Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pete Tidwell

Dear Keri,

My name is Pete Tidwell and I served with your husband in the England Leeds Mission. I met you once briefly at a mission reunion. Anyway I work here in NYC and started a few days ago writing down some memories of Christian while on the subway to work the last few days. I looked up to him and admired him. See below:

Elder Rhineer Memories

I remember the day before leaving the MTC to head to the England Leeds Mission and being excited and incredibly nervous. The next morning we were picked up by our mission president, President Bowen and his two assistants, Elder Chell and Elder Rhineer. I can remember vividly Elder Rhineers smile and up beat attitude that made me feel welcome in an instant.  On the way we found out that we were both from the same home town and that we even knew some of the same people. That first evening in our mission it was customary that all brand new Elders and Sisters would go out on their first teaching experience with more experienced missionary. I got to go with Elder Rhineer, I was so excited. We had an appointment with a African man and I witnessed first hand how powerful of a teacher Elder Rhineer was. He taught and testified of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Restoration. After that experience I made the resolve in my mind to strive to be a missionary like Elder Rhineer. Throughout my mission at Zone Leader councils and Zone Conferences I always looked forward to Elder Rhineers break out sessions. I always was so inspired by his good and smart ideas to teach missionary teaching skills. The reason I was so inspired by him was the ease of which he spoke of the gospel. It was part of him and he was passionate about the work of the Lord. When I was out on my mission for about one year I received a call from my mission president telling me I was to be called to serve as an Assistant to the President and that I would be serving with Elder Rhineer for 3 weeks so I could be trained on all the duties and responsibilities I would be taking over. Three days later Elder Rhineer arrived at my flat to pick me up to bring me into the mission office to get started. On the drive back to the mission office I remember feeling so blessed to have a few weeks to serve with a missionary that I had looked up to so much throughout my mission. During those few weeks I learned so much and had some amazing teaching experiences with Elder Rhineer. I was so grateful that we had people to teach. You hear of Assistants in most missions being stuck on the office  and not getting an opportunity to teach. It was the perfect opportunity to learn from who I looked up to as the ideal missionary and a master at teaching the Gospel. All the missionaries looked up to Elder Rhineer and trusted and he was friends with every single person in the mission. I know he touched each one in one way or another and inspired each one to want to be a more effective servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you Elder Rhineer for your example! You are greatly missed here! Keep up the hard work teaching the gospel in the spirit world, I bet you are a great asset to the missionary efforts!!


Pete Tidwell

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Hi Keri,

I thought you would like to see what we are doing at Fidelity.  Every month one of our teams will win the Power recognition which is explained below.  The club is passed along and a plaque is hung with all winning teams listed for each month.

Congratulations to the members of Team Sundstrom for being recognized at the Power Club “Team of the Month” in April 2012.

As a reminder, the Power Club award recognizes the team that best defines our commitment to excellence during the prior month.  CEI results at a team level as well as other department critical metrics are reviewed before determining the winner.  The trophy itself is a club, a 5 iron golf club to be exact.  Once owned by Christian Rhineer, this club symbolizes the standard of excellence in serving clients  that he championed  and exemplified in his own work.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Brooklynn blowing kisses

Today I was laying on the bed with Brooklynn, looking at pictures of CJ. Every picture she would do this little laugh and touch CJ's face in all the pictures. sometime just stare long at him... I am pretty sure she said CJ too... She loves her boyfriend. It was the cutest thing. After we were done looking at the pictures we got up and she turned and waved "bye bye" to CJ's picture and blew him kisses. I didn't even have to tell her... she kept blowing kisses over and over. I know CJ caught those kisses and sent them back.

Jeff Peterson

Random - but I was just thinking of that time we BBQ'd at your place and we were shocked CJ not only did not BBQ, but had never really done it, and had no intention of ever doing it. I told him he needed to be a man and learn to BBQ. You made those killer shish-kabobs and you guys had just impulsively bought that chair swing 'because it was just so comfortable.' CJ kept getting mad at you because you were hitting his new tennis racquet on random things. Then, while playing Dance Dance Revolution CJ told me I needed to channel my inner black woman. Haha great times. Sure wish we were having that same BBQ today

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ian Krekelberg

So this is a Story about CJ, honest.  I was getting married in July of ‘07 in England, Leeds.  My mom and step father had flown from the US for the occasion several days before.  They went to visit a number of historical UK sites.  The City of York, which is renowned for the historical wall that surrounds the old city and the beautiful York Minster Cathedral, is a fantastic site to see especially during the unusually warm summer we had in England that year.  Tourists can walk along the top of the wall around the city, and my mother told me she stopped a young man to take her and her husband’s picture.  He agreed.  Afterwards, hearing the young man was American my mom asked where he was from.  He said Utah, and my mom said ‘what a coincidence, we live in Lehi!  He went on to explain that had come back to England to visit the land of his mission.  Excitedly, my mom explained they were LDS and asked which mission had he served in. “Leeds, England” he said.  She said incredibly her son (me) had served in the England Leeds mission around the same time.  “What was his name” asked the young man, “Ian Krekelberg” she said.  Laughing out loud he said “My name is Christian Rhineer and we were companions!” She explained I was getting married that weekend and he should come.  She called me and put him on the phone!  We had often seen each other over the years but it had been a few years since I last saw him in the US and he just so happened to be touring Europe at that time.  He stopped by and celebrated the day with us on his travels.  It was an incredible chance that of all the people on the wall in York that summer day, my mom stopped CJ.  He took the time out of his travels to make our day a little more special.

We had served together in Sheffield and I was his second companion.  He was prepared like I had never seen and he lived and loved his mission.  I remember he and I sang a lot, made up songs about how much we loved Sheffield.  He and I developed a ‘Russian’ accent thing.  We would call each other Comrade, and ever after that, even after the mission when I saw him over the years, we would speak to each other and assume our Russian personas.

When I first arrived in Sheffield to work with CJ, he had been teaching a few ‘interesting’ characters.  One in particular was Gary Merrill, a simple large gentleman (bout 350lbs).  He had some learning difficulties and so to combat this CJ and his previous companion had started Gary off with the Book of Mormon reader (the kid’s comic style version).  He told me that they had shown him several pictures of Nephi, Moroni, Mormon and Joseph Smith.  They had reviewed each one explaining who they were and the significance to the Book of Mormon.

  Upon a return visit to test Gary they started with reviewing the pictures. “Gary who is this?” CJ asked as he held up the Nephi picture.  Focusing intently Gary stated “That’s Nephi!” excitedly CJ and his companion moved on to the next picture “And Gary do you remember who this is?” CJ’s company questioned. Gary proclaimed with confidence “Moroni, the guy who buried that golden bible.”  Finally holding up a picture of Joseph Smith CJ asked “And do you remember this man’s name?” Gary paused, furrowed his eyebrows staring at the picture. Seconds ticked by and the as he scratched his head he questionably asked: “Ricardo?” CJ his companion and he did not stop laughing for like 20 minutes, Gary laughed along to not even knowing what was funny.

When we were teaching him he prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true. He said, “Lord I ask you to know if the Book of Mormon is true; and the answer is….YES!” CJ’s infectious laugh had us laughing for ages after that. If it wasn’t for all the cigars and tea he drank he would have made a fine member.  We found a lot of strange people to teach.  The people that society forgot.  We found three, less than dapper gentlemen. We got together one night for a family home evening and instead of the classy Rat pack, CJ dubbed them the Whack pack.  It was a disaster.  One of the most incoherent experiences of our mission.  We would always wonder how the ‘Whack Pack’ could have changed the World.  Gary was the leader.
For a P-Day CJ convinced the whole district to watch Star wars IV, V, VI in a running marathon.  After that he and I perfected a vocal duet encapsulating the Empire march (Darth Vader’s theme tune) and a lot of our references spun back to Star wars seeing if we could quote star wars in teaching situations or church lessons.

He and I went to a Messianic Judasim Church one evening, basically Jews that believed in Christ.  They had a guest speaker and were very (Born again style, happy clappy) spiritual.  They sang and danced.  And we all had to speak in tongues.  They kinda just rambled making strange sounds and I remember CJ just singing “hey batter batter swing!” To make me laugh, but it seemed to be an acceptable form of ‘speaking in tongues’ because no one commented.  Then the best part was they danced.  They pushed all the chairs away and danced.  CJ was a bit reluctant but I convinced him to join in the circle and we had a great time. I remember him saying afterwards “Jews for Jesus, right on!”

He was a prankster; we had the old style film capsules.  And the game was (this is kind of crude) to fart into the canister and seal it up.  Then when your companion was studying you would come up behind him and open it in his face.  He hid one for two weeks and nearly killed me with the awful smell when he opened it up right in my face.  It was horrendous but hilarious.
We baptized a kid named Aaron Grant and he formed a special Bond with CJ.  We taught a lot according to my journal.  We often found ourselves in people’s homes, on the street I think we just worked so well together and CJ’s natural charisma had people giving us time to speak.

Elder Winters, one of the Zone Leaders ‘Borrowed’ Elder Rhineer to play a round of golf with one of their longer term investigators.  I think the deal was if Elder Rhineer won the Guy would have to come to church!  I am certain that guy went to church that Sunday.  I am glad to report CJ used his powers for good.

CJ was just one of those people who made a difference in everything that he did.  Selfless and focused on making those around him feel loved and involved.  He was one of my best friends and a great man.  I look forward to seeing him again.  I hope I live up to the expectation.  It was wonderful to hear my memories of his character reflect in those who I spoke with and those that spoke at his Funeral. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Megan Lewis

When I think of Elder Rhineer the words that immediately come to mind are enthusiastic, sincere, and hardworking.

Elder Rhineer and I didn’t cross paths much until my last transfer when I was transferred to the office.  Before then, all I really knew was that he had a reputation of being a stellar missionary.  We all knew he would be AP, but I was not expecting it to be so early in his mission.  In the office I quickly learned that Elder Rhineer loved golf. He would carry around a stick to practice his golf swing whenever he got a chance.  I also discovered how very thoughtful he was.  He and his companion Elder Chell would go out to do whatever it is APs do and would return carrying McFlurry’s for the Sisters, which we very much appreciated.

Elder Chell’s mission ended the same transfer as my own, which meant Elder Rhineer was going to get a new companion.  So of course, Sister Johnston and I thought we should take advantage of being in the office to find out who the new AP would be.  The Elders thought this was hilarious so would try to mislead us.  They would occasionally stage moments for us to “accidently” overhear the name of some Elder as the next AP.  They got pretty elaborate and tried to leave papers out to “quickly-not-so-quickly” cover up pointing out one Zone leader or another.

At the end of my mission we all drove to Manchester to attend the temple and share testimonies.  I remember Elder Rhineer’s testimony to be genuine and sincere.  He was crying pretty hard when he talked of losing Elder Chell as the two were quite close.  He said he felt like he was losing an arm.  This made us all laugh as his new companion was Elder Legg, so he was losing an arm, but gaining a leg.

On a more personal note, I have never met you, but I’ve always imagined that the person for Elder Rhineer would be an amazing person.  He shined so bright, it made sense that he would have someone just as bright standing next to him.   You have been in my thoughts and prayers as you are navigating through this incredibly difficult time.  I know I felt comforted by Elder Scott’s words at General conference when he said (quoting Joseph F Smith and referring to those who have passed on), “We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever… their love for us and their desire for our well-being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”

May God bless and watch over you.

Megan Lewis (aka Sister Guggisberg)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Byron Stout

I don't remember the exact moment when Cj and I became friends or the first time I saw him. I am trying to put pieces together about how it all started. He was on my football team in 7 th grade and we started practice before school started so that would be the first time I ever saw him. When I started 7th grade all three of my best friends moved away. I went to Westridge elementary and he went to grand view. We happened to be on the same team (that’s kind of how they decided what kids had what teachers) at Dixon Jr high school. I was a skater he was a jock. We had English with Miss Moody and Math with Mr. Hardy together. He sat right behind me in English class and that is probably when we started to become friends. Andrew was in that class too. I think. But I think I was funny enough that a couple months into Jr high the jocks and Grandview cool kids decided they liked me. We had an assembly and to my surprise Rooney Cj and Andrew told me to sit with them and they were the popular kids. Bare with me Keri I am writing down the thoughts so I don't lose them because I might forget them. So I lied I wasn't a skater I was a rollerblader but I guess Cj wanted some better ones or something but I told him he good borrow or have my old ones. So that day I got home and like 10 minutes after the buss dropped me off Cj knocked on my front door. He got home and ran like 3 miles to my house and I really have no clue how he knew where I lived. He just investigated. He was so good at achieving goals. I was really insecure and that was amazing to me that Cj the jock came over to my house. So those are my first memories of Cj
The first time I ever had a sleep over on a school night was with Cj in 7th grade. We stayed up all night laughing and talking and when we missed the bus. So we forged late notes from our parents and decided to walk to school. We were walking and I don't remember whose idea it was but we were like nah let's not go to school. It was my first time sluffing school (that's what we called it). It might be different in Cali. So we just went down the left hand path toward village inn like 4 miles from my house. We climbed the edge of grand view and went around anyplace cj's neighbors could see him. We made it to village inn and I still remember what we ate. He made a ham and cheese omelet and I had a south west one with salsa. Then we went to a Golf shop where Cj knee all the guys and they would let us play the golf simulator game. The school called out patents and the next day we had to go to the principal’s office. We didn't get in trouble though. The summers from 7th grade to tenth grade I played a pretty good amount with Cj. I vividly remember him teaching me to golf at the drivers range. It seriously took me a lot of swings to actually hit it. I dont know if you know this but I have some paralysis in my left arm so it was impossible for me to follow through correctly. So Cj figured out away for me to it straight. Instead of following through over my left shoulder I just stopped half way with the club straight in the air like Thor with a sword in the air. I got decent at golf and I might have even made the JV team if I tried out. I should have. I was so terrible at putting but I was really good at pitching. My own set of clubs I think they were Greg's old ones and they were still pretty good. I miss that man so much.

When Cj and I started 8th grade we both were on the middle weight football team. There was a light weight middle and heavy weight. We were on the middle weight team in 7th grade too but almost all the kids we played with in 7th gained weight and went to heavy weight. I actually lost like 15 lbs so I could be on middle weight so I would be bigger than others instead of being puny playing with huge Polynesians
so Cj and I were huge for middle weight. He was quarter back and I was running back. I remember the first game we played Cj returned a kick and just ran really fast and scored a touchdown. He scored most of them. We lost almost every single game and kids kept dropping out until we had like 14 players on the whole team. It came playoff time and I think we had won game or I think we won a game that got us into the play offs. I think only one team wouldn’t get in to the playoffs and it was either us or fair Jr high and we almost lost. We almost lost because of me. I was supposed to cover a pass or something but instead I rushed the qb he passed the ball and I looked back and saw a kid wide open in the end zone. And it bounced of his chest!!! and then the game was over and we won and got to go to the playoffs. It was about that time that we figured out that we should only do maybe two or three plays. Cj pitches it to Chris elder the other running back, he hands it off to me and I go up the middle or Cj just gets it and runs. So I guess it took us a while but we figured out how to get yards. Since we were like the worst team we had to play the best teams in the play offs. First round was lake ridge their only loss was to centenial (centenial was the Jr high for tempview our rivals) so we play lakeridge who had killed us in the regular season and for some unexplained reason we just killed them!!! Their coach was my sixth grade teacher also which made it extra awesome. We beat them 21 to 0. Next we played oak canyon. Same shit they killed us in the regular season but we kicked their ass with our three plays that we did over and over. They should do a movie on this I swear the mighty ducks had nothing 0n us. So we make it to the finals. Against centenial!!! We lined up at the 50 yard line across from each other and they had at least 40 players and we had 14. It was an amazing sight to see. Anyway they were undefeated and it was on their home field it was such a close game. I don’t remember it very well I just remember I didn’t do crap and I felt bad that I played so terrible but it came down to the wire. All I know is we lost by one point to those rich bastards that grew up to go play for tempview and kick our ass over and over again. We serious lost 46 to 0 my Jr year and 50 to 6 my senior year. I hope Cj told you about all the stuff that went on between tempview and Provo in sports it was such an intense rivalry. I got a video of me and cj when we were 8th grade dancing in my basement but I dont know how to convert it from vhs to dvd I dont want it to take it to walmart cuz cj moons the camera and I dont know what the laws on that. I don’t wanna get arrested. it’s actually not on vhs its on one of those tiny vhs looking tapes that you would film and record on to vhs so I gotta do double work 

Tony Atkins

Hi Keri
I first met Elder Rhineer when investigating the church at a baptism. He was very friendly and welcoming and made a big impression on me. Our paths crossed infrequently until he became an assistant to the president. As I had known previous assistants I was in the habit of taking them out on their preparation days which were Saturdays to see the beautiful English countryside. I continued when Elder Rheineer was assistant and always enjoy the time we spent together. He used to love listening to the music I had in the car but the song he always wanted every time we went out was Rock the Casbah by the Clash, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Hdt_zWIPI&feature=fvwrel . We would drive along singing to this song (The other assistant as they changed were introduced to it).
Elder Rheineer always knew how to have fun and yet remains one of the most spiritual people I have been fortunate to cross my path. the way he continued on his mission when his father died and served as assistant for so long shows how faithful he was to the task heavenly Father had given him. He was a great servant and a pleasure to know. It was always a joy to meet him again when I was over in Salt Lake,
He will be missed
Tony Atkins

Tyson Van Buren

Whenever me and CJ would go on car rides to Morgan we would alway jam out to music and sing as loud as we could, but there is one song that will alway remind me of driving with Cj, it's by 311 and the name of the song is Flowing. I love those memories the most because I thought I was really cool when I was with my big brother nockers. Just me and Cj crusin, jamming out to 311!! Best times of my life.

Johannes "Elder Wolfert"

Hi Keri,

you don't know me, but I know your husband. I served in the England Leeds Mission from Aug 2002 - Aug 2004.

When I received your message via Facebook,  I didn't realize, what had happened. I was literally shocked, when I found out yesterday. Tears welled up several times when I read through the accounts and thought about you and your beloved husband. I grief with you and hope to lighten your burden just a little by sharing my memories with "Elder Rhineer".

Since we are moving places in a few weeks time, all my journals are in boxes somewhere and not readily at hand. So I've got to think of my experiences with Christian without written documentation.

In my mind the first time I heard of him, was when he was called to be an AP (Assistant to President). Soon I learned that he hadn't been long in the field and that he was very good at playing golf. If I remember correctly he had been a District and Zone Leader before that call came. "He must be special" came to my mind, since he had been called to these positions much earlier than it used to be. And surely special he was. To this day, this thought has never left me. To me as a missionary engaged in a spiritiual work, he became a spiritual hero, I wanted to emulate. His personality and example of being a true disciple left a lasting impression on me.

Unfortunately I never got "to serve around" Elder Rhineer. I met and was taught by him at ZoneConferences, District and Zone Leader Councils and a few other ocassions. Furthermore as an Assistant he did exchanges with all the missionaries. I too had the privilege to knock on a few doors with him. I remember him being kind, knowledgeable, earnest about doing the Lords work, a very good teacher, a spiritual and dedicated missionary, funny and loving. As I follow the presidential elections there is always so much talk about leadership and who could be the best leader. For me Elder Rhineer was that true leader whom I gladly followed and admired. At one ZoneConference I had the feeling that as missionaries we should focus on a specific topic. When I went to Elder Rhineers work-shop he stressed that topic and basically said what I already had been feeling beforehand. At that day I realized
  • that those that hold callings within the church, are called of god
  • that the Holy Ghost whispers to those that are prepared to listen
  • the Holy Ghost speaks to leader and follower alike if we are but prepared to listen
A very trivial thing I remember is related to do me being german. When we were on exchanges he let me get some sausages "Bratw├╝rstchen" at a german supermarket. We had them for lunch.
Funnily he cut them in half before he cooked them. They looked like butterflies. They didnt look but tasted the way they should. :-))

Johannes "Elder Wolfert"