Thursday, August 13, 2015

On the Way Home! (Final Post - Mission Accomplished)

Left Petersburg about 1 pm on Aug 2nd, beautiful West Virginia roads,
spent the first night in Corydon, Indiana, then on to my sister's home
near Fayetteville, Arkansas

We just relaxed for a whole day, sat on the porch watching the hummingbirds

One of Judy's dogs, Maggie, an old Golden Retriever

Janie and sister Judy

Wayne with friend Freddie

Different kind of countryside

Long day of driving on Wednesday, but even the clouds were interesting

The mountains of Colorado were beautiful

Gorgeous views, spent the night in Denver, Colorado

Daughter Karli with husband Pat, children Dallin, Dustin, Katelyn, and Kristen  in Lehi, Utah

Grandson Dallin telling us about his recently completed
mission in Mozambique, Africa

At a wedding reception for a niece Friday night, Wayne got to see
his sisters Rosala and Wanda, and brothers Marcel and Ferrin

On the road again, hot air balloons over Salt Lake City

Breakfast at IHOP in Logan, Utah with three of our children and their families,
here are Kadyn, Corinne, Kelsie, Laura, and Ellie

Dylan, Sara, Angie, Cassidy

Darin, Wayne, Taivan, Dakota, Cameron, Nathan

Janie with grandchildren Kelsie, Corinne, Molly, and Jack
We loved our mission, but it's sure nice to hug grandkids, after two years away

Our son Dylan and family (vacationing from Boise)
Dylan, Sara, Taivan, Noah, Jack

Corinne, with attitude

Daughter Angie and family, vacationing from Havre, Montana
Kadyn, Kelsie, Corinne, Cassidy, Cameron, Angie, Dakota

Son Darin and family, just moved to Logan
Molly, Laura, Darin, Ellie, Nathan

Newly released, Janie and Wayne

Youngest Granddaughter Klarisse

Sunday dinner in Meridian, with 3 children, their spouses, and 12 grandchildren
(and corn-on-the-cob)
Naomi and Krista

Gage and Kalob

The End.....   or the beginning of our Idaho adventure!

Dear Faces, Fun Party

Elder Orton and good friend Johnny Keplinger

Beautiful view off the Hinkles deck

Annie Hinkle with son Ricky & Ricky's wife, Becky

Dave and Elaine Vanmeter, with granddaughter Katie

Bonnie & Jimmy Hedrick

Jack & Deb Kimble, with grandson Hunter

Ward Party, Jul 31 - pinata of Orton's van (thanks to Katja Barr)

Amazing party decorations (thanks Karnsy, Katja, Janet & families)

Smashing the Orton's van

Sonja's daughter Kristy with boyfriend & new baby Zoey



Joann Morgan, Traci Johnson, Robin Martin, KK & Chloe

Johnny & Janet Keplinger with Sandra Bradley

Gretchen, Thomas, Katie Ours and friend

Doris and Walter Whetzel, Ron Holmes, Linda and Richard (Bill) Whetzel

Oscar with Holloway and Sites girls

Autographed Quilt

Ariann and Carter (List) with Carter's dad, Chris

Jimi & Karnsy Kimble

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On the Road

What a busy final week of our mission we have had!  Sorting, packing, cleaning, visiting...  Sunday through Thursday we had dinner appointments with special ward members who treated so wonderfully.  All the meals were great, and so nice not to have to worry about cooking as I cleaned our kitchen.  We even had squirrel gravy over biscuits for lunch with some friends on Wednesday.   Friday night was a ward party -the decorations were amazing, food was great, we played some fun games, and sang a lot of karaoke.  Our good friend and recent convert Katja and her family made a piñata in the shape of our van with a little Idaho license plate on it, and all the kids had fun destroying it - and telling us that now we couldn't leave! We were presented with a quilt signed with sweet messages from ward members.  I would add pictures of the piñata and the quilt, but am typing this on Wayne's IPad in a motel, so the fun pictures will have to wait.  Saturday we went to the DC Temple with our friends Janet and Johnny.  We took Sonja, who Wayne baptized a year ago in May.  A few other Ward members met us there, it was a long but awesome day.  Perfect way to end our mission.

Wayne did an unbelievable job packing all our stuff.  The pile of bags, boxes, musical equipment, books, mementos, plants, etc. looked way too large to fit in our van, but he did it.  He has been having some back and leg pain the past few weeks and I'm sure this did not help but he is surviving.  We went to our meetings in Petersburg this morning and then drove away - heading West.  There were tears and hugs, bitter-sweet feelings.  We drove about 8hours and are staying in a motel in Corydon, Indiana, tonight.  Tomorrow we hope to make it to my sister's home in Arkansas and spend the day Tuesday with her.  Then on to Lehi, Utah, to visit our daughter Karli and family.  Saturday we will have a quick visit with our son Darin and his family in their new home in Logan, Utah, and try to catch up with our daughter Angie and her family as they vacation in Idaho Falls.  Finally Saturday evening we hope to make it to our new home in Meridian, Idaho, to begin a new chapter of our life!  Will reunite with the Dylan, Devin, and Julie families there.  Can't wait to see our family, we've missed them.  But our mission was wonderful (and hard), we made such good friends and had sweet experiences.  I have a great companion - we've had a lot of fun working together and come to appreciate each other even more than we did before.  Will add pictures next week, must rest now.  I know that we have been watched over and guided by the Spirit these past two years.  Can't believe it's over, it's been an amazing experience.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fun, Full Week with a few surprises...

Time is drawing short - guess we'd better think about packing.  We have tried not to think about it and just planned to leave this next week open to sort, pack, clean, and tend to so many details and so much paper-work.  Well, I can see already that plan is not working - dinner invitations, meetings, other commitments are creeping in on every day - guess we will just cut out sleep...  One of those things popping up is that we need to get the van serviced again!  We started out our mission with 42,000 miles on our trusty vehicle, last week we turned over 100,000!  Fingers crossed it continues to plug along for us.

We had a lovely dinner Sunday night with the Shreve's, quite a ways out of town.  We watched deer amble
past their road and enjoyed getting to visit with their two Utah children plus their daughter-in-law, Ashley and her four bright, active children who live next door.
Monday my Preparation Day was mostly spent Visiting Teaching and introducing my VT partner to some good people that I am hoping she will take it upon herself to visit after we leave.  Tuesday we took our Elders to Zone Meeting in Front Royal, had a good visit with the senior couple assigned there and helped them with lunch for the 20 or so Elders and Sisters in our Zone.  Wednesday was funny - the activity director at the nursing home where we volunteer had asked us to come up and help with a special session of Bingo Wednesday afternoon, so we did.  Only they 
tricked us - it wasn't for Bingo it was a going-away party for us!  Big beautiful cake with ice cream, and the residents that we have worked with were so pleased to be in on the surprise.  A little awkward, but sweet.
Wayne's special friends at the nursing home

Thursday we visited the Shirks, a family who live in a humble little cabin up in the mountains (Smoke Holes). They are shy and it took a while for them to warm up to us, but now we are good friends.  At Christmas
when we made our visits with a message and a song, they really liked Wayne's singing.  We have invited them to ward activities since then when he has been singing, but they don't like crowds so haven't come. He has been telling them that he would come up to their home and give them a private concert, so Thursday he did. He set up his karaoke machine and amp on their porch, they sat in the yard and he serenaded them.  They loved it!  They invited us to stay for lunch with them - which is a very big deal for them, we really appreciated it and it was delicious. Sweet people.

Friday and Saturday were awesome days.  We drove to the Washington DC Temple, spent 3 hours watching Chloe, an 8-year-old whose grandparents  (who she lives with) and aunt were in the temple.  She is a character and we had fun walking around the temple, spending time in the Visitor's Center, and watching a movie in our van.  When her grandpa came out of the temple we were able to go in and did a sealing session, with names provided by ward members.  We ate at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant then stayed at a nice Marriott Hotel in Bethesda.   Saturday we attending the temple marriage of Mariah (a BYU-Idaho student, we taught her the temple prep class this summer, Chloe's aunt) and Evan (also a BYU-I student, from Oregon).  They are such a cute couple, we love Mariah and her family, it was nice to be included in their special day.  We drove back to Winchester, VA, for a little shopping then the wedding reception, then hurried back to Petersburg where our friend Traci had a going-away dinner for us - she is so sad we are leaving, we have loved her back into the church, she calls us "mom" and "dad".  THEN we went to the church for the very best part of an awesome weekend - a BAPTISM.  Our girl Lisa whom Sonja and I got to teach was baptized by Wayne.  It was a nice service, I spoke on baptism,  Sonja spoke on the Holy Ghost.  So excited for Lisa and her family,  Dad has been reactivated, Mom was baptized last month, and now Lisa.  They are loving activity in the church and their new faith and new ward family.  They are very well accepted in the ward. After the service we had refreshments of leftover food from the wedding reception and donuts that we had picked up in Winchester from Dunkin' Donuts, quite a novelty for around here.  We could tell we have been in Petersburg too long when we were impressed by such things as a donut shop, a mall, chain restaurants, an actual bookstore (where we purchased a couple books on CD for our long drive next week), and my personal favorite - a USA Today newspaper!  

To pass the driving time one of the things we did was list all fifty states and look for license plates to match. Actually we could only name 49, had to check when we got home - Minnesota was our missing one!  In just two days we saw plates from 20 different states.  That's excitement for us!  

In the next week we have dinner appointments every night, we are so blessed by the good people here.  And a big ward going-away party for us Friday night.  Saturday we get to take Sonja through the temple for her first time - what a perfect way to end our mission.  Sunday after church we begin our drive west, with a day stop in Arkansas to see my sister and a day stop in Lehi, Utah to see Karli and family.  Hope to visit Darin & family at their new home in Logan on the way home and maybe catch up with Angie and family too.  On to our new home in Boise, with our children Dylan, Devin, and Julie and their families close!  We will get to spend two precious weeks with the Thuesons (Julie's family) before they head to China for a year - what an adventure for them.  So that's our funny, hectic, amazing, miracle-filled mission life!  Maybe we had better get packing....


Mariah and Evan

Picturesque farm we saw on the drive to Winchester, VA

Okay, we'll take this one...

Mariah and Evan at their reception

Happy Birthday Robin!

Traci doesn't have much, but she generously made us dinner and cake

Elder Orton with Lisa on her baptism day - 25 July 2015

Sonja, Lisa, Sister Orton

Elder Saunders, Erik, Lisa, Mark, Katja, Sarah, Dwayne, Elder Nicholes