Wishes for the New Year

Once again, the old year passes away.
We greet a new year at the dawning of a new day.
May we each find a way,
To be kind in all we say.

May the New Year bring us hope,
And a new found strength with which to cope.
May we always find a strong hold no matter how steep the slope,
As well as the sense to know when to say, “Nope!”

May we always show love and kindness
To family and friends even in duress.
May we not be overloaded with stress,
And may goodness of character, we always possess.

May we always remember the power of a kind touch,
And how it can mean so much.
May we never hesitate to lend a hand or be a crutch
To those who for strength to us clutch.

May we remember the very young and the very old
And not forget their hands to hold.
May we have courage and be bold,
That what is right we may always uphold.

May we always show love,
In the manner shown to us from above,
Wrapped around us and others as a glove,
A sign to all who meet us, of His love.

May blessing abound in your new year,
Bringing you hope and good cheer.
May your way be clear
And your course easy to steer.
Have a Happy New Year!

Once Upon A Christmas Day

Once upon a Christmas Day,
On the floor asleep I lay.
Cuddled beneath the Christmas tree,
With a fire blazing in the stove next to me.

The lights were shining with colors bright,
Casting warm reflections in dawning light.
My eyes though mostly still asleep,
Still saw their beauty in the dreams of sleep.

Around the tree and my resting head,
Dozens of presents had been shed.
Bright colored wrapping covering each one,
Each tied with a bow when it was done.

Stockings were hung from cabinet knobs,
Filled with goodies by the gobs.
Pretty decorations sat here and there,
Santas, Snowmen, and Angels placed with care.

A miniature village covered the shelves,
Seemingly put there by Santa’s elves.
All of these show beauty and splendor,
And inspired joy on a morning yet tender.

Two things stood out most important of all,
Displayed on a table, not decking the hall.
The first was a Bible opened to Mark,
Telling the story the angels did hark!

The second was a crèche depicting the scene,
Of the Christ child’s birth in a manger mean.
Despite all the trappings, He is still the reason,
There would be no true Christmas, He is the season.

We enjoy all the lights and the glitter and bows,
But may each person who celebrates, truly know;
That it is only this way because God made it so,
It’s according to his plan that this Jesus we know.

There is no meaning in all at Christmas we share,
If Jesus Christ our Lord is not kept there.
There is no reason to have great joy,
If the Savior does not this Holiday employ.

Once upon a Christmas day,
Christ was born in just God’s way.
He came to save us from all sin,
So that the Devil should not win.

It’s all according to God’s plan,
That His true story the world should span.
So as I awake to Christmas bright,
I first celebrate the Christ, born Christmas night.

Christmas Open House

Christmas Open House

Some families celebrate on Christmas Day
As do we in many ways,
But for me Christmas Eve is the traditional part
And it is there that I find my heart.

On the twenty-forth we can all be found,
In my parent’s house gathering ‘round;
Putting finishing touches here and there,
On decorations and food and getting it all prepared.

By evening time the house is bustling,
Full of family and friends each room is bursting;
There is joy, laughter, stories and more,
And listen, the bell, there’s more at the door.

The kitchen counters are lined with food galore,
That won’t run out because the ‘fridge has more;
And while we eat we enjoy the beautiful, tall tree
With its lights shining bright and festively.

Before we gather round to open the gifts,
Prayer, song and praise to our Lord our voices do lift;
And from the Bible we read from Luke 2,
The story of Jesus born for me and for you.

There are kisses, and hugs and greetings for all;
There’s visiting, music, and games in the hall;
In the back room amateur musicians sometimes play,
Bringing life to Christmas Carols in their own way.

It’s a Christmas gala brimming with life,
Where all is joy and none is strife;
Where the reason for the season shines through
In love and joy that is true.

So each Christmas Eve as this open house begins
And we prepare our hearts to greet family and friends
This Christmas tradition brings us all cheer
Knowing it will be spent with loved ones all near.

The Season is So Bright (Villanelle)

Oh the Season is so bright,
Filled with decorative, fancy fare;
Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights.

To the eye what a delight,
With cards and food and gifts to bare;
Oh the Season is so bright.

Buildings adorned to the heights
With bows, and trees, and holiday ware;
Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights.

What joy that fills our busy plight,
As love and stories and songs we share;
Oh the Season is so bright.

What a wondrous shining sight,
That as we pass, we stop and stare;
Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights.

The excitement of Christmas night,
Reminding us to stop and care;
Oh the Season is so bright;
Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights.

First Term Wrap Up (Nov. 18-Dec. 21)- Fredericksburg’s STEM/Rocket Program

December is nearly over and Winter break starts today, but before we send the Fredericksburg High School STEM Academy home for Christmas,  we need to review what they have been working on these last four weeks, and try to wrap up the fall program.  January starts the spring program loaded with really big goals and events that this past fall has been building toward.  Each group’s learning will be evident in the success of this coming semester’s projects.

During the month of November the Freshman visited Toyota Manufacturing and Southwest Research Institute (SwRi).

20161121_140216The students were impressed with Toyota and how huge the plant itself is, as well as the difference in the type of automation used as compared to last month’s visit to Caterpillar. Toyota’s assembly line resemble Ford assembly lines. The components actually moved along on a line and each team had an assigned task as it moved by them. Caterpillar operated in stages where one team did several components before it moved to the next staging area.

Mr. Matthes remarked that ” The delivery logistics of parts to the assembly line was phenomenal!”

On December 13, the Freshman group visited Fischer and Wieser, Heartland Enterprises, and UT Aeromechanical Lab.

Fischer and Wieser and Heartland are Fredericksburg companies. They both demonstrated automation on a small-scale as compared to companies like Toyota and Caterpillar. Fischer and Wieser explained the importance of loyal employees and a family like environment.

Heartland is similar in framework and belief on how they treat their employees. Where as many companies prefer to hire very experienced candidates from other companies, Heartland prefers to hire inexperienced people and train them in their ways of operation. They find that by doing this they keep a certain working quality and alleviate the bad habits that experience can sometimes bring with it which can be adverse to the companies current operating practices and quality control initiatives.

Below are pictures from Heartland Enterprises:

20161213_0959350 20161213_095101 Here, Alvin Culak, shows machine operations to students.

Students at UT Aeromechanical Lab and Flow Field Imaging Lab in Austin, were working on ablative testing for high velocity projectiles or vehicles,  and a research lab studying  hydrogen combustion and anomalies that may exist with it. These anomalies must be understood before hydrogen combustion can be considered for fuel. They are also studying wind tunnel testing designed to help discern the tendencies of shock  for use in ramjet and hyper velocity propulsion systems.

Below, candidates took time with the students to explain and exhibit their work.

20161213_125959 UT graduate student, Rakesh Ranjan, operates a swirl combustor at atmospheric pressure. For more information on this: http://research.ae.utexas.edu/FloImLab/highpressureflashback.php

20161213_125140  UT graduate student, Benton Greene, demonstrated the Inductively Coupled Plasma torch. For more information on this: http://research.ae.utexas.edu/FloImLab/ControlofShockBoundaryLayerInteractionDistortionusingPulsedPlasmaJets.php

Another UT post-doctoral student, Leon Vanstone, not pictured, explained the experimental investigation of 3D shock wave/boundary interaction unsteadiness at the University of Texas at Austin High Speed Wind Tunnel Lab . For more information on this: https://utexas.box.com/s/n1kk9ozocyp8ozloo9dm9ujx23q6vuwj

Dr. Noel Clemens is the Principle Investigator for all experiments in the lab, and the primary decision maker. Jeremy Jagodzinski is the lab facilitator. He helps to support the research in the lab and also set up the visit for the students. Phillip Varghese oversees the Center for Aeromechanics Research which often collaberates with this lab.  Thank you to all of them for facilitating the tour.

Mr. Matthes stated that, “the students really loved the research facility.”

Aside from field trips to see first hand about automation and manufacturing, the freshman have been learning  about production/automation engineering. They are currently in the process of designing an orange juice production plant. Their product goal for the plant is to take raw material and produce packaged juice in palletized product bundles ready for sale. Jenny Weiser will be coming in January to see their presentations and evaluate and provide constructive criticism.

Sophomores will be entering the program for the second term, starting Jan. 23. ACC’s Auto CAD course will be their main focus learning to utilized specific skills and design elements.

The juniors flew their Generation 3 rockets recently. This provided several learning points that will be useful on their projects next semester. Students realized that even cutting edge design doesn’t always transfer well into the manufacturing ability of the vehicle. Failures in these construction and design frailties, resulted in irregular flight patterns. These mishaps translated into two days of Post Mission Analysis insuring that lessons from this would not carry over to next semester’s larger rocket project.

Here the juniors are building their G3 rockets.

20160921_1247120 20160921_124721 20160921_124732

In January, the juniors will begin work on their one pound/one mile vehicles to be tested out at Willow City in May. This is considered a sounding rocket designed to break the speed of sound without breaking a ceiling of 13,000 feet while carrying a one pound payload.

Seniors have been very busy, and experienced both successes and set backs on their projects recently.  Testing on fuels is expected to begin in January as they are nearly complete with updates on test stand.

After manufacturing pieces for their small motor test stand out of 2024 aluminum, they discovered that this metal type cannot be welded. This resulted in having to procure another high strength aerospace aluminum which is conducive to welding. Once they find this they will have to begin again the manufacturing of the fuel grain containment system.

“These were very important lessons learned for all, them and me,” stated Mr. Matthes.

Preliminary Design Reviews were conducted on their Goddard level rocket, last week. Due to the set backs on test stand, previously  discussed, the group lost time they should have had to work on their rocket design and therefore have a bit of ground to make up there in order to have those completed by January’s end.

This article is the fourth in a new series for this school year ’16/’17 of monthly updates that will follow the Fredericksburg STEM Academy/Rocket program. This school is a participant of the SystemsGo STEM program. This series of articles is intended to support, encourage, and challenge students in the program as they share their working status and accomplishments throughout the year in the program. These publications will be available for tags and re-posting.

www.systemsgo.org as always is the place for more information on this program. You may also email them at info@systemsgo.org . Take the time to get your school involved, the future of your students will be greatly benefited.

Fredericksburg’s Annual Church to Church Walk

Last evening, December 13, my husband, Steve and I attended the annual Church to Church  walk put on by the Gillespie County Ministerial Association, here in Fredericksburg. It was Steve’s first time, I have been several times before and always enjoy it. Last night was an amazing experience though. For the first time ever all churches were full to overflowing with walkers participating. As would be expected, many for the first time.  In fact, the count was 393 people. I don’t think I have ever seen more than 150-200 in the years I have attended. It was nice to see more folks coming out to join in the Christmas festivities centered around the Lord.

The program did not disappoint.The theme was “The Coming Of the Lord.” Each church had a sub theme discussed at their stop.

We began at Zion Lutheran Church with a short intro by Reverend Bobby Vitek, GCMA President and also of Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, after which the group joined in the singing of “O come, O Come Emanuel.” Reverend Jeff Hammond of St Barnabas Episcopal Church offered a short reflection on “Wake Us Up to Your Coming.” He talked about how even when our eyes are open we are sometimes not really awake, especially spiritually, and he called for the Lord to really awaken us this Christmas season.  The first stop ended with a choir presentation of “Prepare the Way of the Lord” by the Bethany Chancel Choir.

In spite of some confusion as to which way is East and which is West, Pastor Bobby, gave directions on how to get from Zion to our second stop of Bethany Lutheran Church, and the group was out the door.

Reverend Casey Zesch, Bethany Lutheran, began  the second leg of our journey with responsive readings followed by the singing by the group of the hymn, “Prepare the Royal Highway”. Pastor Travis Meyer, also of Bethany presented thoughts on “Prepare Us for Your Coming”. He spoke about how now that we are awake to Christ’s coming we also have to be  prepared for it. He told the story of St. Nicholas and how he prepared the way by helping those less fortunate. St. Nicholas anonymously threw coins through the window  into the   drying stockings of the daughters of a man who was in danger of having to sell his daughters into slavery just so they would be fed and he could continue to survive. Nicholas’s contributions helped the family to stay together and to survive the hard times they were facing.  We not only prepare ourselves but also the world since Christ is the Way to salvation, the royal highway himself.

“A Christmas  Alleluia” was performed by the Oak Hills Worship Team and then the large throng of walkers headed out the door to Holy Ghost.

Fredericksburg Police provided safe passage across Main Street for the group as they walked and visited in the fast chilling December air.

Reverend David Priem provided the responsive reading at Holy Ghost, with “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” as the hymn afterwards. Reverend Michael Burdick, Victory Fellowship supplied the reflections on “Open Us to Your Coming.”  He asked us that as we now may be awake, and are preparing for Christ’s coming, are we really open to it? Have we really opened ourselves, our hearts, and our lives for Christ to enter in?

The Victory Fellowship Praise Team invited us to sing along with them on “Joy to the World” after the message. Then once again we were all headed out and  down San Antonio Street to the last stop, St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“Comfort My People” was sung by the St. Mary’s Choir as walkers filed in. Father Enda McKenna, then began with the responsive readings followed by “Soon and Very Soon” sung by the group. The Reverend George Lumpkin of Fredericksburg United Methodist Church(FUMC) took us through a humorous and surprising message on “Surprise Us By Your Coming.” The basis of this message being that we as Christians wait and pray for God to show up in our lives and then we are surprised when he does. The best excerpt from this being when a friend of his that looked like the traditional picture of Jesus, walked up behind his choir director in church and she turned around and hollered, totally surprised that “Jesus” was standing behind her in church!

The FUMC choir sung “Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah” after which Father Enda gave a closing benediction and instructions on where to go for refreshments and fellowship to end the evening. For those that had taken their cars on this walk, the evening was at a close after refreshments. The rest of us visited a bit  and then made our way back to Zion and our rides home.

It was a wonderful and blessed evening filled with Christmas joy, songs and spiritual preparedness for the season ahead. I personally enjoy going as a way to get myself in the right frame of mind about the season and what it is truly about.

If you missed it this year, it is an annual event so there will be next year. Keep watch on your local church calendar or the chamber calendar next December. If you are looking for a new tradition to start with your family this is a nice one. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

The Fredericksburg-Montabaur Verein and My Local Childhood

Last evening, December 5, 2016,  I was honored to be the guest of Pit Vins and his wife, Mary Hickok  at the annual Christmas party of the Fredericksburg-VG Montabaur Verein.

photo-3 Pit my host is the gentleman in the Santa hat.

This is a society in partnership with our sister city of Montabaur, Germany to forge continued relationships between the German settlers in Texas and their heritage areas of Germany. They help sponsor student exchanges between the countries and other social and official visits in order to preserve the cultural heritage of the German settlers here and foster good relationships with their counter parts in Germany.

The partnership between Fredericksburg and Montabaur was approved by the Montabaur council on June 29, 1995. I was unable to procure the actual date of the establishment of the current Verein here other than that it was in 1994,  but it was around the same time frame as the Deutsch-Texanische Gesellschaft Montabaur-Fredericksburg or in English the German-Texan Association which was established in Montabaur, Germany, April 12, 1994. Local history does state that then Mayor Linda Langerhans signed a “twinning agreement” between Fredericksburg and Verbands Gemeinde Montabaur  on September 21, 1997 and this included surrounding towns around Montabaur such as Niederelbert. This partnership sought to find individuals interested in furthering the relationships between people of German decent from Fredericksburg and other German Texas communities and the borough of Montabaur and help with the exchange of schools and clubs .

This all came about from a trip to Germany by Nelda and George Vogel in order to find George’s family lineage. The trip fostered such warm welcome and friendships, and resulted in many subsequent trips, and eventually the FBG-Montabaur Sister City Verein was established here and the Deutsch-Texanische Gesellschaft in VG Montabaur.

Verein president, Rosemarie Mazanke states the following about current relationships, “There have been numerous visits of students and adults over the years,  most recently a group of 16 High School students and 2 teachers this past October from Mons Tabor Gymnasium in VG Montabaur. Our Fredericksburg high school teacher will take a group of 15 to Montabaur in June 2017. 

photo-1  photo-2German Students during their October visit.

 We support the local high school  students in their UIL Sprachfest competition, the German Club for Zweite Weihnachten, and hosted German author Ursula Hatzfeld for a book signing in the Nimitz ballroom last May.

The Verein’s current mission statement reads as follows and was provided by a member:

To support and promote visits between citizens of Fredericksburg, Texas and the surrounding communities and Verbandsgemeinde (VG) Montabaur, Germany in order to:
Encourage the establishment of friendly affiliations between individuals, schools, and organizations;
Encourage all types of cultural exchanges and to help create links between entities such as but not limited to respective clubs, social groups, religious communities, and sport groups; and,
Foster awareness and preservation in Fredericksburg and the surrounding area of the German-Texas history, heritage, and language by supporting, encouraging, and recognizing individuals and organizations which help perpetuate the societal benefits of this rich cultural heritage within our communities.

To open the evening we all shared in fellowship, wine, beer, and Gluwein, which my friend, Pit says that, “In Germany people drink that by the tons because since it is kept boiling hot, as the evening goes on, all the alcohol cooks away and has no more effect. ”

photo-5 Members visiting before dinner.

Afterwards announcements about upcoming society events as well as events around the community for the Christmas season were shared.  Examples were The Christmas Journey at Bethany Church this weekend, December 9th and 10th, the Church to Church Walk on December 13th starting at Zion Lutheran Church and ending at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and the  The Singing Christmas Tree on December 16th and 17th at the Pioneer Museum Complex.

Next we shared a wonderful meal of roast pork, scalloped potatoes, squash casserole, mixed greens salad, tea and water catered by Linda and Danny Pfiester. An array of desserts were also available donated by members.

Once dinner was complete, the group joined in singing old German Christmas Carols as well as a few in English. For me, this was actually the high light of the evening. I felt much like a child again, many of these songs with the exception of “Stille Nacht” are songs I haven’t sung since I was very young. Back then we used to memorize and sing these songs for the Christmas programs at church. It was part of what Christmas used to be. Now very few still know the language, except for the rapidly fading older congregation members and we no longer host our annual German service since Pastor Arhelger passed away many years ago. The German influence on the Christmas program doesn’t exist anymore so the children aren’t taught these songs.  Therefore for me, many old pictures though fading, danced quite happily in the halls of my memory last evening, that alone made this encounter with the Montabaur Verein well worth my time.

photo-6 Dinner and singing around the tables.

The celebration was hosted at the beautifully, Christmas decorated Golden Hub Senior Center.

If you are interested in the society, their annual meeting is January 23, 2017 at the Nimitz Museum Ballroom at 5:30. Memberships are $20 per year.  The groups meets  four times annually for a picnic or party. They can be contacted through the current president, Rosemarie Mazanke at 830-997-4967. Unfortunately their webpage is members only at this time, but they are working on a way to update that in the future.