When I was six weeks old, we moved to Germany as our then family of four. My dad grew up speaking German in his North Dakota home, studied and taught in Germany, and greatly desired to raise his family there. My 23 year-old mom was up for the adventure and off we went. My dad’s initial employment plan fell through and he ended up getting a job selling insurance to the military – a job he had zero passion for, in a country that fueled his passions. Seven years later, the Berlin Wall came down and my parents felt an urgency to leave. We sold everything we owned and moved to Canada with the financial help from my grandpa. The German economy was suffering and my dad was about to lose all his clients and most likely his job. My dad: was a spy during the Cold War in Germany, joined the LDS Church in Germany, was nearly in the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Germany. My dad left his heart in Germany – a concept our family has became very aware of over the years.

Four months before I knew about the Chuuk opportunity, my parents and I planned a trip to Germany around Thanksgiving. This trip was a highly anticipated trip before Micronesia, and a bright light at the end of the tunnel during the first half in Micronesia. In my life, I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel, and was very much looking forward to traveling with my parents this time. I was most excited to capture pictures of my dad in his happy place! I had not been back in 26 years and could not wait to re-visit our old home of Wurzburg.

November 18th finally came!

The visits and sights were incredible, the journey was rough.

Our first day in Germany, my dad expressed he was feeling an unexpected flood of emotions and felt as though he could not stay long. He quickly fell into a visible funk and never quite recovered. For him, being there was a reminder of the life he once had; speaking German on a daily basis and living in the country that gave him so much meaning, while also disliking his job and feeling a great financial strain and responsibility to support his family.

As I felt a surge of nostalgic memories, I determined that I was going to have a different experience and chose to focus on the positive.

Wurzburg, Germany

We made it to Germany and to my childhood home of Wurzburg. It’s been quite surreal to visit after 26 years! The bratwurst and donuts are just as good as I remember! The German school supplies and markets are still some of my all-time favorites! Fun fact: my foreign language mind is getting a full work out – I’m hearing German, wanting to reply in Romanian, and at times actually replying in Chuukese.
The Saint Bridge and Castle – home!
Our home was at the bottom of the castle wall
A church assignment my dad had while we were living in Wurzburg was to find land for the building of a new chapel. We moved six weeks after it was completed.
We had an epic reunion in Wurzburg when we visited our kindergarten and found one of our teachers, Moni! A flood of emotions and memories came as we were able to spend some time inside the old class and visit around the school. Dear current kinder, love your time there!
We had a miracle occur when we went to visit our old house in Wurzburg! One has to be buzzed in to enter the building and as we were talking about how much we wanted to go inside, a lady walked out, who happens to live next door to our old place. We went through her house and into our old backyard, and of course looked in our old windows. It’s interesting how you remember things being much bigger when you were young. Seven years of memories!


Little ones attend kindergarten for three years. We lucked out being able to live right next to ours!
The greatest (seasonal) swing of all time right outside our home!
“If you like our picture, give us money.” Bless our first and only donor, our dad!
Toward the end of the year, we had a kindergarten sleepover at the school! I remember playing games in a nearby field; that same night, there was a fire a few buildings down; wearing my pink panther suspenders!
For the first day of first grade, parents fill a schultute or tute (school cone) with treats and school supplies for their child. Each child takes it to school, unopened, as a you-got-this-first-grade-thing kind of motivator! The tutes were then opened once children got home from school. In first grade, each student also got THE gold and green beanie. I think that’s where my love for beanies began!
Siblings – friends to play with for life!
German backpacks, German coats, walking to school. Being two years apart, we’ve been able to attend 7 schools together in 3 countries, from kindergarten to college.
The Backerei. They’re on nearly every corner and they are delicious, especially the pretzels and red jelly-filled donuts that leave your face covered in sugar crystals!

Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg and the year-round Christmas store!

Munchen, Germany

Miracles going down and dreams coming true in Munchen! We visited the Olympic Stadium for the 1972 Summer Games. We found the track unlocked and a construction worker let us in the stadium! Dreams! Fun fact: ten days before the Olympic trials for the 400 meter race, my dad fell off a horse, injuring his back and right leg, just missing his qualifying chance to race in the Olympics on this very track.
Grateful on this Thanksgiving Day in Germany for my dad who was prepared from a young age to seek after truth, and for his life experiences that lead him to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 10, 1971 in Munchen. We were able to visit the very church where he was baptized. This choice of his has greatly blessed my life! Why was he living in Germany you ask? He was a spy during the Cold War…NBD.

Salzburg, Austria

Hopped on down to Austria to visit the Sound of Music sights!
Neuschwanstein Castle

I’m grateful for the lessons one can learn about themselves and others while traveling and the change that can happen by applying those lessons. I’m grateful I’ve had a current passport since I was six weeks old. I’m grateful for the ability to document memories, feelings and thoughts. I’m grateful for my childhood experiences and the extremely supportive parents I have been given.


2 thoughts on “Germany

  1. Caralee Johnson December 29, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    Oh what an adventure! I loved seeing all the pics of you and Eliesha! I remember how sad I was to say goodbye to your mom. What a life of travel and service you’ve had. Congrats Rachel on making a difference in your life and the lives of so many others!


  2. secretwordsblog December 29, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    I love the side by side comparisons! What an amazing experience!


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