Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Few Thoughts About Our Week's Work

Sunset from our Porthstrasse balcony
Before we share a few words about our week's service, we wanted to share this great picture Janet grabbed from our balcony as we had a bite of dinner one night. We face west, so we have a lot of these in the evening -- when we are home to see them. The time changes here next Sunday (yes, apparently the Germans have daylight saving time as well), so it may be dark before we get back to the apartment in the coming days.

Janet has adopted a routine of walking early in the morning with another missionary sister who lives on the same floor as we do. They go out before 6am and walk about 3 miles or so around the large Hauptfriedhof (Main Cemetery). It is the largest cemetery in Frankfurt and is beautiful. It contains the graves of many prominent Germans, including Aloysius Alzheimer. Dr. Aloysius "Alois" Alzheimer (14 June 1864 – 19 December 1915) was a Bavarian-born German psychiatrist and neuropathologist and a colleague of Emil Kraepelin. Alzheimer is credited with identifying the first published case of "presenile dementia", which Kraepelin would later identify as Alzheimer's disease. We haven't been able to visit the cemetery, yet, because the hours don't correspond to our schedule, but we want to walk the interior. We'll post pictures when we visit.

They pass the US Consulate as they circumnavigate the cemetery, and Janet is really enjoying the exercise and Sister Bausman. Jeff has opted to stay in, do some calisthenics and use the time to study the scriptures. But he may join the ladies next week. Elder Bausman had knee replacement surgery recently, so he isn't up to walking much yet.

We had an interesting week in the office. There is much to learn. What especially pulls at our heart-strings are the young missionaries who lose their bankcards or fail to use their money wisely and run out before the month is over. One young elder had his card account hacked and emptied. The card was canceled, but through a series of miscommunications, he has now gone for more than 10 weeks without a bankcard. We have helped get money to his companion's account so that he has access to cash, but it has been discouraging for him. Elder Jarrard was ready to drive to the missionary's area Saturday afternoon and take him $100 from his own pocket. We're learning what we can accomplish quickly (almost nothing) and what takes time -- most things generally take at least 3 business days. We are gradually learning whom to call for help. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way we can resolve an issue is to call an office in Salt Lake City, and that means that we have to wait until late in the day here and hope that someone is in the office there who can help us.

On Thursday, we dropped the Newmans off at the office and drove about 30 minutes north to Bad Homburg where one of the area offices is. We spent the entire morning with the fleet manager for the area learning about cars. Whoa! There is a lot to learn and do. The area fleet manager looks young, but he and his wife have 5 (almost 6 children), and he is the president of the Offenbach Branch (German). One of his counselors is a senior missionary who lives across the hall from us.

After our morning of training, we left with a new mission car -- a small Hyundai. Ikea was close by, so we stopped there for lunch and some shopping. It turns out that most of what we bought will be returned. Oh, well.

Janet suggested that we start each day in the office with a short devotional. They had not been doing that, and it has been a real blessing to everyone working in the office. It's a tender way to start each work day.

We have a wonderful German couple who work with us as Church Service Missionaries a couple of days a week. Their story is wonderful.

Two wonderful people -- our German missionary friends
Elder Fingerle was a widower and Sister Fingerle was also single. Neither thought really to marry again, but they worked together in the temple in Frankfurt and began to develop a relationship. President Stoddard likes to say that they are the first two missionaries in his mission who have gotten married.

They are both completely dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Elder Fingerle puts it, many people -- including him -- grow up in the church and are happy to participate, but they are converted to the church and not to the Savior. He found himself in the same place 40 years ago and experienced a deep conversion to Christ and to His restored gospel. We are inspired by the Fingerles and their love for the gospel. During our little devotionals, they radiate the love of the Savior and His teachings. We are honored to get to know them and work with them.

Our office from the windows looking in (I was inside the window)
The reception area and office that the Newmans use
President Stoddard's office (he only uses it once a week or so)


  1. Oh mercy....I wrote a comment once...not sure if it posted or not since it came up once again! (Hopefully this is not a repeat!) Sounds like you guys are having a great adventure! I can only pray that Zack & I will someday soon be able to serve somewhere as well! Not sure about learning another language...LOL! I bet everyone that you have met or work with is also writing to their families about the great Elder & Sister Kirk! You guys are awesome! <3 Monnie & Zack

    1. Thanks, Monnie. We work hard every day, but we love our association with the young missionaries. Jeff's German is steadily improving, although dealing with banks, government offices, and landlords is challenging. And Janet is gamely trying to learn what she can. You and Zack will be a blessing wherever you serve.

  2. We miss you two so much, and we're happy that you're having this great adventure. It sounds so much like the church offices in Brazil with those wonderful people. One thing I loved doing in Brazil was visiting the fantastic graveyards, so I am jealous that you have one so close. Tell Dr. Alzheimer you know one of his candidates when you find him, okay? Do you have heat or air in your apartment? If you wanted to buy a little fan or a heater what kind of prices do you have to pay there? I'm sure it is much better quality merchandise that we could find in Brazil. I am new ward organist and pray that I will be able to fulfill the calling because the arthritis has spread to my hands and wrists. We pray for you and wish we could be with you.

    1. Great to hear from you. We miss our friends, too. And yes, the people we work with are the best we can imagine. We associate with a lot of area office couples, too, because we live literally next door to the area offices. Many of them live in our building. What wonderful, dedicated people!

      Carlie, you made us laugh. We'll post of photo of Dr. Alzheimer's grave when we get a chance to go over there in the daylight. Your sense of humor disqualifies you as a candidate.

      We have steam radiators, but the apartment is cool anyway, and we turn off all the heat at night -- at least for now. There is no AC, so when temperatures hit triple digits this summer for a brief period, people were pretty miserable. A fan only accomplishes so much. Imagine working in an un-airconditioned office all day when the temperature and humidity are like Houston. Elder Newman tells me that he would take a walk to go down in the subway tunnels to cool off a little.

      Wishing you health and happiness.