Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pictures = 1000 Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I think I'll keep it simple.

Some pearls I've learned along the way:
Families can be simple but not easy.
Parenting is guerilla warfare.
Find the joy and bring your kids along.
Quantity time matters.

John and Jack waiting for Marie at the Frankfurt Airport... it was 5:45am.

Me and Jack - we know the flight has landed, but she's working her way through immigration and baggage claim. Looks like I could use a Diet Coke, eh?


John took this great picture from the other direction - with Jack snapping the camera, I guess the other folks were looking to see which rock star was arriving.

Jack, Marie, and me.

John and Marie - don't they look happy?

So glad she had a great semester at the LDS BC - gotta love Christmas break in Germany.

The casually-strolling-back-to-the-parking-garage look.

I added it since because I can still embarass some of my people. ☺

After a quick nap, I drug Marie up to the Heidelberg Int'l School Fall Festival. Flower's grade was in charge of face painting... Marie was such a good sport to get her face painted too.

Joe and Flower - terrific students and a real support to the school. I love these guys.

Marie, Joe, and Flower

Marie, "I look funny without my glasses."
Flower, "Are we done yet?"
Joe, "Last one, then I'm outta here, right?"

FINALLY - all four together!
Joe, Jack, Flower, & Marie.
My people finding their way back to one continent is where it's at.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Finland For Fun Times

An American living in Germany travels to Finland to attend a Russian church service. Please pass the Excedrin for the multi-language induced headache!

It all started when Jack returned from his mission...
A few church members from the area of Russia where he served had planned for months to attend the LDS Helsinki Finland Temple. It was great timing and a terrific opportunity for him to meet with his friends. And he invited me along?! John arranged for air travel and accomodations - I love that guy!
Here is the aircraft taking us from Riga, Latvia to Helsinki, Finland - though it was only 5:45, you can tell it was already quite dark out.
Ever heard of AirBaltic??
Jack outside the Helsinki Temple - though it rained on and off during our visit, it wasn't bothersome.
This is a picture of me with the temple in the background - we were walking to the bus stop that would take us to the center of town.
We treated ourselves to a sit down dinner one night and then shared a dessert - yes, there are flower petals adorning the ice cream.
Another picture of me - this time outside the Helsinki main train station - I loved the architecture.
I wanted a snapshot of these stone statues on an entrace to the train station - the art deco globes are wonderful and the proportion pretty amazing.
There are some of church members Jack worked along side during his mission in Russia. They were very warm and welcoming to me.
This is us with one of the Russian church members (she teaches English) who made the two-day trip to travel to Helsinki - first an exhaustive train ride to St. Petersburg and then a bus up and around to Helsinki.
We happened upon the United Nations World Awareness of Violence Against Women Day in a plaza near Helsinki's city center. The artwork was terrific, but the cutout silhouettes were really the focus. Individual stores had been written up and posted on each frame. There was an information booth and free candle people could light in remembrance of this day. None of the literature was in English, but that didn't stop me.
After serving in the temple for two mornings and walking 8 hours a day (taking in the sights, sounds, tastes, and shopping of Helsinki) - I was ready to head back home to John and Flower and Joe. It was great traveling with Jack who had been to Helsinki 3 previous times for visa trips - he's a terrific guide.

Home for Thanksgiving... time with my people... visiting the capitols of Europe... dishes, homework, and laundry that keep things grounded is really where it's at.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Re-entry... A Family Deal

We have been so grateful to have Jack returned home after honorably and faithfully serving two years in Russia. I can't begin to imagine how he feels during a time of leaving his best two years and reintegrating back to a lifestyle more familiar to most of us. Courage folks.

First things first, Jack returned with one suitcase which included: a bad Russian suit (did you know some suits are washer/dryer safe?), one pair of jeans, two torn polo shirts, three raggedy t-shirts, and a mix of sock monsters. Off to the PX for some basics ... all the signs in the store are in English.

Joe and Flower showing Jack the lastest in Wii video games.

Agnes the kitten offering her warmest welcome.

The schedule doesn't change .. Tuesday was Young Women in Excellence Night. We're so proud of Flower.

Schnitzel Wednesday! A family favorite. At Funari Barracks there's a small German Kanteen that offers the best schnitzel - only on Wednesdays. If you go with us, I'm gonna take your picture - it's tradition. Jack's response, "Really? A picture?"

Running shoes... so many choices.

Joe and Jack headed out for a run - I love these guys like crazy.

Agnes' continued warm welcome.

On our way to the CityMarkt and other errands. This is the gasse (alley) alongside the rathaus (city hall) before entering the Marktplatz.

We loved the wreath hanging from the stature in the middle of the Marktplatz - it's the largest and busiest market in Alstadt (old town). We love the church - it's such a prominent feature on the rooflines of town. John and Jack posing in front of the fountain.

Same fountain and wreath - different angle. It was the middle of Friday morning - it's practically empty.

Headed down the Hauptstrasse... what a huge Christmas tree - can't wait to see it all decorated.

Friday Night Bowling Fun Times! So much fun to be out with the men I love. Flower was at a friend's house and Marie will return from Salt Lake in just a few weeks. Is this Joe's version of bowling?

Joe and Jack headed up to the Schloss (castle) on Saturday. So many opportunities for great pictures. I like this one of Joe.

A terrific photo of the neighborhood where we live, the markets, the river, and our building.

Inside the castle ruins.

Jack on one of the gardens inside the castle ruins. Big space, eh?

I love this snapshot of these two.

The life of my people recorded in pictures is where it's at.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From Russia with Love

John, Elder Murphy, & Me - Missionary Training Center
24 October 2007

I have never been able to visualize Jack's return from his two-year LDS mission to Russia Ekaterinburg. The beginning was so incredibly difficult, I simply couldn't see the end. Years and years I'd heard mothers of missionaries wax eloquent about the blessings of sending a son to the mission field. Then I was blindsided. For me, it was one of the damned hardest things I've ever done, albeit a most worthwhile undertaking.

Flower, Joe, John, Jack, Me, & Marie - 3 days before leaving for Utah

The day has come and he is home and I have been reminded of just how much he has been missed. Seeing him walk through immigration at the Frankfurt airport tore open a scabbed place in my heart that had covered the loss and pain of seperation. Those long buried feelings of despair came rushing back, but I was immediately consoled by having him in my arms.

Joe, Elder Murphy, & Flower - Frankfurt Airport, 12 Nov 2009

It has been different sending Marie off to college compared to sending Jack on a mission. I know Marie can come home at holidays and breaks, we can talk everyday, and I can go visit her Of course, none of that is possible when sending a missionary out to serve the Lord full time. The sudden-ness of being cut-off from my son was so abrupt, that ... sigh.

Elder Murphy & Flower

Joe, John, & Jack - the men I love

Why do they go? Why do we support them? Is it worth the sacrifice? Who benefits?
I believe they go because it is their duty and they have been called by God. We support them because we love them and wish them to put their all into carrying the message. I must believe it is worth the effort in order to continue putting one foot in front of the next. Our family has been richly blessed by other sons who answered a call to serve.

Me, Elder Murphy, John - before Jack was released from fulltime work
12 November 2009

We have Jack back in our home for the next few weeks. School starts the first week of January and he'll be there to begin another season of his life and we'll continue to adjust and adapt to the changing needs of our family.
Marie will be home for a few weeks in December and for a brief period we will have all four of our children with us. Time to party like rock stars!

Family ... is where it's at.