Imperfect though we may be

April 27, 2017

Sunday during Sacrament Meeting, I was playing the "organ" as the ever so talented Sister Albrecht was traveling with her husband. I hit my sour notes here and there and cringed at my ineptness, but continued on of course. My dear sweet Gentz was conducting the meeting in German as he does every week because his counselors (who are German) don't feel comfortable doing it yet. He never feels like he is getting the language completely, and freezes up on some words. He keeps doing it week after week of course. Then I was sitting there listening to the talks via the translating headphones and Elder Benitz, young German missionary was translating as best he could (tough job). I looked over at him and he mouthed, "I'm sorry, I'm doing the best I can"! There all three of us were, imperfect in what we were doing, but continuing on. It was another lesson to me of how it is only Satan who gets on us when we aren't "perfect". With the Savior, He is right there, encouraging, loving us for making the effort and inspiring us to improve. I was once again filled with love for my Savior and gratitude for the fact that we are loved in spite of all of our imperfections. We are not only loved, we are given the opportunities to overcome, to be made stronger and to be MORE as we apply his enabling power in our lives.

I recently re read this experience that President Faust shared in General Conference that  thought applied here. He related the following story of a little boy whose mother purchased tickets to a concert featuring the great Polish concert pianist Paderewski. He explained:

“The night of the concert arrived and the mother and son found their seats near the front of the concert hall. While the mother visited with friends, the boy slipped quietly away.
“Suddenly, it was time for the performance to begin and a single spotlight cut through the darkness of the concert hall to illuminate the grand piano on stage. Only then did the audience notice the little boy on the bench, innocently picking out ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’
“His mother gasped, but before she could move, Paderewski appeared on stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. He whispered to the boy, ‘Don’t quit. Keep playing.’ And then, leaning over, the master reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized.”

President Faust then summed up the story with this lesson:
“In our lives, unpolished though we may be, it is the Master who surrounds us and whispers in our ear, time and time again, ‘Don’t quit. Keep playing.’ And as we do, He augments and supplements until a work of amazing beauty is created. He is right there with all of us, telling us over and over, ‘Keep playing.’” 

The Apostle Paul bore his own powerful witness that the Lord’s grace strengthens us in our weakness, as we read in 2 Corinthians: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Ah, He is making more of us than we  could ever make of ourselves, isn't He? In the words of CS Lewis, we just wanted a cabin, and He is making out of us a Palace. Above all, He loves us...we are His work and His glory as is everyone on earth. I hope to continually improve and help a few others along the way. I hope that wherever you are in this journey of life, that you just keep on playing, keep on enjoying your life, loving yourself in spite of your imperfections and know that the Master is always nearby, appreciating your efforts and making you equal to the task. Just don't quit!! Keep playing!

Easter Week. Etc.

April 19, 2017

Easter Monday is a holiday over here in Germany. The day after Easter, no stores, banks, or schools are open and people just enjoy the day, often going out for a stroll. Back in the older days, they used to have an Easter parade, but now not so much. Several members of the church and the missionaries and  Gentz and I went on an "Easter walk" along the beach in Warnemude....and we had to wear winter coats, as Spring here is rather chilly and windy, but it was a fun morning! Apparently here with this group the custom is to get some Danish ice cream when finished with the walk:)

 Warnemende is always delightful to visit; it is  right on the Baltic Sea Coast and people are  strolling about and street musicians and "statues" abound like this one with Gentz. It's a charming village and a popular stop for Cruise Ships.
 With our young missionaries on the pier...yes, we have "civilian" clothes on as Mondays are our preparation day and not too much fun to walk on the beach in Sunday clothes:))
                          This is a view of Warnemunde from the top floor (women's bathroom) of the Hotel Neptune. 


Speaking of ice cream and desserts, Gentz and I wanted to host a dinner for those who have nowhere really to go for Easter dinner, and since our apartment is too small, we had it at the church. I'm so sad that we didn't get a picture, but it was such a fun event...Daniel from Ghana was there, Vladimir and his sweet family from the Ukraine, Ignacio, our new move in member from Mexico, Bodo, a German from our English class that meets on Tuesdays, the missionaries and us. Vladimir's sweet wife, Nadia made a lovely Chocolate Torte for which I was ever so happy about as I made some no-bake cookies, that should have been called no "set up " cookies! I'm sure you've all made easy..sugar, milk, oats, nutella, drop them on wax paper. Well, mine just wanted to stick to the paper and after I had frozen them to try to undo the damage and put them in a container to take to church, they were just all glopped together. But we all had a good laugh about it and I went around with a spoon and plopped some no bake cookie on each dessert plate next to Nadia's cake. We had such a good time, we would like to do that more often..minus the no bake cookies. Gentz had made his famous rolls in the shape of a big bunny...his rolls just don't turn out so great over here. Our oven is very small and doesn't heat evenly, so we think we are done with those as well and besides, there are so many bakeries with lovey rolls, why bother? 

If any of you have good recipes that are easy and feed a crowd, send them my way. I looked up German potato pie by Rachel Ray and made it for the missionaries last week but it wasn't so great either. I think I'm just going to have to stick to barbecued pulled chicken and pork and Italian Beef. Good grief! 

Friday night, we had a real treat. Yes, I cooked again..this time a chicken broccoli casserole but they don't have regular cream of chicken soup over here, so I had to put something together like it. It turned out all right and we had our little neighbor Katharina over. WE got to know here through the window across the street. I nicknamed her "Clara" when we first moved here and I think just looking over at what she was doing (usually studying, as she is studying to be a doctor) made me feel less lonely for my sweet daughters. Finally, we waved after a couple of months, then we met her on the street, found out her real name and invited her over for dinner. As seems to be German custom, she brought over a lovely plant as a gift with a darling little card she had drawn attached to it. She is only 18, lives about 6 hours away, loves to dance, play the piano and draws the sweetest little pictures. She was just a delight and spoke good English..I think we will be fast friends. We like to think we help her be a little less lonely when she looks out the window and sees us and our lights as well.

Today we said goodby to our young missionary, Elder Keller. He came to Rostock the same time that we did, so we have 'grown up " together. He is such a dear, dear young man and we will miss him! We feel so blessed to be able to share in this work with these young men and women and are so humbled and inspired by the good work they do day in and day out because or their love of and devotion for the Lord. Their work is not easy but yet they don't complain. They get transferred to another area in the mission every three to six months. Gentz took him to the train station where he will travel for 7 hours to get to his new city and we will receive a new missionary to be companion to Elder Benitz this evening. 
 Elder Keller's "favorite" chair in our apartment with the Apple Shorla that he loves (Apple juice mixed with sparkling water)
                              Elder Keller with Bodo and Sigrid, two "Rostockers" from our English Class

I am grateful for the lessons we are learning over here and the nearness of the Savior that we feel; I know He is aware of each one of us and we can receive that "peace which passeth all understanding" as we turn to Him and seek His help and His enabling power. It was so lovely to reflect a little more than usual on the sacrifice that He made for us so that we can all live again someday on Easter.  I gave a talk in Church Sunday about being united with those we love who have left this earth, and for those who suffer so with infirmities in this life. All tears, all grief, all pain and disappointment will be wiped away as we join with the choirs above who sing Alleluia! to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost! I'm so grateful for the knowledge that I have that this life is temporary and that we are eternal beings. From a talk given by Elder Clayton in the latest General Conference he stated: "Because of God's holy plan, we know that birth and death are actually just milestones on our journey to eternal life with our Heavenly Father. They are essential parts of our Father's plan - sacred moments when mortality and heaven intersect." How very true!! And again, from a Church Leader, Neal A. Maxwell, "Death is a comma, not an exclamation point! Because of what Jesus did that Easter Sunday so many years ago, this is true.

Have a wonderful Spring wherever you might be! 

The Prince of Peace

April 7, 2017

Find peace in a troubled world by learning more of Jesus Christ. This Easter season, learn principles of peace from the #PRINCEofPEACE. at The theme "Prince of Peace: can help us each implement eight core principles of peace into our lives (faith, compassion, forgiveness, repentance, gratitude, scripture (God's word), prayer and hope) and draw closer to the Savior. From the words of Isaiah 9:6. "...and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

Peace is something we all search for in this world of ours today. There are wars everywhere, rumors of war, countrymen disagreeing with one another over political and religious views, families quarreling and the hearts of men failing them. Where is peace?  Jesus Christ said in Phillipians: My peace I give unto you; not as the world  giveth give I unto you, but the peace which passeth all understanding." I love that..the peace which passeth all understanding.  It is there...always available for us. We can have peace in our lives no matter the news. No matter the illness. No matter the death of a loved one. No matter the disappointment we may suffer in business or financial matters. No matter the betrayal of a spouse. No matter the addiction of a child. No matter how lonely, frightened or sad we might feel. There is peace. That peace which passes all understanding. All of men's understanding. All of my understanding. And all of yours. So, stop what you are doing. Turn off the news. Take a few deep breaths. Tune in to your heart and your soul.There are several other great videos representing those core attributes on've posted  one of them here.... Compassion... about a family whose child died of a brain tumor and what they did to deal with their grief and help others. Have a lovely Easter Week filled with Peace!