Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SNOWFLAKES--BY ME!!

Well, now! What do you think of these?
All my life I have wanted to be able to cut snowflakes out of paper, but didn't learn how until now. After lovely fall leaves and Christmas decorations on the photo gallery in the center, we needed something new and wintery.
Snowflakes seemed to be the answer.
So when Elder Grassli was sick the last few days (bad cold. I got it too.) and we couldn't go anywhere, I went online and found instructions. It's really easy . . . just need to fold exactly and cut carefully. Anyway, I think they turned out very lovely, and I have to say I'm proud of myself. Some look just like six-pointed stars, so I experimented to get some that look a little more like snowflakes.
These are just a few.


I think this would be a good project for creative children home for Christmas vacation, when nothing else is going on. They can be a lot simpler than these.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Christmas in Switzerland . . . .
. . . Has a nice ring to it, as my brother said the other day.
He was right. It is beautiful in so many ways.
First, it snowed a couple of weeks before, so that set the spell. Interesting--it snowed on green fields. Yes. And when it melts, the fields are still green. When we are used to the desert, that seems impossible.
Second, the downtown decor inside and out is gorgeous.
Third, the people around us are so kind. We had five--yes, five--invitations to Christmas Day dinner, none of which we could accept because we would be in Basel with Leonard's family.
Fourth, I had a sort of little Christmas miracle, a tender mercy, if you will. Prior to the showing of the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, the stake members gathered and sang Christmas carols for about a half-hour. Now I have to say something about the singing in church here. They sing! With hearty voices. It is wonderful to be in a congregation with enthusiastic singing. Somehow it brings a spirit of joy and unity. My singing, which earlier in my life was pretty good and enjoyable for me, has become laborious and frustrating because of my failing ability. The voice just doesn't come out. I remember how it sounded, and how it felt. And I can't do it anymore. BUT, during the congregational singing on that particular evening, my voice worked! I actually sang! It was thrilling and fun and joyful. I don't know why it worked, but it did. I like to think maybe it was Heavenly Father's arm around me. Anyway, it was a miracle to me.
Fifth, we enjoyed spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my husband's family. We haven't been able to do that for 45 years. We were with Gretel at Marlies and Sergio's home for the Eve, after visiting the grave of their mother and joinging other cemetery visitors with candlelight caroling, band music, and listening to a pastor read the Christmas Story from a German Bible. At their home, we ate and read the Christmas story again in Basel-Deutsch and in English. Christmas Day we visited an art museum, then joined the family again for dinner at Marlies and Sergio's.
Just focusing on being together was a gift to us.
Finally, but most important, Christmas anywhere is wonderful, just to consider the object of the celebration--the Lord Jesus Christ. How he came to earth part mortal and part divine is hard to comprehend. Impossible to comprehend, actually. But he did come. And the prophesies were fulfilled. And from that coming we have the everlasting gospel, lost for a time, now restored again in its fulness. We know who we are, why we are here, and what will happen to us after this life--the answers to all the questions the people of the world are searching for. Interestingly, many reject what would bring them hope, peace, and fulfillment in this life, and everlasting joy in the next. But all Christians, whatever the basis of their beliefs, celebrate at this time with loving gestures to each other, and happy times together.
I think He probably likes that.
Merry Christmas 2008 everybody.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TWO CHRISTMAS PARTIES

Gathering to celebrate joyfully together, around the world people are the same. We feel right at home here in Switzerland among faithful Saints. You will see yourself and your own parties in these events.
As we celebrate wherever in the world we are, may the joy of this sacred season fill our hearts and our homes with love and peace, regardless of what is going on in the world around us.
I think that would make Him whose birthday we remember happy, don't you?

INSTITUTE -- YOUNG SINGLE ADULT CHRISTMAS PARTY


These great kids just make their own fun! It was a very casual party, beginning with an opening hymn, prayer, and spiritual thought.

Then the 37 YSAs (including 4 non-members and two less-actives) in attendance baked cookies, and played pingpong, fussball, and pool. Quiet and not-so-quiet conversations, piano playing, pan-flute practicing, goofing around, and laughing dominated the institute.

Then they gathered in the classroom for a white-elephant gift exchange. The concept of white elephant gifts, suggested by the sister missionaries, was new to them,
and they got a kick out of it.






Guess who was first to start cleaning in the kitchen?

Talking it all over with party planner, Vice President Sara.





BERN WARD CHRISTMAS PARTY



The beautiful setting


The Relief Society President (second from right) and helpers prepare food.


Elder Grassli eyeing the giant Berner sopf


Gathering in the chapel for the program


There were stories, recitations, piano and violin numbers, and the choir performed three pieces from an oratorio by a Czech composer. Very ambitious and, honestly, one of the best ward choir performances we have heard!


Leisurely enjoying the meal

BASEL CHRISTMAS MARKET

We took a morning and went to Basel to see the Christmas market there with Marlies and Gretel.
Here outside Gretel's apartment is a blooming bush! In the middle of December! The market is arranged like a small European village decorated for Christmas.
It is quite cute . . .. . . with lots of pretty stuff to buy (we didn't). . .

. . . including delicious food! . . .
. . .and Christmas decor. Not the best picture of me, huh? But you can see the gorgeous lighted paper stars behind us.
A pretty, festive time!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CHRISTMAS GIFT--ZONE CONFERENCE

Our last zone conference was a lot of fun. After a wonderful training by President and Sister Matern, we had a party! A wonderful time for the missionaries to relax and enjoy being together.
This post is a Christmas gift to missionary families and friends who will get a glimpse of their missionaries here. Anyone else reading this, just bear with me!
Preparations . . .



"Can I make a basket and catch it before it bounces on the table?"Testing the chips that would accompany the sloppy joe lunch we would have. (They were really sloppy!)
Stirring the dressing into the salad . . .


Opening the white elephant gifts . . . .



And . . . THE TALENT SHOW--the highlight of the day!
For his talent, Elder Grassli presented each of the missionaries with a copy of his sketch of the Swiss Temple. I recited by heart Luke 2:9-14. Elder Linford recited about 30 multiples of pi, which was amazing! When it was his turn, our district leader, Elder Jensen, told us that he was working hard on developing charity so he could get his talents back (See Ether 12:35).
Just a sampling of some of the others . . .









Amazing President Matern with card tricks . . .






THE MAGNIFICENT MATERNS!

Our mission president and his wife are such nice people. They seem to know just how to reach the missionaries, and the missionaries love them.


These three videos show the Materns' talent offering at the zone conference talent show.


You'll laugh! It was the crowning point of the show!


Just click on the arrow at the bottom left of the video you want to view. Our suggestion: Start with the top video and view the others in descending order.



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Monday, December 15, 2008

TEMPLE GROUNDS AT NIGHT

The Christmas season is here, and to the temple grounds here in Switzerland has been added a lovely Nativity.
In the frosty cold evening, it takes on the appearance of an ice sculpture.
It reminds all temple goers and neighbors who walk through the grounds of the of the joyful event two millenia ago that ushered in the humble life that would culminate in searing atonement and glorious resurrection. Adjusting cameras to capture the scene . . .
. . .and the temple stands sentinal.