Monday, April 21, 2014

April Events

 When the young missionaries in our District invite us to come enjoy an activity with them, we try to be available.  This was one of those times. This also was the last P-day we would spend with our Elder Christensen and Sister Regnier as they were being transferred. They are the ones in the middle. Elder C. has the glasses. He has always reminded us of Brady. We will miss them. We met in the village of Mixnitz which is still in the Province of Steiermark where Graz is the capital.  There is a hike called "Bärenschützklamm" that they had heard of and so we began at the trail head there in Mixnitz. Elder Tew and I had no idea what to expect.
 Once we got up a ways, we found this beautiful area.

 They are much younger than us. Need I say more? This was quite a hike! Straight up, I thought we would never get to the top.
 Then came the wooden trails off and on.

 From here on it was all wooden steps and hand rails.
 It was quite amazing how this was built.
 Sadly (and gratefully) we were running out of time before the very top and had to turn back. We were pretty exhausted and I only fell once coming down the muddy trail trying to go faster than I should have. This was a great outing and glad we did it. The young ones were impressed that these old people could do it!
 I had to snap this pic at the end where we had been. We can say now that we went hiking in the great Austrian Alps!

 We had the opportunity to attend a wonderful Austrian band concert in the village of Gratwein about 25 minutes away from us. This group was part of it and played several traditional tunes. It was so fun.

 We met Sister Prantle there and some of her family. Her grandson, Gerald (who is not a member of our church, lives with her, and we have visited him a couple of times) is the main conductor of the entire Band and we wanted to come and support him. Glad we did! He is an awesome 25 year old young man.
 As we drive around trying to find lost church members, we find things to stop and see for a few minutes. This is the inside of a Catholic cathedral called "Mariatrost". Dedicated to the virgin Mary.
 4/14/14 was a great birthday for Elder Tew here in Graz, Austria!!  We went to lunch, had treats, and were able to find this fabulous brand new Steirisch traditional suit at a resale store for a steal of a deal! We had the help of the Elders to find this store. It made their day also.
 Then later for FHE, the missionaries and JAEs threw a fun surprize birthday party for Elder Tew!!

 Bro.and Sis. Pail gave him this tee shirt.  Happy 63 years old Elder Tew!
And lastly on this post, I just have to say how grateful we are for email and skype so we can see and keep in touch with our family and especially our sweet, adorable, wonderful, grandkids, all of them!! I had to snap this pic of the computer screen because little Reagan was so cute watching us.  We are the grandparents in the computer! Notice our faces in the left corner. Thanks Lindsey!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy April, Happy Spring - Happy, Happy Everything!!

 Doesn't this just shout out SPRING??  For those of you that know me well, you know that I love bright yellow. So when we finally had the time to walk around Schloss Eggenberg, we found it...
 gorgeous and full of color!!
The flower mounds that we walk by are in full bloom.
 They have even taken the coverings off from the statues by the entrance now.
 Even the pigs are celebrating Spring with a little Easter deco.
 And the pigs have some friends now. Our sweet neighbor Val (who lives in the apartment in the back) brought us this Easter surprize the other day. She said  "Here is a special couple for a special couple." She is so great. We think we will give her a Book of Mormon for her Easter gift.
 Lisa and Marlene are standing behind the Easter tree that Marlene brought and decorated. Austrians hang artificial eggs on branches of flowered trees for Easter. There are no plastic eggs. For the Easter egg hunt they hide colored hard boiled eggs. The egg shells are thicker and harder over here so the eggs don't have to necessarily be refrigerated. All the eggs we buy are brown shells. We see cartons of beautiful colored eggs everywhere in the stores now to buy. The farmers give the chickens a better kind of feed that makes the egg shells that way, and the yolk is orange colored.  Eggs are rather expensive here but people are buying tons for Easter.  Oh... I must mention about Lisa because she is a new investigator who is Austrian and she is golden! She found out about the church on the internet and just showed up about 3 weeks ago. I will most likely talk about her in further posts.
 Just look at this beautiful happy face.  This is Sister Bulmann and she is one of our people we home teach. She is single, never married, is turning 79 in May and is one of the happiest people we know. She decided long ago that she was not going to let her circumstances get her down.  When she was young and pregnant, she and her soon-to-be husband were in a terrible car crash. Both her fiance and her unborn child were killed, and she was in a coma for several weeks in the hospital.  When she recovered she felt like she had been given a new life with alot of energy and vitality which she has used for the rest of her life.  She never married saying that she could not ever find another true love. When she joined the church she found peace and comfort and has great love for everyone. She has some health problems now and her right arm is "kaputt" (broken and can't be fixed after many surgeries). We have not seen anything like it. But just look at her, she is an Angel.
 Sister Bulmann let us see this 6 sided harmonica that belonged to her brother. Elder Tew is pretending to play it.
 General Conference Weekend! We got to see all of the sessions except the last one due to the time difference. We had a picnic on the church lawn with the JAEs between two of the sessions. Also our young missionaries came.

 One day we were down in the city and stopped for lunch at a little cafe. I had the best vegie lasagne I have ever tasted.  Elder Tew had wienerschnitzel.
 Here's a pic of 3 young men in the ward. I gave them a bag of microwave popcorn for a snack and they were so funny just standing there watching it that I had to take this picture. 
 Yay, we finally got to hike up all 260 steps to the top of Schlossberg.  Last time we went with the young missionaries in December and we took the elevator up and the cog train down.  We went this time as a JAE activity on Friday night.
 Part of the stairways with lookouts.
 This is at the top looking over the city. (Rick found a flower for me which he is holding)
 Schlossberg is exploding with color.
 Some of our fun group by the famous clock tower. Notice that the hour hand on the clock is the biggest so that the people down below can see the time.
 Love this picture we took of Graz city hall (Rathaus) and surrounding city.
 We stopped in for a double scoop of gelato on our way back home.
Yummmm ...  wish you were here!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Finale of our Swiss Trip

 We are heading to Zollikofen to the Senior Missionary Conference March 20-22.

 The first thing we did after checking into the Hotel near the Temple, was to drive up to Emmental to take a tour of the dairy and cheese factory there. Here, Anton, our native cheese maker (for 30 years) is showing the old way they made cheese in the smoke house. They would heat the milk over a fire of wood and pull it off in the huge kettles when it curdled.  Cheese making is a long process, plus being aged for months after. Back home we think of Swiss cheese as only one kind, but in Switzerland it is all Swiss cheese. So they name the cheese after the town or area that it is made. This is Emmentaler cheese (from Emmental of course)  which we can buy at the store we shop.  It is very good and not as strong as the Swiss cheese at home.

This is how they make the cheese now.  It is much easier but still a process.

 We then took a tour of the dairy farm. These are happy and content cows (each has a name- it is above them on the green sign). They have their tails tied up with elastic, to avoid problems when milking, and for sanitation. The cows that give milk for cheese have an especially good food requirement- only the best, so their milk costs more. That is a concrete floor above (not snow), with their good hay on it. 

 Our tour guide spoke great English of which we were all happy.

 Later that afternoon we enjoyed a most wonderful Endowment session in the beautiful Swiss Temple. We got to see the 2nd brand new temple film. They showed it special for us that day.
 Elder and Sister Tew with Pres. and Sister Miles. They will be released to return to their home in Bountiful at the first part of July. We will miss them so much. They are so loving, spiritual, and positive.

 The next day we all met in the Stake Center next to the Temple.

 Then off we went for a tour of the city of Bern.

 Pretty good selfy.

 The clock tower and Glockenspiel.

 Elder Tew had to take this pic because he was amazed at all the dormers on this building and glad he didn't have to build it.

 When we were walking down the street we noticed all these cellar stores. I am standing on the sidewalk looking down these steep steps. When they close for the night, they just pull down the sides that you see here with things hanging on them now, that cover the steps, and lock it.
 We like this picture of the rooftops.

 We had to take a pic of one of the 3 brown bears that live on the hill side of a river enclosure made special to house them. These are the city mascots because, Bern in old German dialect, means bears, now Bären.

Get out your magnifying glass- the picture of all the Senior Missionaries that they took was too big to download, so you can see the small one clear, or the enlarged fuzzy one (your eyes aren't bad)

 A fun pic of all the Elders and their wives in our mission who served their first mission in Central Germany.

How would you like to play this instrument? These are Alphorns, and it took Elder and Sister Fox about 5 years to learn to play. These come apart so they can transport them. They were part of the entertainment for the evening after a Swiss potatoe and cheese dinner. The Fox's are on their 3rd mission here in Switzerland, working with the YSAs. They go home to California for a few months and then come back for another 18 months. They are very valuable, because one has to have Swiss citizenship or be from Europe to serve there now.  She is a Swiss citizen since her mother was born there and they said it also  helped that she and her husband learned to play the Alphorn. They get asked to play often. (Sorry-camera recording is not the best).

 On the way home, we just had to travel through the tiny country of Liechtenstein just to say that we have been there.
 Well... there was not much to see except the castle, where the reigning Prince and his whole family live, from parents, down to the grandchildren. Every August 15th they celebrate his Birthday, with food & fireworks!
 So we drove up to see it but it was not too fancy as you can see.

 We stopped to ask some people what there was to see here and they said " Have you seen the castle? Oh, well that's about it." So hey, we have been to the smallest country in the world!!

And we made it back safe and sound. Good times. Loved meeting all of the other Ehepaars (married senior couples) in our mission and sharing testimonies and loving our assignments here in our wonderful Alpine Mission.