Friday, January 16, 2015

Final Transfer Day (6 January 2015).  A long travel day--Berlin to Amsterdam to Detroit to Salt Lake City--followed by a happy reunion with family and friends.  To interject a brief personal statement, I express my gratitude to Heavenly Father for Reese's joyous and faithful mission and for his safe return.  What an incredible blessing Reese's missionary service has been to him and to his family.  I am truly grateful.

Here is a photo of Reese and the other finishers at the Berlin Tegel Airport in the morning:

And here are a few photos from Salt Lake City when he arrived late that night just before 11:00 pm.  The first picture is of the group coming down the elevator at the airport and the rest are of Reese and family.

Finally, the Germany map (with the Berlin Mission outlined in red), which has been pinned to the kitchen wall is coming down:

Week #5 in Berlin (5 January 2015).  Reese worked steadily right up to the end and had one final chance to do a baptism interview of a sister who was baptized on Saturday.  Today, Reese went to the mission home for a final dinner and testimony meeting.  Reese said that for the last couple of weeks he has just kept trying to tell himself that he had "two more years."  But, tomorrow he will leave Berlin for home--traveling from Berlin to Amsterdam to Detroit to Salt Lake City.  He concluded his letter:  "The mission has taught me a lot of things but it just really makes me thankful. I'm thankful for everything that I have been given.  I know that the Church is true, simply due to the fact that it makes you happy. I cannot explain why, but it is just that way. I know that Christ is our Saviour, and that we can become perfect through Him and following His example. I guess I'm kind of like Nephi - "I know that God loves his children, but I do not know the meaning of all things." I really do not, but I know that God loves us, even if it doesn't seem that way. The Gospel really is that good."  Here is the traditional Germany Berlin Mission photos of Reese with President and Sister Kosak and Reese with the other elders who were finishing their mission one week early to return home for college.

                                    Back:  Elder Christensen, Elder Schmidt, Reese, Elder Davis
                                    Front:  President & Sister Kosak, Elder Poch

Elder Christensen, Elder Schmidt and Elder Poch, all joined Reese for the entire trip.   Four happy families greeted their sons in Salt Lake City.  Finally, here is a screen shot of the Mission Blog with the same photos.  President Kosak has done such a marvelous job of keeping up the blog for all of the missionaries and their parents.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Week #4 in Berlin (29 December 2014).  It was fun to speak with Reese on Christmas day.  He continues to love his mission right up to its end.  The early part of the week involved quite a bit of finding, including district caroling on Christmas Eve that produced a couple of phone numbers for follow up and a lot of joy for the district.  Here is the district eating together after their meeting:

Stepping further beyond his Rasband comfort zone, Reese sang in the ward choir at church, noting:  "I sang as a tenor, although I could not hit all of the high notes."  I guess he can run but not hide from his limited musical skill set.  On Christmas morning, he and Elder Borgolthaus opened the stockings we sent them.  Here are a couple of photos, including one of Reese standing by the paper Christmas tree his mother sent him.

Later that morning, they had a Christmas brunch with other missionaries in the Berlin South zone at the mission home.  Reese said that he and Elder Brown manned the french toast.  On Second Christmas (December 26), he and Elder Borgolthaus walked around Berlin seeing the sights.  It was a beautiful day with fresh snow and blue sky.  Here are a couple of photos:

The very best news of the week was that they met with two men who had been referred by the Frankfurt an der Oder elders.  They were so eager to accept the gospel that they established a baptism date goal in mid-January.  All in all, another wonderful week on the mission.  Reese concluded:  "It was nice to spend so much time with the members this week; they were all so nice to us. We are feeling very spoiled.  Well, I've got one week left and I really want to make it count."


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Week #3 in Berlin (22 December 2014).  Reese reported a productive week with a lot to do, although not as much progress as he had hoped.  He had the chance to teach the Young Men about mission preparation on Sunday and really enjoyed that.  They worked with several less actives and Reese had a fun tausch with Elder Michael Christensen.  He reported:  "I thought it might turn into a bit of a 'trunky tausch' [because Elder Christensen is going home on the same day as Reese] but we worked our tails off. . . .  It started sleeting pretty hard but we still enjoyed it.  It is weird how that makes you happy sometimes--being cold and wet, but still knowing that you are working hard."  Here is a photo from the Christmas market at Alexanderplatz, their apartment kitchen and the view out their apartment window:

Finally, here are two photos.  The first is one of Reese at the Alexanderplatz Christmas market.  The second is a photo of Reese taken in June 2012 when he and his father visited Alexanderplatz on a trip to Berlin.  He's holding a "happy hippo" candy that his brother, Jimmy, had introduced him to during the time Jimmy had lived in Berlin.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Week #2 in Berlin (15 December 2014).   It was another week of steady finding efforts with a district leader training on Tuesday and the HoHoZoCo on Friday.  Reese said that he "gave my 'dying testimony' and felt pretty melancholy to be going home soon.  It is just weird."  He said that they had a lot planned for the coming week and "want to use the time before Christmas to really get things done" because the week of Christmas itself was a bit harder to get things done.  Here are a couple of photos of their fun p-day visit to the Christmas market (Spandauer Weihnachtsmärkte) near Charlottenburg Palace.  They were joined a three sister missionaries--Sister Blake and Sister Toma, pictured below, and Sister Steuer.


Week # 1 in Berlin (8 December 2014).  Reese reported that for their last Oldenburg p-day, they went to the local Christmas market.  The next day he took the three hour and forty minute train ride to Berlin, met his new companion and headed off to the new apartment in the Zehlendorf area of Berlin.  On Wednesday they spent the whole day finding and it sounds like there will be a lot of that over the next few weeks.  Reese concluded his letter:  "Well, Berlinerisch is pretty funny, and other than that, we are just looking for prepared people.  I really want to make sure we find some people and that we can have a lot of apps before I go. I know that Christmas time can sometimes put a damper on that, so we have some work to do!  It will be great."  Here is a photo of Reese and his new companion, Elder Borgholthaus, at a Christmas market in Berlin: