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.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Jan 1 to Jan 17

The first half of the month was a fairly busy one filled with lots of activity outside of our office duties.

President and Sister Johnson came to our District Meeting.  This was the time for individual interviews with the President.  
Elder Clarke, Sister Clarke, Elders Richens, Holley, Hunter, Walker, Ibarra, Chaifin, President Johnson and Sister Johnson.  This was our last meeting with Elders Richens and Holley who were transferred to another area and Elder Hunter who was waiting for his Visa to come through.
We meet at the same time in the same building with another District and so between interviews Sister Caanan and I prepared lunch for all the missionaries and the Johnsons.  They always appreciate being fed.

Elder Clarke took Elder Hunter and Hatch to the airport a few days later,  Their Visas came through and they are now in their originally assigned area, which is Argentina.
The next day we took Sister Mackelprang to the airport to return to Enoch Utah, her hometown.

Elder Clarke accompanied Elders Halls and Ibarra on a teaching assignment.  They live near the incline up on Mt. Washington and so when he picked them up, he did a selfie with downtown Pittsburgh in the background.

Just thought I would throw in a picture of what I work on occasionally.  I am doing a wooden spool quilt.  All I need to do is add the borders and it will be ready to quilt on my new machine that is waiting for me back home.
Friday night game night with the Young Single Adult Ward.  I was teaching them to play Mexican Train.
You can't really tell how big this pizza is by this picture but just think about the fact that that is a 2 liter bottle sitting there.  Could not believe how big it was.
The kids had fun trying to figure out how to do this trick.  They were ready to pull out the chairs before they were in the right position.  I was sure they were going to end up on the floor.
After we finished our game of Mexican Train, the kids decided to use the dominoes in another way.
On Sunday we had a Linger Longer.  Theme for the lunch? Favorite cereals.  It was a really big hit.

Enjoying all that sugary cereal.  At least they added some fruit to make it a little healthy.

On January 16th we had 15 new missionaries arrive and 1 returning Elder who had gone home to have knee surgery.  So glad he was able to return .
We did training for the newbies the next day.  When missionaries gather you always have to have lunch for them.
On Saturday the 23rd we attended two baptisms.  The first was for Jackson, on the right, who is amazing.  He just walked in to church several months ago and has been meeting with the missionaries ever since.  He has taken his time to get to this point but what an amazing testimony he has.  His baptism has to be the most spiritual I have ever attended.  I am sure that Andre playing his violin contributed greatly to that spirit.  James , on the left, baptized Jackson.                                         
After Jackson's baptism we went to a Peruvian restaurant with the Bushmans for dinner.  Brother Bushman had forgotten his glasses and so he borrowed his wifes.  You can't see it that well but they are chartreuse on the front and white with pink polka dots on the sides.  Quite styling.

After dinner we headed back to the church for another baptism.  We are teaching English to a Mexican family and their daughter was being baptized.  The room was full of Ward members and friends.  There was a small contingency of English only people there so Elder Ibarra translated for the speakers.  I was so impressed that they had several children give the talks and Joanna's brother and sister gave the prayers.  The family served dinner after but we were so full we just headed home.

I mentioned we are teaching the Reyes family English.  We have gone for a couple of weeks now to their home.  We are trying to do 2 nights a week.  As they have been doing this they have mentioned it to others and it sounds like we may have a few more joining us.  Next week we will start teaching Monday and Friday nights at the church where we hope to pick up a few more participants.  The program we are using is called Daily Dose and is one the Church recommends. It is an interesting way of teaching but we have been having fun with it.  It is a good thing that the Elders start out with us each time though because the Reyes' speak un pocito English and we speak even less Spanish.  The interesting thing is that Bro. Reyes works in a restaurant around the corner from his home where no one speaks Spanish.  We asked if his children speak both English and Spanish.  The answer is yes but the children will tell you they do not like to speak Spanish.

As we get more and more involved with things outside of the office we are enjoying our time here more and more.  This next week will be a very busy one as we travel to 3 Zone Conferences.  I am doing the food at all 3 and so it should be an interesting time.  I will be sure to post lots of pictures next week.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy New Year

This is a post that I did but somehow or other it did not actually get posted.  Late but I did not want it to go to waste.

It has been nice that the emphasis has been more on the birth of the Savior but I did miss the family.  Back at home, my kids all decided that Sunday was too busy a day and they wanted to have Christmas Breakfast and open gifts on Saturday morning.  They Face timed us and so we were able to see the grandkids open their presents from us and their cousins.  It was fun watching but then of course they did not want to stick around and talk because they were ready to go put all those Legos together.  Even the granddaughters are into them now.

Wayne did not want to buy a Christmas tree so all we had was a tiny decorative tree that Sister Johnson hauled down from the Mission Home attic.  I cleaned off all the shelves of our hutch and it worked very nicely for the cards, nativities and the few gifts we had for each other.  I made stockings for both of us because of course I wasn't thinking of Christmas when we were packing up last July.

Our meetings at church on Christmas Day were pared down to one hour and we met with 2 other Wards that meet in our building.  Good thing.  There were only 4 missionaries, 4 Bishopric members and about 4 Young Single Adults from our Ward.  Even with 3 Wards, we just filled the chapel and a few rows of chairs set up in the cultural hall.  It was nice to be in a meeting with more people but I have gotten used to not hearing small children making lots of noise.  Still it was nice.  

Christmas dinner was just Wayne and I and the Christensens who live a few doors down.  We did at least have a traditional turkey dinner.                                                                                                                  
This is our Christmas Corner
 This past week was a slow one as far as the office work went but we had a few "extra" duties that took up our time.  We had an Elder who had to go home a few weeks early to accommodate his school schedule.  That meant there had to be a few changes in assignments.  Elder Clarke got to go up to Butler to pick up an Elder and take him into Pittsburgh to catch a bus that took him across the mission to his new area.  Since he had to leave very early and I had a dentist appointment that morning, I did not go with him.  He stayed in Pittsburgh to attend our District Meeting.  We also had another missionary leaving early and so Elder Gray in our District was going to be transferred up to Beaver Valley the next day.  I do not know the reasoning but someone bought all these fake mustaches (maybe because he is assigned to a Spanish Branch) and they wanted their picture taken.  This is a very good group of young men.  I hate to see Elder Gray go.

 I got an email from our friend Lily, in China.  This is her with her son, John Kong.  This is a young lady who met a BYU China Teachers couple the year before we arrived.  They were on a bus and seemed to be a bit confused about where they were going.  Lily introduced herself and asked if she could help.  She ended up helping them with navigating Jinan and helping in any way she could.  The next year, our friends the Paces kind of inherited her and the rest of us got to know her and loved her.  She went on a few of our tours with us and even joined us for a few potlucks after church.  It is so sad that we cannot let her know about the church. 
 Lily named her son John after the BYU teacher she met and Kong is the family name.  Her husband is a descendant of Confucious.

This next week is going to be another quiet one.  Salt Lake administrative departments are closed for the holiday and so that limits what we can do.  First of the month is slow anyway.  We will be preparing for 17 new missionaries to arrive mid-month.

Just a little update on our flooded vehicles.  The new truck is doing fine, the 12 passenger mission van is okay and a mini van is running after spitting out ice cubes from the exhaust pipe.  The insurance investigator did declare 4 of the vehicles totaled though and so a company is hauling them away for parts or whatever.  4 less vehicles that the Fleet Coordinator has to sell. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Happenings

We had 5 Visa Waiters arrive with our last group of new missionaries. Two Elders are waiting to go to Argentina, 2 to Portugal and this is Sister Ashton who WAS waiting to go to Costa Rica. Unfortunately for us, she was only with us for three weeks. We got to take her to the airport when her documentation came through. It was so sad when we got to the airport to check in and found out that her flight had been canceled. We had to make arrangements for her to stay with the closest set of Sisters and then took her back the next day when she was able to catch another flight.

A few weeks ago, Elder Clarke decided he would do an act of service for the Elders in our District. He took all his shoe shining supplies and polished each Elders shoes. For a few it was a major difference. Poor Elder Ibarras Doc Martens no longer have the yellow stitching but he is okay with it. His shoes do look good.

After District Meeting, the our Elders and the Elders in the District which is meeting in the same building, stay around and fix lunch,  Elder Ibarra was making tacos.

Every once in a while the Bishop of the YSA Ward calls a "Huddle" after all the meetings. This is a time that he goes over things he does not want to announce in Sacrament Meeting because he can go into more detail. We have a little group that usually sticks around after to fix food or just snacks to socialize over. This week they made hot chocolate. Good for a very cold day.

 Last Friday was VERY cold.  The maintenance guys in our office building decided that they needed to check the automatic fire sprinklers.  When they tested it, a pipe burst.  This all happened in the attic but the empty office on the second floor above us was flooded.  The fire alarm had been going off for quite some time but someone said they were testing it.  When it shut off Sister Casler thought she heard water and went looking.  She found the ceiling in our supply room dripping.  We were placing buckets in several places and then I went into the Presidents office to see how it was.  Big Leak!  It had run down the wall and our new carpet had a huge wet area.  There must have been a very big drip too because the couch was quite wet.  We left the office that evening with a big fan blowing on the carpet.  Monday morning, all was well.

This past week we had interviews by President Johnson at our District Meeting. Sister Caanan and I fixed lunch for the 2 Districts. Such good young men who deserve to be pampered occasionally.

On Saturday, we decided to go into Pitt and spend time indoors at one of the many museums. Being a onetime steel town, this is an all steel car. In person it is really pretty. Looking at the next picture can you guess which one we went to?

There are a lot of Heinz things in Pittsburgh. The Heinz Museum is a fantastic place. I think there were about 5 floors. Each floor is a different theme and one of the floors is a Smithsonian presentation. There is an amazing picture history of Pittsburgh.
There is an area dedicated to Mr. Rogers who was from Pittsburgh.

We discovered that there are a lot of famous people who hail from Pittsburgh. Did you know that Dr. Salk was from here and that the polio vaccine was discovered in Pitt?

 We have been talking for quite some time about going up on Mt. Washington to get a good picture looking out over the city.  We finally went this week but it was a very cold, windy, overcast day.  This is where President Johnson takes all the new missionaries after picking them up from the airport.  They take a picture of the whole group.  We figure we will wait for a brighter day to go back up and take a selfie.
We had one day of snow at the beginning of the month.  It is amazing how they can keep the roads so clear but it makes such a mess of things.  It's a little hard to see but all the cars end up with a white film all over.  The darker cars look pretty bad.

It also makes a mess of the roads after the snow has melted and things dry up. This is our parking lot at the office. That is not snow. It is the residue of the salt they spread all over. This is what all the roads look like until it rains and washes it away.

The last few weeks have been pretty slow but we are getting ready to have a whirlwind week.  All of the Visa Waiters documents have come in and so Monday we will be taking several of them to the airport and then we will go help prepare dinner for the 16 new missionaries that are coming in that day.  Tuesday we will be training the new missionaries and transfers are that day.  We also will head for the airport again to take a Sister who is going home.  We are going to try to teach English to a Spanish speaking family the Elders have set up.  They are always so enthused when talking about doing it but scheduling just does not work.  We hope for success this time.   Hopefully I remember to take a few pictures.