Today we finally got connected to the internet here in our little apartment so I will try to fill you in on our past week and a half. Sorry it's taken so long, and don't worry if you can't make it to the end of this post, I'll understand.
Saturday, Sept. 7th we left Lehi early in the morning and drove about 500 miles to Denver, Colorado. Interesting scenery, rocks and cliffs in Utah, ski areas in Colorado. We arrived too late to do a temple session in Denver, but did drive around the temple and Wayne took some beautiful pictures that we will try to put on this blog when he has time. Watched a great BYU football game in our motel room.
Sunday, Sept. 8th - Went to the ward meetinghouse where we thought we would attend church but no one was there. We hurried back to our motel where we could connect to the internet and found where the stake center was, rushed up there and fortunately were in time for their Stake Conference. It was great. Good talks and an impressive youth choir. It was in a lovely new building - a stake center where 3 wards also meet and right beside it was another new building where 3 more wards meet, they were just built recently & both at the same time (Highland Ranch area). Sunday afternoon we drove another 300 miles to Hays, Kansas. Boring scenery, hot and windy too.
Monday, Sept. 9th - We drove another 500 miles from Hays to St. Louis, Missouri. We stopped to see the Kansas City Temple and took more pictures, it's closed on Mondays. We hit St. Louis about rush hour, not a good idea. We saw the arch and the area where Devin and Amie used to live. We called to see if we could do an early morning session at the St. Louis Temple, but found that they had just closed for a couple weeks of maintenance work. Took pictures.
Monday we got a call from our new mission president. He told us that we are being sent to Petersburg, West Virginia, a small town on the far western edge of the Maryland Baltimore Mission. One of the young missionaries assigned there already is a neighbor of the Poyfairs, a friend of Dallin & Katelyn! We are very excited. A lady from the ward there called us a couple of times to see when we would be arriving and what we need. The Relief Society is setting up the apartment for us, even plan to have a meal in the crockpot waiting. Our friends from Yucaipa, California, the Harrisons, will be just over the Allegheny Mountains in Elkins, West Virginia. They will be in the West Virginia Mission, I think the mountains form the boundary of our mission rather than state lines.
Tuesday, Sept. 10th - St. Louis to Morehead, Kentucky, another 500 miles. Kentucky was so beautiful and green. As we neared Louisville, we called the temple there to see if we could do a session there. The only sessions they had on Tuesdays were at 6 & 7:45 pm and we were passing through in the early afternoon. That didn't work either. We did drive to it though, it's the smallest temple I have ever seen. But beautiful, of course. That evening in Morehead, we ate at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant. I had chicken and dumplings, delicious - the first time Wayne had ever eaten at a Cracker Barrel. Dad had taken amazingly beautiful pictures of the four temples we saw, we'll put them on soon.
Wednesday, Sept. 11th - Our last 300 miles, Morehead, Kentucky to Petersburg, West Virginia.
Yeah, we entered West Virginia this morning. Beautiful green rolling hills. Curvy, winding roads - had to stop doing crossword puzzles and cross-stitch. Had lunch in Elkins, then a gorgeous drive through the mountains to Petersburg. Stopped to walk around a bit at Smoke Hole Caverns, will go back there some time and take the tour. Seneca Rocks is another interesting-looking place we want to go back and explore. We feel so fortunate to be assigned to this small rural area - it's beautiful and the people are friendly and helpful. When we pulled up to our apartment Wednesday about 4 pm, three young elders and the Relief Society president were there waiting to welcome us and help us unload our van. We are assigned to the Petersburg Ward, which covers a large area with numerous little towns and many small confusing country roads. Big in area but low in activity and participation. There are also five young men missionaries assigned here and they had been praying that their new senior couple would come with a van to help with transportation... Our apartment is in a complex right behind our church and the elders live in this complex also, just not in our building. There are eight town-house like apartments in our building and we are right across the parking lot from the laundry room - handy. Our apartment is nice, very clean, and quite small. The tiniest bathroom I have ever seen - but with nice hot water and a sink that drains -- after Wayne worked on it. I think of our grandson Dallin in Mozambique, Africa, with no hot water and sometimes no water at all, and I'll try to be grateful for what we have. On the main floor is a small living room and kitchen, up some steep stairs is the bathroom, bedroom, and a small office. It will do nicely. After our first dinner, we drove to the nearby (12 miles) town of Moorefied, whre there is a Wal-Mart. The list the mission secretary sent us of what the apartment would and would not have was not very accurate. So I had brought things we don't need and didn't bring things that we thought would be here but aren't. We needed to purchase a micro-wave, dishes, glasses, pots and pans, cutting board, colander, and so on. Also food and other household items. We were pretty exhausted when we were finally able to go to bed.
Thursday, Sept. 12 - We stopped by the Chamber of Commerce to get some maps of the area, then met our Bishop at his dental clinic. Grabbed a quick sandwich, then loaded up "our" five young elders (our district) and drove them a couple hours northeast to Winchester, Virginia, to a zone conference. Got to meet our mission President, Mark Richards from Spokane, Washington. He is awesome. Had great training from our area physicians on stress management. Dr. Dunn said that about 90% of the medical problems of missionaries can be treaced back to stress and anxiety. He and his wife talked about how the proper handling of stress can lead to developing resiliency if we can learn to cope and grow. They encouraged using relaxing music, exercise, love & caring, service, and humor to handle stress. (They encouraged us to laugh more and said to have our families send us jokes. So to all my grandchildren, please send jokes ...) The mission president made a few adjustments to rules and schedules to encourage the young elders and sisters to really enjoy their P-days (preparation days) and relax. He said that the Maryland Baltimore Mission has really had an increase in missionaries recently, bringing their numbers up to 250, and 75% of them have been out less than 6 months. He told us to focus on reactivation and whatever our bishop and missionaries need us to do. Our boys are: Elder Hartweg from Glendora, CA; Elder Williamson from Ripon, CA; Elder Ashby from Lehi, UT; Elder Salazar from Reno, NV; and Elder Hibberd, from Indiana & Switzerland. They are great, hard-working, polite, and fun. They laughed a lot on our trip to Winchester as they watched church DVDs and went through our "I Spy a Nephite" book. And they talked us into going to Chik-Filet after our meetings.
Friday, Sep 13 - Wayne is back on the road again, taking Elder Salizar, our district leader, to training meetings in Frederick, VA, about three hours away. I took a nice walk along the Upper Potomac River that runs through our town. I stopped by the newspaper office to subscribe to their weekly paper and the dollar store to get some hand soap and quarters so I could do a couple loads of laundry. I needed a peaceful morning...
Saturday we took our boys and drove out into the country to meet other ward members for a service project. We cleaned up a couple of small cemeteries out in the woods. It was fun and really made a difference. So interesting to see some of the old headstones too. Sunday we had early meetings then went to the regular service and met the core group of active members. Good people and so warm and welcoming. Gave us a ward list with suggestions of those we should visit. Also made some hospital visits and have some women in a nearby nursing home to stop in on too. We had a few fun visits, getting to know people and places.
Monday was our P-Day. We drove around on some back roads trying to get our bearings and also to enjoy the beautiful countryside. We stopped at Seneca Rocks and did a little hiking, felt so good to stretch out. Way up on the trail we just happened to run in to another senior missionary couple out for a sight-seeing trip. They were from the West Virginia Mission, living in a small town called Phillipi. When they saw our name tags, the lady said that here grandmother was an Orton, from the Parowan Ortons! Small world. They were the Kleins from Las Vegas. We had a great day.
Tuesday, Sept. 16th - Back in the car again, taking our missionaries to a training meeting in the small town of Woodstock, Virginia. Fun to see the countryside and spend time with these great young men. The elders who led the meeting were outstanding - very well-prepared and organized. I'm so impressed and we are learning so much from these youngsters.
Today, Wednesday, we hung around waiting to get our internet connected. But it was worth it. This afternoon we drove out in the hills to visit some shy mountain folks, had a fun visit and they even said we could come back. Visited another lady in the nursing home and went to a funeral in Moorefield. This is taxing our poor old brains to try to remember names and directions to homes and relationships (so many are related to each other). But we are trying and having fun. We are going to the local senior center to see if we can help out there and will be helping at our ward family history center also. Had to go to the public library today to check out some history books to learn about our new home state. We see Civil War monuments honoring both the North and the South and are trying to figure this out. What an adventure we are having...
Pray for us (and send jokes).