Post convention activities in Frankfurt

By Steven Caesare on 7/22/2014

Yesterday (Monday) we went with a group of brothers and sisters on a cruise of the Rhein river. After a 90 minute drive through the countryside to Rudesheim, we arrived at the top of on of the peaks along the river valley. Here, there is a statue of Kaiser von Wilhelm, one of last rulers before WWI. We met a number of friends here, including a large group of Arabic speaking brothers and sisters from Lebanon.

We then took a beautiful cable-tram ride down the valley, overlooking the vineyards on the banks of the Rhein, where a good portion of German wine comes from. We then waked through the village, stopping for snacks and shopping,

We boarded the boat, which was all brothers and sisters, for about a 3 hour cruise along the river. The views were beautiful, and some of the castles were still in use as hotels or hostels. Others were in ruins but still amazingly impressive. We had lunch aboard, and met a number of new friends. We met and talked for some time with a couple of brothers serving as circuit overseers from Australia... that sounds like a good next destination!

After the cruise, we then took a short ride to Bingen were an assembly hall is. There we were greeted by brothers in sisters, many of them in traditional German clothing. After a tour of the assembly hall, and "greeting music" in the lobby, we had dinner they had catered for us in the dining rooms. Then there was about a 90 minute entertainment program. They had an orchestra, playing both classical music and kingdom songs, a sister performing vocals as well as opera, and children doing traditional German songs. They also had a comedy routine, and some interviews.

The interviews were really moving... the first was brother Horst Henschel whose parents and brother had been imprisoned and killed in WWI, and then he was imprisoned in WWII. It was an amazingly encouraging part. Then one of the foreign delegates was interviewed. He had been imprisoned after illegally immigrating to Malta and learned the truth in prison despite having been a Muslim Imam (priest). He was a very humble brother.

Today we toured the Bethel at Selters, now known as the "Central European Bethel", as it has overseen the work of far more than just Germany for some time. After a very well produced introductory video along with a presentation by one of the Branch members there, we then had a self-guided tour for about 4 hours, including lunch for us. We got to see the support services, factory, kingdom halls (one large one of 700 seats), and the grounds. We ate lunch with a very nice bethel brother. At the end of the tour we got ice cream and cake along with more entertainment... bethelites playing music and doing some fun traditional dance. (we didn't get many pictures of the last.. but have some video I'll put up when we get home).

Bethel has really modernized... and the equipment there can produce a tremendous amount of literature. Whereas a couple of decades ago the produced literature primarily just for Germany and had 130 brothers on the packing & shipping room floor, now they produce literature for 10,000 congregations in nearly 20 countries, and do so in 120 languages... yet now only 10 brothers are needed. Only 7 brothers per shift are needed to run the press. There are still about 1,00 in the bethel family, but they support a number of other activities such as construction planning and oversight, video work, etc... it's very different than what I saw 25 years ago.

 The convention week has been an amazing experience... we'll miss seeing our brothers and sisters EVERYWHERE we went (convention badges were seen practically the entire time), it was something our family will remember always.

Tomorrow we head off to Prague.... not sure what sort of connectivity we'll have at our apartment there, but hopefully more updates soon..