Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Farewell and Best Wishes! May 2017

Three amazing missionaries have completed their missions and returned home in May.  We are so grateful for their service and to have served together!  Love and best in this important transfer!

Sister Kwasney, Sister Thorson and Elder Ross

Farewell hike on the trails

Some of the things they shared: 

My Mission Was Successful Because...

 "I have come to know Jesus Christ.  I learned that repentance is a joyful thing!  We can change and become better.  I have felt the power of that change in my own heart as I watched others embrace the gospel and have their hearts change.  Seeing myself come unto Christ as I have seen others come unto Him.   I have felt the love of Christ as I have read the Book of Mormon.  He lives!  I wish more people would have been open to it."

 "For awhile it was hard to feel like I was successful as a missionary.  I can testify of Jesus Christ without shame - that is a success for me.  Bearing testimony is a success no matter what the response.  I have come to know the atonement is real and that I can help others come closer to Jesus Christ.  My priorities have changed and I now know that the Sabbath is a sign we show our Heavenly Father."

 "Being able to develop a strong relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  Having to deal with hard things  - my anxiety and doing things out of my comfort zone has enabled me to come to know them.  My studies of the scriptures have become so precious and I have found answers and how to have a closeness with the Lord.  Seeing how my Heavenly Father loves me  - I see glimpses of that love.  The Book of Mormon has shown me how to return to Heavenly Father and live with my family forever and get through the challenges that this life unfolds."  

A happy reunion for the Kwasneys!

Welcome To The PPM May 2017

On May 22, 2017 seven new missionaries arrived in Pittsburgh!  Two days later two seasoned elders from the Russia Vladivostok Mission joined us.  Welcome!

Elder White and Elder Madsen at the airport loading the trailer.

Elders Edmunds, Zarges, Feltner, Sisters Higley, Liljenquist, Hoop and Schilling 

Catching a glimpse of Pittsburgh at the overlook

Dinner at the mission home

Lunch at Tuesday's training

Sister Palmer will train Sister Liljenquist 

Sister Higley will be trained by Sister Roper

Elder Zarges training with Elder Wilson

Elder Synder training Elder Edmunds

Sister Kessler training Sister Schilling 

Sister Hoop training with Sister Monson

Elder Feltner being trained by Elder Torgersen 

A special welcome to Elder Bates (above) and Elder King (below) who will serve their last 2 transfers (3 months) here in Pennsylvania after a consolidation of two missions in Russia.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Joyfully Entering In At The Gate

1. Jesus came to John the Baptist,
In Judea long ago,
And was baptized by immersion
In the River Jordan’s flow.

2. “To fulfill the law,” said Jesus,
When the Baptist questioned why,
“And to enter with my Father
In the kingdom up on high.”

3. Now we know that we must also
Witness faith in Jesus’ word,
Be baptized to show obedience,
As was Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Elders Duley and Smedley taught Melvin who was baptized April 8, 2017

Elder Li and Elder Aguinaga taught and baptized Annette on April 8, 2017

Sister Belnap and Sister De Widt taught Mercedes who was baptized April 8, 2017
"Mercedes met with the Elders first in November 2016 - she'd requested a Bible online. Her previous contact with missionaries was about two years previous, when she happened to be in the house when they stopped by for one of her family members.
They started teaching her, and then the sisters continued when the area changed. A lot of the reason she wanted to be baptized was because she knew that this was a good church, and she wanted to teach her boys and raise them up right. She wanted to be an example of a "godly person" to them.
In the beginning I'm not sure that she recognized how her testimony was growing. It took a long time before she would come to church, but after she did we could see a clear change happening in her. She was more patient, she was kinder to her family, she was more attentive in lessons - it was an amazing thing to watch. She was baptized on April 8th, and she has been very happy since then. She has expressed how having the Holy Ghost with her constantly now helps her to pause and not let her first immediate reaction come out when someone angers or frustrates her. She continues to be diligent in her scripture study, both personal and with her family. She is very happy to be a part of this Church! "

Sister Kwasney and Sister Jacobson helped teach Nathan who was baptized April 26, 2017

Nathan's Conversion 

"Nathan started meeting with missionaries about a year and half ago in Ohio. He went through 2 different wards and was really close to being baptized both times but it just didn't feel right so he backed out. His mom is a new convert of a few years and he moved to Cranberry about 4 months ago with his mom. At first he was a little hesitant about the church and when we stopped by to see him he was shy and didn't want to talk to us. After about a month he was reading from the Book of Mormon and praying again and you could see the difference in his countenance. He was no longer this awkward little boy but he knew this church was for him and he recognized the peace it brought. The ward immediately welcomed him in and showed him so much love that he couldn't help but feel the spirit in his life and he continued to study. He got up to bear his testimony one Sunday and said this was the ward he was going to be baptized in and he felt nothing but love here. We stopped by later that night to see what that was all about and he said he wasn't ready to be baptized yet so we laid low and waited for his heart to be ready and a couple of weeks later he came up to us and told us that he was going to be wearing all white! He was so happy and energetic about it that he couldn't help but announce it to everyone! From that point on for the next month and a half we taught him all the lessons and with each lesson his heart was even more opened and his understanding began to increase. He was putting forth the effort to read and pray and attend church and go to mutual and support from the ward leaders and youth continued to increase to the point of him being so excited for his baptism. He had to write a paper for school on something that he believed in and he wrote about the Book of Mormon! He professed his love and testimony of the Book of Mormon to his teacher and everyone who got to read it (and he even got 100% on it). Over the time of him meeting with missionaries he learned so much and right when the timing was perfect Heavenly Father led us to him so we could help him solidify his testimony. He is preparing for the priesthood next week and to go to the temple next month and is so excited about it!"

Sisters Dixon, Roberts and Volk taught Eric who was baptized April 6, 2017

 "Eric is the step son of a member who we did service for every week.

Eric moved from Alaska to North East to stay with his mom and step

father, and to try and put his life in order. He came to church  a

couple of times with his mom and step-father, and seemed to enjoy it.

As we were doing service one week, this member told us that Eric was

wanting to start taking the discussions. That was so exciting! We met

with Eric at least twice a week, and committed him with a baptismal

date on the second lesson. He was definitely prepared. On the first

lesson, he told us that everything made sense and that this was

probably the path God wants him to take.

  He smoked, but after we taught him the word of wisdom, and invited

him to follow it and to stop smoking, he said "Okay, I have two more

cigarettes in my box. I will finish them off, and then I will be

done." He hasn't smoked since. Talk about being prepared! As we met

with him, we could see how his faith in our Savior started to change

him. He was quiet at first, but after his baptism, he seemed to be

glowing and he still has the desire to keep learning and to keep

following our Savior. He is an awesome guy! 😊"

Sister Kwasney and Sister Finau with Sister Waschak and Laurel with Kimberly and Katherine 

Sister Finau and Sister Simmons with Laurel at her baptism

"So Laurel was first introduced to missionaries a few years ago. Laurel's best friend, Sister Waschak is a member of the Wexford Ward and referred her. Laurel and her husband Sean were both taking the lessons some years ago and they lost contact with the missionaries because they were having house problems and they just didn't have time to meet with the missionaries. During the Christmas time sister Waschak asked us (Sister Kwasney) and I to go with her and deliver cookies to her friends and we can make it a missionary opportunity to slip the gospel into their lives. We tried Laurel but sadly she wasn't home. Some time after that we felt very prompted to go back and try to contact Laurel. We went and she was home. She welcomed us into her home and her daughters Kimberly who is 8 and getying ready to be baptized and Katherine who is 5 were so excited to see us. Laurel was so excited to see us too! We got to teach her and her girls and Laurel already had an testimony. After our second visit we invited her to be baptized and she excepted it gladly, her husband Sean loves the gospel but just isn't ready for it right now but he supported Laurels decision to be baptized and be active in the gospel. Sister Simmons and I had the greatest opportunity to witness Sister Kesling be baptized and it is amazing to see her testimony of the gospel grow more and more everyday . Laurel's conversion story really helps us to realize that once that seed has been planted Heavenly Father makes a way for them to be able to to enter into the covenant of Baptism. "

Elder Stock and Elder Taylor taught and baptized Barbara

Barbara Ann Cook's Conversion

"Barbara Ann cook first met the missionaries one day out in a snow storm one day and she was struggling to remove the snow off of her car and the missionaries were out and helped her get her snow off of her car and asked if they could share come back and share a message and she said sure. Barb was going through a rough time in her life and none of her six kids would talk to her at this time. She was really wondering if anyone cared about her and was struggling to get through days at all. The missionaries came back and she talked to them and she explained to them that she had gone to churches in the past and believes in Jesus Christ but has not fully understood. She was turned away in the past churches for believing in different ideas if it isn't exactly what is said. She was a Jehovah witness for eleven years previously before she quit going to church all together. She was listening in on one of the lessons and it hit her that she needed to follow and do this in her life! She was a smoker and drank coffee. She had previously tried to quit smoking and this time with the help of the Book of Mormon and prayer it was different! She prayed and looked to God for help and saw that it was through Him it could be possible. She quit coffee and came to church and it was a life changing experience! She chose not to partake of the sacrament before she was baptized because she didn't feel adequate and worthy to do so. She loved the power and help that came from reading and praying! She was able to overcome Satan and quit cigarettes after 38 years of smoking! She saw that the gospel of Jesus Christ had saved her life by living the way Jesus would. She hates warm water and on her baptism day the water was warm and Christ helped her into the water and right before she went under she felt a cool sensation come over her and then the burdens in life she felt were lifted from her after she was baptized. She felt the sacrament and the conversion inside her through Jesus Christ and the gospel. She said that it was different from any church because you feel it in your heart and know instead of just being told what is right. She knows that it is right and loves it!"

Elder Cowan and Holdaway helped teach Mike

"Mike Caldwell was a great example of someone who is prepared by God, member missionary work and the success that comes from it. Mike was working at Giant Eagle and he was going through some hard times, he knew that his boss John Kigin (Wexford Ward) was a Mormon and was impressed with how John acted and the happiness that was in John's life. He asked him for a Book of Mormon and Bro. Kigin invited him to meet with the missionaries! We started teaching Mike in January!! Never have I met a man that accepted the gospel so quickly and with so much excitement and desire.. never failing a commitment extended to him, reading the BoM everyday and coming to church every opportunity he has. Taking the bus to every appointment He wanted to meet with us at least twice a week, quite often 3 times a week. Any chance Mike had, he was reading. Mike without us teaching him, enjoys likening the scriptures to his life. His favorite is Nephi's example. He would always say when we were talking about his week and the stresses that came with it, "Thats why I really draw strength from Nephi. This is a man who without complaint or dragging his feet would listen to the Lord for whatever needed to be done. His own brothers tied him up and beat him  I don't know how many times, but he kept pushing on! If he can do that, then I can get through a hard day of work or having to work on a Sunday." Any free time he has it was spent on meeting with us. Brother Kigin was there for it all. Offering his testimony, extending a hand of friendship. Mike was baptized April 6th by Bro. Kigin. Mike is a great example to me and truly has become one of my best friends, excited to see the wonderful things Mike will do."

John was baptized May 6, 2017 by Elder Boyes.  Elder Rogowski also taught him.

Elders Selfridge, Taylor, Montgomery Anderson taught

Greg who was baptized by Brother Von April 8, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

MLC April 2017

 Sisters Fenton, Carr, McDonald and Pena

 Elders Holdaway, Cooper, Herzog and Rawle

Sisters Jacobsen, Kwasney, Roden and Kelly

Elders Ross, Syndergaard, Bryan and Mc Gee

Elders Gneiting, Bryner, Daines, and Montgomery 

President and Sister Johnson, Elders White and Madsen

Elders Andrews, Story, Sisters Hegewald and Smith

Elder Andrews at the piano.

The Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders from the PPM meet together at MLC and council together on the needs of the mission.  They share stories of people in their zones who are accepting and progressing in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder and Sister Caanan taught a wonderful lesson on the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Elder White and Elder Madsen conducted a training for Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders to use during their Zone training at zone conferences.

Role plays are the best way to practice what we preach!