Monday, January 18, 2016


One of the fun Christmas gifts that we got this year was from Kent's family---A Trunky Survival Kit--- meant to help us combat being "trunky" (or homesick) during the last few months of our mission and to help us finish strong.  We heard that Jackson played a big part in putting together this kit for us.

Actually, we have kept so busy that we don't have much time to get trunky.  The other day we were talking about our kitchen at home and Jim even forgot that we remodeled it before we left!!

We spent New Year's Eve participating in a mission wide initiative for everyone to deep clean their individual apartments.  Then we spent January 2nd thinking about Baylee getting baptized at home in St. George.  We even got to Skype with her as she opened up the "Heritage Book" that we had prepared for her before we left.

We are so happy for her and her family and we know
that she will be a great member of the church.  Baylee is the last of our three 8 year old granddaughters to be baptized while we are on our mission... so we will go home to three new church members in the family.  What a blessing!

It was also on January 2nd that we had an awful experience here later in the evening.  We went to help some elders with a lesson and then stopped to get groceries.  We were thinking it would be so nice to go home to a nice clean apartment all cleaned up after the holidays.  As we came in the door with the groceries we could smell a REALLY bad smell and thought we had left some garbage out. Turns out that we had 2 uninvited guests---one of which ran right in front of us in the kitchen.  It was a rat---not a mouse---but a RAT!!  Jim stayed to "fight" but I took "flight" to the bedroom in the farthest part of the apartment and stood on the bed screaming in an octave that Jim said was the highest he has ever heard!!  When I finally came out Jim was standing guard with a broom at the kitchen doorway.  I tried to call the apartment management, but it took us a very long hour to get someone to come help us with the situation.  Then it took another 4 days for the managers to find 2 dead rats that we had trapped under our kitchen cabinets.

We spent a few anxious nights and we did alot of eating out in restaurants since the smell in the kitchen was so bad.  Luckily, we have a good fan in the kitchen that kept the smell out of the rest of the apartment.  When we told one of the bishops about the situation his response was "Welcome to Pittsburgh"!!!  At least  we will have a good mission story to tell when we get home...and the size of the rats will probably get bigger and bigger!!

With the rats all gone and feeling a little more at ease I was a little rattled again by being asked to speak in sacrament meeting.  My topic was "Faith to Follow the Will of the Lord".  I actually really learned alot by preparing this talk.  I found the best Old Testament story in Judges 3:15 to help illustrate the topic....but then in the midst of getting ready for the talk, Jim started to have symptoms in his left eye that were similar to the ones he had in September when he had a detached retina on his right eye!  So we found ourselves in the ER again on Saturday night during a big Steelers game.  Most people were home watching the game so we got seen relatively soon, but still didn't get home until almost 2 in the morning.  Gratefully, his left retina was not detached, but the symtoms got worse and today he had a laser procedure to repair a tear.  Anyway, we somehow made it through most of our meetings on Sunday,  I lived through giving the talk, the rats are still gone, and Jim seems to be doing better after having the retinal tear repaired.  We feel very grateful and feel like the priesthood blessing Jim got from the zone leaders Saturday night was such a help.

This month we also got an email from some new friends we made here last January.  Roger was visiting Pittsburgh for business and had some medical problems that meant we met him for the first time in the hospital.   We met LeAnn soon afterwards and found out they live quite near to us at home. We had some very special moments with them at that time. It has been fun to keep in touch with them by email occasionally.  They told us that they are now fulltime missionaries too---living at home and serving in the Salt Lake South Mission.  We keep finding more and more things in common with them so it will be nice to renew our friendship with them at the end of our mission.

Another "tender mercy" for January was being able to spend Monday afternoon P-day with Megan and her companion in Monongahaela.  We met them at the Mon Valley Hospital and went with them to visit a long time ward member and a new member named Russell.  The girls have started to sing together and did alot of duets during the Christmas caroling season.  We visited with them in the hospital as they sang some beautiful church hymns for each patient.  The nurse invited them to go into Occupational Therapy with Russell and sing to everyone there.  Russell was acting a little grumpy, but we saw his total countenance change after he heard them sing.  The nurse even commented that the sisters interacting and singing to Russell had made her day. Their voices really blend well and we are so glad that they have had many opportunities to share their talents.  We then went back to their apartment and enjoyed a homemade Cafe Rio lunch that I brought.  Fun times!

Also got a cute picture of Brynlee texted to us.  Mike and Heather are teaching 9 year olds in Primary and have challenged them to read the Book of Mormon.  Brynlee (age 5) didn't want to be left out so she has started reading and marking the Book of Mormon also.

We are proud of you, Brynlee.  Every day on our mission seems to strengthen our testimony of the Book of Mormon as a support to the Bible and as being another testament of Jesus Christ.

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