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, 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.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Flowers to Dancing

It has been a very nice, quiet week. Since we were only in the office for 1 1/2 days last week, there was almost a weeks worth of mail (lots of bills) to keep me busy.  Then I missed work on Thursday because I had a cold.  We had had a discussion in the office when Sister Casler and Wayne had their colds and so I did not dare go in and expose Elder Haroldsen.  I laid around all day and found a new series (at least to me) on Netflix which kept me occupied for at least 5 hours.  Too bad there are about 30 more episodes.  I missed District meeting but, again, did not want to expose the Elders.  I did make a ton of chocolate chip cookies to send to them though.  A day of rest did wonders as I was almost back to normal in one day.

Sister Johnson came in to brighten our office in appreciation of all we had done for Zone Conferences.  It really did make it seem like Spring was coming.  The weather had warmed up a bit.

A few days later this is what we woke up to.  We had 4-5 inches overnight.  It was so cold the next 2 days that even though there was no more snow falling it did not melt and it was white everywhere.

Friday night the Young Single Adults put on a Valentine dance that was really great.  The decorations were excellent.  These kids amaze me at how hard they work to make a good activity.
 They had a photo spot with a bucket full of props.  Alec is our wonderful Relief Society President.
The food is always over the top.  We had a chocolate fountain with lots of yummy things to dip and a ton of other great finger foods.

Saturday morning we had to meet at the office for the annual audit.  While waiting for the man who would do the audit, President Johnson was telling us about some issues that had come up as he did interviews that week.  I was checking the office email and I came across the following.  All I could think of was oh no, poor President.  Here are more problems.

          Hey President! We just wanted to bring to light an issue that we've
          recently discovered in our Zone. It happens to be between a Sister and
          an Elder. We thought they we just friends, but lately we've noticed
          that it's clearly been taken to the next level. We really don't know
          what to do and we are looking for your direction and advice. Here is
          what it's gotten too, they may need to be counseled.

          Love Elder Gneiting and Walker

This is the picture that they sent with the email. 
I am sure this was Elder Gneitings idea.  As we get to know him better I am really liking this kid. Not only is he funny and personable but he and Elder Walker are doing a great job leading our Zone.

This weekend was Stake Conference.  All the full time missionaries, which included the sisters, were asked to be in attendance at the Saturday Priesthood Leadership session.  The emphasis was on missionary work.  President Petersen presented the Stake vision for how Ward Councils could work with the Missionaries.  It is a great program and if implemented, should have some wonderful results.
That evening we had another great meeting as several individuals spoke about conversions and how members can work with the missionaries.  We were surprised when they announced that Jackson would be speaking.  This is the 3rd time I have heard him speak since he was baptized and he brings me to tears every time.  He is such an amazing young man.  All of the missionaries sang the closing song and it was so powerful.  President Johnson had told us to watch the faces of the audience as we sang but I could hardly even see my music, I was so teary myself.

Todays session had several really good talks.  One of the counselors in the Stake Presidency spoke about the new Self Reliance program which was started as a pilot program in our Stake.  They just finished up a 12 week program of small groups meeting weekly to work on Education for a Better Job, Personal Finances, Growing a Small Business and Finding a Better Job.  He gave some success stories and it sounds like this is a program that can really help those who are trying to make improvements in their lives.  
A sister spoke about serving.  One of the things she mentioned was a project that was listed on Just Serve that our Elders in downtown Pittsburgh have been working on for the past year.  It is Days for Girls.  The Elders go every Wed. to sew hygiene kits for third world countries.  Young girls miss up to two months of school each year because they do not have the necessary sanitary supplies.  These kits help them to stay in school.  The elders have learned to sew flannel pads that can be washed and reused.  We have heard stories about how impressed the organizers are with the Elders.  Good job!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

New Missionaries -  January 27th

 The Beginning of Ground Hog Day
 If you have seen the movie Ground Hog Day you will remember how every day was a repeat of the previous day.  Well our Zone Conferences had a little bit of that feel to it this time.  We headed to Northumberland for the Feb 1st meeting.  This was the first time we have met there and it was to be a trial run for future conferences.  President felt we would save missionary miles and times by meeting in a more central location.  Since we now have to meet every six weeks, staff is going to providing lunch every other time.  This was the trial run for that too.  I did a small survey to see what the missionaries would like for lunch and it was unanimous to have Hawaiian Haystacks.  A bit of an undertaking but everyone loved it. 

We had a bit of snow driving across the state to get to Northumberland.  It wasn't too bad until we had to get on I80 and got surrounded by big rigs.

                                                This was the first of our repeating days. 
 Sisters always go first.  We have such polite Elders.
 This was the group in Northumberland.  We had approximately 57.
 This is our mental health couple , Elder and Sister Christensen.  She helped me in the kitchen with the lunch and then they did a presentation in the afternoon session.
 This was the first time for presenting awards for the cleanest apartment.  It is amazing what a little competition will do.  One set of Elders and one set of Sisters in each Zone can win.  It was surprising that overall, the Elders had higher scores reported from their inspectors.  
              Willing Elders helping to clear the walkways in Brookville, our next repeating day.
 Another day but the lunch looks surprisingly the same.
The missionaries always write little thank yous to the ladies who provide lunch.  They post these all over the kitchen while they are out being sung to.
 This is the Altoona and Jamestown Zones meeting in Brookville.
 We always have a ton of supplies and mail that we haul to each Zone Conference.
 Elder and Sister Caanan with Sister Johnson.  The Caanans are on a Member and Leadership Support Mission.  He was an Institute teacher and so they teach an Institute class one night a week and they are doing an Addiction Recovery class one night a week.  They just celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary last month.
 Sister Casler helped out at the Greentree conference.  She always seems to get stuck cleaning the floor (which was filthy before we got there).  Sister Casler is our Church Service Missionary.  She works in the office with us but she will be leaving us in April. She has been working there for 2 years.

 This is the Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh West and Pittsburgh North Zones meeting at Greentree.
           Sister Wall will be leaving us March 1st and so she had a Tshirt out for everyone to sign.
These are our two Chinese missionaries.  Elder Li is from Qing Dao originally but his family now lives in Utah.  Sister Lyu is a Temple Square missionary on loan to our mission for a couple of months.  She will be leaving us Feb. 21st along with Sister Shum.      
Now why did I refer to all of this as the Ground Hog Days?  When we were in Brookville, we were just 20 miles away from Punxatawny PA.  And it was on Feb. 2nd.  That is where  Gobblers Knob is - the home of Punxatawney Phil.  After we finished with our conference, President Johnson made sure that he and the senior couples headed up there.  He was so excited to be at Gobblers Knob on Groundhog Day.  We were just glad that we went long after the other 10,000 people had gone. Elder Clarke made a joke about us experiencing the repeating Groundhog Day.  We had three days of the same meetings and the same food each day.

The rest of these pictures just show some of the activities we have been involved in over the past few weeks.  Most of our extra curricular activities are with the Young Single Adults.

Family Home Evening - We had a boat making competition.  Each team of two had 10 straws, 2 pieces of paper and some masking tape.  The competition was to see who could construct a boat that would float the longest when weight was added to it. 

                                                                Mark and Andre stratagizing.

Alec and Dan

James and Jill.  Should have gotten the award for spending the most time on meticulously designing and building tactics.  Theirs was the one that sunk the fastest.

The master builder.  Also the winner with a little help from me.
Bryan and Jackson.  

Twice a week, Monday and Friday nights, we are now conducting English class with several Spanish speaking people.  It started with us going to the home of a husband and wife who are members of the church but we now meet at the church. Last week we had a lady and her son join us who are not members.  They are from Venezuela. This week the Elders found a man and his son from Guatamala who joined us.  None of these people speak English so it has been quite interesting.  Thank goodness the Elders are with us most of the time.  The Reyes family also have 4 children who speak English and an interpret when necessary.  The other two boys do not speak any English.

 This week at FHE they did soap carving.  There were cars and hearts and Alec did a great fish.
We also went to several performances this month.  The first was a Neil Diamond tribute band that performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony.  If you closed your eyes the singer sounded just like Neil.  It was a really good performance.
The second performance was The Hunchback of Notre Dam.  Very good performance and I really enjoy being able to go to these old theaters.  They have been restored beautifully.

Well that is our first half of February.  It has been very busy and we look forward to a slow week this week.  More to come though.  We will be preparing for new missionaries coming in the end of the month, a few missionaries going home before then.  We have tickets for a few more performances and in a couple of weeks we are having an activity for the senior missionaries.  Stay tuned.