Monday, December 19, 2011

December 7, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
December 7, 2011

From our journal it might appear that we don’t do any missionary work. It looks like we spend all our time sightseeing from the photos we post. But we want everyone to know that we are working hard. That being said, last week we had some time while we waited for the return bus after attending an inservice & Christmas get-together with the other CES missionaries from New York and New Jersey in Manhattan.
As far as we know we are the only CES missionaries from Eastern Pennsylvania. At the Manhattan CES center we met with about 12 other couples and swapped war stories. Everyone wants to know how many classes other the couples are teaching, what their apartments are like, extra duties, and class sizes. It was a lot like any other teacher conference except that we start with prayer and are extra polite to each other. Talking with other people doing much the same thing we are was comforting and reaffirming.
We walked from the 42nd Street bus station to the CES building on 15th Street and helped get the place ready for the program and luncheon. On the way back we went by Union Square, Times Square, Macys, and the Rockefeller Center. If we had been thinking we might have gone that way early with a poster and gotten on the Today Show.
First, a photo for my sisters who may be wondering “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”:

The Empire State Building was in the background when we took the photo but it magically disappeared. Was there an illusion of the building? We were sure it was in behind us.
Nancy at a Macy’s animated window display. Even the windows are busy here.
Jim and Nancy in Times Square.
Large decorations for the Big Apple.

It’s hard to believe but we were relieved to get back to the comparative relaxed pace of Philadelphia that night. We were glad that we didn’t have to drive in New York City. Public transportation is the way to go. Some of the missionaries who did have a car in New York told us they paid as much as $400 a month just for parking.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
November 22, 2011
“Moving On Up” along with the Jeffersons

We are now on the 11th floor after it was determined that the apartment management would not fix the heat in our old apartment. What these are views from the top and like you, Sister Blattman has never actually seen them because of her fear of heights. First, the view of nearly straight down:

The photo below takes in the view to the South East. The upper arrow points to the famous Jewish synagogue, Beth Shalom, the only synagogue designed by Frank Loyd Wright. In this synagogue the seats of the congregation are in 12 tribal groups that face somewhat towards the central ark and are on an undulating floor with tan carpet that mimics sanddunes as if the congregation is gathered in the desert about the Tabernacle of the Exodus.
The lower arrow points to Kenneth Israel, another of the three synagogues along this road. There is also a rabbinical college nearby.

Leaning out the window and looking to the North East, the shopping center is visible in the distance just past the edge of the brick edge of our great and spacious building.

Here is Sister Blattman’s ‘kitchen in a closet’. Cooking is a one woman operation. The oven is just large enough for a cookie sheet. As you can see, the frig could hold a few more photos should anyone want to send us some.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 15, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
November 15, 2011

The color and beauty of the trees in Philadelphia in the Fall are best described in pictures. Sister Blattman looks like she could be singing, “I could take a handful and make a treat!” of bright red maple leaves. Sister Blattman is showing off some of the splendor in a park near our apartment.

Here she is with another of the seemingly endless number of hardwood trees. We are reminded of the scripture:
“And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it.”

Elder Blattman is less outwardly exuberant about having his picture taken but inwardly he is of course very thrilled.

November 4, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
November 4, 2011

The Elders often tell us that they feel safe on the streets of the inner city in Philly because of their
conspicuous missionary appearance, especially their name tags. They have many stories of instances when someone is hasseling them on the street or subways that many of the locals will quickly come forward to their defense. They report that when a new Elder transferrs
into an area he is often welcomed by the many men who hangout on the streets.
The Elders are always friendly and are well liked. As a result they are sometimes asked for a
good word, a prayer, or they are given a friendly ribbing when they pass by.
However,that being said, the streets of Philly and Camden are anything but
safe. One Elder told us that two of the men he had been teaching in Camden were
shot, one of them fatally in his presence. Another woman spoke in sacrament
meeting last spring and recounted the many sons of her friends and relatives
who had been killed by gunfire. Stitches and bullet holds trace out violent
histories on the skin of some of the living.
We are not nervous when we drive in these
neighborhoods. The rates of many types of crimes are actually not that much
greater than in a rural area like Winnemucca but there are tens of thousands of
people living closely together here. The
chances of being involed in a violent act may not be that much greater, but the
chance of witnessing one is much more likely. In our forrays into the inner
city we have become acustomed to the screaming sirens and flashing lights of
ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars. Last Thursday was a first however, as
a pack of emergency vehicles streamed past us on a main street, they came to a
stop a couple blocks ahead, blocking the entrance to a side street. Just as we
passed along the same road we heard a shot fired. We don’t know who or what it
was about. It didn’t seem prudent for us to turn back and gawk (although I
really wanted to). There were other reports of shootings in the news the next
day but nothing of this event. It was
just another night in the city.
On a brighter note, we have
begun a new class with wives of medical or dental students
who have small children. We were
not able to entice them to the chapel for a class, whether due to having to
bring their children or due to the fact that the going to the chapel without
their husbands made them feel unsafe. So
if Mohammed won’t go to the mountain, then bring the mountain to Mohammed. We are having class in their apartments with
various ones taking their turn with hosting.
Some apartments are quite small and class size plus children equal a lot
of bodies in a compact area. Needless to
say, we don’t do chalkboard talks or power point presentations, but do a lot of
discussing. These sisters are really
quite delightful to teach and have a lot on the ball. Many are returned missionaries and well
founded in the Gospel. I have to admit,
though, last week the apartment was on the fifth floor and had a balcony. I
spent a lot of time worrying about the small children out on the balcony
playing and thinking somehow they would fall over the edge. You know me and the fear of heights. Anyway
it may develop into two classes pretty soon with so many coming. Great!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 26, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
October 26, 2011

Our cultural excursion this month took us to the Mennonite Tabernacle Museum in Lancaster, PA, with our CES director, Brother Muldowney. The Mennonite Tabernacle Museum has a full size mock-up of the Israelite inner sanctuary and other interesting recreations of the portable temple. We were asked not to photograph the inside of the building so I clipped the image of the motorized high priest and Ark of the Covenant from their internet brochure.

The rolling hills around Lancaster and the well-kept Amish farms made for a lovely countryside. The homes were mostly white, many with clothes hanging on lines stretched across the wide porches. Much of the corn was still standing, tall and thick in straight rows making rectangular blankets over the rolling hills. Busy men in black clothing looked like they were standing on the wagon tongues of farm equipment drawn by horses through the fields. We passed by a small white school building with boys dressed in black, some wearing flat topped straw hats, and girls in blue cotton dresses playing in the grass outside. There were several small black carriages handled by bearded men in black hats and pulled by ponies at a surprisingly fast trot along the roadway. The auto traffic swerves around the horse drawn equipment barely noticing its modern incongruity.

We stopped briefly at a railroad museum to watch some steam locomotives chug back and forth in a switchyard as they rearranged some cars for their daily tours about the area. Water vapor from the steam engines plumed up from their stacks and the smell of burning coal and grease tinged the cool air.
Here is a photo of one of the farms as seen behind the railroad museum

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 7, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
October 7, 2011

The colors of Fall in Pennsylvania are beginning to paint the upper leaves of the trees like the colors of the dipping evening sun. There are yellows in the locusts, pinks and reds in the maples, and dark purples in some magnificent ones that might be beech trees. We travel to our classes along the tree lined lanes oooing and ahhing to each other like children watching the first sprays of 4th of July fireworks. Fall’s full show of color will not begin for a couple weeks but we are anxiously watching for it. Here’s a little maple tree outside our apartment and a maple leaf from a trail we walked today.

We took our exercise this afternoon by walking the paths in a nearby park to get some photos of the trees before they lose all their leaves.

Mitt Romney’s presidential bid has focused a lot of attention on the Church here. When Rick Perry’s minister friend declared that Mormons are not Christian he sparked a furor of response that has put the Church in the spotlight in the papers and on the news shows. The strong Jewish population in Philly took immediate offense at the Baptist minister’s remarks because it smacked of intolerance and bigotry towards all but evangelicals. Our class members report that conversations are springing up with neighbors and coworkers about the Church. Yesterday at WalMart, while we were helping a woman from our building buy tires, the service manager wanted to know where he could go to attend our church and the woman we were helping had a similar conversation with someone else.
We have been inspecting missionary apartments. Some apartments are fairly nice and well kept, others are worse than a frat house on Monday morning. Some apartment buildings are obviously very old. The woodwork on the stair rails, door casings, and other moldings in the older apartments is interesting to see. Nineteenth century craftsmen did some beautiful and lasting work. As I admire the moldings I can’t help but think that the lead based paints are just a few layers down on the thickly coated woodwork. We ran into one pair of elders just as they were coming home for lunch. As we entered their apartment they presented us with a Ziplock bag with some bed bugs that they had captured on their mattresses. Nancy choked back her disgust to take a good look in the bags so she could confirm that we don’t have of that kind of bug in our apartment. Yet. It was hard not to walk around the infested apartment on tiptoe and we didn’t sit down on the furniture while there. We are getting bites from something in our apartment but we don’t think its bed bugs.
Enrollment in our classes has much improved with the start of a new school year. Our subjects this semester are Doctrines of the Gospel and Pearl of Great Price. At the moment we are trying to add another daytime class to be taught in a circuit in the homes of young mothers whose husbands are in school.
Sports reign here in Philadelphia. Walking down the halls of church or along city sidewalks one can here the teams: The Phillies, the Eagles, the Flyers, and the 76ers sprinkled in nearly every conversation. Go Phillies! Sister Blattman holds her own about the players and on the latest standings of the ball teams. Elder Blattman often pretends to follow the conversation, sagely nodding his head, and hoping he won’t be required to know if the conversation is about football or baseball. In Philly the newsstands don’t carry much in the way of woodworking magazines and around the city the outdoor sporting goods stores are few and far between.
Rock walls, stacked and mortared, are found everywhere in Philadelphia. Scarcely any home is not built of rock or surrounded by rock fences and retaining walls. Even brick walls are sometimes struck with a stone here and there to break the regularity of it. Watching some contractors build some new walls also shows that it is done with great effort and expense. For modern construction, a regular concrete block wall is built on a wide footing with drainage pipes and gravel backfill. Then another 16 inch layer of stone is mortared to the blocks to create a very thick decorative wall. And here in Philly they often like to go back and fill the gaps with mortar to create a smooth wall. Mosses, ferns, and lichens grow on the rocks to make a very pleasing landscape.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 28, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
September 28, 2011
The Angel Moroni will Descend upon Philadelphia

The ground breaking ceremony was held last Saturday for the new Philadelphia Temple and it was televised at each of the chapels in the 8 stakes in this area. The event was reported widely and one of the local papers headlined that the “Angel Moroni will descend on Philadelphia.” We picked up a couple women from one of our classes who don’t have a car and we watched it at one of the downtown chapels. There are about 1.5 million people in Philadelphia and we would guess there are at least 10 times that many people in the cities nearby.

As you can see from the buildings in the background at the dedication, the temple will be built right downtown.
Two of the speakers at our summer seminary, Vai Sikahema and Ahmed Corbitt participated in the temple dedication program. They are from the Cherry Hill New Jersey Stake Presidency. Vai Sikahema is a popular sportscaster on TV and Ahmed Corbitt (stake president) is the Church’s public relations director. We were much impressed by their willingness to come talk to the few kids at summer seminary. President Sikahema’s talk about how his family went to the New Zealand temple was inspiring. He is a frequent contributor to the Deseret News.

Vai Sikahema with summer seminary and with Elder Eyring.
We forgot our camera on the day President Corbitt came to our summer seminary dressed in character as a Chautauqua impersonation of Joseph Smith Jr. Here is a photo of him giving a similar performance at a youth conference. To our little band quoted the whole of Doctrine & Covenants section 1 and played a game with them where he would tell them the section from the D&C if they read to him any verse at random.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
September 21, 2011

Monday we had our monthly cultural excursion at the Brandywine Art Museum. This museum is built inside an old mill on the Brandywine River in one of the most beautiful river valleys we have seen. Brother Muldowney, our CES director was our tour guide. He still teaches some art classes in the summertime for the National Academy of Arts so we received a wonderful amount of information.
The Brandywine Museum features the art of Andrew Wyeth who is famous for his illustrations for Treasure Island, Kidnaped, The Last of the Mohicans, and many other books. You may recognize these illustrations from Treasure Island. The actual paintings are very large, the size of a kitchen table, and they are most impressive and very colorful.

These next photos are of Nancy standing beside the old Brandywine Mill and of us together by the river. The area near the museum is also a battlefield of the revolutionary war. The British, under the command of General Howe, landed their forces at the mouth of the Delaware and began to march north towards Philadelphia (then the capital of the United States). Washington sent his forces to head them off by holding the fords on the Brandywine River. The British had superior numbers and knowledge of the area and defeated the continental army in this battle. We were told that there were a lot of Tories among the settlers along the Brandywine and perhaps that had an influence on the outcome of the battle as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 15, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
September 15, 2011

We are back to our usual routine, studying making, Power-Point slides, fighting traffic to get to one of the chapels to teach a class, and then coming home late to collapse at the apartment only to repeat it all again perhaps but with an umbrella in hand the next day. Nancy bakes cookies every other day. Nothing invites the spirit like homemade oatmeal and raison cookies. The Elders from next door have a standing dinner appointment every Wednesday. They are such well-mannered and hardworking puppies.

We really look forward to being with each group of students. One young mother broke into tears on Monday morning as she recounted the relief she felt in being able to have a spiritual break in her week by attending institute class. The ladies all rushed to comfort her and Elder B. looked for a door to escape through. On Wednesday evenings we have a large class of mostly elderly students. These geriatric students, as we fondly call them, do share one thing with the younger students in that most of them are single. Many of the women have outlived their spouses. They too crave the feelings of shared spirituality that institute classes provide. We are sometimes a little hoarse after class from shouting because several don’t hear well. “Eh? What did he say?” is a frequent refrain in that class. Our class from the inner city also has unique individuals but the same sense of finding comfort in sharing the scriptures with others. One young man from the city ward has started attending community college. He is a little nervous about his English class and sent us a paper he wrote so we could correct errors. Reading his experiences was a reminder that most of us have no idea of the difficulties of growing up in impoverished cities.

We have our fun days. We went to the movie ‘Contagion’ this week. It made us more conscious of the practice that Mormons shake hands with everybody which pretty much negates opening doors with your elbow and wiping the handles of shopping carts. So we also went to WalMart and got our flu shots soon after seeing the movie.

These two photos are taken from the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Art Museum after we had seen the Rembrandt exhibit on “The Faces of Jesus.” Next week we will be going to the Brandywine Art Museum. At this rate we shall be some of the most cultured people we know pretty soon. Perhaps we can become more discriminating yard sailors when we get home and find great art treasures.

And this is the view from our apartment window during one of the most recent rain storms. We love the rain. Besides being refreshing, the rain keeps the college kids from partying in the parking lot.

Friday, September 9, 2011

updated email on request for recipes

Wanted to provide a reminder that we wanted to gather recipes by Oct 1 so that I could get them all in a book and printed up.

So start sending them to me via email ( or


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Start sending me some recipes!

Wanted to provide a reminder that we wanted to gather recipes by Oct 1 so that I could get them all in a book and printed up.
So start sending them to me via email ( or

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
September 6, 2011

The last two weeks have been busy. As a friend used to say of his days playing shuffleboard in a wintertime retirement community in Arizona, “I don’t know how someone with nothing to do can stay so busy doing it.”
Jake stayed with us on the weekend before Irene came to visit, Hurricane Irene that is. We packed a lot of pleasant times into 1½ days together with Jake, including stake conference where he graciously endured being introduced to many of our Philly friends and then going to Valley Forge where we are becoming expert Revolutionary War history guides. The streets of North Philly can be more dangerous than a war zone in Afghanistan and we kept jokingly threatening to take him downtown into North Philadelphia at night for a real survival battle but we spared him for his upcoming desert challenge.
Hurricane Irene came and went leaving behind a lot of rain and some downed trees. As we drive through the tree lined streets of Philadelphia we are like kids watching fireworks on the 4th of July – “Ooo, look at that one! Those roots must have rotted away,” or “Look, it brought down the cable TV lines for a whole block.” An arcing power line downed on a driveway on the street behind our building bored a hole in the concrete and left a puddle of green glass behind. Abby, a young African immigrant woman who lives on the 12th (top) floor had her apartment flooded during the hurricane. The ceiling bowed down and her carpet became sour with the water. She has been sleeping on our couch until another apartment becomes ready – today we hope. She is fairly tall and our couch is, as Jake can attest, short and not very comfy. Abby is an ‘Au Pair’, a foreign nanny, who works and is planning to go to school. We have met a number of nannies including Elena, a Russian au pair, who we recently taught the temple preparation lessons, and now who has now left the singles ward to marry some guy she met online from Utah.
For our cultural immersion this month we went to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see “The Faces of Jesus.” The museum was pricey, probably in most part for the security guards in every room, but it was well worth it and worth going again. It is strange and almost overwhelming to be in room after room, many rooms with paintings worth in the hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. This was a special exhibition of paintings of Jesus, many of them by Rembrandt. It has been interesting for us to see paintings of Jesus as a Black man, a Jew, (as in the Rembrandt paintings), as iconic figures, and as various types of Europeans. Rembrandt’s paintings had the most realism and feeling of expression of all that we saw. He used young Jewish men as models. The many students in his studio and other artists were influenced by his realistic
We have gotten together with the other senior missionaries several times now for dinners and family home evenings. It’s nice to commiserate (that’s a nice word for the scripturally condemned ‘murmuring’) with the other old geezers in the mission field. It turns out that they are all pretty normal folk.
These are the Larsen’s who just went home last month. They traded in their Dodge Caravan and bought a little Sion Box while they were here. It was an impressive feat to get all the way home in it.
This is our latest group: The Johnsons, Houses, Baileys, Smiths, Drinkwaters, Blattmans, Ashbys, Schaefermeyers, and Moyers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 25, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
August 25, 2011

Today’s news had an article about the expected Alzheimer’s epidemic in the U.S. as Baby Boomers age into their waining years. So we have discovered a new business plan for Sarah. This business is located on the West block of apartments where we live. When we’ve looked in through the windows there are a perpetual number of elderly folks bent over staring at a plate of food. The expressions on their faces are never evocative of “Yum!” but more of puzzlement, like “What is this stuff, Soilent Green?” If our Sarah had this business there surely would be some brightly decorated cupcakes or something else to brighten their meal.

Sister B. wouldn’t go close to take the photo. Perhaps she thought that someone would rush out and capture her. We thought it would be fun to photo-shop our pictures in the window but it was a step beyond our tech level.

It’s raining again today – 14 inches so far this month. Hurricane Irene is projected to dump a lot of rain by the end of the week to create an all-time record monthly rainfall. That happened while we were in Australia nearly 40 years ago. We are excited to use our umbrellas. Sister Blattman made a demonstration emergency pack for Zone Conferences last week. We may need it this week if Irene becomes belligerent.

Jake stopped in for a visit on the weekend. We picked him up at the airport and whisked him right over to the Liberty Bell and historic area downtown. After stake conference Sunday morning we went to Valley Forge and Bryn Athyn Cathedral. We really enjoyed the visit and break from our routine.

We are studying in preparation for our presentation prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament at the Seminaries and Institutes conference on Saturday. Our lesson may not be very sophisticated but it will be heartfelt. Sometimes we think we are better at demonstrating teaching techniques than explaining doctrines.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 18, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
August 18, 2011

Summer Seminary is completed this week. It kept us hopping and the summer went by very quickly as a result. At the end two of the boys got up and thanked Sister Blattman for the excellent lunches. We know they liked that part. We had a lot of fun with them, memorizing scriptures, playing games, and eating Sister Blatman’s fine lunches. Tuesday, this week, we went downtown to the State Historical Society where the kids each got to read from an 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon and learn about Thomas Kane who befriended the Saints and who lived nearby in Philly.
Then we went to the Independence Mall where we stood near the place where the church rented a carpet store and held services. The actual spot is now occupied by the Independence Visitors Center where you get tickets to go see the Liberty Bell. On that corner, in 1840, Orson Hyde preached and requested help to send him to Palestine to dedicate it for the return of the Jews. A man came forward and gave him a purse containing gold coins for his trip, requesting only that he be remembered in his prayer. In his prayer, Orson Hyde said:
“Do Thou also look with favor upon all those through whose liberality I have been enabled to come to this land. Particularly do Thou bless the stranger in Philadelphia, whom I never saw, but who sent me gold, with a request that I should pray for him in Jerusalem. Now, O Lord, let blessings come upon him from an unexpected quarter, and let his basket be filled, and his storehouse abound with plenty.”
After that we went by a chapel where Joseph Smith delivered a sermon to 3,000 people in January of 1840. The building is now a Jewish Synagogue and we just looked at it as we drove by.
As part of our final class we had ‘Brother Joseph,’ speak. He was the first member to join the Church in Haiti, the first missionary from Haiti, and then the first mission president to Haiti. He worked for the Church for a number of years as a CES director for the Caribbean area. Before he came we expected an older man but he turned out to be about 10 years younger than us. (It seems like everyone is younger than us nowadays.) A humble man, he now works for Target and spoke gently with the kids about their goals.
There is a lot of brown in the photo. Perhaps we should have chosen a lighter background. The old white guy really stands out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 25, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
July 25, 2011

Summer Seminary
Uku is from Liberia and he came and spoke to our seminary class who are also Liberians. There is a large population of Liberians in Philly. There is even a ward that is mostly West Africans. Uku has been a member for a little over a year and he is getting ready to leave on a mission to Seattle in a week or so. We forgot to take his photo until after the kids left but we have the seminary teacher, Alex Alton, in the photo with us.

The next day, while visiting the Morris Arboretum, Sister Blattman is pictured standing on an elevated walkway in the trees. Notice the white knuckles. This is step one of aversion therapy as a way to curing her fear of heights.

Here we are with our seminary class at the Arch at Valley Forge.

Sister B. is either boxing with gargoyles or she is imitating stone carvers.

Prince and Phillip (twins) want to be gargoyle models for sculptors.
The record heat wave passed by for now. The Elders were told to stay in on the 100+ degree days. We did just the opposite and drove around in our car’s air conditioning for relief and then went to the Harry Potter Movie. Senior Missionaries have a lot more freedom than the young Elders. Back at the apartment we finally got the management to give us an air conditioner. The ones we had just weren’t doing the job and we are a lot more comfortable now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 18, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
July 18, 2011

Senior Missionary Luncheon

Us, the Ashby’s, the Larsons, the Johnsons, Sister Bailey, the Schaefermeyers, Elder Bailey.

We drove to Allentown to have lunch with other senior couples in the Philadelphia mission. We ate at Ruby Tuesday’s and the waitress apparently didn’t know much about Mormons because she kept pointing out the drinks on the menu. The Larsons and Baileys are in the mission office. The Ashby’s and Johnsons are up in the North part of Pennsylvania and Southern New York working on member and leader support. The Johnsons told us they drive 3,000 miles a month visiting people. When it comes to miles traveled, I thought we were trying to give them a run for their money this last Sunday as we traveled downtown three times in one day. It is about a 45 minute trip one way for us to go downtown.

Sunday we attended a fireside by Keith Hamilton, the first African American bishop of the Church and the first African American to graduate from BYU Law School. His parents both died when he was a child and because of that he had a desire to learn more about the doctrine of eternal families when he listened to the missionaries when he was a senior in college. In his fireside he discussed Jesus healing the man blind from birth of whom his disciples asked “…who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind.” He compared this to the often repeated doctrine regarding Blacks that they were less valiant in the spirit world and like the blind man, sinned before they came to earth. Or the similar repeated doctrine that they are cursed because of Cain (their parents sinned). Christ’s answer in John 9:3 is “Neither hat this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” That is, each of us had a choice in our station in life and each of us has a destiny to fulfill. Everyone has certain talents and abilities or opportunities to give and receive service that make us valuable in God’s eyes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Elder and Sister Blattman’s Missionary Weekly Journal
July 11, 2011

Summer Seminary Class

Briton, Celestine, Phillip, Courage, Prince, Vai Sikahema, Garry, Emmanuel, Alex Alton
Vai Sikahema, a local sports news caster, came and spoke to our summer seminary class. He is a Tongan who played for BYU and the NFL (Phoenix Cardinals then Green Bay Packers then Philadelphia Eagles). He is a member of the Stake Presidency in the Cherry Hill New Jersey Stake. The boy in the black shirt walked about 5 miles to get to class that morning. All of the kids except him are from Liberia or Ghana. When they talk - which is a lot and often and fast – we can’t understand them. They tell us they are speaking English but we’re not convinced.
When we get downtown to the church to set up for seminary we first go into a control room to open the gate and exterior doors. It feels kind of like the prison or jail one sees in movies where the doors and gates are computer controlled. Then we bring in the lunch and set up the chairs, etc. The building is air conditioned so we don’t mind getting there early and enjoying some cool air.

Monday, July 11, 2011

First day of school!

Emily is in 6th grade!
Morgan's is in 4th grade!