December 29, 2019 - We got transferred to Buffalo, New York!!! We left Massena last Monday night, December 23rd and headed to our daughter Jessy's house near Schenectady. We spent Christmas with her family and then headed to Buffalo where we will be working with a group of Swahili speaking members who are refugees from mostly the Congo who have been resettled in Buffalo!
On our first day on our way to Spectrum to get our internet connection set up, we found JOY in Buffalo - we are so excited for this new opportunity to serve. We bought our car to bring on our Mission when it had 30,276 miles on it. Here we are in Buffalo - 47,087 miles later - after serving for a year in Massena. And we already have been giving lots of rides! Elders McSpadden and McOmber are assigned to work with both the English and Swahili members in the Buffalo Ward. We have 3 Sacrament Meetings that start at the same time in the Buffalo Ward: there is a Ward with about 130 English speaking members, a Group of about 35 Swahili speaking members and another Group of about 15 Spanish speaking members that attend each Sunday - each in separate areas in the same building. We also have a set of Spanish speaking Elders that serve in the Ward - Elders Silva & LeBaron. We have been asked to work with the Swahili Group. We were fortunate to arrive just in time for a baptismal service on Saturday night. Veronica and Lipanda were baptized by their father, Amori who was just baptized in November. Elder Sonnefeld who along with his wife have been called by the Stake as Missionaries to help support the Swahili Group baptized Amori's other son Pascal. Florence and Bernard were baptized by their father, Kiza who was just baptized in November. What a great welcome to the Ward: 5 baptisms! Here is our new home. There are two identical buildings side by side. Each building has two entrances with 4 floors, 2 apartments per floor. Total of 16 apartments in each building. We live on the main floor on the right side of this building. Back of our building - our apartment is the one on the main floor to the right - with the light on. Some of the houses across the street from our apartment. Front door to our apartment - the door is kept locked - people can buzz you and you can talk to them on the intercom and "buzz" them in. Entryway to our apartment, looking in - you can see Apartment 1 - we are to the left. Entry way looking out. Living room - we can't use the fireplace. Dining room area with some built in cupboards and drawers. (We need them because the kitchen is pretty small.) Tiny kitchen!! Down by the sliding door and to the left is a pantry. Thank goodness for this pantry room off the kitchen - there's not a lot of storage in the apartment. As a Realtor, I would call the study "cozy". Any sane person would call it a small closet! This picture greatly enhances the true size of this room! But a small space is way better than no space!!! We didn't get to see the apartment before it was rented. So we called and asked if they could measure the master bedroom to see if a king size bed would fit. The property manager's response: "I don't need to measure the room, a king size bed will NOT fit." (The mission had both queen and king size beds in storage from other senior apartments that they closed - so we thought we would see if the king would fit.) And I will say, the property manager spoke the truth. We have the bed a dresser and two small night stands and there is not an inch to spare. The bathroom - not much storage but adequate. Now we start falling apart - the laundry is in the basement which is OLD and dingy and not very clean. It costs $1.25 per load for the washers and dryers. Karen checked out a laundry down the street and they want $4.75 per load. No, the washers and dryers are not gold plated. But you would think they would serve a meal and have movies playing at that price. Did we tell you that we have steam radiator heat? The realtor that helped us (who is the Bishop of the Buffalo Ward) told us the apartment was a little hot and we would not be able to adjust the heat up or down - but we could open a window! Karen loved that. And then there are the electrical plugs. Or should I say electrical plug (singular - as in one per room)! Last Shake Night in Massena before our transfer. Back row: Tim, Rebekah, Danielle, Karen Mark, Brandi, Craig, Maxwell, Chris Front row: Karen, Haley?, Carlena, Leah Mae, Carrie. We will miss them all!! The Thomas family: Tim, Rozane, Rebekah, Karen, Mark, Craig & Maxwell Carlena, Leah Mae, Haley?, Karen Coia, Karen, Danielle Carrie, Tim & Chris - the Champs! Rozane, Brandi & Rebekah St Lawrence Seaway Glasses from Karen Coia as a Christmas/goodbye gift. We'll always remember chasing ships with Karen C. Goodbye Sisters - We will miss you like crazy. We can't wait for the wedding invitations!!! Sister Potts, Karen, Sister Penrod, Mark Karen Coia's goodbye sign when we left Massena! The Mission Office asked us to drop off a Christmas package to Elder Barbiero in Albany. We also dropped 2 packages off to Sister Wright in Latham. Their families had mailed the packages to the Mission Office and there wasn't time to get them to the Missionaries, so we got to deliver the packages in person. (Elder Barbiero was serving in the Buffalo Ward working with the Spanish Group and we had met him previously before he was transferred.) We were played Codenames at Jessy's house Christmas Eve with her friends: Tony, Leslie, McKenna and Karen Of course if you are going to have a party, you have to eat! The kids got to eat first. Then the adults got their turn to eat. Great party at Jessy and Josh's house. Of course, we had to do the Nativity Scene Christmas morning we went with Jessy to Diane's house and had a wonderful breakfast. This is the food at Diane's house after we all went through once. Yum! Yum! Christmas morning at 7:00am at Jessy's house. (We actually went to breakfast after we opened presents, but I knew you would never make it to the end of all of these pictures, so I wanted you to see how well they treated us at breakfast, so I put it first!) We always took pictures of our kids on the stairs before they got to come and open presents - so at least one tradition lives on. Christmas presents under the tree. All the gifts from Santa were by the fireplace. Annie checking the treats they left for Santa. The milk and cookies were gone as well as most of the carrot they left for the reindeer. Annie and Lucy got dolls for Christmas. Time to start playing with their toys. Josh brought this mallet in from the Kitchen, so Jack could us it to break open his "Hatchable" eggs that he got - you can see remnants of the shell on the red cutting board. Jack then tried to open a box with the mallet by smashing it. He liked the mallet so much, he decided that we was going to ask Santa for "Thor's Hammer" next Christmas. Annie loved her new ear muffs Josh made Will a chessboard for his Harry Potter chess pieces - and Josh got a big hug as a thank you. The kids got Google Echo Dots for their rooms. (And Jessy got one too.) Annie loved the marker set she got.
We gave the kids little mini-drones that were a lot of fun to play with.
VIDEO Jessy got a washer and dryer for Christmas. And since they were updating the appliances, they decided to take out the laundry closet and install a new tile floor. Josh cut out a tile star and gave it to Jessy to represent her gift. Will loved his Harry Potter Lego set. Here is Annie creating great art with her new marker set. Cameron put together a Nintendo Rasberry Pi game console with tons of retro video games like Mario Brothers for Jessy's kids - Jack was certainly loving it! Will got the game Klask which is a popular pub game in Denmark. Klask is like a fast-paced table-top version of Air Hockey, only it uses multiple magnets and a small round ball. Players must use the magnetic handles under the board to control their playing pieces on top of the board. The object of the game is to hit the ball into your opponent's goal without attracting the white mini magnets or landing your playing piece in your own hole! You'll need fast hands and quick thinking if you want to win this game. It was lots of fun. Our special Christmas card... Missionaries received a Christmas Card from the First Presidency.
Let's just say - it was a crazy week with getting transferred. We made it. We'll miss everyone in Massena - we made a lot of lifelong friends. We hope the best for everyone and pray that they will stay faithful and committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we can already see that we will love our new opportunity in Buffalo. Everyone has been wonderful. Thanks for making us feel welcome.