Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Well, it has definitely been a while since we last posted.  We have had any exciting trips that never made it on to here but our last "trip" was 2 weeks in the Provo MTC followed by a week of driving across the United States.  We stopped at several Church history spots here and there and then arrived in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania on August 19th to start a one year mission. 

Tanner Nelson entered the MTC a few days before we finished up.

We saw Addison Lomaxay while were there but this is a picture that
Addison sent me after we left.  It was good that he connected with
Tanner.  Elder Nelson is now in Knoxville TN and Elder Lomaxay
is in Cambodia.

Our first night on the road, we stayed in an old Mansion that
has been renovated and is now a Bed and Breakfast.  It was
a beautiful home.  The town it is in is very small and we had a
hard time finding a place to eat.  Breakfast the next morning
was fabulous though.

We stopped at Martins Cove and had a very warm hike back into
the cove.  I think it was about 2 miles.  I did not like the heat
but I just can't even imagine what the pioneers had to endure
during the winter time.  We saw the Saunders from our Stake.  They
are serving a mission there.

The scenery in Wyoming was not much to look at but we saw coal
mines and a few other interesting things.

Wayne kept saying we needed to stop in Wall South Dakota so
we could see Wall Drug.  There is nothing of a town there
but the "drug store" takes up an entire block.  It was a pretty
amazing place.

We drove through the Badlands.  I just kept thinking of all the
Western movies I have seen and could picture the cowboys
and Indians riding through the canyons.

Mount Rushmore

Custers State Park had some absolutely gorgeous
scenery.  We also saw a lot of animals there -
buffalo, prairie dogs, deer, etc.

We went to Winter Quarters where we shared our
tour with Lloyd Newell and his family, then went
to Liberty Jail and since we were in the area I
had to go see the headquarters for the Community
of Christ Church (Reorganized LDS).

Mississippi River
St. Louis Arch
And then things started looking really good.  Lots of green
and rolling hills.  Cute little farms everywhere.

We have been assigned to work in the mission office.  We headed straight for the office when we arrived in Pittsburgh.  We met the couple we replaced, the Gardners, took them to lunch, they took us to our new apartment and then we headed back to the office.  We started working right away and have been busy,, busy ever since.

President and Sister Johnson came in to the office to meet us that afternoon.  He works out of the Mission Home and we only see him occasionally in the office.  They took us out for breakfast the next morning to Pamelas.  It is supposed to be a pretty well known place.  It was good.
 One of the things that kept us really busy the first few weeks was getting five new apartments ready for when a group of 25 new missionaries arrived.  We only had 9 depart so new areas had to be opened up.  Our mission is so spread out that we rely on the Bishops, Relief Society Presidents and Ward Mission Leaders to help us.  They do the foot work of finding new apartments and then we do all the paperwork and ordering utilities, etc.  Completely furnishing an apartment when it is 3 to
5 hours away is interesting.  We have the move crew though.  These are three elders who load up, drive to the location and then unload everything and set the apartment up.  We have three storage units that were full when we arrived.  They are looking pretty empty now.  We have two apartments we are opening up this next month so we have been picking things up gradually to furnish them.  It isn't just the furniture  that we have to get.  We supply them with lamps, rugs, cleaning supplies, dishes, microwaves, toasters, and on and on.  I have loved shopping without using my money.

The move crew and their trailer.

 We had two General Authorities and their wives visit the second week we were here.  Elders Perkins and Meurs did training with 1/2 the mission in Greentree and then did the other half in State College the next day.  We had some fantastic meetings and then the Senior Missionaries here in Pitt got to go to dinner with the Perkins and Meurs that night.  The Rekief Society sisters fed us well at lunch time.

Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas is absolutely beautiful.  This is a trail that we can get on just behind our apartment.  It used to be the railroad track.  They have made it into a trail which goes about 32 miles.  Beautiful.

Well that covers the first month of our time here.  We have been assigned to work in the Young Single Adult Ward and so we travel a little more than a half hour to get to the church several times a week.  We put 1400 miles on the car in our first month here and I can see it being much more this next month.  We love driving the small winding roads here but rely heavily on GPS.  You cannot tell which direction you are going in and if you make a wrong turn you are lost.  There is lots to do here, when we have the time.  We are really looking forward to all that we will be exposed to.  The missionaries are wonderful and boost us so much.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nepal - CHOICE Humanitarian Project

On December 4th I (Wayne) left on a two week trip to Nepal via Jinan China.  I stopped in China for 3 days to visit friends and then continued on to a humanitarian project in Nepal sponsored by CHOICE Humanitarian.  CHOICE Humanitarian is an organization that is working to help relieve poverty in small villages in several parts of the world by empowering people to improve their lives through health, education, and economic development projects.

I was fortunate that I was traveling to Kathmandu via China because 
my flight landed in Tibet and then went right past Mt. Everest on the
way to Nepal.  It was a beautiful clear day and  the scenery was spectacular!  
I was lucky to get this picture from the window on the plane

Kathmandu is a busy, bustling, tourist friendly city with lots of interesting things to see.  I arrived around noon and only had one afternoon before we went to our village the next day. After checking in to my hotel I went to see one of the main attractions, the Boudhanath Supta.

This Supta is a very famous Buddhist shrine that I spent an hour 
walking around taking some beautiful pictures.

I especially liked all the colorful prayer flags.

The next morning a group of 18 volunteers boarded a bus and traveled 7 hours
 to the village we would be working in for the next 5 days.

22 bricks!

We arrived in the village of Bhorletar (pop 2500) situated in a beautiful valley below some towering peaks of the Himalayas.  The highest peak in this group  is 26,781 feet above sea level.

When we arrived at the village,  much of the town came out to greet us and lead us in a procession to the small college where we would be housed and where our project was to take place.

 In Nepal when someone special arrives they get the FULL treatment!  
Flowers, special scarfs, and red powder, red powder and more red powder.

 CHOICE Humanitarian is working to rehabilitate this small college (180 students) that is for very poor students that live in local villages up to 3 days walk away.  They had already repaired roofs, installed window frames, and added another floor to a classroom building.  We were there to help students and community members to paint the buildings.  Later, glass is being added to the windows and a computer lab is being developed for the school.

 OSHA approved scaffolding.


 Women gathering wood near the school.

One morning we hiked through the village and up a hill for about an hour to a very small 
settlement to see some of the other projects that CHOICE has been involved with.  
Some (if you saw the movie Meet the Mormons) might recognize Bishnu Adakhari, the director in Nepal.

Here is a farmer, his wife & grandson

Pig raising operation.  Farmer borrows $250 from bank to buy pigs and builds pens, 
6 months later sells the pigs for $1000 and pays back bank and raises more pigs.  CHOICE 
is teaching these subsistence farmers how to borrow money and expand their operations.

Biogas system.  Animal manure and human waste create methane gas that is
 collected and burned in kitchen instead of a wood cooking fire.
CHOICE has helped over 1,000 villages in Nepal over the past 18 years.


 Every night villagers would come and play music, dance and have us join in.

One of the CHOICE staffers that LOVES to dance.

Men I met in the village.  GB is wearing a traditional Nepalese dhaka topi (hat). 
He was a soldier in Croatia.  Many Nepalese men have been soldiers in 
various conflicts around the world.

After our stay in the village I traveled an extra day to Pokhara, 
a  scenic area near the Anapurna Range.

There were some great views of the high mountains and I even did a little hiking.

Buddhist Peace Memorial

After Pokhara I flew back to Kathmandu and had one more afternoon free
before my trip back home.  I chose to go to the Pashupatinath Temple.
It is a Hindu temple situated on the banks of a river that flows into 
the Ganges, so it is a very important location.  Hindus believe that the dead 
should be cremated as soon as possible after death.  This temple performs an 
average of 50 open air cremations per day, 24/7.

It was very interesting watching several cremations at various stages being conducted.

After the cremation is complete then the ashes and remaining wood are pushed into the river.

 These Hindu monks were more than willing to have their picture taken...for a price.

The trip was a great success.  I got to see old friends from China and participate in 
a worthwhile service project in Nepal.  I had the added benefit of of some beautiful
scenery, new friends, and new cultural experiences.