Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hectic Lives

Here is a letter I sent to some former members of my boy scout troop in Wisconsin. Two are serving missions (one in Utah, and one in Denmark).

Well, we have had some crazy adventures here in Germany, that is for sure. Here's a quick list of items that happened in February:
1) Became Elders Quorum President in the ward
2) Tamara had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
3) My mom came for a 2 1/2 week stay
4) We held a father-son "superbowl" for Spencer's class at school - and taught the boys and fathers some American football
5) We started paying the big kids for grades (they got 35 € and 47 €. Grades are very important in grade school here. And I wanted to let the kids know how much. If they had pushed themselves a bit more, I think they could have earned around 75 €. Just to let you know how much are willing to show them that this is important).
6) I started writing down my thoughts on why I was motivated to move to Germany on an online blog for just my family members (It's such a crazy thing because we don't have a way back, yet. We knew that when we left, so why did we leave anyway?)
7) became really good friends with one of the families who watched the kids while Tamara was in the hospital (they are like grandparents to the kids here, which is really great)
8) took over a new role at work
9) Helped Spencer start playing soccer
10) I had a brilliant business idea (not sure if it will turn into anything, but trying to flesh out the idea is well worth the effort)
11) I had an endoscopy to see what is up with my stomach problems (that's the camera down the throat thingy)
12) We had a visit from a former missionary companion of mine (I haven't seen him in 16 years and now I see him again in Germany - crazy)

Anyone of the events (and there are more) has a great story behind it. I'll pick the story about Spencer playing soccer for some details because it fits for our fine missionary friends.

Spencer has had it very rough here in Germany. N, our 2nd exchange student, told us that school in Germany was much rougher than in the states. I didn't fully believe her, but I do now. One complication is that Spencer, of course, likes to fight back when people pick on him, and doesn't like to back down. This would otherwise be good, except that Spencer is not yet wise enough to know when to back down, and when to fight. He's a little short compared to the other boys, which also doesn't help his cause. And, on top of all that, Spencer was jumped by 5 kids shortly after joining his class in February of last year. Things have been rough since then, for us as parents, and of course, for Spencer. We are trying to pull out of the negative and look to the future and stay positive. One way to do that is to have Spencer play soccer (I believe this is thanks to A, our 1st exchange student).

When we went the first time, my goal was to look for the best player on the team, or one of the best players on the team and find a friend for Spencer, by inviting the boy over to dinner with his family. It took about two minutes to see which two players had the most respect. Then during the next 90 minutes I saw how the best and most respected player attacked Spencer and caused problems for him at every turn. Kicking the ball really hard instead of passing it, kick the ball at Spencer when he wasn't looking, tripping Spencer to get the ball away from him.

Afterwards I said, Spencer, be careful around that boy. He is dangerous and I thought we would invite the other boy over. I was a bit depressed, because I thought - here we go again. Spencer will be at such a disadvantage and not know how to find his way. I was heartbroken and unsure of how to proceed.

That night we read in the scriptures as a family. But before we started, we were all frustrated with each other and a bit in a bad mood. I looked around for someone to say the prayer. I knew I didn't feel like praying, and no one else was really ready either, we were all seething, except for my mother, who was still in town and helping with all of the work around the house. She said an amazing prayer. Pleading with the Lord for us, and mentioning all of the good things we do, and have done, and that the spirit of peace and love, the spirit of the Lord might be in our home. It was very comforting.

Short break for #13 on our month of February list
Ian is starting to get his molars. Every time Ian gets new teeth it is a major event. He is in so much pain with the teeth and wakes up every night for a few weeks. Then he goes back to being Ian again. I just finished hanging out with him for a while, gave him tylenol, a new diaper, a bottle and back to bed. He should sleep through now (it's about 10:30).

Back to the story. My mom's prayer really brought peace into the room, which was nice, and we started reading. We read the story about Ammon, a great story. And as we read I remembered that there were two brothers who went to preach the gospel to the Lamanites, Aaron and Ammon. Aaron had very little success because he went to normal everyday people in the land and tried to work with them. Ammon had great success. What he did is go right to the king and say I want to be a servant in your kingdom. Then he was the best servant in the court, even putting his own life in danger to defend the kings flocks. This impressed the king and he opened his heart to hear Ammon's words. Ammon's life was spared on several occasions and I felt great comfort as I read the following passage.
19:23 - Now we see that Ammon could not be slain, for the Lord had said unto Mosiah, his father: I will spare him, and it shall be unto him according to thy faith—therefore, Mosiah trusted him unto the Lord.
After reading this passage I knew what we had to do - we have to go to the King of Fußball in Homberg. I told my wife, mother, and Spencer. We planned out a day, last Friday night with the family. When the family sat down I gave a little bit of an introduction. I told the boy what we did. That we looked for the players in the team who were leaders in the team. And, when I saw how much respect the other boys have for him, and that I knew Spencer would not succeed without him. It was a great moment. I think it was great for the boy as well. I hope it will be. He is also just a boy and who wouldn't love to hear that. Obviously, Spencer still has a long road, and lots to learn, but I think we have made a good start and I think Spencer is headed in the right direction. And that was especially important after we had had such a rough start a year ago.

All the best to you and especially to the two Elders. May the Lord watch over you and bless you.