Sonntag, 18. September 2011

Coolest Companionship Ever

I have the strangest urge to listen to what they have to say.

Lift Where You Stand

As most of you know my coming to Germany had a large part to do with some very wonderful school opportunities, but always in the background I've had the feeling that while here I would also have the opportunity to learn some gospel truths.
Its exactly a month since I left, and as I was winding down for the day I was puzzling over all that's happened in these short but seemingly full weeks a conference talk came into mind that I'd heard once. I can't recall the name of the talk, nor the speaker, but I do remember clearly the phrase "Lift Where You Stand." coming clear in word and meaning from across the pulpit.
Often, in a society where much knowledge is present, we as humans tend to focus so much more on sharing what we know, and as consequence to our mortal limits lose focus on doing what we should. The balance is hard to find, and I as often as not, tend to end up on the wrong side of the focus as well. But as I recalled that phrase, two examples came to mind of events that conspired in the last week that I was privileged to observe.

The first took place Thursday evening after the weekly Institute lesson, during dinner. Many of you may already know this, and many of you might not, but for those in Europe of the young single adult age, we do not have Singles Wards or Firesides or Linger Longers. Most of us don't even live in the same stake, let alone the same town. But one of the greatest blessings we've been able to have is the Institute Centers, which are run, voluntarily generally by Senior Missionaries, or Members (Most of which are not young). And due to the distances traveled by many of Young Single Adults every week after institute a dinner is held, (Matt 15:32).
These facts may seem trivial and a digression, but please bear with me. They have a point. And that is every week Sister Ybarra (a lovely old woman who you want to just hug as tight as you can, but you're scared too because you may snap her in half), calmly prepares a meal capable of rivaling most Thanksgiving tables, (usually missing out on the lesson), sets the tables, waits for everyone to be served, and quietly cleans up afterwards. Without saying so much as word. Honestly.. I'm sure she finds great pleasure in the work, but on last thursday we had lasagna on the menu, and it was clear by the 4 or 5 lasagna pans that were now lying empty on the serving table, that Sister Ybarra would very likely be washing dishes well into the night. I was just noticing this, when I saw a man, who of a generally quiet nature, got up, walked over to the table, and gathered the pans into his hands and walked into the kitchen.
Maybe it was the spirit, maybe it was guilt, maybe it was both, but I too got up and joined him. We didn't get much done. Just scrubbed, and dried the lasagna pans, before we were pulled aside to help with something else.
Between the two of us the whole deed took probably less time than its taken to read this anecdote, and honestly the whole thing was forgotten soon after.
That is until yesterday, when Sister Ybarra stopped me in the foyer, looked at me with a smile, and just said "Thank you." in a voice that clearly meant it. I don't know if it was the dishes she was thanking me for, or if it was for noticing her and stopping to help. Probably doesn't matter in the end, but thank goodness for that quiet observant man.

The other story, while much shorter, and maybe not as impressionable, is one that is just good. As many of you may know, I'm in possession of one very ragged, and worn sweater vest. Many of you have often stuck your fingers in the holes and said with all the deduction of Sherlock Holmes.. "There's a hole in your vest." To which I generally smile, and say "Yep". I really don't know why I like this particular sweater vest. In fact... I generally dislike vests and sweaters all together, let alone a combination of the two in argyle brown. But when I wear it I feel good, and so like a tattered comfort blanket I carry it from continent to continent. Well as you might've guessed... as this story was taking place. I was wearing it. And once again, a very observant friend of mine said. "You have a hole in your vest." To which I said.. "Yep, a couple actually" and I pointed out a few more as I explained that this used to be my Dad's vest when he was my age, and that it's my favorite.
She smiled.
Then she pursed her lips in thought.
And in a very stern voice she said "Take it off."
At first I thought I hadn't heard her right. But she repeated herself, and motioned for me to take it off. Still somewhat confused, I obliged her, thinking maybe she wanted to get a better look at the holes, and handed it over.
She held it up. Looked at. Pursed her lips in thought again. And then rolled it up and stuffed it into her purse.
"I'm going to fix it." she said "I'm not very good at sewing, but I think I can take care of those holes." And before I could nod, she turned back to her scriptures ending any argument.
It was so simple. She saw a need. She thought maybe she could do something about it. And acted upon that impulse.

The admonition to "Lift Where You Stand" is a wonderful teaching, but anyone who's attempted to eat the core of an apple knows... fruits taste much better than seeds.

Freitag, 9. September 2011

I want my ball

So earlier this week after classes were finished I headed into the city with my friend Sara to go looking for school books. We were one our way from one book store to another, when I noticed a little girl, probably around two years old, trying to reach her ball which was floating in the city center fountain. It was just inches away from her fingers, and her face was just a mask of determination in reaching her toy. My first thoughts were how cute, but that was rapidly followed by an almost audible UH-OH when she started raising her chubby leg over the small wall of the fountain. Those of you who have ever raised a two year old can already guess the outcome if she succeeds in mounting the wall.
Spying no parents on their way to intervene, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she needed someone to get her ball. She kinda looked at me like "Duh", but was kind enough to just simply point and say "Ball" a few times. Which was good enough for me. I asked her to hold some papers I had on me (schedules, syllabii, book lists, normal first week stuff) and then reached out into the fountain to get the ball (which had now floated farther away). I was just about to grab the ball, when a splash of water drenched my arm. Looking over I saw my chubby little friend had tried to use my papers to extend her reach, but had succeeded mainly in dunking my papers. She was about ready to go for it again, but by then I had the ball and as quickly as possible I exchanged her wet ball for my wet papers. Which seemed like a fair deal to her. And I went to dry off my papers while she looked ready to toss her ball somewhere else.
Crazy kids. They're just too cute and smart for they're own good.

Mittwoch, 7. September 2011


Last night the Mannheim/Heidelberg Stake a wonderful fireside, and I'm sure you can guess by the title why. Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was here and needless to say the meeting house in Kaiserslautern was PACKED! I arrived late because I had a class I couldn't miss, but when I got there the parking lot was so full that people had filled the lanes between the rows of parking spots. Everything was bumper to bumper, and you could say the same thing about the seating conditions inside. Luckily I managed to find an open piece of wall up on the stage I could lean on, and despite the heat there seemed to be enough people fanning themselves with their progams to create a subtle enough breeze through the place. I don't know if he gave a talk or not, but when I got their E. Bednar was doing a Q&A Session with the members.
While there were certainly tons of questions, some of the one that stood out in my memory were:
From a 12 year old deacon:How do I prepare to become a Missionary?
Bednar: You are a missionary now, and you should have a good 6 years of missionary experiences before you become a full time missionary. He pointed out that he could 1) Pray like a missionary, 2)Read like a missionary, and 3)Invite others to come unto the Gospel like a Missionary.

From a mother of five daughters: How do you raise children to be able to live in the world without being of the world?
Bednar: Speak less, Listen More, Invite to Action.

From a Father: Which form of Football do you prefer? American or European?
Bednar: I prefer the favorite sport of which ever country I am in.

And one answer to which I cannot remember the question I remember hearing E. Bednar give strong testimony to the amazing power of the atonement. He admonished that the Savior does in fact know us by name, and personality, and that whatever it is we're going through. WE CAN DO IT.

In the end he bore his testimony of the Savior and firmly admonished his role a a witness of Jesus Christ, and of the reality and divinity of The Man.

It really was a great evening. One that left me staring out the car window in thought on the ride home. Kinda cool to have what we have :D

Montag, 5. September 2011

First Day :)

Well It's 10:30 and I'm just about ready to head off to my first day of classes. Here I go :)