If you can alter the world, even by a millimeter, you can change it.

“The bottom line is this: You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it . . .  If there is no moral question, there is no reason to write. I’m an old-fashioned writer and, despite the odds, I want to change the world.”

—James Baldwin in The New York Times, September 23, 1979. Photograph, also from 1979, by Brownie Harris.

American author, playwright, and Civil Rights activist James Baldwin, New York, New York, 1979. (Photo by Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images)

I often think about why I feel so compelled to write, to journal, to blog, to remember and record.  I don’t know many others who feel they MUST record the things I record in so many places and in so many ways.  I usually don’t understand it either, but when I read this quote, it felt right to me.  Maybe I do it because I have HOPE.  I hope that maybe someday, someone I love will find my words and read a few of them and smile, or feel better, or feel loved, or see something in a new way.

I hope that my words will express love and hope to those who will follow me.  My children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and beyond.  I want them to know that whenever they read this, I was thinking of them now, long before, on this December day in 2023, always cheering for them, wishing them happiness and wellness and all my love.

I hope my words help you see the world in a good and better way.

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“I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” –Jane Austin

I would describe my life as “UNFOLDING.” I could not have planned it, or consciously prepared for it. Rather, it’s like it came to me, one interesting experience after the next. When I look back, I see things I began without realizing I was in a beginning. I wonder if I will end the same way, not knowing I’m at an ending.

“As you journey back in memory, you’ll see your life whole.  What may have felt at the time like a series of disconnected and chance events will take on a flow and coherence that only the passage of time could reveal.  You’re able now to see how the consequences of a choice, perhaps made casually, rippled through the years that followed.  You can see how a chance event led to other events that shaped your entire life.  Memory, in short, can reveal the links, the connections–the story–of your life.
It’s hard to exaggerate the satisfaction this kind of insight can produce.  It’s the satisfaction of feeling that your life, whatever happened in it, made sense.”

This quote is from the book called The Legacy Guide, Capturing the Facts, Memories, and Meaning of Your Life, by Carol Franco and Kent Line back (p. 3).

In 2006, I attended a BYU Devotional where Pres. Hinckley told about 10 events or experiences that had had a deep impact on his life.  They were interesting and meaningful to him.  At the end he counseled us to write down our significant experiences and so they would not be lost.  As I drove home, I thought about what things I would put on my list.  Here are a few (added to over the years):

I was raised on a farm, where I had to work hard every day.  Life was taken seriously.  We learned the Law of the Harvest.  We learned not to waste.

I was taught to read on my mother’s lap.  I’ve been an avid and fast reader ever since.

I was raised next door to grandparents I loved. I had instilled in me at a young age a love for my German ancestors and their language.

From an early age, I learned to be physically fit, swimming every day, often year-round.  I was a top competitor, successful in my athletic endeavors, swimming for teams and clubs and playing waterpolo in high school (on the men’s varsity team).  I was a High School All-American swimmer.

1975 I was called to be the Reedley Ward pianist, then organist.  I learned the words and music of the hymns.  I seldom need to use a hymn book anymore.  They’re all in my head.  I sing Alto and can easily pick out my part.

1974-77  At Reedley High I had many opportunities to serve and be a student body leader in school and leader at church.

1976 When I was a foreign exchange student (age 17), I read and then re-read the Book of Mormon cover to cover for the first time, often reading in a Jagerstand in a German forest during the summer of 1976.

1979 I sat alone in the fields overlooking Bethlehem on the eve of April 6th 1979 with my cassette player and Christmas music.  I learned to know the places our Savior walked and taught.  Study Abroad Israel Jan-June 1979.

1981 On a dusty orchard avenue one summer evening in 1981, I felt the Spirit bear witness of the truth of the account of The First Vision as I recited aloud from memory the Restoration discussion in preparation for my mission.

1981-1983 On my mission, I learned to speak Afrikaans. More importantly, I learned to give freely, without inhibition, loving strangers and wanting to share all I had.

1984-1987 When El Nino struck, creating weather havoc all over the world, I spent an entire night on my knees in prayer.  I offered my life to help those in need, Days later I was invited to go to Nigeria where I found my life 1984-1987 serving and teaching others.

1987-1990  COB –worked as an Editor for the International Magazines.  One of my jobs was to remove the “Americanisms” from articles, making them internationally appropriate.  I had learned to see through international eyes.

1989 I backpacked through China in 1989, experiencing the desire others had for democracy.  I left Beijing a few days before students were killed on Tiananmen Square.

1990  Met John on a blind date July 1990.  Didn’t sleep that night.  Saw him dressed in white, smiling.  We knew the first night we would marry.  We talked about it 3 weeks later and became engaged.

1991-1995 Birthed 3 Children, 9 pregnancies.  Broken hearted times.

1998 President of the Utah Valley Quilt Guild–fully immersed myself in the world of quilting.

2001  Took a Family History class from Lindsay Powell (repeated 3 times).  Learned to love Family History work.

2004 Went back to BYU when John’s job allowed me free tuition.  Studied there for about 10 more years, taking more than 80 classes.

2004 Met Roger Minert, German professor at BYU who taught me to do German research and read the old documents.

Extracted 500 years of family names from Grossgartach, ancestral village, organizing everyone into families in my Legacy database.

2007 Met Steve Harper, Church History professor at BYU who opened the world of my LDS ancestors to me.

2008 Met Rick Turley and started doing research for him which led to co-authoring The Theodore Turley Papers.  Learned from a master researcher.

2010 First trip to Ouelessebougou, Mali.  Yearly trips to do humanitarian work after this.

2012 Started teaching semester-long Family History Classes. Had more than 3000 students.

2013 Started Days for Girls in Utah, involved 10,000+ women, raised $100,00+. Worked full time teaching and training women all over Utah, CA, AZ, ID.

2015-18 Mission Leaders in the Washington Yakima Mission.  Learned to love young adults in the church.  Taught, fed and loved 455 missionaries.

2016 Became a GRANDMA!

2019-21 Abidjan East and Bamako Mali Mission, Member Leader Support Missionary.  Returned to my beloved African friends.2023-2024 Frankfurt Communication Mission

2023-2024 Frankfurt Communication Mission

Posted in Ann Lewis, Insights and Thoughts | 3 Comments

For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.

Ann Laemmlen Lewis, 2014

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way.
If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone.”

~Frederick Buechner
(Book: Whistling in the Dark https://amzn.to/3OPAhdu)

This is why I write.  Words.  As long as there are words, no one need ever die.  These words are my immortality.  Without words, I would drift into obscurity and my life would disappear into nothingness.  I can’t bear the thought of that.  We must remember each other.

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The ultimate touchstone is witness.

This photo above of my Book Club was taken in our home last year.  This group of friends has been together 36 years, since organizing into a book club in 1987, the year I came home from Nigeria.   Some of us had worked together at the MTC in Provo, some were college friends, some were friends of friends.  The miracle is that we came together and we stayed together and we continue on, together.

I have often thought how interesting it is that some of my dearest friends are in this group.  Or in my long-time quilting groups, or in my neighborhood.  My question is, “Are we dear because we’ve known each other for so long?” or “Are we dear because our paths were meant to cross and they did?”

My friends and I been through thick and thin together–is that what’s made us close?  Or, did some Divine Hand gather us all into like places and let us learn to love each other?

I sometimes think that if I were to have 30 years, or 40 or 50 years with anyone, I would learn to love them and we might be close friends.  We would SEE each other and be SEEN by each other.  I think about Eternity and having all the time in the world (out of the world) to learn to love others.  I have no doubt that will live in a society of Love.

I happened across this thought this week and have been thinking a lot about these words:

No matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

~David Whyte, from the Book: Consolations – Revised edition: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

These words describe beautifully that witness–of having been seen by someone, and being granted the sight of the essence of another.  I want to be better at this–better at seeing the essence of others.

I am so grateful for my friends.  I miss having them near.  I appreciate those who really see me, and love me still.

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Old Fallen Leaves

Even the old leaves are beautiful.  Kind of like people.

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Family History Miracles at the Frankfurt Book Fair

We have just attended the largest Book Fair in the world, held here in Frankfurt.  More than 215,000 people from all over the world attended.  It was a grand event, made even more so because for the first time ever our Central Europe Area FamilySearch team sponsored a booth.

Almost 4000 people visited with us  there, learning more about their family surnames, where in the world their family name is found, what famous people they resemble, or if they had connections in the family tree.  We guided them through fun experiences and showed them how to download the free app on their phones.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints funds FamilySearch to help people find strength and support in their family relationships—past, present and future.  The FamilySearch database, populated by more than 25 million users worldwide, helps us research, preserve and share our family history with others.   If we each add our own family, the tree grows and we connect to each other.

Here is our booth in the calm before the storm:

And then everyone arrived!

I think we were of interest to those passing by because we had something different to offer and it was interactive and fun.  We used iPads and big screens to engage our new friends.

We had prizes for those who completed 4 fun tasks:

The first two days of the Book Fair were reserved for professionals involved in the publishing world–authors, illustrators, publishing companies, media people and more.  At 2:00 on the 3rd day, the doors were opened to the public.  Look at the swarms of people waiting to get in!

Saturday and Sunday our booth was swamped with people wanting to learn more.  I loved being there, feeling the excitement when someone discovered something they did not know about their family.

From my journal Sunday:

I had one especially moving experience today with a woman named Monika who was there with her grown son, a large man with a dark beard. They were very interested. I showed them a few things, then he went to sit down and immediately started entering names. He was hooked. Monika showed me photos in her phone of her ancestors. Who has those at their fingertips??

She said early on, “I love what I am feeling right now!” Then when I showed her my tree, she saw that my Grandma Elsa’s mother’s name is Susanne Fritz. She said, “I am getting goosepips!” She said that her great grandfather was also a Fritz, not a common surname.  I told her that all I know about Peter Fritz is that he was soldier who passed through the area and Susanne was an illegitimate child.  Her face lit up and she said, “My great grandfather was also a soldier!”  I said, “Maybe we are cousins!”  She hugged me and then said, “I feel like there are angels here, all around us. They brought me here to this place.” She was very moved by what she was feeling.

We visited some more about family and about believing in Jesus. She saw my name tag and again said she felt heavenly angels around us.  Then she gave me a big hug and held me tight. She told me in my ear that yesterday she said good bye to her father. I told her I was so sorry. She said he didn’t die, but they’d been estranged and she hadn’t seen him in 2 years and yesterday she went to visit him.  He told her “I don’t know why you are coming to see me. What do you want from me?” She was sad and didn’t know if she’d see him again. Then (we were still in a serious hug) I told her that what she was learning here today about gathering her family would heal her family. She and I both had tears filling our eyes. She felt it. It was a sweet and powerful moment.

The biggest miracle for me came towards the end of the busy afternoon.  We’d hardly had time to breathe.

Again from my journal:

I noticed a young man, standing outside the booth looking at us, wondering what we were doing.  I decided to approach him.  I asked him if he’d like to come search for his family name.  He was shy, but he came to one of the iPads on a stand. I was looking away as he typed his surname into the iPad, then I looked down at it. It said LAEMMLE.  I immediately thought I hadn’t cleared my account from the screen (but I was using a different iPad).  Then I realized that that was HIS name.  I stared at him in shock and wonder.  I said to him, “I am your family!!”  I showed him my family tree on the iPad I was holding that was logged in to my account. “Here is my father–Arthur LAEMMLEN.”  I showed him my line.  I said, “WE ARE COUSINS!!”

Not only did we have the same name, he Knew his ancestors. He had documents and names in his phone. He showed me some of them.  I did not recognize the names,  but he told me that his family is from the Heilbronn area. I told him mine is too. I was so excited.  I told him that I once came to a family reunion in Germany for the LAEMMLE family that was organized by a distant Laemmle relation in Vienna. My new cousin said he has corresponded with this same man in Vienna and found his family names in his Laemmle database. I told him that my line is also there in that data base.

I don’t think most people understand what a huge miracle that was. Most family names have thousands of people in common. But not Laemmlen. We are a unique name that is not widespread in Germany. For me, it was an absolute Miracle that out of the 1000s of people who came to the Book Fair and out of the 1000s of people who came by our booth, I was the one who interacted with Simon Laemmle. None of the other volunteers would’ve had any idea that his name was the most important name I heard all week.

Simon was a quiet gentle man.  He was shy. He had beautiful eyes and a really big smile.  When I looked into his face, I felt something special. I felt like we are family.  I really felt it.  My heart was in such a flutter after that.  I had to just sit down for a minute and process the experience.

I have already received an email from Simon with his family tree.  I am so happy to have met him!

Family History is a big grand work.  It spans decades and countries and peoples.  Doing family history work is my greatest joy.  But the real gift of doing family history is discovering family and that’s what happened for me here this week at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

I wonder if we could see each other’s family trees, if we’d be more loving and tolerant and kind to each other.  I pray for the day when we will see how we are all connected, every single one of us, cousins and family.

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“My Lord Will Have Need of Me” –Meeting Elder and Sister Huber

Elder Peter Huber and Sister Carla Huber are currently serving in the Frankfurt Mission as Humanitarian Missionaries.  I was asked to prepare a press release about an award they received last week, and so I called to interview them in Türkiye.  We had a wonderful visit.  This is the news release I prepared after speaking with them.  But there is more to their story that I’d like to share here.

Latter-day Saint’s earthquake relief efforts in Türkiye recognised

On Tuesday, 3 October 2023, in Istanbul, Elder Peter and Sister Carla Huber were honoured on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their contributions to the relief efforts in Türkiye.  Recognised in an award ceremony by the organisation “Health Volunteers” in Türkiye, they were presented an award for their “Extraordinary Efforts to Heal the Wounds of the Earthquake” in Southeastern Türkiye.

In the early morning of 6 February 2023, a massive earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria.  In just 80 seconds, widespread damage covered an area the size of Germany. Fourteen million people were affected, many left homeless, without food, shelter, or medical care.

At the time, Elder and Sister Huber were serving as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Frankfurt, assigned to train and help people to be prepared for emergencies of any kind. Elder Huber had been involved in emergency response work for many years in his native Switzerland. He was prepared to immediately step into the crisis in Türkiye and know how to help.

Working in collaboration with the Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Health and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Elder Huber was moved when he learned that a company named Turmaks manufactured and had donated two field hospitals and he reached out to the company.  Area Seventy, Paul Picard, who attended the ceremony, said, “this is the start of a wonderful cooperation with dedicated and kind professionals sincerely engaged to help their fellow citizens.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Turmaks worked together to build and install five mobile field hospitals and 50 housing containers for 100 physicians and nurses who had nowhere to live. Funding for these mobile units was made possible by the kind and generous donations of members of The LDS Church in Türkiye and throughout the world. Also donated were more than 500,000 food and hygiene boxes and five million bottles of water.

In one city that once had a population of 60,000, the hospital was completely damaged, but some homes remained. Today, 250,000 people have moved into this city, but there was no place to receive needed medical care. The container and tent hospital now receives 1,500 people daily.

Elder and Sister Huber expressed gratitude for all the partners who collaborated to make this aid possible. “We were very happy to be here and to help a little bit.” Now they are looking to the future to find ways to help rebuild important infrastructures. “Looking at the whole thing, makes you feel paralysed,” said Elder Huber. “But I have learned that if we each day do our best, we can leave to the Lord to do the rest.”

One of five mobile hospitals donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Turkiye.

Inside a patient ward in the mobile hospital.

This is one way the mobile hospitals are configurated.

This is one of many local hospitals damaged in the 6 February earthquake.


I asked Elder Huber to explain to me what in his life led him to be in that place at that time.  His story fascinated me.  Elder and Sister Huber are from Basel, Switzerland.  In Switzerland, at age 20, every young man is required to train for military service, returning yearly for continued training until the age of 32.  Elder Huber decided to be a military officer, eventually commanding 2,500 people, so his yearly 4-week training sessions continued until he was 52 years old.  His work in the military centered on logistics and emergency preparedness.  Because of that experience, his local government leaders selected him to be responsible for the safety of the people in his district.  He was in charge of developing new concepts, training people, finding materials and teaching people how to react in emergency situations.  Because of the expertise he gained, he was asked to help in many projects all over Switzerland.

Every 500 years or so, a big earthquake is due to hit Basel.  The last one was 700 years ago.  Earthquake response was one of the areas he focused on, training 100,000 people how to help rescue people in the event of an earthquake.  He also trained people and prepared for extreme heat or cold, flooding or dams breaking, the influxes of Syrian refugees, and nuclear power plant accidents.

In 2014, in a new government risk report, Elder Huber received instructions to prepare people for energy shortages, electricity shortages and pandemics.  As he considered the possibility of a pandemic, he anticipated challenges with overworked employees, over-crowded hospitals and waiting for vaccinations to be developed.  In 2016 he prepared a training program for pandemics.  His colleagues laughed at him, but when the Corona Pandemic hit in 2020, he was prepared and other districts copied his programs.  He said, “I was always praying to know what to do in my work and many times I received inspiration from the Lord about what needed to be done.”

After retiring, Elder and Sister Huber wanted to serve a mission.  They looked on the LDS Missionary Portal to see what types of service opportunities were available.  They decided they wanted to let the Lord choose where they served, rather than picking an assignment.  At the time, Elder Huber was working in the temple with a local Area Seventy.  They often talked about missionary service.  This friend asked Elder Huber for a copy of his CV, which he then shared with the Area President in Frankfurt.

In January 2022, the Hubers received a call to serve in Frankfurt as Welfare Service Missionaries, Specializing in Emergency Response for the Central Europe Area.  Their mission would begin in October 2022.  In February, the war in Ukraine started.  One week later, Frankfurt called.  “Can you come earlier, we need you now!”  Elder Huber had retired, but his wife was still working.  From March to May, he traveled to Frankfurt weekly to start helping, while his wife was still working in Switzerland.

In October the Area President called to ask him to help with the Ukraine crisis.  Elder Huber started to develop tools for the Area to be prepared for disaster situations.  He worked with the Self Reliance manager.

On 6 February 2023, the earthquake struck Türkiye, causing widespread damage and affecting 14 million people, leaving many homeless, without food, shelter, or medical care.  “We were asked to go to Türkiye to help,” said Elder Huber.  “And so we went.”

Church leaders in Salt Lake were thrilled to have Elder Huber here, on the ground, prepared and ready to go serve and help in Türkiye.  It was no coincidence.  Once there, they worked around the clock, pausing only to go to church on Sundays.

“We did not plan to do this,” said Elder Huber. “We realized that the Lord really prepares people over the years and decades.  Every couple has a big life experience they can use.  I never expected to be able to help in an earthquake zone on my mission.”

“If you go there and come back, you are not the same person anymore,” said Elder Huber.  “Actually going there is not at all like just looking at pictures.  Homes have broken down; people are searching for family members.  Even months later, people didn’t want to leave their homes, hoping to find their lost loved ones.”

Elder Huber said, “people came for the aid, and then hugged us, they didn’t want to let go.  Most were Muslim. They looked at us and said thanks, not to Allah, but to our God for sending us to them.”  He quietly and tearfully continued, “It’s wonderful.  I cannot imagine doing better work.  It’s been an absolute great opportunity to serve here, helping people in need.  I have seen the words in Matthew 25:334-45 fulfilled, every single point.  Today I have another feeling about this scripture.  I always felt bad for not helping more.  We always contributed some to humanitarian funds.  But I’m glad that today I can say yes there was a period in our lives where we did exactly what the Savoir taught in Matthew.”

I told Elder Huber I hope his mission never ends!  He said, “If you are dedicated to the work of the Lord, you are never released.”  He continued, “It’s important that we are ready for these last days.  It’s a very important time.  Looking at the whole thing, makes you feel paralyzed.  My motto is: ‘Do each day your best, leave to the Lord to do the rest’ (David O. McKay).”

I left this interview moved to tears, overwhelmed as I thought about the years of preparation that brought the Hubers here now.  I will admit that it was no small part of me that wished I could trade places with them and do what they are doing.  But sadly, I know that I am not prepared to do that job.

Then the thought occurred to me that I may not know how to build mobile hospitals and aid earthquake victims like the Hubers, but I can WRITE and RECORD what I learned from them.  That is something I have prepared for many years to do now.  And so, here is their story.  And I want to share it with you.

Sis Ann Lewis, 6 October 2023, Frankfurt

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The Enduring Power of Stones and Words

Today, in a place called Marburg, I walked on stones that have been walked for more than a thousand years.  These stones are worn and old.  If they could speak, oh the stories they’d tell!  I wondered about those stories and the people in them.  I tried to imagine the shoes on the feet of the people that walked here–the women and children, the soldiers and guards, the shopkeepers and buyers.  Years and years of them living lives we know little about today.

And then I thought about words, and how something as simple as a word can also last for centuries.  But unlike stones, words communicate.  They tell the stories.  They explain.  They describe. They detail.  They evoke emotion.  They enlighten.

Words are more powerful than stones.

I’ve shared this before and will share it again because all day today, these words went through my mind:  ““You know, there are poems, there are stories, whole books, about people who lived hundreds, even thousands of years ago. Those people still live because of words. Words! Words are the most wonderful things in the world. As long as there are words, nobody need ever die.”
– Betsy Byars, Keeper of the Doves

Stones preserve structures, but words preserve people and thoughts.  We are more important and words are more powerful and more enduring, but only if we preserve them.

Another reason for writing my fingers to the bone.


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The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson

On my nightstand at home is a small book by Nicole Johnson that I’ve read and re-read many times as a wife and mother.  And now that I’m living in a land of cathedrals, I’m thinking about it again as a grandmother.  The Invisible Woman.  We are many and we are not alone in this feeling.  There have been plenty of times when my tears have wet my pillow at night because I was invisible on any given day.  This message has helped me get through those days and years.  Maybe they will help you too.

It started to happen gradually…

I would walk into a room and say something and no one would notice. I would say , Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. So I would get louder. “Turn the TV down please!” Finally I would have to go over and turn the TV down myself.

And then I started to notice it elsewhere. My husband and I had been at a party for about three hours and I was ready to go. I looked over and he was talking to a friend from work, and I walked over and he kept right on talking.  He didn’t even turn toward me.

That’s when I started to put it together. He can’t see me. I’m invisible. I’m invisible. Then I started to notice it more and more.

I would walk my son to school and his teacher would say, “Jake, who’s that with you?” And my son would say, “Nobody.” Granted he’s just five, but nobody?

One night, a group of us gathered and we were celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just taken this fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

And I was sitting there, looking around at the other women at the table. I’d put my makeup on in the car on the way there. I had an old dress because it was the only thing clean. And I had my unwashed hair pulled up in a banana clip and I was feeling pretty darn pathetic.

Then Janice turned to me and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I did not understand. And then I read her inscription.

She wrote “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

You can’t name the names of the people who built the great cathedrals. Over and over again looking at these mammoth works you scan down to find the names and it says, “Builder unknown, unknown, unknown.” They completed things not knowing that anyone would notice.

There’s a story about one of the builders who was carving a tiny bird on the inside a beam that would be covered over by a roof. And someone came up to him and said,

“Why are you spending so much time on something no one will ever see?  And it’s reported that the builder replied, “Because God sees.”

They trusted that God saw everything. They gave their whole lives for a work, a mammoth work they would never see finished. They showed up day after day.

Some of these cathedrals took over 100 years to build. That was more than one working man’s lifetime. Day after day. And they made personal sacrifices for no credit.

Showing up at a job they would never see finished for a building their name would never be on. One writer even goes so far as to say no great cathedrals will ever be built again because so few people are willing to sacrifice to that degree.

I closed the book, and it was if I heard God say, I see you. You are not invisible to me. No sacrifice is too small for me to notice.

I see every cupcake baked, every sequin sewn on and I smile over every one. I see every tear of disappointment when things don’t go the way you want them to go.

But remember, you are building a great cathedral. It will not be finished in your life time. And sadly, you will never get to live there. But if you build it well, I will.”

At times my invisibility has felt like an affliction to me. But it is not a  disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my own pride. It’s okay that they don’t see. It’s okay that they don’t know.

I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college, “You’re not gonna believe what my mom does. She gets up at 4:00 in the morning and she bakes pies and hand bastes a turkey and she presses all the linens.”

Even if I do all those things, I don’t want him to say that. I want him to want to come home. And secondly, I want him to say to his friend, “You’re gonna love it there.”

It’s okay they don’t see. We don’t work for them. We work for Him. We sacrifice for Him. They will never see, not if we do it right, not if we do it well.

Let’s pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even greater God.

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News from Frankfurt!

Well, we are settling in to our new home in Frankfurt.  It’s been really really fun.  We love it here.  I’m writing now on my mission blog, if you want to find me, I’m here:


I’ll check in here from time to time, though.  Maybe to introduce our new home, I’ll post here my first letter back to some of my dear friends, sent after or first week or two.

The pic below shows the old Area Church Offices on the left and our apartment building in the middle.  We live on the 6th floor.

This is the view from our window:

Here’s a bit of news:

Well, we’ve been here more than a week now and we are loving it!  This is a bit of a group letter to you, my dearest friends, just to let you know all is well and we are really happy.

We arrived in Frankfurt on Tues 22 August.  We are living in an 11 floor block apartment building that houses several of the senior missionary couples here and a few of the young missionaries.  The apartments are right next to the old church office building and Frankfurt Stake center, but this month the big move is happening for all the church employees—we’ve gone to a large very nice office complex about a 15 min drive from home.  It’s called the Phoenix Haus.

The Phoenix Haus will be the Church Office Building for Europe.  The church purchased the building a few years ago and major renovations have been happening.  I’ll attach a pic of the building and our apartment building.  We (the Church) don’t occupy the entire building, but the hope is that as the church grows here, in time we will.  The inside looks like brand new and it’s all beautifully finished with beautiful photo murals on the walls and quotes etched into the office windows and state of the art workspaces.

We go to the office every day 8:30 or 9:00 to about 6:00.  Slowly we are learning what they want us to do and it’s a little overwhelming.  Communications (formerly Public Communications or Public Affairs) is the department in the Church that shows us off to the world.  For us, the focus is from European countries to all the rest of the world.  It feels rather like a newsroom or a place for journalists.  We have to find stories and write them, so we stay tuned in to all of the other departments and what they are doing.  We have communication directors in about 15-18 of our 34 countries.  Some of the countries in our central European area don’t have many members or national directors.  We’re having a big conference with all of the national directors in 1.5 weeks, so we’re spending a lot of time getting ready for that.

This is our Central Europe Area:

One of the jobs they’ve just given me is to create content for the 7 large flat screen TVs in the building that the employees will see.  I need to gather interesting news items and information that will quickly summarize what’s going on in the area and it will be shown on a rotating or revolving screen for all the employees to see.  There are about 260 employees working in the area offices now, with an additional 26 missionary couples and quite a few interns, many from BYU.

This evening we’re going to the Friedrichsdorf Temple with our small office staff.  (We joined one other Sr couple and have 2 bosses and a new BYU intern.)  The temple is about a 15 min drive from the office.  I’ll be doing the temple work for a dear relative I knew, my Tante Hilde.

One of the fun things about this mission is that we have our evenings and weekends free.  We can do whatever we want and go wherever we’d like.  Last Saturday we went to a town called Hanau, where the brothers Grimm were born and lived.  We visited the castle/ palace there and the old churches and enjoyed wandering around the town.  This coming weekend we’ll join a group of missionaries going to visit Wartburg, a town with a castle where Martin Luther hid out.  While there he translated the New Testament into German.  Every week there are outings and fieldtrips or we can do our own thing.  All the missionaries have lists of places to go and see.  There is so much interesting history here!

The grocery stores are great.  We’re eating simply and well.  We love our small apartment with a sitting room, small kitchen, small bathroom and a bedroom.  We keep our windows open day and night.  They look out over a huge old cemetery a block or two away.  It’s a lovely place to walk.  We are enjoying this simple focused life.  And I’m enjoying being surrounded by German words!

The weather has been beautiful, in the 70s.  The air feels crisp with a touch of Fall.  We will love the seasons here.  We’re happy and grateful for this fun opportunity to learn and to serve.  I hope we can do all they need us to do.  It will be fun (and a little scary) to figure it out!

Love to you from Frankfurt,


This is our little apartment, cozy and nice.

I can walk from one end of the apartment to the other in about 15 steps.  It’s just perfect for our needs.  We’re going to be very happy here.

Well, that’s a first taste of our new world.  If you’d like to see more, including more about the work, daily life and our fun outings, look in on the mission blog from time to time.  I’ll be over there now.  Love to you all.

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