Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Begins

We feel excited and ready for the New Year to begin.  We finally feel like we are getting ourselves a little more settled and organized as far as planning our schedule and getting to know a few more ward members.  We schedule visits around ward council meetings, missionary correlation meetings, Addiction Recovery meetings, and district and zone meetings.  Then 7 or so meetings on Sundays!  Missionary work takes alot of meetings, but it is all worth it when we see someone new come to church or find out that someone has made even the slightest progress on one of their goals.
We have our first interviews with the mission president tomorrow so we'll see how that goes.

The young man and his mother from Micronesia/Hawaii that
we have been working with are finally out of the hospital.  They are staying in a hotel for home health and outpatient treatment for another few weeks.  It was quite a milestone when he was discharged from the hospital. It will mean the end of our daily visits there---at least until we are assigned to someone else. It was definitely one way to get to know our way around at least one hospital. We will still visit the hotel and plan to be there to help them until they really go home to Hawaii.

Shortly before the New Year began we spent a couple hours of our Preparation Day walking through the Pittsburgh Zoo.  It is very close to our apartment and it was at least a little bit sunny and a "not too cold" day.  The zoo

seems about the same size as the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake except that Pittsburgh's Zoo has an aquarium too.  The aquarium doesn't come close to the Atlanta Aquarium in size, but they did have some really interesting exhibits that gave us good picture taking
opportunities.  There were a couple of unusual things we have never seen before.

Parts of the zoo need updating and the bear exhibits will especially  be undergoing major remodeling this winter.  We were glad that we made our visit when we did because the zoo will be closed for a couple of months.  The polar bear exhibit has already been updated and looked a lot like the one in Salt Lake with the polar bears behaving exactly the same way they do in Salt Lake.  They pace back and forth in a steady pattern.  We'll have to look that up and see if it is typical of all polar bears.

New Year's Eve was much quieter than what it usually is for us.  We are used to having many of our family together at the Oakley cabin on New Year's Eve.  Everyone ended up going to the cabin this year except Kent and his family in Atlanta and us here in Pittsburgh.  We did talk to Kent and they had some friends over to their house and had a great time.  We did "face time" with the kids and grandkids at the cabin and it was great to see them having so much fun even in 20 degree below weather.

For our New Year's Eve celebration we were invited to dinner at the Stoddards.  What wonderful people!  We feel like we have known them forever!  Brother Stoddard was just made the stake patriarch.  They have an old home that was built in 1840. They moved in when they were newly married and they have renovated and added on over the years as they raised their six children.  Their home actually reminded Pat of the Crowther's home in West Jordan.  We kept finding things in common with them and the real kicker was that they have a garden and a raspberry patch about the same size as ours!

Then on New's Day we were invited to the home of Sister Eldridge.  She has been cooking since she was 14 years old and loves to cook and also to feed the missionaries!  What a great combination!  We could not believe the work and effort she went
to in preparing a crown pork roast with all the trimmings.  And of course, everything was made from

scratch and totally delicious.  She warned us about her twice baked potatoes being 'killer potatoes' because they have 1,000 calories a piece!

She told us about her conversion story as we ate. We found out that it took her a year to decide to join the church.  Her story was like many others we have heard.  Most of the people we have talked with have said that they grew up with strong Baptist or Catholic roots.  They had Bible reading homes and as they studied it they realized that the restored gospel seemed to answer doctrinal questions that they have always had.  Sister Eldridge loves the elders and they love her.  She actually hasn't attended church for awhile though, but she said she planned to come Sunday and bear her testimony.

It was great to see her and her neighbor both come to church for the beginning of the new year.  She did bear her testimony and they seemed to really enjoy being at church.  Everyone was glad to see them there.

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