If you are so inclined to hear more, I then arrived in German early Thursday morning. I went to visit the Frankfurt temple in Friedrichsdorf where I had served on the days of dedication 17 years before….I finally made it back!! I met briefly with some of the current missionaries and current Mission President. Truth be told, I also got accidentally locked into the chapel while reading some scriptures and had to leave through a window. Don’t worry, I sought forgiveness, found an authority with a key, and got everything back in order. Happens to me all the time.
I called a Mormon friend contact I had made on the internet and agreed to meet him Friday evening. I got a Schnell Zug (Fast Train) pass and headed up to Koeln (Cologne) and Fulda, some cities from my mission. I climbed the Dom(cathedral) in the center of Koeln and visited the street where I had lived. That Cathedral, by the way, was hit 17 times in bombing raids as the Allies tried to hit the bridge near it, and it survived it all, stoking the faith of believers. And I had some yummy food from the bakeries and imbisses. Mmmmm! I found that eating all that meat gave me some better resistance against the humid, chilling cold, I was so cold!!
Fulda had grown so much, from a smallish dorf to something of a tourist destination as well. My apartment had become a closed office location for the church. Don’t know what that means. Traveling through the country side on the Fast Train I always kept a window seat. The hills and fields so green even in Winter were dotted with little dorfs, all with old churches at their centers. Watching them go by was like flipping through postcards; every second was another picture of perfection. I loved it.
Some of my first impressions back in Germany after 17 years were that the people were very healthy looking, fashionable, and just plain looked better! Especially the younger generation, say those under 30, as a whole dress very nicely ALL the time, their skin and hair are very beautiful, and they are much taller than previous generations. The Germans dress generally all in black or in dark clothing this time of the year, changing to green and tan for the Summer.
The locals shook off the cold like so much snowflakes. Out for walks in below freezing conditions, eating outside at food stands, kids even with ice-cream cones. No big deal. I was so cold. After meeting my connection Josef, he quickly loaned me a down-filled coat. Between that and some good wurst(sausage), I was able to handle it the weather much better. And just as well, it snowed and snowed Friday night. YES! For my planned mission was to go snowboarding in the Southern Alps, as well I did. But apparently, there was something else for me to do here….
Saturday we went shopping and I got a ski-jacket for a great price at a discount store. Josef then also acted as a guide through Frankfurt. The old buildings are mixed in with the ultra modern, and outside the new building, so little changes in Germany over decades and decades. Churches, very common, are many hundreds of years old. That evening I met his sister, who was cute and kind enough to let me transfer my pictures to a CD on her computer; I had already filled-up a very large disc(1 Gig) with pics and images after only 4 days out of Kirkuk.
We all stayed and chatted and then went back to Josef’s where I gratefully accepted an air mattress on the floor. It is then I discovered my true mission in Germany, perhaps ;-) Josef had broken up with an amazing girl and realized he had let something go that he shouldn’t have had let go of. So I listened and played Dr. Love, as it were. For several hours. Hopefully he was able to get some principles clarified and a game plan from our discussion. We then prepared for church at the International Ward in Frankfurt for Sunday on the morrow. Where, incidentally, he and his former girlfriend are about the only eligible singles and teach primary classes right next to each other. A bit uncomfortable for them. Tune in again soon for Sunday's continuing saga and more….
The International car and heart doctor checking out for now, Ernie