Wednesday, November 11, 2015

October in Pennsylvania

Theres always so much to do that I have been delinquent in keeping up with the blog...but hopefully I can get caught up now.

We have savored the talks from General Conference ever since the first of the month.  Two of my favorites were given on Saturday morning. Elder Richard J. Maynes talked about the joy of living a Christ centered life and used the example of a potter needing to keep the clay exactly centered on the wheel for the pottery to be successful. He quoted the prophet Isaiah---"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are the work of thy hand."  Sister Neill Marriott who is from the South and has a VERY cute southern accent talked next.  She began her talk on yielding our hearts to God by quoting a song that said "Have thine own way, dear Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou are the Potter; I am the clay. Mould me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting yielded and still."  

We have been told that no one who speaks at conference is given a set topic and so I thought it was very cool that the two talks fit perfectly together.  Both talks really "spoke to our hearts" as we considered some of our most personal experiences here in the mission.  It has given us so much peace in difficult situations to feel that we must be pliable in His hands and and flexible to His will for us.  As we still await news of some of our family's health outcomes and also as we have felt the loss of our sweet nephew, Jake, these teachings have comforted and sustained us.

Our mission this month has been especially busy.

We have spent a lot more time teaching lessons with the elders and have had many interesting experiences.  Here is a short synopsis of some of the scenarios that we have encountered.

  • Alecia.  She was converted to the church in Las Vegas a few years ago--almost by accident.  She was dating a man who belonged to a different church with a name she mistook for the LDS church.  She started to investigate our church without telling him.  She said she just wanted to understand him better.  Before she knew it, she was really feeling the Spirit.  She was baptized,  became immersed in ward activity, and made many friends in the church.  Alecia eventually moved back to Pittsburgh and has had some rough times.  She has just started to come back to church here and we are excited to be her friends and help her any way we can.
  • Loretta.  She is investigating the church and is a devout Catholic.  She wants to learn more about what we believe.  She loves to go to mass, but says she doesn't feel a connection with other people there.  The Spirit was very strong as we attended a lesson with her and the elders.  We talked about things we believe that can add to the spirituality she already feels.
  • Ed.  He is an accomplished keyboard musician and past hairstylist and makeup artist. He is currently working as a music producer which takes him around the world for various ventures.  He is disillusioned with what the world has to offer and loves the tabernacle choir.  He says he meets many members of the church as he travels and he really admires them.  He even sometimes attends our church meetings in different places around the world as he travels  Ed says he really wants to be baptized into the church, but he has a medical issue that needs to be solved first.
  • Damoni who is a new nine year old member of the church.  His immediate family has been less active, but his grandmother is active in the other ward we attend. Through her influence and help from missionaries and ward members he was able to be baptized recently.  He is a very sweet boy with a lot of potential in his life.

October is a favorite month of ours and as we have walked, driven, and bicycled around the city and state I have loved the gorgeousness of the autumn colors here. I think I might have just made up a new word there!

We have traveled quite a bit.  One trip to Gettysburg was particularly sobering and spiritual.  We visited the battlefields of Antietam, Gettysburg and the historic town of Harper's Ferry.  I have a couple of ancestors who were in the Civil War and so being on the battlefields was particularly touching.

At the end of the month we also took a trip for a "Senior Couples Conference" to the new Priesthood Restoration church history site in Harmony, PA.  We stopped in Johnstown, PA to pick up one of the senior couples who serve there.  Johnstown is such an interesting little town to me, because I once read a book about the flood that occured there in 1889.  We learned that there were actually two more floods--one in 1936 and another in 1977.  Visiting museums there really helped to tell the amazing story of the survival of this town.

In Harmony we visited the shore of the Susquehanna River where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey were baptized by John the Baptist.  We also saw the grove of trees where they received the Aaronic Priesthood from Peter, James and John.  The home of Emma Smiths parents (Isaac and Elizabeth Hale) and the home where Joseph and Emma lived for a short time have been restored.  We also saw the cemetery where their infant son was buried.  Seeing it all and hearing the history in the new visitors center really brought church history to life for us.
A highlight of our trip was hearing the Visitor Center sister missionaries sing acapella to us

Lots of interesting people and places.  We love serving in PA!

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