Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Update on my life

I've been remiss in updating my journal recently… I think ever since I got serious started on support, my LiveJournal habits have changed. For example, when I wake up, my first glance goes to the support board rather than my Friends page. Not sure whether that's good. I'll have to find a good balance.

Anyway, here are some events of the past week.

Last Saturday, Oliver Back (second counsellor on the stake presidency) called me and asked me whether Stella and I would be home during that day. I said yes and he answered he might call us up later to make an appointment to speak to both of us. Stella wondered what that meant, since for most things he wouldn't have to speak to both of us… perhaps a stake calling? He also asked whether we'd be in church the next day and I said yes.

On the way to church, we were talking with Schlüters about the mysterious call yesterday. I said that he couldn't call me as Elders Quorum President because Andreas already has that calling. Anika said, "True, but he still needs counsellors."

That turned out to be the case. Oliver asked me to sit near the aisle during Sunday School so that he could call me out, which he did in the middle. We talked a little bit about myself and where I stand. He asked me whether I had a testimony and I said I wasn't very sure.

He asked me what I think I could do about it. I said I supposed I should pray about it and ask for one. He agreed that that was a good point but that there are other parts as well; he named five in total, which I can't all remember. I'll have to email him and ask him to remind me. I think one was keeping the commandments and another was service in the church.

That reminded me of a talk I had read in preparation for my lesson during priesthood meeting that day. In it, the speaker had said that the church isn't there for social purposes (for which there are many possibilities outside churches) or even to learn the gospel (for which there are many books, for example); rather, the speaker said that the main purpose of the church is to help us learn to serve one another.

After all the meetings were over, I was set apart as counsellor to Andreas. He told me afterwards that he was very glad that I had agreed to accept this calling. Oliver then sent the others out and talked to Andreas and me, outlining some of our duties and explaining the calling.

I don't know what came over me :) It's a fair amount of work, I can imagine, and we have the duty to be good examples (well, everyone should be a good example, but we're a bit more in the spotlight as "leaders"). And we're expected to attend all priesthood meetings, including stake priesthood meetings in Bremen; I hadn't attended the past few ones because they're in the evening and Bremen is about an hour away by car. But at least Andreas seemed about as unenthusiastic about attending them as I, so we'll be in the same boat :)

In the evening, we had a meeting for married couples again. An interesting discussion, as often, which (I felt) was marred by the discussion afterwards about when and how often to hold these meetings.

Hella felt that holding the meetings on the same day as choir practice was too stressful since it meant she (as choir leader) was under time pressure to finish on time so that the next meeting can start, and that the social part (sitting together and chatting) which used to come after choir practice had to be abandoned. She also felt that having choir practice on one Sunday a month and couple meetings on two Sundays would mean that parents would be away from their children on three Sundaye evenings a month, which would be quite a lot.

We talked about how often to hold the meetings, on what days, whether to bring children along, etc. I don't think we really reached a consensus. I had the feeling that Hella was trying to say how things should be, which bothered me since she is not one of the two teachers of this series of meetings. We finally settled on the next date (in three weeks' time) and that we would discuss things further then.

Viola took us home in the car; we drove several detours as she took a couple of wrong turnings :). But we had an interesting conversation, which made up for that.

On Wednesday evening, there was a stake dance, as is traditionally done on the evening before the first of May. Since that is a public holiday in Germany (Labour Day), many people go to a "dance into May", and our stake usually offers one, too.

Viola was kind enough to pick us up; since she was a bit late, I had just enough time to change after coming home from work, since I had worked a bit later than I had originally planned. But we didn't miss anything; when we arrived, the potluck buffet looked rather bare and the addition of our dishes helped a little. Also, the dance hadn't officially started, I think.

I had a fairly nice time most of the time, which isn't always the case at dances. I sometimes worry about whether a girl I'll ask will accept my offer, or how to approach them without looking like someone on the hunt for a girl.

I danced a fair amount with Stella, several times; she told me afterwards that she thought I had danced more with her than with all of the other girls together. I'm not sure about that, but it meant she enjoyed the evening all the more, which was nice.

Once I even dragged her back onto the dance floor as I was just about to leave it after a couple of dances with her; the song that had started to play sounded so appealing that I turned around and told her I had to dance another one with her. I don't think she minded :)

At one point, when Nadine Rade^H^H^H^HLangbehn was sitting alone and not talking to anyone, I took advantage of the situation and asked her whether she wanted to dance with me, as I had always enjoyed dancing with her in the past. She told me, "Sei mir nicht böse, aber heute abend nicht" (Don't take this the wrong way, but I'd prefer not to this evening). I thought that was a bit of a pity but I enjoyed her clear answer. I had to think of times when I was younger and some girls would answer "Not at the moment" or similar when they had no intention of dancing with me at all. If I hear "not tonight, thanks", then at least I know where I stand and I don't have to bother both of us by trying again.

I also danced with a girl who, I thought, was from Berlin but who was from Koblenz. We had danced together previously, but had both forgotten one another's names :). She was Ulrike Heinemann and is studying something to do with lumber in Hamburg—apparently, the only university that offers that course of study.

While we were in the queue for the buffet after it had been opened, Martin and Anike Fiedler were standing a couple of places behind and we started talking. Martin had also been in Greece on his mission. Anike asked us whether he had hear? I said no and she said that she was expecting a baby—she was in the 19th week of pregnancy. That was nice :) Torben and Esther Herber were also there; their baby is about two months old now and they had left here with a baby sitter and some expressed milk so that they could go to the dance. And Julia Jäger appeared to be expecting another child as well; she had quite a round belly already.

I quite enjoyed watching other people dance, such as Torben and Esther. I wonder whether this is part of growing up; I used to envy people who danced well and worry that I can't offer the same to girls I dance with, but now I usually just enjoy watching people who dance well since it's nice to look at. I also like watching people who appear to be enjoying themselves; seeing other people happy makes me happy.

There was a young girl there who intrigued me; she looked like the sort of person who is older than she looks, if that makes sense. I'm sure I danced with her during the last dance, mostly in order to find out who she was, but I had forgotten her name. I have an idea she's also a Jäger but I'm not sure. She danced most of the time with another young girl, playing the "boy" part (steps, arms, etc.).

Birger Benn was also there; the boy whom Stella had rather fancied before she met me. He stood against the wall most of the time; I only saw him dance twice. I pitied him a bit since I can imagine he may have felt the way I often used to: not daring to ask someone but wanting to.

During the evening, Oliver Back came up to me and asked me whether I had got his email. I said no; it turned out he had only sent it that morning and I hadn't checked my email at home before coming to the dance. He asked me whether I would be willing to interpret for Elder Rasband during stake conference this weekend (English to German), and I said yes. A bit later, the stake president came up to me and asked me the same question :). Apparently, they liked how I had translated for Elder Mattsson (the father of my MTC companion) two stake conferences ago.

The last few dances, Viola danced with Brother Stelter, who was MC for the dance. She later told us that she had enjoyed that a lot as he dances rather well. Viola also enjoys dancing but doesn't often get the chance as not many boys ask her to dance with them.

Viola took us back home at around half-past twelve and Stella and I both fell into bed.

Yesterday, Stella and I went to the IRS (Infernal Revenue Service) to hand in our tax return. I've done this in person the past few years so that I can get more immediate feedback in case something is wrong or missing.

I expected it would be pretty full, as in the last years, especially since a fair number of people would be taking the day off in order to have a long weekend. However, when we got there, only one woman was sitting in the corridor outside the three offices that served M–Z.

After a short while, she was called into the same office that's responsible for us. I was a bit surprised that that office was open, because in all the times I've been there, that office was closed and we had to use one for another part of the alphabet, which meant twice as many people contending for the same door.

She didn't take long and then it was our turn. It seemed mostly OK, though the lady wasn't sure how much money we could deduct for Stella's school fees; the tax software we had used said it was €920 but she thought it was only €900. However, she acknowledged that she wasn't sure because she only knew the DM amounts that were valid until fiscal 2001 and that she would check.

She was also a bit unsure about the fact that our tithing receipt was broken down into two roughly equal sub-amounts which I had entered separately. One amount was declared as "mildtätige Zwecke" (charitable purposes) and the other as "kirchliche Zwecke" (church purposes). I suppose one reason they do this is that in Germany, you can deduct only 5% of your income as charitable donations but that if you give to a church, you can deduct another 5% for that. Or something like that. Anyway, this means that one can deduct most of one's tithing on one's tax return, and this has never been a problem in the past.

So that's out of the way now as well, and in good time (end of May is the deadline in Germany). Now we'll have to wait and see whether we'll get money back and if so, if it agrees with the amount my tax software calculated (about €1,100, an amount not to be sneezed at).

So, that's what has happened during the past week. Did anyone miss me while I was away? :)

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