I do sometimes which caused me to consider how amazing my experiences are here. It was a clear day and the cooling tower in Warne Münde was putting out a great plume. The cool thing about that particular tower is that it is part of a plant that creates power and a centralized heat that is pumped all over town.They call it Fernwärme or distant warmth. It is a hold over from the East  German times. It is in harmony with the whole idea of collectivism.(workers of the world unite!) Central heat created in one place and distributed throughout the city. There are places that have their own heating systems but many of the apartment buildings are heated with the central heat. Ours is for example.There is no furnace . So no worries about carbon monoxide poisoning or the furnace breaking down.Of course you have no control over when the heat comes on (October as I remember). We really weren’t cold though since the temperatures here are moderated by the Baltic Sea.There are these huge pipes running all over town bringing heat to our little world here. So isn’t that kind of amazing?

And while I”m on the idea of hold overs from the GDR(East Germany) times it is interesting to hear the comments from the people in and outside the church about those times.”It wasn’t all bad”.That is to say that there were things they missed like people caring about each other, working together,helping each other, free education, cheap housing, free childcare.They said the greatest downside was just not being able to travel to the West.They could go East if they had the money . Of course the other downside was the State Security (lovingly called the Stasi).The Stasi had the art of control and intimidation down to an art.If you wanted to get along in the GDR you had to cooperate with the Stasi which meant keeping an eye on your neighbors and reporting anything that could be considered to be a threat to the GDR. Every LDS congregation had a member who had to report on the leader of the congregation(Branch President) and probably anyone one else in the congregation that the Stasi was worried about. But really most people didn’t have problems with the Stasi and that is why the people in general weren’t concerned with the Stasi. I could go on about this situation all day but I won’t because Jeri would delete it.

So okay back to my walk. We had ice in the harbor that day. The weather here as I said is moderated by the Baltic(which they actually call the Ostsee or East Sea) but it has been cold so it was iced up.That will not last long though . I have been enjoying the colder weather ,Teens and 20’s . We did go to the Baltic a couple of days ago when it was cold and we saw these paddle boarders out in it and all of the people walking on the beach.They are just plain hardy folks up here. I mean the weather is fairly mild but there is almost constant wind especially on the Baltic and it is always damp which makes even moderate weather chilly,none the less they paddle board ,walk the beach, ride their bicycles with no gloves and sometimes no hats and are just generally always out in it.

I  like the harbor which leads to the mouth of the Warnow River as it empties into the Baltic. There is a real beauty to it. There are large research ships ,all the private boats and the larger sailboats. It is just all very picturesque. There is a circus set up along the river right now. As I was walking I noticed a small pony from the circus had gotten loose and was being chased by one of the workers.There was also an outside pen where the circus yaks were hanging out.I wasn’t sure what circus yaks do but I’m pretty sure what ever they want as long as it is in a herd. I dont think I would want to try to train a yak. Anyway I thought  how this just adds to the experience here. (A dear friend of mine, Richard Mudd, who really knows his animals emailed me back and kindly told me these are Scottish Highland Cows not yaks...he is RIGHT!)

Then I happened upon a seagull eating a piece of frozen roll.I noticed two ravens kind of hanging close.This was a big gull so the ravens were being cautious. I thought I would help them so I just walked close to the seagull and he flew off. It is interesting that the ravens were less afraid of me than the seagull .They jumped on the roll as soon as the seagull was gone and paid me little attention. When I came back the seagull was back and the two ravens were still there just waiting. Now I have to say that seagulls and ravens have a pariah status, but the gulls are more hated because they can become very aggressive when it comes to food.You can be fined for feeding them as i learned after feeding them a bag of bread one day. (I didn't get fined). They are fun to watch catching the bread in the air .They do get pretty nasty and will steal food out of humans' hands if they get the chance.The ravens are just a little more intelligent about the whole process but they can be just as unpleasant. I watched one day as a raven attacked a blackbird ,disabled it and then flew off with it. It was not pleasant but I guess it is a part of nature. So the ravens are smart and the gulls can fly beautifully. I guess those things redeem them to some degree. In the end they are God’s creatures and fulfill a role. They are probably no worse than some human beings and maybe better since we are supposed to be rational but don't always live up to that distinction.

I really love to walk in the old part of Rostock. Rostock means mouth of the river in some slavic language. Many of the towns have slavic names and end in OW . In German the OW is usually pronounced like we would say OV. But the Germans didn’t want to be considered to be too slavic so they dropped the OV sound and just left it a long o sound.The Warnow River is pronounced Varno . So that had nothing to do with the old town. I loved it because the streets are all curvy and some of the buildings are very old. Rostock was heavily bombed during WW2. I think it was the Americans too. Sorry Rostock but there was a Henkles bomber factory here. Anyway some of the old buildings survived but many did not so they have rebuilt much in the original style. Pretty cool. I really appreciate how they love and preserve their historical stuff. This is something we have very little of in the US. I’m not knocking the US,land that I love, just stating fact. Germany has been around a lot longer .

One of the several old beautiful churches still in good working order here in Rostock.

The bottom line is it is cool to live here.It is a great place to visit or to live for a while. I suppose I am too much an American to want to stay for ever but what it has offered me is simply outstanding. Upon our return I will be glad to regale all who dare to get me started about the details of our experience. Jeri has about 10,000 pictures on her phone so we could do a pretty scary slide show too. Hope your week was as good as ours.

"Behold are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?" (Mormon 9:16)

Jakob Walstead Franz

January 2018

“Your baby has a tumor lodged in his brain that is the size of a golf ball”. What!?? I thought he just had a bad case of the flu! We stood there in disbelief until the doctor showed us the proof ourselves on the CT Scan. That was in February 1982.

On July 10, 1981, our second son Jakob was born, 20 months after his brother Gentzy. It was a hot July in central Illinois and I was anxious for this baby, now ten days overdue to make his entrance. We were just finishing up our job as head residents at MacMurray College and would be heading to Westville, a small town three hours to the East where Gentz, who had just graduated from Illinois College, would be teaching third grade. The long awaited day finally came, and we readied ourselves to go to the hospital to have Jakob. Gentz gave me a priesthood blessing as he had before Gentzy’s birth and one of the things he said was, “Remember your temple covenants which will make this baby so special.” I gave no more thought to that….I just wanted to see this baby! A few difficult hours later,  our precious little son was born. He weighed in at 8 pounds plus a few ounces and had the cutest fuzziest blonde hair and fat cheeks. I was in love!!

He was such a good quiet baby. He stayed very still in his  baby seat while we cleaned out our apartment in the dorm at the college and packed up things for our move. We moved into a small apartment on the edge of Westville, a town of around 3000 located near Danville. My mother, feeling we needed a house for our growing family, helped us purchase a home on a nice corner on a quiet street with a good sized yard and shade trees. We settled in. Life was good. Gentz could walk down the street to the grade school where he taught and I was at home with my two babies, very content. Little did we know the trials that awaited our little family. Gentzy, who was always very active, kept us busy and laughing and he loved his younger brother, calling him “baby chicken” since he couldn’t say Jakob. We had a lot of visitors…our family visited, girls from our college where we had formed many friendships visited. Winter came and we realized that this house had little or no insulation and as luck would have it, it was a very cold winter. So we dressed warmly, bought a kerosene heater for our living room and draped the windows as much as we could to stay warm.

In February of 1982, Jakob began experiencing problems. He started throwing up. At first I attributed this to a stomach virus, but there was no fever. After a period of a few days, we took him to the doctor, expecting that he would need an antibiotic or something. The news we received was anything but that. The doctor, concerned about the size of his head in relation to his body, did a CT Scan. Back to when we stood there in disbelief.  We didn’t even have time to think. Jakob was taken by ambulance to Champaign, about 40 minutes away and seen by a neurosurgeon. The next few hours were a blur. Parents were called to help with Gentzy and to receive the news. Our ecclesiastical leader, President Larson was called and asked to come administer a blessing to Jakob before surgery, and Gentz and I just tried to wrap our minds around all of this. Calls were made, blessing of strength was given and I was alone with my baby before surgery. As they wheeled him off, the last sound I heard him make on this earth was Ba Ba Ba Ba…he must have been hungry. I felt as if my heart was going to break. How was I ever going to be able to stand this?

But, when one in is in these situations, what choice do you have? Stand it you do, minute by minute, step by awful step. We spent the many hours during surgery in the chapel of the hospital most of the time praying  that God would guide the surgeon’s hand as our stake president had said in his blessing. My sister Julie who lived nearby came to be with us for support. Gentz’s parents were tending Gentzy and my parents lived far away in Minnesota.  When Dr. Belber, the neurosurgeon came out and told us the tumor had been removed and that it was a “hero surgery”  we were so grateful and felt the worst was behind us. He warned us that there could still be problems but I couldn’t see what problems there could be! That awful tumor was gone. Our baby was still alive! When we saw Jakob, his little head and face were so swollen and there was no movement. My heart plummeted. Surely, this will get better I thought and prayed that it would. It didn’t. We were in the hospital with him until Easter in April. I sat with him every day, holding him as good friends and family took care of Gentzy. I would sing to him a Primary song I hold dear to this day, “My Heavenly Father loves me”. I would sing it to him, look out the hospital window and dream of the day when this little tow haired son of mine would walk and play with other children and all would be right again in our world. I was convinced that would happen. If I just prayed hard enough. If I just had enough faith, he could be healed. That is the direction my mind and my life took from that time on. Once his pediatrician told me that Jakob “had no brain left”….I ignored him.Don’t take away my hope I wanted to scream at him! What right have you to take away my hope?  And so I prayed, and watched and waited and studied what I could do to help regenerate brain cells. And I sang to and loved my Jakob lying ever so still in my lap. 

During this time, all was not so well at home. Gentz had said when we were first married that the worst thing he could imagine was to lose a child and/or to lose his job. It looked as if both things were happening within the space of a year. The teachers at Gentz’s school had gone on strike in the Fall and much against  his good judgement, he joined with them, not wanting to turn his back on his friends at school. This strike lasted three weeks which we could ill afford as his salary was only $10,000 a year anyway. People in the community were very kind to us once the word of Jakob’s illness got around and we received money in the mail and at our doorstep…just a few of the tender mercies that God sent to us during this time. Eventually it became clear that Gentz was not going to be rehired in the Fall as he had been hired, unbeknownst to us, to just fill in for a maternity leave. So, the summer of 1982 found us with a house, a very sick baby and no job in the future. Gentz’s worst fears were realized. 

We made the decision to return to our beloved Jacksonville where we had family members and knew the community well. Gentz got a job and I stayed behind to get the house ready to sell with our two babies. My friend Jacquie came over to help me pack and as I sat there surrounded by boxes, active little Gentzy and sick little Jakob I realized I couldn’t do this without Gentz. So, I left the house to be sold on its own and moved into Gentz’s parents’ home until our house sold. We were there a couple of months which was hard. How I longed for our own place! Gentz’s parent were so very dear but it just wasn’t like being in one’s own home of course. But at least we were together and that was all I wanted. 

I was of course still determined that this baby of ours was going  to get well and studied about “brain patterning”, doing exercises to help the brain regenerate brain cells. There was a doctor in Chicago who specialized in this and so I made an appointment. That was in November. Finally one evening that month while sitting in a women's meeting at church, they read the scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord  with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." I sat straight up in my chair; I had been so busy determining that I was going to do whatever it took to get this baby well, the thought had never crossed my mind, that possibly, just possibly, Jakob wasn't going to have to live this earth life. Maybe the plan for him was to come to earth, get a body, experience his parents' love for a time and then return to the arms of a loving Father in Heaven. Trust Jesus!! Trust him with your baby…he loves him more than you do!

From that point on, I was able to surrender just a little bit more and became willing to accept God's will in this matter with our baby. The appointment with the patterning doctor in Chicago never happened as Jakob had gotten sick. Then, just a few months later in February, dear Jakob went to the hospital for the last time.He seemed to be in pain and I called Gentz to tell him I was taking him in but this time something seemed different from all the other times we had rushed him to the hospital. It was as if he were far far away. I told Gentz on the phone, “I think he is dying.”  I took Gentzy to Gramma and Grampa Franz and went to the hospital to perform my ever so familiar vigil of sitting, waiting, holding Jakob and singing. After Gentz got off work, he took my place in the rocking chair and I picked up Gentzy. We had made Valentine’s cookies as it was the 14th to deliver to our various neighbors and church members. As I ran in and out of the car up to people’s doors, Gentzy just seemed to get weaker and weaker and finally wouldn’t get out of the car anymore but laid down in the back seat. In retrospect I think he intuitively knew that Jakob was dying. 

That next morning about 5 a.m.we received the call that he had died. Off to the hospital once more for the final time and we were met at the door of his room by a nurse who said to us kindly, “You know he is gone?” I thought…gone? Where has he gone to?? You mean he has died? Let’s use the proper terms here! Just let me in there to see him.  We cradled our dear sweet boy for the last time but not for long enough. Soon, the nurse returned and said that the undertaker was here ready to take his body. I’m not ready, I wanted to cry out. Leave me alone. Let me hold him. Let me sing to him. Let me just sit here for as long as I want!! But instead, not wanting to upset anyone’s “schedule” we wrapped him in his blanket and walked the long walk to where they were waiting to take him. As we passed the nurses in their various stations, they all stopped chatting with one another and looked at us. I am sure we were a pathetic, sad sight. Two young bewildered parents, carrying their beloved son for the last time. 

Did I grieve even though I knew that Jakob was finally at peace with no more pain  and that we would see him again in the next life? Yes, of course I did. We had been married in the temple for time and all of eternity and our children would be ours forever as long as we lived faithfully. Trust Jesus. But oh,how I was going to miss this darling boy! But yet, I knew that he was now free from grief and pain that had wracked his tiny body for the last year of his life. As we dealt with the arrangements the next few days, I had the strongest feeling of comfort and peace. I was surrounded as if by a warm cuddly blanket. I just kept thinking, "trust in the Lord and lean not unto thine own understanding." When I walked into the funeral home to dress him in the sweet little white outfit his Aunt Katrina had made for him complete with his initials embroidered on it, I saw his body and knew that his spirit had left but lived on. Trust Jesus. 

Jakob's spirit was not inhabiting his body anymore but he was still very much alive. We will see him again. We will see all those we love in this life again...they have just gone ahead. I held this so close to my heart during those hours and days ahead and I also remembered the words of Gentz’s blessing when I went into the hospital to have Jakob…”Remember the temple covenants you have made which make this baby so special.” Of course! Those temple covenants are that we are together forever as a family, that our children, each precious one, is sealed to us for time and all eternity. Oh what peace that brought to my grieving mother’s heart!

Many people came…from Westville, from Jacksonville and surrounding areas to pay their respects. The visitation was long and tiring and is nothing but a blur. One of our dear friends Jerry Hymen from Springfield who had lost a child himself came and sat nearby the whole time. 

At the funeral, one of my dear friends sang the Primary song that I always sang to him in the hospital, but she couldn’t make it through, so another friend from church in Springfield with a beautiful voice stood up and sang with her. How grateful I was to her for that because i so wanted to hear that song as I was saying my formal farewell to my little Jakob. Our dear Stake president spoke at the funeral of Jakob being a “brave little warrior” who came to experience love and to experience pain and then return home to his Father in Heaven. Our bishop spoke as well and referred to the scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 42, verse 45: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.” God understood! He understood my pain and that we would grieve..we lOVE our family members, we weep when they die even though we know that we will see them again! As our newly ordained prophet, Russel M. Nelson has stated: 
"Our limited perspective would be enlarged if we could witness the reunion on the other side of the veil, when doors of death open to those returning home...We need not look upon death as an enemy..To us and to you, our loved ones may be just as close as the next room-separated only by the doors of death." (Ensign, May 1992)

And so, even with this eternal perspective, we wept. At the cemetery, his little white casket was set near where he would be buried in “Baby Land”. As people quietly and reverently left to go to their cars, I was encouraged to leave as well by my parents. NO I wanted to shout! You go back to the house! You take care of all of the people there! Leave me here with Gentz and Gentzy and Jakob! I don’t want my family separated yet! I’M NOT READY FOR THIS!! But, submissively, again, not wanting to interfere with “schedules and plans” I left, turning around and looking out the back window as his casket got smaller and smaller and I moved further and further away from my baby. Trust Jesus. 

As I look back over the last 36 years I think of my family who has gone on ahead into that spiritual realm since then.... Gentz’s sister Gretchen, mother, my father, my dear sister Becki, and my  inlaws whom I love with all my heart as if they were my own parents. I look forward to that glorious reunion with them....a reunion made possible by a loving Father in Heaven who sent His son to die for us that we might all have eternal life and live forever. This is worth striving for to move forward with hope and gladness and joy in spite of temporary separations. For this I am grateful! This I know. Earth life is a temporary dwelling place for us....We will all leave this existence and enter a far greater one. And we will be with those we love. I will see my baby Jakob, my brave little warrior again! How grateful I am for that. Trust Jesus...keep trusting Jesus. 


Gentz's perspective

January 11, 2018

This one is coming from Gentz as Jeri suggested that I should give you my perspective for a change. I recently wrote my old MTC companion from 40 years ago on my first mission on our progress on our mission up to this point. He is interested in serving a mission at some juncture in the near future himself and so I have been giving him my perspective at 3, 6  and 12 months. It has truly been interesting how our lives on a mission have unfolded. We started last year at this time somewhat afraid, inhibited and unsure of what our purpose was here in Rostock.

It was clear from the standpoint of being a branch president which was nice since it did give us that much direction anyway, but we had to learn what it means to be a senior missionary. My only perspective  was from having served as a young elder  with other young elders 40 years ago. This of course is not the baseline for a senior mission. But it is all I had. 

So, we've done some learning that has brought us to a very positive place at this point in our mission. We feel more confident in what we are doing, more purposeful, more at ease and I think I can say happier. Being homesick has been a particular challenge for us. We have missed our home, our bed, our family, our friends, our lives as we knew them in Jacksonville. I remember this was particularly hard for me on my first mission. We have been at the point of tears over this issue at times and have had to importune the Lord for strength to continue. Not that we ever thought about coming home in any serious way, but home is where we wanted to be.

And please understand, Rostock is a WONDERFUL place! I am not sure we could have asked for a more perfect place for us. The members here love us, treat us with respect, kindness and make it very enjoyable to work among them. The town of Rostock is really quite beautiful in many ways..even the weather is very moderate here. Now, I don't like living in a city and I would not choose to do so. But, this is the reality of a don't normally live in small towns. And so, being forced to live in a city (200,000 people) this is the best city we could live in. 

German has not come as easily as it did the first time around for me. Yes, I am more fluent than I was a year ago; my vocabulary has increased and I still very much enjoy speaking German but  pulling words out of my head is more laborious than before. But I can always make my needs known, carry on a conversation and have a good laugh with these dear people. So, this is not a bad experience relearning German, just a challenging one requiring a little bit of work and effort on my part.  I am including a bit of the email that I sent to my old companion who I spoke of earlier: 

We see the Lord’s awareness and His hand regarding our needs and feelings.Germany is still Germany though and East Germany had a devastating effect on spirituality and religious affiliation in general so engendering interest requires patience and endurance. There have been so many wonderful promises given to the German members over the years that hope is always there.I have seen my dear wife receive so much inspiration. She was good before but she is even better now on the mission. It simply amazes me what comes out of her mouth and the keyboard. Our children are doing well. Our finances have been amazingly healthy despite the occasional  retail therapy. We have made many friends in and outside the church . These relationships are deep and precious to us. We have also done a fair amount of touristing when we have P (preparation) days or when friends and or family have come to visit. There is so much to see just within our area.We have been able to go to the temple in Freiberg about six times which is great since we didn’t think we were going to be able to go at all.

We go to Berlin every six weeks for a big zone conference so we have been liberally exposed to that place.How we have enjoyed meeting all the other missionaries, young and senior who serve here as well as learn from our wonderful Mission president President Fingerle and his wife.

                     We have also been to Hamburg and Lübeck among a few other places nearby. By the way, the other blonde is my sister in law Julie who visited in October. 

The Baltic coast is about ten kilometers away so anytime we want to get away for a couple of hours we have at our disposal some of the most popular coastline in Germany. 

The mission takes good care of us. The bottom line is that we are very happy we came. Life is not always easy on a mission but we knew that.We didn’t know exactly what the challenges would be but the Lord raised us to them,qualified us or got us through them. A foreign mission has its own set of extra issues that we would not have encountered in the states. But then there is a richness to be found here that we could in no way have experienced if we had not come to Germany. I wouldn’t say a foreign mission is for everyone nor would I say a mission is for every couple, but I think I could safely say it is for most couples who are active and able, love the Lord and people and want to serve.

It has been an interesting experience for Jeri and me spending so much time together. We do have the opportunity to have alone time when we need it; I take a daily walk of at least an hour and we don't necessarily have to do everything together. In fact, Jeri went on the mass transit tonight with the elders and another member to visit a sister since I needed to be at English class!

The majority of our days though are spent together and we have come to a deeper appreciation of one another. I truly think without exaggeration that our relationship has reached another level which I really didn't anticipate, but I will tell you truly, I love Jeri more now than ever. 

Above all of these wonderful challenges and blessings however, one thing is certain. Our testimony of Jesus Christ is ever firmer. When I gave my farewell talk at home before coming here, I was hopeful that I would come back just a little stronger in my testimony and more apt to share that testimony. I think that I am realizing that and for that I am ever so grateful. I definitely recognize a deeper appreciation for and my dependence upon my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ and upon my dear Jeri. It's been hard but wonderful and isn't that how life truly is? 


"The Pearl of the North"

Oct. 11, 2017

Rostock has been referred to as the "Pearl of Northern Germany". When the cruise ships  disembark from their Baltic Sea Tour at Warnemunde, the passengers are encouraged to come to Rostock and see the various sites: St. Marienkirche (kirche means church in German) with the 13th century clock and the apostles that go around Jesus at the count of 12 as well as Petrikirche which is even older and you can go up in the tower and see the whole town. 

                                  The tower of Petrikirche can be seen along the Rostock skyline.
It is so funny to see this old church which has stood here for centuries and now see modern cars. What did this street look like in 1400? Lined with carriages? Horses? And the church has seen it all.

                                                          The clock at St. Marienkirche

See the apostles going around at the top? They all get Christ's blessing except for Judas:)

 It is interesting as one goes through all of these old churches that many of the nobility
 are entombed within the walls of the church. This is a duke, duchess and their child.

I just cannot get enough of these beautiful stained glass windows!!

Not only is there a lot here in Rostock, but just within an hour or two there are many wonderful sites to see. From Mid August to the end and then the first week of October we had  visitors from America  and it was fun to show them all the enchanting places, so I thought it was time to share some of them with you.

Wismar is a nearby coastal village that is a World Heritage site that means it has been declared to be a culturally important site and should be preserved for the world to see.

                                            Just one of the three beautiful churches here

 We were treated to an impromptu short organ recital as we were strolling around the church.

Gentz found this poignant picture of a German soldier he was particularly moved by. He looked into his eyes and felt  sorrow as he realized that this young man was probably going to his death. On his belt buckle it says: "Gott mit uns". That means God with us. He very well may have thought that God was with him and perhaps he was. Not all German soldiers were true Nazis. They were simply soldiers, doing their duty to their country,  and we hope that indeed God was with them in their dying hour. Isn't that what we would wish for everyone?

 My friend Becky and I in front of another old church that isn't open for touring now. 
 There was a downtown street Swedish Festival the day we were there.Sweden ruled Northern Germany for several hundred years it seems. It was great fun with people strolling, bands playing and vendors selling their wares. 

From Wismar, you can go just 30 minutes to Schwerin, the Capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the state in which we are located. There is the wonderful castle which is the second most visited castle next to Neuschwanstein in Southern Germany. I'm sure you have heard of it and seen pictures as Walt Disney designed the Disney Castle after it, but this one, you have probably never heard of. It was built in the 15th Century and has been rebuilt and added on to so it is much older than the one in Southern Germany. My sister Julie who has been to Neuschwanstein loved Schwerin and felt it was somehow more impressive. That's what we like to hear:))

The king's room in the castle. Above are all of the town coats of arms from the surrounding areas that make up the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

On the Castle grounds, an artist well known in Europe places these frames in front of natural settings and then you can stand in them and the natural scene behind you looks just like a real painting. True natural art! We were amazed at how much it looked like a painted landscape!

Let's go to Lübeck next about 11/2 hours from Rostock. It has a wonderful medieval downtown section with of course, more amazing churches and also twin gates that once stood at the very outskirts of this city to protect it against marauders. 

Gentz has this terrible (sweet) habit of kissing me in front of many of the sites we visit, so I thought I would just share one with you:))

Lubeck is the Marzipan Capital of the world for those of you who like that almond favored candy. We found a great store where Julie bought some souvenirs. They even had a Twin gate made out of Marzipan!

Lübeck platz (center) and Rathaus (City Hall)

                                    I loved this shot of several church towers all together.

 This was a cool old street we happened upon as we were traveling to the churches. Such old buildings and streets. Even a Puppet Museum! Germans love museums!! I wish it had been opened but the day we were there happened to be Tag Der Einigkeit (Day of Unity). It is the day that Germany was officially reunified with East and West together once again. No stores or museums were open. 

That is about it for Lubeck as we ended up in quite the little, no big rainstorm and had to run for our lives to the car!! It was a terrific time however and we enjoyed touring this wonderful old city. I still want to share Warnemunde and especially Bad Doberan (my favorite) with you but will do so in another blog. Thanks so much for coming along with us on this little trip and we hope that you will be as astonished as we all have been with the beauty and the history here. Rostock area is a well kept secret, but if you ever get to Germany, make sure you travel North to the "Pearl of Northern Germany"! We are so grateful to be here for a time!  Tchüss!