Monday, December 22, 2014

More People and Places

Last Preparation Day we took our own little walking tour

around part of the city.  
Parking in the city is almost always a challenge, but our church building provides a perfect parking spot and we have several great attractions close by.  We walked to the Cathedral of Learning (for our second visit) and took an audio tour where we could see more of the nationality rooms.  Many different nations were represented and since the students were on Christmas break more rooms were available.

We also walked to St. Pauls cathedral which was VERY beautiful.  We are loving the stained glass  in so many of the churches and homes.  We have learned that the reason we see so much  artistic glass work is that the very first glass factories were located here along the rivers.  Seems glass is made from sand, ash, and coal--something we had never thought much about before.  There are
large, very ornate churches on many of the street corners and the thing that always stands out to us is the stained glass windows.  We also visited Heinz Chapel which is just next to the Cathedral of Learning and saw more beautiful glasswork.

We also walked past one of the most prestigious computer engineering schools in the country---Carnegie Mellon.  Many of the members of our wards are students at this school.  We sometimes feel a little intimidated when they try to tell us what they are studying.  Their explanations go right over our heads!!  They tell us that they are really just a bunch of nerds---- so we are getting along fine with them!!

It is also really interesting to drive around the city and see artwork done on the sides of buildings.  It's surprising to look up and see the whole side of a building painted in a beautiful mural.  There is plenty of graffiti in the city and many pockets of rundown ghetto type buildings.  The murals in many neighborhoods, and also the renovation going on in alot of the old homes, is evidence of the city's efforts to revitalize many of the areas.  We have been impressed with the efforts we have seen.

We have had an amazing family history experience with a sister named Martha.  She has VERY interesting life story that has been featured on "60 Minutes".  If anyone is interested, you can Google "Martha Curtis" and see it.  Anyway, the sister missionaries (Sister Toupin and Sister Rock), that we became so attached to in just one month, have now been transferred.  We are so sad---but know it is probably for the best.  Before they left, they introduced us to Martha and we did what we could to help her get her family history organized and connected on FamilySearch.
We feel like we are really beginners ourselves in a way, but we did the best we could---- and we must have had a lot of extra help from above---because it connected beautifully and she went right to one of her pioneer ancestors. She read a journal from her great grandmother to us out loud and it touched all of our hearts deeply.  We are still meeting with her---- and hope to keep helping her and learning ourselves.

We are also starting to go on more and more visits to the elderly widows and single sisters in the wards.  This has really been enjoyable for us and it is so interesting to hear their life stories and feel of their strong testimonies of the restored gospel.  Two of the special sisters we visited this week were Karen and Callie.  Karen has been a church member since 2003 and is coming to church every week now because some church members are giving her a ride.  Buses don't run here much on Sunday and so it is very hard for some of these sisters

to get to church.  We are also starting to help Karen with family history and she is working on the "My Family" book.

Another fun thing about our church building is that the Institute of Religion for students at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon is located in the lower level of the building.  It has only been open on a part time basis, but the institute director talked to all of the missionaries  and asked us to help take shifts during weekday hours to keep it open more often for students to come and hang out. He wants the students to have a place to bring friends. There is a pool table, ping pong table, foosball table, kitchen and other classrooms.  Jim loved playing ping pong and pool with the Elders after district meeting.  Pat even joined in as we played a game of "around the world ping pong".   It will surprise everyone in the family, but Pat actually ended up in the "final three"!  It's probably no surprise that Jim's competitive nature got him into first place in "one on one" competition with the Elders.  If it sounds like bragging--we are.  At our age we need we'll take what we can.

Then on Sunday we attended our second baptism.  We have been present in Patti's home on a few occasions as the elders taught her lessons.  She has an energetic little son, Elijah, and it has been wonderful to see her take this important step in her life.

We also found another really nice park where we can go walking.  It is called "Frick Park" and is located in the Squirrel Hill area.  We have heard that this area of the city was once the wealthiest neighborhood in the country.  It is quite a large park so we are excited to keep exploring during our exercise time and on our Preparation days.

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