Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas

We took a fun trip the week before Christmas to the Washington DC Temple with Wes, Sara and Payton Walton so they could become an eternal family.  What a blessing for them and what a treat for us to be part of it. 

       100_1307      2011-12-19 17.33.10

We drove to DC the day before so we could enjoy the LDS Bookstore and see the lights on the temple grounds.  It was 50 degrees and a lovely evening for seeing the lights.  There were 500,000 lights on every bush and tree and were a beautiful addition to the beauty of the temple.

       2011-12-19 18.13.11      2011-12-19 17.34.00

       2011-12-19 17.34.38       2011-12-19 17.29.38

I especially enjoyed the nativity scenes inside the visitors center and outside on the grounds. 

      2011-12-19 17.40.21 (1)       2011-12-19 17.41.49

         These two were from Holland and the Philippines, two countries I have been to.

              2011-12-19 17.40.49             2011-12-19 18.11.41

This one intrigued me because someone had taken pictures of their family dressed up in the figures of the nativity and put them on blocks and displayed them as a nativity.  Something my girls would do.  The nativity outside was life-size and beautiful. 

We had a real treat when we met Mike an Debbie Corry at Café Rio for lunch before we went to the temple.  It was a fun time with family and I loved having Café Rio again.

      100_1305      100_1306

It was Wes and Sara’s first time at Café Rio and they loved it too.  Rod even enjoyed his coconut shrimp tacos.


We had a Christmas party at Institute Thursday evening, a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with the Carman’s and enjoyed being with the little kids on Christmas Eve while they were tracking Santa’s progression around the world, and a Christmas feast at the Wylie’s with their family after Sacrament meeting.

Our most enjoyable Christmas activity was visiting with family.  It was almost as good as being there.  We love our Savior.  We are happy to be serving Him here in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission.  We pray we may all put Him first throughout this new year and always.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Union Town

We were invited to speak in the Union Town Branch on Sunday.  Brother and Sister Parker have become good friends in the few times we have gotten to spend with them.  Brother Parker was the Branch President of the Waynesburg Branch for 10 years and when they moved to Union Town a short while ago, he was called to be a counselor in the Branch Presidency there.  Cindy is in the Stake Relief Society Presidency and since she joined the church while living in Moundsville, she takes every opportunity to visit our ward when she is assigned to visit. 

     100_1301       2011-12-18 13.22.38

Union town is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Wheeling into Pennsylvania.  We left about 0800 Sunday morning incase we had bad roads or got lost.  We spoke to a congregation of about 50 people and stayed for the whole block and got to know them all better.  We had a great time and they made us feel so welcome.  Union Town would love to have some missionaries serving there.  Cindy, very graciously, packed us a lunch to eat on our way home. She is one of those people I felt like I knew already when I first met her.  I’m sure we were good friends in the pre-earth life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December in West Virginia

This is our first December in West Virginia and so far we have had warm, sunny days and cold, icy days.  We still don’t know what to expect from the weather out here.  I guess we’ll just enjoy what we get.

The Wheeling Ward had it’s Christmas party this week and it was a great success.  We, as missionaries love these ward activities because we get to invite all the less-actives and non-members we know to them and some actually come.  Sister Carman, our RS president did a great job turning our chapel/cultural hall into a Winter Wonderland.  The ward supplied the ham and everyone brought side dishes to go with it. 

        100_1291        100_1292


We had over 100 people there, including several less-actives and three non-members.  We had a program afterwards of musical numbers and readings put on by various ward members.  I got to accompany Al while he sang “Oh Holy Night” and the mob choir while they sang “Silent Night” which Rod was a part of.  We have some very talented people in this ward and everyone had a great time.  The Primary kids had an activity before the rest of the ward got there about gifts and what the true meaning of Christmas is. We hear it was great too.

Christmas time is a good time to be a missionary.  People are more turned to the Savior and a little more willing to talk religion.  We challenge everyone to talk more to their non-member friends and neighbors and share the good news of the gospel. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another baptism

Kamryn Birkhimer turned 9 on Nov 1 and was baptized on Dec 3.  She, with her mother, Sunny, and her brother, Kolton, have started coming back to church the last few months, but we didn’t manage to get Kamryn baptized before she turned 9 so we helped teach her and she is now a member of the Church.  She was fun to teach and so excited to be baptized. 

           100_1285             100_1286

        100_1287     100_1283

Her less-active dad, Jerry, and her non-member Grandma and Grandpa Birkhimer were at the baptism.  Jerry declined the chance to baptize his daughter, but he acted as a witness for the baptism.  She asked Elder Green to baptize and confirm her.  It was a wonderful event and the Spirit was there so, hopefully, all felt it. 

We are gearing up for the Christmas holidays, not looking forward to being away from family this year.  We had decided not to worry about decorating for Christmas since we don’t want anything more to take home, but we couldn’t help getting a little something.  This is our Christmas tree.

            100_1288             100_1289

It’s all of 12 inches high but does the job.  We attended a volunteer dinner at Wheeling Hospital and I won the white poinsettia in a drawing and the red one playing bingo.  The table cloth and salt and pepper shakers are Dollar General.  That’s the extent of our decorations for this holiday.  We feel very festive now.  Most of all we are grateful for our Savior who’s birth made the whole Plan of Happiness possible.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner Thursday in Pittsburgh with Elder and Sister Marshall, Brother and Sister Cannon, Elders Watkins and Espinosa, Sisters Gibson and Carter and two investigators, Lubaba from Sudan and Dexter from China.  We ate too much food, gave thanks, shared testimonies, played games and visited.  We have much to be thankful for.

         2011-11-24 14.44.14       2011-11-24 14.21.51

We met at the Institute building in Oakland where Elder and Sister Marshall teach institute.

          100_1265        100_1267

We left Pittsburgh about six and drove two hours north to Erie, Pennsylvania and stayed  the night.  Kent and Kae Servoss met us there Friday morning which happened to be Kent’s birthday.  They are serving in Rochester NY and got permission to leave their mission to meet us in Erie which is half way between us.  We had a great day with them and enjoyed so much being with family for the holiday.

          2011-11-25 13.08.24       100_1274

The city of Erie is, as you can guess, is right on Lake Erie.  We drove through Pasque Isle, which is a peninsula out into the lake.  We were looking straight north towards Canada but could not see across the lake. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and 60 degree temperature. Of course, we are always wearing our missionary badges and get to talk with people wherever we go about the church.

          100_1281       100_1282

We drove home that night and attended the temple in Columbus OH with Elder and Sister Marshall on Saturday morning.  It was a wonderful way to end the holiday week. This is the nativity scene they have on the temple grounds.  I guess it is officially the Christmas Season now.  We had a wonderful holiday week-end and are back to work now in Wheeling enjoying finding and teaching, supporting and loving, and just doing what ever the spirit guides.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ten Months

It as been ten months since we started this adventure.  Where did the time go?  We have made many good friendships while serving here and it will be hard to leave when the time comes. Many of these friends we are sure were close friends before we came to this earth.   So many times we have felt that we knew them from somewhere else.  A testimony to us that we are sent where we are supposed to serve.

                                     2011-11-09 12.17.22 (1)

We also have a hard time when we lose our elders.  Elder Ames, on the left, has served in Wheeling for three transfers and has been our district leader.  He is heading home to California this week. But we still have Elder van der Spec, Elder Bluemel, Elder and Sister Mooney and Elder Nielsen.

                                     2011-11-02 09.03.43        

We have been enjoying a beautiful week of warm weather and blue skies.  That is until yesterday when we saw our first snow of the season.  This is a picture from our home looking west across the valley. We have enjoyed living here in this quiet neighborhood with good neighbors and a beautiful view.  The house is still up for sale, but not many lookers yet.  We just decided we would leave that in the Lord’s hands.

We are still having great adventures and love serving a mission together.  We pray that our grandchildren will know, as Elder Holland said in general conference, “In this family we serve missions”.

Friday, November 11, 2011


We got to go to Pittsburgh twice this past week.  It’s an hour drive from Wheeling and we have done it enough we can pretty much put the car into auto pilot.  The first trip was for interviews with the mission president. It’s always an honor to get a few minutes with him.  It is such a great responsibility to lead a mission and be responsible for all of the elders and sisters.  We love President and Sister Topham.

The second trip was to join three other couples and tour some of the sites of Pittsburgh.  Elder and Sister Mooney. who just arrived in the mission field, wanted to see Pittsburgh so we arranged with Elder and Sister Marshall and Brother and Sister Cannon to meet them at the institute building in Oakland where the Marshalls teach institute.  The Cannons are a couple from SLC here waiting for Sister Cannon to receive a bilateral lung transplant.  She is on the waiting list at UPMC and Cleveland Clinic.  He is a physician and has been asked to be a medical advisor for the mission.

      100_1259    100_1260

The first place we toured was the the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. It is essentially and study and class room building which was build back in the 1700’s.  The above pictures are taken from the top floor of the building, looking down onto more of campus and the down town skyline in the distance. It is a beautiful old multi-storied building with class rooms designed in the motif of various countries. These class rooms circle a large cathedral-like study hall that has been beautifully preserved.

                2011-11-08 11.32.36             100_1261

After seeing a little more of campus, we went to the Frick Estate and toured the mansion and the buggy and car display.  Fricks were wealthy owners of the steel industry in Pittsburgh around the turn of the 19th century.  They built a mansion on five acres in the “suburbs” of Pittsburgh.  It is now right in the middle of the Oakland area of Pittsburgh where five universities and colleges co-exist. They didn’t allow pictures on the tour but it was a fun time with other missionary couples. 

We managed to give out a pass-along card and talk to several people about the church so it was a good missionary day too. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Duckworth Family

Julie, Lanae and Mason Duckworth were baptized this week.  What a wonderful blessing for this family and for this ward.  The Lord had prepared them to hear and accept the restored gospel.  They have been so fun to help teach.

100_1253         100_1257

They asked Elder Green to baptize them. Julie, Lanae 12, Mason 9. Julia 6 is anxious for her turn and James 1 doesn’t have a clue. 


Elder Bluemel and Elder Ames were good at getting the ward members involved in teaching.  Julie asked Wes Walton to speak on baptism and Jory Bulkley to speak on the Holy Ghost.  The Bishop was there to welcome them to the ward, Sister Carman welcomed Julie to the Relief Society, Sister Rasmussen welcomed Mason and Julia Primary and Michelle Oliver welcomed Lanae to Young Women.  On the next day Julie was confirmed by Elder Green, Lanae by Adam Holbrook and Mason by Mike Carman.  The ward has embraced and loved them.

We rejoice when new members come into the church and we rejoice as well when we are able to find those who are lost and they return.  The Lord loves all his children.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Work and Play


                     100_1246           100_1244

The ward had a fun Halloween party at the church this last week.  There was a good dinner and then the primary kids got to mummy wrap the bishopric.  The bishop is on the left and Brother Carman is on the right.  The kids had a ball but I can’t speak for the bishopric.  They then had an hour of different games which Rod and I got to help with.  I got to man the pumpkin putt-putt game and dad got to man the balloon game where kids got to pop balloons by sitting on them.  I was glad I got to do the golf.

                  100_1248     100_1247

This is another of the many faces of Sister Carman, our RS president.  She’s a good sport.  The evening ended with a cake walk which was a hit for everyone.  We had several non-members and less-actives there so it was a great missionary activity.

                                       2011-10-22 19.42.30    

The highlight of the week was the baptism of Albert Almonza.  Al wanted to be baptized on his birthday so he could remember the day of his re-birth.  We had birthday cake after the meeting.  Al is a sweetheart and a real student of the scriptures.  And he loves to serve others.

We know the heavens rejoice when another person enters the waters of baptism.  We are looking forward to the Duckworth family getting baptized next week. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Couples

We are excited to have two new missionary couples coming to the mission.  Elder and Sister Mooney come from North Carolina and will be serving in Wintersville doing record extraction. They will be a great blessing to that ward. They are so excited to be helping the elders there with the missionary work there too.  Couples can supply lots of love, encouragement and rides.

     100_1237           100_1238

Elder and Sister Mudgett come from Layton, Utah and will be serving in Punxsutawney, PA. They are called to do member and leader support like us.  We had fun getting to know the new missionaries at the Mission Tour meeting last week.  We also got to sit at the feet of Elder Zwick of the Seventy for a full day and be spiritually uplifted.  It was a wonderful day for the missionaries of the Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Mission. 

      100_1240         100_1239

They did the mission tour in two sessions, one in Pittsburgh and one in Harrisburg, so this was half of our mission but all of the couples.

            2011-10-15 15.30.05                  2011-10-15 13.57.46

We also got to have some fun going to the Pitt-Utah game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with Elder and Sister Marshall. We sat in the Utah section, wore red, and cheered for the Utes.  It was fun visiting with people from Utah or with Utah connections and our missionary tags got us lots of attention. Thanks to Uncle Gerry for the tickets.

We are helping to teach some wonderful people in our area and are looking forward to some baptisms soon.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes and blesses lives and we are blessed to be a part of that happening.  We love our mission and we do need “more couples”.