Monday, April 11, 2016

People and Places to Remember

We are starting to think of people we are glad we have met and places that we are glad we have visited.

One of our favorites is Annie.  She has the biggest smile and the best laugh ever.  She has taken lessons from the elders for years and she has a strong testimony of the restored gospel.  She is also a member of a small Baptist congregation here.  She teaches Sunday School and tries to keep the little church going.  She just turned 90 years old a couple of months ago and we have been recently helping her with her family history.  We and many of the elders consider her a real friend.

Another one of our favorite people is Gwen.  She comes to church from her nursing home each week via ACCESS transportation.  She will always be an example of patience, cheerfulness, and pure testimony to us.

Another couple that we see making lots of progress in their lives is Alecia and Damon.  Alecia came into contact with the church in Las Vegas a few years ago and got baptized.  She absolutely loves the church and the gospel, but suffers from an illness that definitely gives her lots of trials in life.  Damon is a truck driver so he is gone a lot, but they are hoping to get married soon.  We are so excited and happy for them.

We also saw the Lord's hand recently in the life of a young man we met at a high school event.  He saw our tags and came up to us to talk.  He said that we might know his grandmother---which we did.  He told us that he was actually a member of the church and we asked about his current involvement in the church.  He said that he wasn't really attending and that he wasn't even living at home, but staying with a friends family.  So....we asked if he would like to talk to elders....or get a Book of Mormon??? He hesitated, but said that getting a Book of Mormon might be okay.  He lives quite far away from us, but he gave us his phone number and so we gave it to the elders near him to deliver the book.  We happened to see the elders a few weeks later at a church event and they said that he is attending church every week now and even participating in the Young Men activities.  He told the elders that he was looking for more direction in his life at the very moment he saw us.  That made us so happy to see how the Lord works miracles in peoples lives when they reach out even a little bit.

We also had our first picnic of the year recently in Nick's backyard with Debi and Elizabeth.  Cool weather is just not an obstacle for most Pittsburgher's.  Nick has only been a church member for a few months and so it was good to get to know him a little better.

We had another unique experience at a unique building recently.  It is a long story with lots of twists and turns, but it seems to have all worked out.  We got a call from the missionary couple who served before us.  They told us about a contact they had here within the organization of Dollar Bank.  Her name is Sandra and she is the vice president of the bank and specifically in charge of construction projects.  The bank was started in 1855 and the large, ornate building was finished in 1870.  It seems that as the bank was renovating within the last few years that they ran across many large books of genealogical records that Sandra felt a special interest in preserving.  It turns out that they ended up hiring a full time archivist to digitize and preserve these records.  The bank has even turned part of it's ground floor space into a heritage center.

We visited the bank along with Cynthia and her husband on April 5th.  Cynthia is on the committee for Public Affairs for the Pittsburgh area and we had a great time taking a tour of this historic bank and seeing some of the records.  This bank was created to serve the common working people and an account could be opened with only one dollar.  They were also the only bank to serve African Americans and women in Pittsburgh for quite some time.  It is the oldest Savings and Loan institution in the country.  There are 68 branches in Pennsylvania at the present time.

We were treated very well and taken on a very nice tour.
It turns out that Sandra actually has family who are church members.  She also shared with us a very tender memory of her daughter being helped greatly by church missionaries when she was stranded in Mosambique, Africa a few years ago.  What a pleasure it was to meet Sandra and feel of her warmth and her love for our church missionaries.

We loved the lions that are guarding the front of the building.  We heard that the original lions had begun to deteriorate in the outside weather so they are now displayed inside.  We were told that these were carved by the same sculptor who carved the lions on the Utah State capital building.

The hours, days, and weeks are moving quickly so we keep trying to fit in all the people and places that we can to help move the Lord's work along!

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