Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Because I neglect to take pictures and have not had a lot of these before now, I am agoing to go back and post some pictures from past happenings. 

A little hard to see but this was taken when Elders Perkins and Meurs met with our missionaries in Sept.  We had some wonderful training on Friday and then the Stake that we attend had the pleasure of having Elder Perkins speak Saturday and Sunday.

At the end of September we had Zone Conferences. These are held in 3 different locations.  The first was in Greentree and this was our group there. 

 The next day we met with another group in Cranberry.  The third day we met with the rest of the missionaries in State College.  Greentree and Cranberry are within a half hour of where we are and so we just go for the day.  State College is quite a drive so we left from the Cranberry Zone Conference and headed for State College.  As always, it was a beautiful drive. 

This is Sister Christensen.  Her husband is the Mental Health person for 23 missions in the North East US.  If the rest of the missions are having as much trouble with anxiety issues as we have had then he is kept very busy.  Sister Christensen acts as his secretary.  She also does the luncheons when we have new missionary training.

In between new missionaries arriving, orientations and Zone Conferences, we work in the office 5 days a week.  Some days we are very busy and do not leave until well after 5pm. Other days, we run out of things to do by 2:30 and we take off.  On those days we entertain ourselves by shopping or going to a movie.

This is our latest group of new missionaries learning the nitty gritty of missionary life - medical, finances and housing issues. We had 20 new Elders and Sisters arrive on Oct. 23.

Elder Clarke giving his instructions on housing and referrals. We have a little over 80 apartments that we oversee.  We have found that we have some really nice landlords that we deal with.  We are trying to train our missionaries to contact those landlords when they have problems.  One week we had three separate issues of water leaking in an apartment.  One of those was an apartment of Sisters who stayed up most of the night dumping a bucket and putting it back again in their closet because water was dripping.  They waited until the next morning to call Elder Clarke.  He contacted the apartment but instructed the Sisters to call the landlord immediately next time - day or night.

On Friday, Nov. 4th, I had to do the lunch for the Friday Forum at Institute  It was a good thing that I had planned an easy meal.  We had a few issues in the Mission and Wayne ended up having to drive one missionary up to Warren and bring another one back to catch a flight home.  I ended up having to drive myself into Pittsburgh and do the luncheon.  The speaker was a retired professor from BYU.  He spoke about a non-profit that he organized in a class he taught.  They go into South American countries and work with the people in providing small business loans and training.

Again I have no pictures but that night we had a Senior Missionary game night.  All of the seniors came to the Mission Home and we had a yummy soup and salad dinner.  We then played Three Degrees of Glory (Bunco). Most everyone had a good time.  I felt bad for the husband of our Church Service Missionary though.  He does not like to play games and you could tell it.   Two of the couples who came from across the mission stayed the night at the Mission Home and the next morning we all met at the National Aviary.  This was a thoroughly delightful experience.  There were so many different birds.  All sizes - from canary to condor, and colors - plain black to a rainbow parrot. 

 Sister Samuelson just had to compare her height to that of the Flamingos.  She is a bit short.
Cute little Kukaburra.

 Our Senior Gang: Elder Haroldsen, President Johnson, me, Sister Johnson, Wayne, Sister Caanan, Elder Caanan, Elder Samuelson, Sister Samuelson, Elder Thompson, Sister Thompson, Sister Casler, Elder Christensen and Sister Christensen.

One of our little oddities.  Elder Kotter is from cowboy country and I don't think that he is used to being without his hat.   Since we are close to Amish country, I guess he thinks it is okay to wear one of their hats.   We discovered that Elder Kotter has a PVC steer that he practices roping on P day.  Sister Johnson was telling us about how skilled he is with the bull whip.

I thought I would close this post with a picture that my niece had taken of my parents.  95 and 96 years old and still going strong.  They have always been an example to family and friends.  When you talk about enduring to the end, I think of them.  My Dad always wanted to serve a mission and that did not happen so in a way I serve my mission in honor of him.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Busy Week

We started our week with one of my favorite activities.  I got to go to the Mission Home on Monday to help prepare dinner for 20 new missionaries who arrived that afternoon.  It is always so fun to see them as they arrive tired but excited to finally be in the mission field.

One of the Elders is originally from Qing Dao in China so it was especially fun to meet him and reminisce a little bit.  He left China when he was 18 and his family now lives here in the States.
Tuesday was Orientation and Training for the newbies and that is always a busy but enjoyable experience.  We travel to Greentree for a morning of instruction followed by a great lunch, which I end up helping with, a little more training and then there is an influx of other missionaries as they all meet at that chapel to meet up with new companions and head for new areas.  It is transfer time!

We have a Senior Couple who had to leave after only two months because of a medical emergency in the family.  We told them not to worry about cleaning their apartment and so Wayne and I headed for Meadville on Friday to clean and get things ready for our Move Crew to go and load up all the furniture and household goods.  I wish I had taken pictures.  They lived in a very old home that had been converted into apartments.  There were very high ceilings and all the doorways were arched.  The doors looked so neat.  There were about 3 fireplaces in there.  It was a very interesting place.

Just off the highway in Meadville there is a Dept of Transportation service yard with a lot of very interesting art work.  "Read Between the Signs" is one of them.  There also is a continuous mural made out of old recycled road signs. There were huge flowers that were amazing.  All of it made from used road signs -  pretty clever and spectacular.

Our mission is an iPad mission and usually the new missionaries receive their devices as soon as they arrive.  This time there was a hangup on the delivery and so they did not arrive until the day after transfers and all the new missionaries were now scattered all over Pennsylvania.  Since we were going to Meadville we decided that we would deliver the iPads to as many as we could.  We took 4 into Pittsburgh on our way to Meadville.  We took one to a missionary who lives next door to the apartment we were cleaning and since we had gone so far already Wayne decided to drive up to Erie to take one to a new Sister up there. 

 A house decorated with pumpkins and mums in Erie.
 They even decorate the meters.
 The Fall colors are getting darker.  The reds are finally coming out.  The yellows are already falling.
 As we drove down to Lake Erie, we passed several grape vineyards.  Wayne was told that this is a major Welch's grape area. 
 Saturday morning, Wayne went to participate in a service project on the Montours Trail.  This is the railroad tracks that have been turned into a walking trail.  I ran errands all morning and worked on a quilt top that I hope to finish sooner rather than later. In the afternoon we went into Pittsburgh to locate the Aviary.  The Senior Missionaries are having a fieldtrip there next weekend.  We wanted to make sure we knew how to get there.  Our Ward Halloween Party was that night so we killed a little bit of time driving around and then went to the church.  We were still too early for the party so we went to dinner at the Tamarind Restaurant behind the church.  The restaurant is in an old house.  It seems like there are a lot of businesses like that.  It is nice to see that they do not just tear down old buildings  There are some beautiful old houses here. 

Oh boy, my favorite kind of food - Indian.  They did have wonderful Garlic Nan though.

 At the party, we had so much food that they had to have a Linger Longer the next day at church to use it up.
 Bone yard ring toss.  I took a few pictures of things before the party got started and it was a good thing because they turned all but their special effects lights off and it was almost too dark to see anything.

Jedi Princess.  Alec had fun twirling in the dress all night.

 We had one very talented make-up artist.  Bryan sat for quite a while to get this look.
 Jill, our little peacock and Stephanie the make-up artist.
 The night was just a very laid back evening of mostly socializing.  It looked like we had just about as many people as show up for church on Sunday.  That really is not a large number.  Hence all the left over food.

Today we shipped off 4 more iPads and then Wayne drove several hours in the opposite direction as we had gone on Friday and delivered 3 others.  At least the weather was nice today and he had a nice drive while I stayed in the office and worked. 

Tonight is Halloween and all of our missionaries were told to stay in their apartments and to do a Halloween Haul Out.  They are supposed to clean their apartments real good.  I know the missionaries who live next to us are doing that because I can hear them vacuuming, etc.  We are stocked up with candy but we did not have one single trick or treater.  How disappointing.  I really expected some kids since we see them playing here all the time.  They must know some better places to go to.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Weekend activities

 We have been in Pittsburgh, actually Bethel Park, for 2 months now.   We have settled in to our responsibilities in the office fairly well though we do hit little speed bumps every once in a while.  We have days when we work steadily until 6pm and then we have days when we leave the office at 2:30.  We have another group of 20 new missionaries coming in Oct 23rd and we have had to open 2 new apartments so we have had some days that we leave the office and head for WalMart or Ikea to pick up household goods and we do not get home until 8pm,  We have also spent a lot of time at thrift stores.  That has been quite fun as we find good deals on furnishings for the apartments.This should be the last time we are furnishing the new apartments.  The number of new missionaries coming in is dropping in the next few months and we should balance our numbers coming and going.

We do not see very many people in the office but we go into Pittsburgh Thursday mornings for District Meeting.  This is our District.  Elder Richens, Elder Herzog, Elder Hansen, Elders Swisher, Elder Gray and Elder Holley.  Elders Herzog and Hansen were transferred to other areas on Oct. 25.  

If we feel so inclined, we can attend the YSA Family Home Evening on Monday.  So far we have felt too busy to add that to the list.

Weekends we have tried to explore our surroundings.  Several weeks ago we drove south to go to the Covered Bridge Festival.  There were about 10 bridges where they had crafts and food.  We went the week before to check out 3 of the bridges and then went back to three more during the festival.  The pictures were from another day.  Picture lots of craft booths and hundreds of people around them.

 Another weekend, we went to the Washington DC temple with the YSA Ward.  Most of the day was rainy but we enjoyed the day anyway.  Along the way we saw some really pretty fall colors.
Our route to DC took us right past Frederick MD.  This is where Jonathan and Margo lived after he graduated from Carnegie Mellon, which is here in Pittsburgh..
We returned to Frederick after the Temple to go to Cafe Rio.  Hakima introduced me to Snapchat.

 Another day we checked out the Pittsburgh Inclines.  We have discovered that with our Medicare card we get to ride different public transport for free.  We rode the incline and then went to Station Square.  This is an old railroad station that has been turned into shops and restaurants.  

One of our new duties is to provide lunch once a month at the Institutes Friday Forum.  Last week the speaker was Steve Shellenberger. He wrote Becoming Your Bestself: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders.  He was a great motivational speaker.  There were about 35 people in attendance.  This was just the second time they had held a forum and they only expected 25 so it was a good turnout.  One of the things that Bro. Shallenberger gave us was this little saying
Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Till the good is better
And the better is best.

One weekend we also checked out the Apple Festival in Hickory.  The crafts were okay but they were outnumbered by the food booths.  We stood in line for 1 hour to get a couple of loaves of homemade bread. We would not have waited for it but we had committed to bring apple pies and bread to dinner at the Mission Home the next day.  We gathered there to watch General Conference.

 As we drive to and from all our downtown meetings we drive past lots of really interesting homes.  I love the architecture and landscaping here.

 Before we arrived, the old office missionaries had picked out colors for paint and flooring in our office.  We saw the color chip for the paint and voiced our opinion that it was a little too bright but no one else seemed to be concerned.  The picture below shows that the walls are now a yellow but you cannot really tell from it how yellow.  In a room with no windows, we now have a sunny room.

A week ago we had several fun activities.  On a Friday night we rode the train (free with our Medicare cards) in to downtown Pittsburgh. 
 We walked from the train station to a Market Square to have dinner at Moe's.  It is a Chipotle like restaurant but the food is not as good.  We will try something else next time.

We then walked back to the Benedum Center.  This is a beautiful old theater. 

The Pittsburgh Opera was performing La Traviata.  I knew nothing about the story line on this.  We went in for the pre-show talk and I realized that this was not such a good performance for a missionary to go to.  I did like the music but there were a few dicey spots in the performance.  Live and learn.

The next day we drove to Columbiana Ohio to the Shaker Woods Christmas Festival.  The picture does not really show the number of cars that were there.  There had to be at least a thousand cars.  Just think about how many people that meant were inside the "woods".  It was wall to wall people. 

We finished the day off at a wedding reception for Anna and Troy.  They are the cutest couple from the YSA group.  I could never get a picture of just them.  They had friends and family wanting pictures with them the whole evening.  Jill and Stephanie are two other YSA's.

This past Saturday, we invited the Christensen's to accompany us to the Flight 93 Memorial in Stoysville.  This was another plane that terrorists took over on Sept. 11 2001.  It's intended target was probably the Capitol building in Washington, DC, but the passengers had been able to phone their families and found out about the twin towers and the Pentagon and they ended up trying to attack the hijackers and the plane crashed.  The memorial is really well done and it was a very moving experience.  There is a walking trail you can go on which takes you down to the crash site but it was absolutely freezing that day and we were too cold to do anything more than go through the visitors center.  It was raining but we had another very beautiful drive. 

We ended our Saturday at the YSA Game Night.  They do this about once a month and it is a fun evening. 

This last picture is one that one of our YSA kids posted on the Ward Facebook page.  She had shared it with one of the young men in the Ward and he made mention of it in his talk on Sunday.  He talked about having seen the picture and it made him think of how wonderful it is to just lay back and gaze into the heavens and think about our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.  The picture is one of such 
peacefulness and I really like it.

My goal is to start taking more pictures of our missionaries and the activities of the mission.  Hopefully I will be posting more of that in the future but there is also so much more to see here in Pennsylvania so stay tuned for more adventures.



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.