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.

Monday, May 1, 2017

 It appears that I have been remiss in posting for a while and so once again I shall just put all the pictures I have taken for the last little bit with a short explanation of what it is.  I saved them on my computer alphabetically and so these are not in chronological order.  As always, we have a period of slow days and then we are go, go, go for a bit.  During the slow time we do indexing and try to find projects at the office to fill our time.  We don't always find something to do so we try to see some of the sights in the area.  The weather has been fickle so there have only been a few that we can get outdoors and do something.  We have had days like yesterday when we started out early in pouring rain headed for the Columbus Ohio Temple, rain, lightening and thunder the entire drive and then we arrive back home in the afternoon to beautiful sunshiny weather.  Go figure!

This is a secondary airport security area.  As you can see, there is no one in line.  President Johnson told us about this line when we had to take departing missionaries to the airport one day.  If you go to the one downstairs, there are always long lines.  Most people do not know of this option.  This is the line we head to every time we transport missionaries now.

This is a nice reminder of my Dad.  The restaurant is on the corner across from our apartment so I think of him daily.  It has great food and I noticed that President Johnson has taken departing missionaries here for their last mission meal since we introduced him to Al's.

This is a fun little springtime occcurance in our apartment parking lot.  The birds like to sit on the mirrors and poop.  It is a good thing we have an unlimited car wash pass because we have to go there a lot now.

 Jason and his family are coming to visit in June and so we are doing a little scouting for things to do while they are here.  We went back to the Ebenezar Covered Bridge to see if it would be a good place to take a picnic dinner after church.  It is a go.
  A couple weeks ago we drove to Ambridge PA to visit Economy Village.  There are several places like this in Pennsylvania.  This is the last of three villages established by the Harmony Society.  A group from Germany came to America for religious freedom.  Economy Village was established in 1824. They lived a communal life,  placing all their goods in common - people were given back what they needed to live on.  They settled first in Harmony PA but moved to Indiana after a time.  I guess they did not like it there as much and so they moved back to PA.  They were very industrious and were successful in developing textile mills, tanneies brick works, etc.  The group flourished for 100 years.  For some reason, the leaders decided that they needed to live a celibate life and so gradually the group died out.   

This is the original church built by the Harmonists but was sold to a Lutheran church group before the State Historical Society was able to purchase Economy Village. 


This is the home of George Rapp who led a group of 400 from Germany to the US.  His home was, for that time period, very grand.

This is his dining room.  

This was in his bedroom.  Can you guess what it is?

We are just coming out of Winter so the gardens were not up to snuff but they had a cute gazebo that had a fountain (which was not working) in the middle.  In the background on the left was a grotto.  All very fancy.  They rent out the grounds now for weddings.

Another building on the grounds was called a Feast Hall.  They had one table set up like it would have been when used.  It was a huge room that would have been filled with tables and benches like this.  It would seat all who were in the community.

The communal kitchen had huge pots that were set into the counters.  A wood burning stove was underneath.

The harmonists loved music. This is a classroom used for music lessons.  There were several old instruments in the room.

This is just one of 4 old Square Baby Grand pianos that we saw.  They also loved art.  Throughout the Rapp home and in the building used as a museum are several very large works of art which belonged to the community.

There was a print shop with several very old printers.
Made me think of my brother-in-law.  I am sure he is appreciative of modern equipment.  It must have been very tedious work doing the type setting.

Fabric section inside of the general store.  How boring to only be able to pick from solid colors.  It would cut down on the time and money spent in fabric stores today though.

This was the other half of the General Store.

This was part of the original village but it is not in the park property.  There are several buildings which are scattered around town which people actually live in today.  This log house is typical of several log structures we have seen around Bethel Park where we live.

So enough of Economy Village and on to other aspects of our life here in Pittsburgh.

 We are still driving into Pittsburgh twice a week to teach English.  On this night, we had Brother and Sister Reyes and Brother Cardenas.  We never really know who will be in class.  Armando Reyes is usually there every night but his wife has taken a second job and so she cannot always be there.  I am so impressed with his faithfulness in attending though.  He has 4 children that he has to bring with him.  I think they like having that huge two story building to play in.  The Cardenas family is also hit and miss on attendance.  

A week ago a non-member, Macario, came to class because he saw an announcement that the Elders had left in a Mexican grocery and deli.  The next week his friend Oscar came and next week he is bringing another friend.  The two new ones actually speak a fair amount of English but I think that they want to have a way to practice speaking.  Friday, Wayne and Elder Nelson took them on a tour of the church.  They later told me that as they were showing them some of the pictures on the wall, Oscar would actually tell them what it was of.  These were pictures of the First Vision and Christ Appearing to the Nephites.  It seems Oscar is very well read.  The idea of doing the English class is to have a way to introduce people to the Church but if they are not interested we welcome them to continue coming.  The more the merrier.  It will be interesting to see what transpires with Oscar.
This picture was taken at our last Friday Forum which is for college aged students.  Look a little young?  There are three Chinese people who come from University of Pittsburgh to video tape our presentations.  This is the son of one of the ladies.  He started drawing a copy of the picture of Christ and I was amazed at his talent.  He is 8 years old.

We have had some really interesting speakers at Friday Forum this year.  I have had to cook meals for each one.  It has been a bit frustrating not knowing how many would actually been in attendance.  I plan for 25 - 30 but if we get 20 we are doing good.  This last time there were only about 4 people there who were not either speaking, conducting or video taping.  I am happy that that was the last one I will be doing.  They are on break until Sept and I will be gone by then.

 We went to see the opera Turandot in April.  In a pre-show lecture we learned that the gongs being used by the orchestra were the original gongs Puccini had made for the first performance of his opera.
 The story of Turandot is really quite interesting and the performance was excellent.  Quite a bit of humor mixed in it along with a bit of tragedy.

In April, we lost Sister Casler.  She has been working in the Mission Office as a Church Service Missionary for two years.  In the beginning of her service, she lived less than 1/2 hour from the office.  They moved shortly after she started though and she has had an hour commute each way since then.  I call that dedication.  We will miss her greatly.

Sister Haroldsen has joined us as the new Mission Secretary.  Her husband has been our Fleet Coordinator for the past year.

 This was from one of our last Zone Conferences.  Sister Pina on the left is the sister-in-law of Taylor Acton who served as a young missionary on Guam while we were there.  We also have a cousin of Kory Matthews who also served in the MGM.  It is a really small world.  We find little connections like this wherever we go in the world.

Once the weather started warming a bit, this is the scene we encounter all over Pittsburgh.  They love their bulb plants.  It was the daffodils blooming everywhere first and then tulips.  There is color all over the city.  These are out in front of the Oakland church building.

 In our YSA Ward, we have a lot of talented people.  One of our favorites in Andre Souza.  He is a student at Duquesne University studying music.  His violin playing is beautiful and I cannot get enough of it.  We invited Andre over for dinner one night and we got a private concert from him.  We were so excited to hear that he has gotten a full ride scholarship next year at Penn State.  We would not be as happy if we were not getting close to going home because this means Andre will be moving to the other side of the state come August.

Andre is Vegan an so it was a bit of a challenge to prepare dinner for him.  I looked online and tried to find things that I would like to eat myself.  In the end, I prepared a black bean dish that you serve over rice.  Andre is from Brazil and so he said that the meal was just like what he would eat at home.  I believe he liked it - he had 4 very large servings of everything.  The beans were actually very good and I am keeping the recipe.

We had to take Elder Condie home after our English class one night.  There is a threesome in the Spanish speaking group and so they help us with the class.  That night, two of them went to a discussion and left Elder Condie with us.  This is the view of Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington, where the Elders live.  At night it is absolutely beautiful with all the lights.
I will finish with a picture of the missionaries from the Pittsburgh Zones.  We had a Why I Believe Fireside a couple of Sundays ago.  The Prince of Peace and 3 other videos were shown, President Johnson, the Stake President and a recent convert spoke and we had lots of music - Andre played his violin!  One of the Counselors in the Stake Presidency even sang a solo.  It was an excellent program.  I wish I had a video of the last number.  All of the missionaries throughout our mission have a special medley that they sing at conferences and the firesides.  I do not go up to sing with them because they bring tears to my eyes every time and I cannot sing.  I love being able to witness moments like this though.  What a blessing it is to be part of this great work.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

This is going to be totally out of order but here are the pictures taken over the last month.

At he beginning of March, we had a day that was absolutely beautiful with 74 degree weather.  These two pictures were taken the next day.  We have had cold, rainy or snowy weather ever since.

One of my favorite activities -Game Night with the Young Single Adults.

We have also had several Linger Longers.
Jill and Maddie are showing off their Walking Tacos.

We had interviews with President Johnson.  Sister Johnson gave a lesson about Jehosaphat and how he handled a stressful situation.  She pointed out that there was good instruction from this story that will help us to deal with stress.    We had a Cafe Rio knockoff lunch before our meeting and then took a picture of our District with President Johnson.  We were sad to lose Elder Ibarra the next week.  He has been very instrumental in getting our English class going and we will miss him.

Sad Day.  Our two Chinese sisters who were on loan from Temple Square had to return to their assignment there.  We got to host them over night and take them to the airport VERY EARLY the next morning. 

We took them to dinner at Al's Cafe which is just across the street from our apartment complex.  We discovered this is a fun and flavorful place for dinner.  The sisters enjoyed all the deer heads mounted overhead.

We had another group of new missionaries come in on February 27th.  Sister Christensen again prepared a wonderful lunch on the day of their training.

I finished my Wooden Spools quilt top.  It only took me 6 months.  Can't wait to get home and try out my new longarm on it.   I have all the material I need to start a new one.  We'll see if I can finish by August.
The creek behind the Mission Office rose to within 6" of flooding again.  All cars were moved up closer to the building just to be safe.

We got a flyer for a Scout Fundraiser at church one Sunday.  We decided to support them.  They had a great pulled chicken dinner and an auction for desserts and services.  I guess we are going to be going to a Pirates game since Wayne bought tickets.
This past week we held a couple of Zone Conferences.  Always looking for the best deal, Wayne booked us a room at Super 8 in Brookville.  We will not be returning there.  The bed was so soft and shook every time there was the slightest movement.  It is a good thing we are tall because I don't know if a short person could reach the toilet paper.  What were they thinking?

I neglected to take any pictures during the first conference and only got this one of Zone Leaders doing some training.  I always enjoy attending all three of the conferences.  The training is the same but I like hearing all the responses from the missionaries.  You really get different perspectives and they make some very insightful comments sometimes.

In Brookville, Sister Christensen tempted me to ditch the break out session and go to a quilt store.  I needed a few more fabric pieces for the quilt I am starting so I was very willing to go with her.

The shop was amazing.  It was a large store and it was filled in every possible space.  They advertise that they have over 9,000 bolts of fabric.  For someone who has a hard time making up their mind it can be a little overwhelming but I knew exactly what I wanted and had my fabric within 10 minutes.

Sister Christensen, on the otherhand, had no clue what she wanted and so I wandered the store for another 45 minutes waiting for her to decide.

                                                                                This last picture is a little hard to see.  It was taken out our window.  Sister Johnson has bird feeders in her back yard and she always has cardinals coming to perch on them.  Wayne decided he wanted a feeder for on our patio.
 We hung it and we did see a bird or two but I guess it is the squirrel that really likes it.  Some of the seeds fall on the ground if there is enough movement on the feeder.  I suspect that the squirrel climbs the fence and jiggles the wire the feeder is hanging from. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

A little behind but I thought I should post our week of diverse entertainment.  This was the week of February 13th.

Tuesday night we went to see La La Land.  Since I love musicals I was really looking forward to seeing this movie.  With all the hype that it has had I have to say that it did NOT live up to my expectations.  I am not alone in this.  As we got in to the elevator headed for the parking garage, a man asked me what I thought of the movie.  His comment was "it was just strange".
 Image result for la la land
 Thursday night we went into Pittsburgh to see Taj Express.  This was a great Bollywood performance.  It made me tired just watching them perform.
                Image result for taj express

Image result for taj express

 Saturday we again went into Pittsburgh.  We took the T and got off at Station Square to walk around a bit and then we walked across the Smithfield Bridge which goes over the Monongahela River.  It was a pleasant walk over to the Heinz Hall.  This is a fantastic old theater - absolutely beautiful.  We had bought tickets to the ballet because we thought one of our Young Adults was in it but he did another performance in West Virginia that prevented him from making the rehearsals for Alice.  We will hopefully see him in Romeo and Juliet in a few months.
 Image result for Alice in Wonderland Ballet Tickets

Image result for pittsburgh ballet alice in wonderland 
I have to say that my very favorite had to be the Bollywood performance.

A week later we were back at Heinz Hall with all of the Senior Missionaries in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission.  We attended a fantastic performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and pianist Jon Kimura Parker.  It was a great night of Rhapsody in Blue and songs from West Side Story.