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