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, December 19, 2016

I have  been taking more pictures of the things we have been doing so there are a lot to post and it is hard to get them organized chronologically - mainly because I do not want to take the time to figure out what I am doing.  I do not really think this blog is user friendly.  For that reason, I am just putting the pictures on in random order and I will explain what the pictures are from.
 At the end of November we held Zone Conferences in three cities.  This was the first.  It was in Cranberry and the Relief Society sisters went above and beyond in decorating and feeding us a very special lunch.  It was wonderful.  We are lucky that we get to attend in all three areas so we were well fed that week.  At each conference, there were lots of musical presentations of Christmas music.  It added so much to the spirit that was there.  The training focused on the Light the World initiative for the Christmas Season and it was just such spiritual lift for all in attendance.
 The next week we had 6 new Sisters come in along with 4 Elders and 1 Sister who are waiting for Visas to come in so they can serve in South America.  We do not know how long they will be here.  Could be a few weeks or a few months.  On Dec. 6th we had orientation for these new missionaries.  This picture shows them with their trainers.  This is also transfer day and so after the training is done there is a massive shuffle of missionaries who are going to new areas.  Half of our mission meets here after the training to make the changes. 
 In our Young Single Adult Ward we have a lot of very talented people.  There are several who are music majors, in the theater arts or just plain like to perform.  One Saturday afternoon, we attended the Junior Recital of one of the young ladies.  I never even knew Maddie could sing. She did a fantastic job.  In the evening another young man, James Newton, was performing with a group called the PalPITTations,  The members of this group are all medical students.  They had volunteered to do this performance as a fund raiser for some clinics in Pittsburgh.  I felt like I was sitting in a Pitch Perfect competition.  They are all acapella.  A few of the numbers were VERY good and a few not so good but it was a fun evening.
 Since Maddie performed in the afternoon and James was in the evening, we decided to go to the Phipps Conservatory in between performances.  I had gone there with Margo during Christmas many years ago and I remembered how fantastic it was.  They go all out decorating for the season.  I took so many pictures but here is just one to give you an idea of how pretty things were.
 Last weekend we headed for Ohio.  We went to lots of fabric stores, some cute general stores and a wonderful Christmas store in Berlin and Millersburg.  This is in Amish country.  While I was in one of the fabric stores Wayne decided to sit outside on the porch even though it was freezing cold.  While waiting there an Amish man drove up in his buggy.  When he was tying up the horse he started talking to Wayne.  He told him that most of the Amish in the area no longer farm but work in some of the manufacturing plants.  He lives on acreage but he only has a few animals and just does a small garden.  When he left Wayne took a picture of his buggy driving away.  I was glad he got a shot like this because I had read that they do not like having their pictures taking so if you want a picture of their buggies you should do it from behind where it does not show the people. 
As we drove through the area, we were often driving through farmland along small country roads.  As we passed one farm we saw all these little structures that looked like oversized dog houses.  Each one had a calf in front of them.  I guess it is a way of protecting the young calves in the winter weather.  It just looked kind of funny.
 This was the real reason that we had gone to Ohio.  This is Jasper Li.  He is the cousin of our good friend Robin.  Robin was assigned to help us when we arrived in Jinan, China.  We ended up meeting most of his family.  Towards the end of our year there, Stan Pace and Wayne wanted to go to Yellow Mountain.  Robin offered to go with them and help with the arrangements.  Much easier if you have someone who speaks the language.  Jasper went with them.  We had also met Jaspers parents one night when they invited us over to make dumplings.  We knew Jasper was wanting to go to school in the United States and so we were really excited when we heard he was going to Dennison University in Ohio.  We had been wanting to visit him ever since we arrived in Pennsylvania.  We were able to meet him for dinner and then he took us on a little tour of his campus.  Dennison is in Granville, Ohio.  It is like stepping back in time.  It is just a quiet little University town.  The school is spread out over a hilly area and it is just a quaint area.  Jasper seems to like it there and is doing well.  We had not seen him for 2 years and so he seemed a little more confident and grown up.  It was just great seeing him.
We had booked a hotel room near Dennison and did not plan on coming home until Sunday.  We checked into our room and checked the weather report.  It did not look good.  It was supposed to start snowing at midnight both in Ohio and Pittsburgh.  After only 30 minutes in the hotel we decided we would not chance it and we headed home.  We made it back by 11pm with no snow.  In the morning this is what we woke up to.  We carefully drove into church and hoped it would not be any worse when church was over.  The weather held and the Department of Transportation does a wonderful job of salting the roads here.  Great for driving but not so good on the cars.
 Here is a bit of a contrast.  As we freeze we can be reminded of how warm it is in Guam. 

 When we go down to the theater area, we like to walk over to Market Square where they have the Christmas Market set up.  I enjoy looking in Kathe Wolfharts store at all the German nativities, nutcrackers and pyramids.  Just makes me want to go to Germany again.
 And last week we went to see Mannheim Steamroller.  That performance was on a night when a storm came in. 
 This was what it looked like when we left work before the Mannheim concert.  It was pretty snowy but we road the T into town and it was fine.
 On Thursday mornings we drive into Pittsburgh to attend District Meeting.  Pretty much every week we have seen Uber cars that are the self driving kind.  Pittsburgh is a test area for the driverless cars.  Of course there is an emergency driver in it and there is an engineer in there too to gather data, etc.  I am pretty sure that that is a modern technology that I am not going to take advantage of for a very long time.  It scares the heck out of me to even think of it.

And that brings us up to today  We went to bed last night having heard that there was going to be an ice storm and to expect icy roads today.  Wayne woke early and was looking at his phone where he saw an alert for the icy conditions and he also saw something about flooding.  He did not think much of it until we got a call from our Fleet Coordinator saying the police had called and told him the creek behind the Mission Office had flooded and our vehicles we store there were under water.  We rushed to the office and were met with quite a sight. 
This is what you see from the road above our parking lot.
This is standing below the steps into our office.  
There were several police cars with lots of officers there watching the scene.  They said that one of the cars lights had been blinking off and on and then just quit.  We assume the computer on that one is fried.  They advised us that the current was rushing pretty strong and they figured there was mud on the bottom that would make it pretty slick to try to wade over to the vehicles.  They were concerned that someone would slip and fall into the water and risk hypothermia.  The fire department would not even risk trying to get them out. The pickup on the left is brand new.  We had just picked it up on Friday.  The van next to it is a 12 passenger one used to pick up the new missionaries when they arrive.  Hopefully it is high enough that it is not too damaged.  The rest of the cars were to be sold.  Thank goodness that 4 cars had been picked up by a dealer who bought them yesterday.  We went back after church and several of our Elders had pulled the truck out of the water.  The water had been high enough that it flooded the inside but the truck started and seemed to run okay.  They pulled two other vehicles up to drier land but then they were so wet and cold they had to stop.  

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