The boys have been studying really hard this semester, so it was a nice surprise when we got photos of them skiing over the weekend. I am so glad that they were able to sneak away from studying life to have a little bit of fun. Peter’s friend Julian drove them all to Park City to go skiing. Even though it was still February, the weather was quite warm which was nice but also meant that the snow was just ok. All in all, the boys still had a great time on the slopes together.
Driving the boys to college at the University of Utah was exciting, surreal, and a little bit sad. We moved Peter into the dorms first. We made it to SLC right in time for him to check in and get his ID and COVID test done. Then it was off to the dorms where it was pouring rain. Luckily the U dorms do it right. The kids check out a cart and take their stuff to their rooms that way. That is genius! The dorm rooms are so spacious. We unpacked everything in record time. It helped to have 4 people helping. There are so many cool things about being a student at the University of Utah. One of those perks is that every student gets all the Adobe products for free since the founder of Adobe is a U of U alum.
The next morning, we got up and moved Andrew into his studio apartment at Avia in downtown SLC. Luckily, he is right on the TRAX line so he can hop on for free with his student card and ride up to campus. It is only a 10-minute commute for him! It was fun helping him get set up in his apartment. His apartment complex has some nice perks like free rides on the green scooters and bikes downtown, discounts at some restaurants, a movie room and lounge area with kitchen plus weight room and super cool patio areas with lots of grilling opportunities. I hope he has fun living it up in such a cool place while the GI Bill helps to pay for it!
Later that night, we all went out to dinner at the Copper Onion and had the most delicious beef stroganoff. It was only a short walk from Andrew's apartment. It was a nice way to celebrate two successful days of unpacking the boys for college. The next day we toured campus with the boys and then said our goodbyes. We said goodbye to Peter first who left to participate in freshman orientation for the engineering students. Then Andrew took us around the rest of campus and showed us the buildings he would be having class in plus Peter's engineering building. We ended up running back into Peter after we finished up at the bookstore and then said goodbye to both boys. It was bitter sweet to say goodbye.
MOVING DAY FOR PETER - KAHLERT VILLAGE
MOVING DAY FOR ANDREW - AVIA APARTMENTS
touring campus and saying our goodbyes
New Orleans can be done in 2 days, but one last thing that must occur when you are in the deep South is a trip into the Bayou. So, we got up, had breakfast, and headed east, just shy of the Mississippi border. We had a small boat tour of the East Pearl River and associated sloughs and bayou. It did not disappoint. It’s amazing how much life there is tucked into the grasses, bald cypress, water, and mud. From crawfish, to honeybees, to ducks, to pigs, racoons, alligators, and fish, there is a lot to see. It is a much different way of life than we are used to in super dry Colorado. Houses flood routinely, hurricanes threaten occasionally, and the humidity and heat never relent. It seems a distant world from the filth of New Orleans. It was fun to be in a different form of nature than we are used to in the mountains. There were lots more bugs and tons more water. The thought of our family living in a little cabin on the bayou makes me laugh. We wouldn’t last long.
After the tour, we headed back to the city. On our way, we grabbed some po’ boys and our culinary trip to the south was complete. We went back over bridges and water to the city and our hotel. Thank goodness for nice hotels. Driving into the entryway is like arriving through the gates of the castle. It is a refuge from the world just outside in the streets. We rested a bit, then headed back to the airport for our evening flight. Then it was back to Colorado, reality, and the life we know.
Written by Mike
Sunday arrived with a trip to church. The Brady family, who clearly was a big piece of this ward, decided to move to California and this was their farewell Sunday. It was an entertaining sacrament meeting and very much more diverse than anything we have attended in Colorado. After church, it was back to the WWII museum for the Pacific campaign and the planes. It was interesting to see the boys talk about their knowledge of Japan, the pacific, and relate it to the events of WWII. I think that they could really feel the misery of jungle warfare, the tenacity of the Japanese, and the unforgiving nature of Naval Warfare from their experiences living in Japan and being a part of 7th fleet.
After the museum, it was time for a New Orleans Sunday brunch. So, it was back to the French Quarter and off to Broussard’s where the boys had oysters for the first time, chicken and waffles, and I had Josephine Benedict. The service was stellar and the food good. The boys really enjoyed their chicken and waffles.
Sufficiently stuffed, the boys headed back to the hotel for a nap and refuge from the heat. I wandered around the shopping areas of New Orleans for a little bit, then headed back to the hotel. New Orleans and the WWII museum are a fitting mix. The WWII Museum shows the very best of mankind right beside the very worst of mankind. The depravity, vile disregard for life, lust for money and power that ushered the world into the misery of WWII brought out the heroism, charity, selfless sacrifice, and courage of so many. It is both a tribute to and a rebuke of humanity. A reminder that we must strive for the best, extoll the good, and prevent the evil. New Orleans is much the same. There is no place on earth that exhibits the depravity and worst of humanity than Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. If sin has a smell, then it is the fetid odor that stifles the air of Bourbon Street. It is truly horrific. The sights, sounds, and smells remind you that humans will resort to their bassist most animalistic natures for what they perceive is a good time. But in the end, they are only trading their birthright for a mess of pottage. It is sobering to witness. The musical, culinary, and architectural delights are almost no match for the sewage which swills around it. It endures, but only if people chose the good and not the bad.
On the other side, there is the Garden District and Commander’s Palace. It may seem a bit much to take an eighteen and a twenty-year-old to such an establishment, but it embodies Haute Cuisine and fine service. You would think eating at 8:45 pm was late, but the restaurant was packed with people. The immediate thing that you notice is the service. The service is impeccable. Everything about it is refined, thoughtful, and done in a way that dignifies the gust and does not demean them. The second thing you notice are the happy faces of people enjoying wonderful food. No one is sitting around miserable, waiting, wondering, or wishing. Everyone is enjoying themselves. And what’s not to enjoy? The food is exemplary. Peter had turtle soup and Andrew and I had the gumbo. For main courses we all had quail (you get a quail, you get a quail, you get a quail!). Peter said it was the best thing he had ever eaten. It was quite good. For dessert, Peter the bread pudding souffle, which is divine. I had the peaches and cream, and Andrew had the cookies n’ cream. Good food brings out good conversation and the evening was awesome. I am grateful that we could be together and enjoy an evening of laughs, tasty food, and excellent service. You can’t help but feel great after such an evening.
Written by Mike
Getting up early to fly somewhere is always so painful, but when you have a limited schedule, sometimes, it’s all you can do. Before the boys went off to college, I decided to do a quick trip somewhere. But where to go? The boys are really into WW2 history and have lived in and studied both the major enemy countries. They are really into Jazz, Peter playing trumpet and Andrew playing trombone. They are really into good food. So, we decided on New Orleans, home of Jazz, the WWII museum, and tasty southern cuisine.
Of course, we headed off on Frontier airlines, which was a little painful and certainly a little eye opening. It was the people’s flight. Lots and lots of unique, loud, and voluminous people. Once off the plane, we got our bag and then got on the rental car bus, which takes you on a 30-minute tour around the airport, to the old airport parking garage. It was not very glorious or efficient. The rental car folks still had printers from 1987, so that was interesting too. It’s like they took the entire airport and made it new and nice, except for the car rental people. They left them to perish by themselves. As if one day they are just going to open a new rental car place by the new airport and not tell anybody at the old place.
Once in our California Camry, we headed directly to the WWII museum, parked, and then left for our first taste of goodness. The Cochon Butcher. Just a couple blocks from the museum, the meats are delicious, the mac and cheese divine, and the Bavarian pretzels other worldly. A tasty way to start the day since we didn’t have breakfast in Denver. After lunch, we headed back to the museum and indulged ourselves in history. The WWII Museum is so well done, it’s just amazing. It’s probably one of the best museums in the world in my opinion. There is so much information, so many interactive displays that you could spend hours pouring through all of it. It really is worth the journey. As a parent, taking kids to museums, they just kind of look around at some stuff and then ask when they can have ice-cream. Now, the boys were content to watch every video, read every placard, explore every nook and exhibit in the museum. It was a lot of fun. What was even more fun were the discussions that we had at dinner that night and later in the day as they drew comparisons to the lessons of WWII and current events. Fascinating.
After the museum, we hustled over to the hotel, dropped off our stuff, and then headed to Preservation Hall where we were entreated to Shannon Hall and the Preservation Hall All-Star band. Trumpet, Trombone, Drums, Bass, and Piano. So close. So good. So inspiring. To see musicians who have mastered the craft up close was a gift to the senses. The pianist’s forearm muscles were like the strings of a bass bounding and pulsating in a way that made his fingers resurrect music from the worn ivory keys of the upright. The trombonist smooth and powerful while the trumpet led everyone higher and higher with unapologetic grandeur. The drums and bass provided direction and confidence to the endeavor and for an hour we were reminded that somethings in life are best enjoyed in the moment.
After the performance, we grabbed some Beignets at Café Du Monde and headed back to our hotel for dinner and more jazz. The boys had gumbo, truffle oil fries, Crawfish Fet toast, and shrimp and grits. Dessert was peach bread pudding and a smore’s board. After that, the only thing one could do is go to bed.
Written by Mike
Andrew spent most of April still visiting with his investigators, enjoying all sorts of different weather, eating all the good food in Germany, doing splits with the Elders in Dortmund, and participating in a Zone Conference and getting to see some friends from his time at the MTC. It was the last month of living a mission life while in Germany since he would be medically released for some continued health problems that were not improving. While in Germany, Andrew struggled with his health, but he always wanted to stay. Every time he met with his mission president, he would always say, “I think I can go a little bit longer.” We were never quite sure how long he would be able to stay on his mission. Andrew had some incredible experiences with Herman and Silva, one of his couple investigators from Honduras and Holland. I always loved hearing about Herman and the gains he made with him. I could see great changes in Andrew as a missionary and although he was only able to serve for 8 months, it was totally worth it.
After leaving Texas the beginning of the month, Andrew flew from Houston directly to London. Then he got on a bus with the other missionaries who left Texas and headed to Preston, England to quarantine for 2 weeks at the Preston MTC. He was put in a room with Elders Felt, Helmer, and Sumison. Although he missed his friends back in Texas, he had a great time with those elders. They were low key and funny and compared to his first companion in Texas, it was a heavenly situation. Their Frankfurt mission president, President Hammon, contacted them in the MTC and spent some time getting to know them with one on one interviews. President Hammon is incredibly passionate about missionary work, and truly loves all of the missionaries. Andrew and the other missionaries were able to tune into some of the Frankfurt zone conferences and Monday morning prayers. President Hammon told the elders to really hit the German study hard, as it would be very possible that they would only have 4-5 weeks of training before they were on their own training other missionaries.
Upon arriving at the MTC, they were put into rooms of 4 with strict rules. They had to stay in their rooms unless they were going to their assigned bathroom. Food came 3 times a day and they had to stay in their rooms while the food was being delivered. Mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches were not one of Andrew's favorites. It said it was by far the worst lunch idea he's tasted in a long time. On the flip side they got plenty of Nutella packets with their meals, so they used them to trade for other food items with each other.
They were allowed outside time twice a day for 30 minutes, but had no room to really exercise. The classes that were recommended they attend online were basically MTC classes so Andrew and his roommates skipped most of them and practiced German on their own. Although it was easy to get bored, they had nearly daily devotionals from the area 70 which was uplifting.
Due to some changes in the UK their quarantine was shortened to 10 days. Although they still had to stay in their rooms when the food was delivered, they had unlimited outside time and were allowed to go throughout the entire MTC campus. They had the opportunity to visit the temple grounds daily, and went on runs through the town of Chorley. It rained most everyday but they had one or two days of sun and no rain.
On December 18th, Andrew flew from Manchester to Frankfurt, Germany. He was greeted by President Hammon and his wife. He then headed to the mission office building where he quarantined for 5 days. He was able to take a COVID test which was negative and was then sent on a train to his first area in Darmstadt. It was an interesting train ride with one of the sisters that was also heading to Darmstadt. Andrew met his new companion, Elder Jenks (District Leader) and the two other Elders in Darmstadt, one of which is the Zone Leader. One of the members fed them on Christmas Eve and they all sang "Silent Night" in German at the end of their evening. This member gave Andrew and his companion really cool pens in a wooden engraved Darmstadt case. On Christmas Day, they spent time during the day at two different member's homes. It was nice that they had somewhere to go on Christmas. The work moves on, even during COVID. Although there haven't been a lot of service opportunities, the members have been awesome. Andrew really loves the people he has met in Germany.
LAST DAYS IN TEXAS
ORIGINAL MTC DISTRICT ALL IN ENGLAND
1ST AREA - DARMSTADT
After a little over a month in Texas, Andrew has finally gotten into the groove of being a missionary. He has been staying busy, recognizing that 12 hours sometimes is not enough time to get everything done. He has been working hard on finding more people to teach and working on setting up a ward mission plan alongside their newly made family history plan. He worked hard this month on connecting with ward members, both active and inactive. They are technically allowed to knock doors and check on inactive members or people who have been taught by the missionaries if they don't first respond via text or call. He knocked a lot of those doors and had plenty slammed in his face. He definitely got a solid taste of the classic pre-COVID missionary experience. They have an incredible new bishopric and ward mission leader, and he was glad to see the positive impact that they were having with the new ward mission plan.
This month Andrew got to do a lot of service including a Thanksgiving food drive and setting up rooms for kids at Christhaven. He felt great helping others and had a fun time doing it. He got to have some fun during his p-days this month. He went with a big group of missionaries and went to the driving range to golf one day and went fishing on another day with the other elders in his apartment. Some members who have an enormous ranch let them fish at one of their ponds. Only Elder Larson caught a fish, but Andrew got a couple bites. Andrew has really enjoyed the trio of elders in his apartment. Andrew's last p-day in Texas was spent shopping for boots at the boot shop. He found a great pair of nice dark brown waterproof and warm boots to wear in Germany. He was so excited when we told him we would buy them for him for Christmas.
This month he found out that Sister Schellenberg, the other German missionary in his zone, left to quarantine in the UK. This news was encouraging and gave him hope that he would be able to leave. Closer to the end of this month Andrew found out that he would also be heading to the UK on December 3 to quarantine before heading to Germany. He was so excited by this news.
It was a bittersweet morning as we said goodbye to Andrew at the Colorado Springs airport where he was boarding a plane to head to Ft. Worth, TX for his first missionary assignment. He was pretty calm and collected but I could tell that he was nervous about what he was heading into. Since I had already said goodbye last month this goodbye was much easier, even though I knew that it would be the last time I would see him in 2 years. I am so proud of Andrew for his commitment to share the gospel with the people of Texas and eventually the people of Germany. I know serving a mission will bless his life.
While Andrew was home for a few days between online MTC and leaving for his first missionary assignment, we had the opportunity to go through the Denver LDS temple with him and it was amazing. My parents were able to drive up from Utah so that they could be there for Andrew. We also invited Michelle Watabe and Tex and Anne Johnson. It was so nice to have a small gathering of friends and family for Andrew. The session was awesome and although I am sure Andrew had many questions about the Endowment, we spent some time talking with him the night before, the car ride to the temple and in the celestial room. We were all so blessed that the Denver LDS temple opened back up right before his mission so that we could have this experience with Andrew. I feel so blessed to have a son who is willing to give up 2 years of his life to spread the Hope of Christ to others. I can’t think of a better time to help others find hope in a time where it seems like all hope is lost and men and women’s hearts are failing. I know Elder Wilhelm will be a force for good in the world and will do great things!
It’s crazy to think Andrew is nineteen years old. It’s crazy that he turned nineteen in a year that has been totally upside down thanks to COVID-19. It’s crazy that he is living in our basement and completing another semester of school. We’re grateful for Andrew. No one who has kids will tell you that they don’t stress you out and make you want to pull out your hair, but at the same time, life wouldn’t be as grand without them. Happy Birthday Andrew.
Any vacation wouldn’t be complete without some silly long hike. Mount Timpanogos seems like a straightforward hike, and for the most part it is, but it is a long, long hike. The waterfalls, wildflowers, and stunning views make it all worth it. Peter and Andrew basically raced up the mountain, proving that it's really annoying to go hiking with younger people with good lungs and springy legs, but we kept up with them pretty well. Emerald Lake was beautiful and there were mountain goats just hanging out alongside the trail. Crossing the snowbanks was tough, but getting to the summit wasn’t too bad, especially since we’re pretty used to the altitude. The views from the top were perfect. It was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. The real beast was coming back down. It’s just a long, long way by the time you get back down. The entire hike was sixteen miles round trip. Sara ran down the last couple of miles and the boys spent time just enjoying all the waterfalls. Afterwards, it was a race to IN-N-OUT for everyone so we could refuel our bodies. It was such a great hike, but one we would pay for with sore legs for the next couple of days.
written by Mike
While Grandpa Al was still in town, we decided to do Andrew’s Priesthood Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood in preparation for his mission to Frankfurt, Germany. We were fortunate enough to have Joe Hale come over as a member of our Stake High Council. Mike gave a spectacular blessing to Andrew. We are so excited for Andrew’s future and the amazing things he will be able to do now that he holds the higher priesthood.
It’s been a bumpy road watching Andrew as he went back and forth about serving a mission. It all started with a pretty great spiritual experience last fall that helped him realize that he did in fact want to serve a mission. He was pretty solid about it for a few months but then something happened the beginning of this year. He had lots and lots of questions about things he never questioned before. His testimony was definitely tried, and he spent a few months pondering, praying and asking for answers to his questions. It was during this time that he had many conversations with not only his parents but also with his Grandpa Al. He later told me that it was the conversations he had with his grandpa that helped him back on the path to serving a mission. With nervous hearts, Mike and I kept asking him if he was going to finally turn in all of his paperwork. It was right at this time that COVID19 was starting to shut down the world and Mike was preparing to go and pick him up. In a quick conversation Andrew told Mike that he had finally made his appointment with his Stake President for his final interview before turning in all of his paperwork. He had wanted to surprise us but with everything that was going on he felt like he needed to tell us. We were both so incredibly excited by his decision. Then it was the long wait. Days turned into weeks and finally a month passed, and we were starting to wonder what happened to his paperwork. With General Conference in the mix we weren’t panicking just yet. Then as Tuesday passed, which in the past was the day that the mission calls came, and he had no email about his mission call, we encouraged him to write his Stake President. Surprisingly, two days later his call came. Mike and I weren’t home at the time when he received it and so he read it to some of his closest friends via Facetime. When we got home, he read it to all of us plus both sets of grandparents that were chimed in on Facetime. It was nice to have it be intimate with just family. When he read that he would be going to Frankfurt, Germany on August 19th we all lost it. We were beyond excited for him. I couldn’t believe it because a year ago I had a dream that he would serve in Germany. It was one of the most powerful dreams I have ever had but I didn’t put a whole lot of stock into it because let’s be real…it was a dream. Apparently, Mike had been having impressions that Andrew was going to go to Frankfurt. Again, mind blown. To say that we are excited for him is an understatement. We are so happy that he chose for himself to serve a mission. We know that he will make a great missionary!
When I thought about picking my son up from his freshman year of college, I wasn’t expecting it to be under such circumstances. It started out early in the morning in a trendy Uber from Colorado Springs to the Denver airport. It was cold and snowing. The airport was empty, even though it was the middle of a business day. I was the only person in line in security. There was hardly anyone in the airport. The flight from Denver to Salt Lake had about 20 people on it, so we spread out and had multiple rows to ourselves. Interestingly, the Salt Lake airport had quite a few people in it mulling about. I guess Utah got the memo about the Coronavirus a little after the rest of the West. Even so, it was still pretty vacant. The rental car guy was pretty excited when I showed up as I think I was one of the few people renting a car that day. It was a brand-new minivan, which turned out to be perfect. I left the airport and headed to Rexburg. The weather was warmer than in Colorado, so there was no snow on the roads. I got to Rexburg and Andrew was mostly ready to go. We finished packing a few things, and then loaded up the minivan with all his stuff. We cleaned his apartment and then headed out on the town. We went to Gaitor Jacks, which is a really good sandwich shop by his apartment and then he showed me around BYU-I. It was a lot bigger and nicer than I realized when we were there last time. It was fun to see where he would hang out, study, and chill. It was really sad to see it, though, knowing that he was getting shortchanged on his freshman year experience at college. I think that Andrew’s second semester was really good for him. He found his place, found some friends, and was heading in a good direction. It was sad to see it cut short. After that, we headed back down to Provo. We stopped in Ogden to get some food and made it pretty easily down to Orem. Once there, we unpacked some of his stuff into Sara’s parent’s condo, then went to sleep. It was a long day. On Saturday, we got up, washed clothes, bedding, and went to Costco and then Target to get some bins to pack everything neatly in the basement closet. Andrew got his hair cut (way short) and then we cleaned the condo and decided to head out early toward home, so we didn’t have to drive all day on Sunday. We drove to Grand Junction and got Buffalo Wild Wings, checked into the hotel, and watched movies. It was the prototypical guy road trip. Sunday, we got up early and headed toward home. When we got to Vail, it started snowing like crazy. There were people sliding off the highway and I was sure we were going to get stuck. The rental van had two-wheel drive only and it was struggling and overheating all the way up the pass. When we got to Frisco, there was about 1 foot of snow on the ground and it was snowing heavily. I didn’t think we would make it up the pass to the Eisenhower tunnel, so I refiled the radiator fluid, said a prayer, and we headed out. Turns out, when we got to Dillon, there was no snow and the rest of the drive home was easy. It was a whirlwind trip with Andrew, but a lot of fun. We had no idea that the Coronavirus storm was just starting.
Written by Mike
We got up early and headed up to Grand Targhee Ski Resort to go skiing today. It only took 70 minutes to get there and there was no traffic whatsoever. The drive was also pretty spectacular, and we were in awe seeing the amazing Tetons. When we got there, I walked in and got my rental boots and demo skis and we headed to get our lift tickets. With the military discount they were only $45 a person. What a steal! We grabbed some snacks and water and shoved them into Andrew’s ski pack and headed up the Dreamcatcher lift so that we could head down the runs under the Blackfoot lift. One of the guys at the ski rental place mentioned that there were some great runs over that way. Well, that guy was so wrong. Maybe on a powder day those runs are great, but they were mostly icy when we went down them. We canned skiing on this side of the mountain and headed back over to Dreamcatcher and then skied down the other side of the resort until we made our way over to the Sacajawea lift. This side of the mountain was definitely where the adventure was to be had. There were a few runs that were powderier than others and overall, we had a great time skiing down the Snowdancer run and the Medicine Bowl run. With a little more powder, we would've skied down some of the black tree runs but there just wasn't enough snow for me to feel comfortable doing that, so we skied mostly blue runs. After eating lunch at the bottom, I swapped out my LINE demo skis for some VOLKL skis. I did not like the LINE skis at all. They were much too light for me. I had way more fun skiing after lunch on a better pair of skis. We skied pretty much until the lifts were almost closed. Then it was back in the car for a pretty easy drive back to Rexburg. I dropped Andrew off back at his apartment and then headed back to the hotel to shower and rest. We met up later at Da Pineapple Grill for some pretty tasty Hawaiian food.