Saturday, April 21, 2012

Update on Our Blog Stats

In past updates on our blog activity, we showed the location of all the viewers on a map of the world and a list of countries that the visitors reside in.  However, we have reached a point where the world map would just be a mass of flags pile one on top of the other and the list of countries would be too long to easily view on a blog posting.  With that said, we are now at 30,000 views of the blog and the views have come from just about every country on the face of the earth.  We can't claim any visits from Antarctica yet and we might have missed one or two small African countries, but that is about it as far as we know.

Knowing that many people from around the world get information and enjoy the photos and friends and family are kept informed about our travels makes the effort worthwhile.  The ultimate praise that I got from one friend was that viewing the blog was almost like being there with us on the adventure.  Enough said.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Touring the Kansas City Mormon Temple - April 10, 2012

Today, Sigrid, my brother Jim, and I toured the Kansas City Mormon Temple.  The temple is just completed and has not gone into service yet.  After it is dedicated and placed in service, only church members in good standing are allowed inside the temple.  Tours are being given over a three week period and the church expects nearly 100,000 visitors during this period.  Tours are by reservation only.

As the tour begins, they show a nicely produced video about the history of the Mormon Church and explain some of the main tenants of the faith......very interesting.

The temple sits on an entirely new site.  All the roads leading to the temple have been constructed for access to the Temple.  The landscaping around the traffic circle and the temple grounds is very well done. The temple is somewhat plain looking from a distance.

As you get closer, you can see the architectural details and appreciate the quality of the materials and construction.  The Mormon goal was simplicity/purity rather then eye popping lavishness..

 The flow of people was continuous but well managed.  Each group had two guides who took turns explaining the building details and the religion.

 The flowers were beautiful near the fountain.  Don't be concerned about the guy on the ground.  He was getting a unique photo perspective of the water flowing from the fountain.

 This is the only inscription on the outside of the building.

A statue of the Angel Moroni sits atop one of the temple spires.  This has become one of the standard features of all Mormon temples.  Moroni was a warrior/prophet....Google for more info on Moroni and the Mormon Church.

 Photos were not allowed inside the temple so I had to borrow a few just to give you an idea of what it is like inside.  These photos were in a brochure given to us on the tour.  Scanning printed photos from books/brochures never really looks that good, but that is all I have to offer.  The photo below shows the entrance to the temple.

The temple is not where regular church services are held.  They use other facilities for that.  Their church services bear many similarities to other Christian churches with sermons, prayer, communion, song, and education.  Non-church members are invited to attend regular church services.

The temple is another matter.  It is reserved only for Morons in good standing.  It is referred to as the "House of the Lord" and the Mormon Church's Ordinances are held in the temple.  Unlike the large basilicas and cathedrals of the Catholic Church and of other religions, there is no large and elaborately decorated worship area in a Mormon temple.  The temple is a series of "Rooms" used for carrying out the church's Ordinances.  Church members wear all white clothing inside the temple to symbolize purity, cleanliness, and setting aside of things of the world.  There are changing rooms for men and women to get out of their street clothes and into the white clothing of the temple.

Symbolism is everywhere in the temple.  The lower floors are darker than the upper floors (closer to God).  The rooms are laid out in a sequence that fits the progression of a person through life.  The construction is simple but of very high quality.  The wood trim is an African hardwood, the marble is Italian, etc. but it is not ostentatious.  The photo below shows one of the training rooms where members are indoctrinated with the church's beliefs.

 This is the baptismal room.  Here members are baptized, as proxies, for their deceased relatives who, according to the church, were not given the opportunity to be baptized as Mormons during their lives.  The pool is magnificent and is supported by 12 carved oxen representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

This is another instruction room with a Missouri pastoral painting covering all four walls.  The room brings serenity to the members as they receive instructions.

This is a Sealing Room.  In my understanding, this is where couples are married and the marriage is "sealed" forever.....meaning in this worldly life and in heaven after death.  There are several Sealing Rooms in the temple.

 This is the Celestial Room.  It symbolizes life as eternal families with their Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  When we entered the room, we were asked not to speak while inside but rather contemplate our life.  The chandelier was breathtaking.

 Sigrid and Jim rest while I take photos after the tour.  It was a little warm inside the temple with all the people moving through on tours.  We also used the stairs for the three floors we visited.....good exercise.

A great tour.  I learned a huge amount about the Mormon religion both on the tour and in doing Internet research to write the blog.  I probably got some of what I wrote wrong but I did the best I could with a 60 minute introduction to Mormonism.

Some Evangelical Christians say that Mormons aren't Christians.  It seems to me that they are.  Every religion has its twists and every one thinks that it is the only true religion. If this is true (for one of them), Heaven must not be very crowded.  Oops, there I go again sounding like Andy Rooney....a guy I had a love/hate relation with.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hermann Wurstfest - March 24, 2012

We are really knocking off the bucket list items this year.  On March 24th, we drove three hours (almost to St Louis) to Hermann, MO to take in the annual Wurstfest.  We had been to Hermann before, although it was a number of years ago.  We came away disappointed on the first trip.....The German restaurant didn't have German food and the town wasn't very interesting except for the Stone Hill Winery that we toured.  This time was different.  In the years since our first visit, they have obviously enhanced the town for tourism and it does have a stronger German feel to it.  We brought grandson Tyler with us on the trip.....he really isn't into wursts and is way too young to drink the beer, so he didn't enjoy the trip quite as much as Sigrid and I did.

They have a nice trolley service that takes you on a tour of several of the wineries for $16/person.  In my opinion, it would have been nice to use the trolley like a shuttle bus between the two main locations at the fest, but they didn't do that so we just drove ourselves around town.

The main location for the fest was downtown at the Festhalle.  The second location was at the Stone Hill Winery.

 The drive was nice with all the flowering trees in full bloom.

 Most of the following photos are just shots of the scenic little town.

 There is a hotel and restaurant in the Festhalle.

If you have ever been to Germany, you will know that the decor is authentic.

The Women's restroom.  Men are Herren's.

The main hall where the wurst tasting was held.  They had about 140 different kinds of wursts......more then Sigrid has ever seen in one place.....and she is German.  The fest was a competition event as well as a tasting opportunity.  There were both professional and amateur categories.

We had lunch at the restaurant at the Stone Hill Winery.  Sigrid and I had Jaegerschnitzel with red cabbage, and German potato salad.....very good.  Tyler had chicken nuggets...his standard meal.

 There were German folk dancers and music inside but the lines were too long for us.

 We drove back the same way we came.  He hustled a little since we were having family in from Denver later in the afternoon.  My niece, Luana, her husband Mark, and daughter Lexi will spend three days with us as they head for a short stay in Branson.