Monday, December 30, 2013

Weihnachten - Christmas 2013

 Christmas Eve is when Austria celebrates Weihnachten or Christmas. Anna spent it with us and the first thing we did was walk around the Schloss and try to feed the peacocks with the cracked corn that you can buy there.  This one was hungrier than the rest and braved coming near.
 I wanted to show this white peacock because I had never seen one before coming here. It came running when it saw I had food but took a look at the corn and decided it was not worth it and simply walked away. It was hoping for someting better I presume.
 We had dinner at our apartment and played some games, watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas, opened a couple presents (we gave her a small German Hymnbook which she loved), then had dessert and took her back. We had a grand time.
 Here is Elder Santa before going to bed.
 Christmas afternoon and evening we spent at the church with our Missionaries.  As they traded off skypeing with their families we fixed waffles with all the trimmings.  Here is the grand waffle maker himself!!  We took our laptop and tablet and with the church computer going, all three units were being used which made it really great.

We gave them all cookies and  their favorite Traum (Dream) drink. These drinks are milk based but with all kinds of flavors.  They are very delicious and some flavors are only sold at Christmas time and are called Wintertraum.  My favorites are Nuss Nougat ( Hazelnut chocolate) and Schoko Traum (dark chocolate) Elder Tew's favorite is Weisse Schoko Kokos (white chocolate coconut) There is also Banana, Strawberry, Apple, Vanilla, and I think that's all.  Don't these fabulous Missionaries look great? We played games and Sister Tew even beat Elder Badders in pingpong. Lucky day for me. They finished up with a fun animated movie while we skyped with some of our family.  First Christmas in the mission for most of us. It was fun to be with these missionaries and to be on this end of the experience of calling home to family.

JAE Times

 FHE at one of our young couples apartment before we head out to Christmas carol.
 Elder Tew with Sam.
Bernhard Kober is our great Ward Mission Leader . 
 Valaria and her 3 darling children. She is single and comes to Institute when she can.  We went caroling here and the kids started running when I brought the camera out but I managed to snap this pic.
 Yummmm, waffles.
Elder Tew with Gabriel (Gabi) Knapp

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Visit To The Chocolate Factory!

So, we actually are in a chocolate lover's dream!! On P-day our ward Mission Leader Bernhard Kober took all of us missionaries in Graz to the famous Chocolate Factory about an hour away.  Elder Christensen and I are deciding which dark chocolate is the best. They give you a porcelain spoon about a tablespoon size and once you pay the entrance fee of 14 euros, you can eat or drink all the chocolate you can.  You just go from one station to the next.  Their slogan is "From bean to bar" so they go through all the process to get the finished product. So many flavors, so much to taste.
Rick couldn't get enough white choc coconut flavor.  So much that after he moved from there he noticed that it had spilled all down the front of his suit .
There were so many stations but we kind of got stuck at the fountains.  Yummmmm
Now you can see some of the solid forms.  Of course you have to try it all, right? This only shows a small portion.
Rick is pulling down the lever to cut a piece of chocolate bar to eat. Yeah, more chocolate!!
Inside each of these round metal things are chocolate balls, all different kinds. By this time we are going on chocolate overload.
This is a poster of the owner covered in chocolate. Our insides felt like this, happy but covered!!  Is this Willey Wonka or what??
When you come out into the showroom, this display has lots of chocolate you can buy.  But who wants to buy chocolate at this point??  Oh what an afternoon.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A day with Bro. & Sister Pail

 First Sister Tew gave Elder Tew a hair cut at our apartment. Notice the washing machine and hot water heater above it in the bathroom.
 They made us a wonderful lunch. They always start out with soup. This one was pumpkin. They mashed their own.    yumm
 An excursion to this cool looking Catholic Church after we visited a couple of elderly single sisters.
 Oh wow, they treated us to the most amazing hot chocolate. You have to eat it with a spoon, it is so rich. This is in a little chocolate shop.
 At this time of year the streets are filled with these little places. I only looked.
Lots of people everywhere, most are drinking though.  It was a great day in Graz with the Pails!  We have become good friends. They speak some English esp. Bro. Pail.

Zone Christmas Conference Dec 19th

This is President and Sister Miles. They are so great and we feel very comfortable around them.
Rick was pretty good on the chimes during our singing. Pres. Mile's Counselor is next to him.
We got to do another white elephant game. I got mini candles and dad got some chocolate.
Some of us Sisters.
We are with The Strongs from Bountiful.  They are serving in Vienna with the JAE's just like we are in Graz. They are the only other Senior couple in our Zone. They leave in May for home.
Sorry its blurry but I snapped it from the car while Rick was driving. This is a street scene in Vienna. (Wien) is about 2 hours drive from Graz.

Friday, December 20, 2013

More December pics

 Mid December everywhere turns into a Christmas tree lot.
 Ok, so we looked all around for lights to put on our wreath  They were hard to find.  This is the  package of 40 LED lights and the only one we could locate. Cost 8 Euros (about $10.00). It's not like at home where you can even buy lights at the grocery store. Electricity is expensive here.
 Then we get home and undo the tiny package only to find (surprize) no plug! You have to buy batteries which thankfully Dad brought a few.This is the little thing you put them in. Three of our precious batteries for this one strand of mini lights.  Batteries are really expensive here also. But hey, this serves as our Christmas tree. We don't turn it on much. (Conserve the batteries, right?)
 We saw this wood lifesize Nativity outside the Saturn store that we bought the lights at.
 The ice Nativity at night for FHE.
This is the Graz City Hall with lights shining on it for the Season. Kind of like hallograms. It was really fun to see.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Ward Christmas Party Dec.14th

 The JAE's were responsible for decorating the cultural hall for the party so we came the night before to set up.
Folding the napkins 
 It looked fabulous and ready to go.
 A great time with a lovely program first in the chapel then lots of soups and desserts after.

Had to snap a pic of Elder Christensen who reminds me of Brady and Sisters Judd & Regnier with Anna on the far left. She is a new convert and preparing for a mission.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Enjoying the season in downtown Graz

 These are Christmas Kiosk houses set up to sell  food, wood ornaments, roasted chestnuts and stuff. They are here at the center platz and it was fun to just walk around and see the culture there.
This is where I bought a little Christmas wooden star with the nativity on it.  
 We found where the Nativity ice sculpture is. It is huge, almost life size. This is inside some kind of a couryard. Very beautiful. And yes, even though it is cold out, the sculpture is melting. There is a drain on the floor by the lights. I am sure it is gorgeous at night with those lights on.

The back view.