Sunday, September 27, 2015

Preparation Day (Rüdesheim and Burg Rheinstein) and Our First Sunday

Burg Rheinstein
Saturday is our preparation day (P-day). We spent the day with Elder and Sister Newman who work in the office with us. Rüdesheim is a quaint village on the Rhein River about 45 minutes from Frankfurt. Pictures from our visit there follow. We crossed the Rhein on a ferry to Bingen and then drove down the Rhein to the base of the mountain below this medieval castle. It is the burial place of Prussian princes who made it their home at the end of the 19th century. More pictures of the castle follow, too.

We also visited a monument erected high on a hill above the river commemorating the unification of Germany in 1871 as a result of the Franco-Prussian war. United Germany was ruled from Berlin by the King of Prussia, also known as Kaiser Wilhelm. It was an interesting place to visit, and the monument is heroic in size and appointment. The view from the monument over vineyards down to the Rhein is spectacular.

Elder and Sister Newman, and Janet and I walked north along a pathway through the woods away from the monument for a while. The air in the forest smelled incredible. Fall is around the corner, and a few leaves are beginning to change. Chestnuts are ripe, and every breeze brings a handful down in a shower -- duck!

When we left the monument, we drove on to Assmanhausen. The road through the village there became a single lane. Apparently, we didn't recognize that an oncoming driver was there first. He decided to stop next to our car and tell us about proper etiquette. That's the mild version. But just beyond the one-lane pass between ancient buildings, we stumbled on a local brass band lining both sides of the narrow way. We passed through the middle of the band and it felt like we had joined a parade. It was hard to tell if they had already been drinking beer or they were just really enjoying playing together, but it was fun. We pulled over as soon as there was room and got out to take pictures and video.

We circled back to Rüdesheim and found a place to park. We strolled through the town and visited the Catholic Church Jakobus there. It was destroyed in 1944 (war damage) and reconstructed over the 10 years beginning in 1947. The church had a centuries old history, and they retained a few things like columns during the reconstruction. While looking at displays of some priestly vestments, I wondered what our deacons would say if they had to wear something like them. You'll understand what I mean when you see the pictures below.

The streets were crowded with visitors. We enjoyed a really nice lunch at a restaurant named Cafe Seilbahn where we sat outside in a courtyard under a tent, and the inside walls and overhead were composed of live plants and flowers. The food was excellent, and we really enjoyed talking and visiting with the Newmans.

There is an extremely narrow alleyway called Drosselgasse that was originally a path used by fishermen moving from the riverfront into the town. It has become a quintessential tourist place and the crowded little alley is lined with restaurants and shops. I was waiting outside a shop when Elder Jarrard showed up. He and Sister Jarrard happened to be there, too, with their son who was passing through on his way back from Macedonia on a trip for the US State Department. Then, while I was still waiting and enjoying watching people pass by, a young woman walked up to me, put her finger on my missionary tag, and said that she is also a member of the church. Brother and Sister Schulz and their little girl live in Rüdesheim and are members of the Wiesbaden Ward. I enjoyed visiting with them and eventually introduced Janet and Elder and Sister Newman to them. They advised us that the best ice cream in town was at the Eis Cafe in the alleyway, so of course, we had to try some.

It was a wonderful outing. We went to bed really tired.

As part of our companion study this morning, we watched the address given by President Uchtdorf at the women's session of general conference last night. We couldn't recall ever hearing a talk quite like it in general conference. The entire talk was essentially one story. It was a modern parable that taught many things. If you didn't hear it, please take 20 minutes and watch it. We listened to Sister Rosemary Wixom's talk this afternoon, and it is wonderful, too.

General Conference link:

We attended the Frankfurt International Ward. It is a large ward with people from many different countries. Virtually all of the senior couples in Frankfurt attend this ward. The bishop is from Italy. One of his counselors is from Spain. That counselor's wife is the Relief Society president. The high priest group leader is from England. The gospel doctrine instructor today was Irish or Scottish, I think, and has written two books on the writings of Paul -- you can imagine how interesting gospel doctrine was.

We met members from Italy and France. Brother and Sister Sullivan raised their family in England, but Sister Sullivan is Filipino. And there were visitors from Ghana and Nigeria. One of the senior couples who lives in our building brought a German resident named Effy with them. She is a character, and Sister Newman expressed surprise that she came to church. Elder and Sister Sharpe are humanitarian missionaries, but they are sharing their faith, love, and testimony eagerly with others.

I talked to one of the Ghana visitors and invited him to be taught. I connected him with Elder Walker and Elder Frey, who also live in our building. They got his number and he agreed to be taught. We found out later that a pair of sister missionaries working in the ward already have contact with the man's aunt, and he lives with her, so the elders and sisters will work out between them who will teach the family. Janet and I practiced with the choir after church. We are singing a piece that was translated from French to English and is set to a melody from Mozart. How fun is all of that? I'm pinching myself thinking that all of this is really so amazing and wonderful.

The Newmans invited us to have dinner with them this afternoon, so we are headed up to their apartment shortly. It's 65 degrees, and the sun is shining in a glorious way this afternoon.

This train video is for Cole, Harrison, and Austin

Slideshow of our visit to Rüdesheim and Burg Rheinstein:


  1. All I can say is "WOW!". After 23 months of this sort of thing I predict that you will find Houston a rather mundane and boring place. I can't imagine how terrific it would be to be able to integrate yourself into a new culture such as this. It will be an experience of a lifetime certainly. Thanks for the photos. I'm enjoying it vicariously.

    1. Thanks, Jack. We'll keep you up to date on our experience.

  2. Man the life of a missionary really does pack your life with wonderfulness! Look at all that happened in just two days, amazing. Can't wait to come visit!!! somehow!!! :)