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.