Days of Wonder and Astonishment

Feb. 24, 2017

                       Canal In Wismar, historical seaside village about 40 minutes from Rostock.

I feel like I've turned a corner in my emotional state and adjustment to Germany and this culture and being so far away from home. Before we left the US I turned to Gentz and said, "I'm scared." To which he replied, "You are about to embark on a wonderful, astonishing adventure." As usual, his words calmed my troubled thoughts. The first few weeks I doubted those words, but am beginning to feel it more every day rather than just fleeting moments of wonderful. It's been hard. It's been confusing. It's been discouraging. It's been wonderful. But through it all, I've had Gentz right by my side and I've felt the love of God with me. For that I am so grateful.

So, I just want to share a few pictures that have filled me with wonder not the least of which are all the great, friendly people we have come in contact with or seen on the street. And of course, our missionaries of the Berlin Germany Mission. They are the most amazing examples of dedication, sacrifice and love for the Lord that I've seen. They give  up two years of their lives at such a young age and come out into a land far from home, and they are always positive! They have been such a strength to us!
Part of the Berlin Germany Mission
Our Elders Keller and Skidmore here in Rostock

Gentz with elders at a District meeting..held every week.

The Mission just had a "Day of Finding". Everyone fasted on Wednesday and on Thursday, they (we) all hit the streets to talk and find those who were ready to come to Christ and might have some interest in our message and/or be of service. It was a wonderful day full of great conversations, happenings that could only be termed divine and strengthened testimonies. When we put our faith into actions, miraculous things occur. "Every day is a good day in the mission field."-President Gordon B. Hinckley.

The following pictures are taken in Rostock. I love seeing the bicycles everywhere...from two year olds on Strider Bikes to seventy or eighty somethings riding home from the grocery store. You have to be very careful when driving and also when walking as they zip past you or in front of you and are so graceful and quick it's as if nobody else exists.
                  Dads and moms and kids on bikes in all kinds of weather and on all kinds of contraptions!
                                                        The ever present Strider Bike.

                                                    No matter the weather, there they are!
            Loved this fun bicycle attached to one of the apartment buildings with the basket on the back.
            There are even Sausage Bicycle Carts and Coffee Bicycle Carts and Pizza Delivery Bicycles!

And here are some of the people we see regularly and have grown to love!
Our neighbor Manya with baby Gretta. They have a compartment that fits right into the front of the coat for the babies. Again, they are then able to go out in any weather.

The Schullers, a couple from our church who invited us into their home one afternoon for tea and cakes...Gentz who never eats chocolate did that day. I only had the fruit tea.

            One of our favorite shopkeepers in the area near our home..I call her Heidi, but her name is                                                    Donny(probably not spelling that right)
 Again, it doesn't matter the weather, there are always tables set up outside the Bakeries and the cafes. And people sitting there visiting.

Typical scene: Mama with backpack and toddler all snowsuited up. I"m surprised he isn't on a Strider Bike!
 Meet Herr Schmitt who I think I wrote about before. He spent 12 years in jail in East Germany after returning from West Germany before the wall came down. He can't get out much after a stroke and loves for the missionaries to visit.
Herr Schmitt's huge dog loving it up with Gentz

Now come with me to Wismar, a historic seaside village about 40 minutes away from Rostock.
                                 Lovely, narrow cobblestone streets and yes, they still drive down these.
                                                                  Just a nice view

                 An old water tower from the 15th century that they have preserved in their town square.
                                          Very old church that they are always working on.
                                                         Doesn't this just look so inviting?
                                                                 The shopping area.
One of Gentz's missionary companions years ago called this "German television". Hanging out of the window just watching life go by.
                                                   Note the 1658 there on the second floor.

Gentz just enjoying the wonderful view. The cobblestone streets, the old buildings, the creek running through town, and the homes beautifully decorated. We definitely need to make a return trip when we have more time and can possibly sit in one of the charming little restaurants and let some time go by.

Ending with three of Gentz's shots of the wharf at the River Warnow just down the street from us in Rostock where he loves to take his walks. Life is an adventure. We are continually amazed that we get to see this beauty and learn more about these people and this country.
I hope you find some wonder and astonishment in your day, for it is everywhere, isn't it?
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Germany's Open Arms

February 6, 2017

Gentz came back from his morning walk a few days ago out on the wharf of the Warnow River and said, "I could live in Rostock!!" Seems he had as usual stopped and talked to some Rostockers and just had happiness and love oozing out of him! He had stopped a couple out walking their dog and their baby which we see so much of! They had the nicest convention..they weren't interested in hearing any more about Jesus Christ, but they wished him good luck on his mission and parted ways, each one seemingly uplifted by their friendly conversation. And that is how these Germans are here. Rather standoffish to begin with, but start a conversation, and they are the friendliest people ever!

There are not just younger couples walking around, but plenty of older couples, hand in hand, arm in arm.
It is truly such a sweet sight.

One of the greatest joys we have over here is meeting people on the street and in our little branch (congregation). We have learned what dear people they are and have endured much. Many saw the wall come down; many saw their parents struggle with the changes that brought. This was  sometimes not so positive as companies closed, people lost jobs and alcoholism began to take over a depressed people. That is one of the reasons we feel  for the apparent stoicism and grim faces we often see on the faces of those we meet on the street. 
I love this quote by Susan Jeffers: 'Remember: You are too important to deprive yourself and others of the power and love you hold within. Sharing ourselves with others gives life meaning and purpose... and a feeling of fulfillment and inner peace."

Gentz is a master at getting to know someone in a very short amount of time. One other morning as he was walking along this wharf he struck up a relationship with a man who was there fishing every day and would stop and talk to him momentarily. On one occasion he noticed that the fisherman only used artificial lures and he asked him if he ever used live bait.(Köder) He said, "That is illegal because it is unnecessary torture of fish." Gentz reflected on this and realized that it is no surprise that a nation that can protect small fish from unnecessary torture would also be the nation that opens its doors to the majority of the refugees coming out of the Middle East and other parts of the world. It IS possible for a nation to "repent" of its "failures" and try through its good works to make an amends to humanity. 
Gentz and Rachko from Bulgaria who is trying to  earn money to bring his family over here.

Nice thoughts. We can all try to be a little kinder, to change, to be a little more like Jesus. In this video link I've included watch as people care for and love one another. At the very end is the short conclusion of a talk given by one of our church leaders in General Conference  about our need to reach out to the refugees and accept them. Following that, another church leader Elder Dieter Uchtdorf from Germany stands to introduce the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but is very choked up, having been a refugee himself with his family in post war Germany as a child. 

Oh, how we hope and pray that our country, the great United States of America will continue to be known for having open arms to those who come upon their shores seeking freedom and a better life. That is what He who is the Father of us all would want.