Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Week

I don't know what I was thinking when I said we were going to take a couple days off to relax and regroup.  That sure didn't happen.  Monday (supposedly our Preparation Day),  we worked at the Food Pantry, made some visits, went to Wal-Mart, etc.  Busy.  Tuesday - Christmas Eve - we still had our District Meeting, this time in the town of Romney, about 40 miles northeast of Petersburg. We had a good meeting, then Wayne and I did apartment and car inspections for the Romney Elders.  We got back to Moorefield, where one set of Petersburg Elders had left their car, about 2 pm.  We took the other set of Elders (Ashby & Goodell) with us and headed east to Baker to make a couple visits, then south past Mathias to the List home for a nice Christmas Eve dinner.  (note to my kids:  we felt so at home as they had Hickory Farms meat and cheese, sweet & sour meatballs, deviled eggs, vegetables & chips with dip, cookies & candy - just what we would have had at home!)   After dinner and visiting we drove way out in the woods east of Mathias, to visit a "media referral" lady.  What a nice woman,  she thinks she joined the church 20 years ago,  went for about a year, then had personal and marriage problems and fell away.  We had such a nice visit and made plans to go back next week.  Took about an hour to get home,  we put about 170 miles on the van and were gone from our apartment over 12 hours. 

Christmas Day was quiet.  We went for a long walk,  then spent time Skyping some of our kids.  So fun to see and hear them.  What a beautiful, sweet family we are blessed with.  They are all so busy doing good things.  We spend so much of our time here among those who have fallen away from the church,  are un-educated, and have such marriage, financial, health, and personal problems.  It's overwhelming at times.  Anyway,  we enjoyed seeing and talking with our kids, their spouses, and our grandchildren.  It took a few days but we eventually got to visit with everyone except our missionary grandson Dallin.  Christmas dinner was spent with our Ward Mission Leader Ron Holmes and his daughter Dee.  Dee had fixed a wonderful ham dinner for us and also sent us home with lots of leftovers.  We have been spoiled here by the kindness of our ward members - so many gifts of food, scarves & gloves, candy & fudge, West Virginia tee-shirts, and so on.  Even today my good friend Julie Teter gave us a little box for New Year's eve with crackers & cheese ball, sparkling grape juice, grapes, and candy - so cute.  The cards and notes have been sweet as well. 

Thursday and Friday - more meetings, more visits, helped with Bingo at the Nursing Home and worked at the Food Pantry again.  Friday evening we went out in the woods past Moorefied and found John and Audrey Parks.  They just moved in a couple months ago, he is an less active member, she is not a member.  It was nice getting to know them,  they fed us dinner (even though we had already eaten at home...),  then pulled out the mandolin, guitar, and tambourine for a little hilly-billy jamfest with Wayne.  It was great.  He agreed to help Wayne with a ward social in February and they came to church this morning.  I think she is ready to take the missionary lessons.  Nice people.

Briana, Ashley, Rebecca, Elder Hartwig, Elder Salazar

Jeremiah, Sonya, Joseph, Elder Goodell, Elder Ashby
Elder Goodell, Jeremiah, Joseph, Sonya, Elder Ashby

Saturday was another loooong day, but pretty special.  In September, 16-year-old Rebecca was baptized. Saturday the family that fellowshipped her took her, their two teen-age daughters, and two Elders to the temple where the girls got to do baptisms (some for names I submitted for neighbor and friend Becky).  The other two Elders and a nonmember woman Sonya, her 12-year-old son Joseph, and the son's friend Jeremiah went with Wayne and I.  We did an endowment session while the others had a tour of the visitor's center.  We all (14 of us) went out to eat, then back to the temple to see the lights and the nativities.   They watched church videos in our van on the way home and just all had a great day.  The weather was nice too.  And our chauffeur, Elder Orton,  didn't complain at all about the 2 1/2 drive or the congested roads in places or the sometimes silly GPS routes.  We feel extra blessed to have gone to the Washington, DC, Temple twice this month so we'll show another picture this week of us in the same spot.

Today we had lots of rain.  Wayne spoke in church and did a great job, of course.  And it's our anniversary - number 43.  Happy Anniversary today also to our youngest son, Devin and his beautiful wife Amie.  We love you guys.  Thanks for house sitting for us. 

I told my sister Judy I would send a couple pictures of West Virginia chicken houses.  One of the big industries in the area is the Pilgrim chicken processing plant in Moorefield.  They employ many people at the plant and there are big chicken houses all over that supply the chickens.  I think they process about 400,000 chickens per day.  The variety of chickens they grow and the type of super food they use takes only six weeks from chick to butcher time. 

Another bit of West Virginia trivia - it's bear hunting season here.  I promised my grandsons a picture of the pick-up we saw in the Wal-Mart parking lot last Monday.  The rest of you may not want to look.

Anniversary flowers and New Year's eve party box!
Some sweet ward members gave us West Virginia tee-shirts for Christmas
 Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

And what a busy week it was.  No time to sit around and get homesick.  We rushed around on Monday - our Preparation Day,  got little boxes of West Virginia "stuff" ready and sent to our kids.  Cleaned, mopped, did laundry, etc.  I tried a new recipe for Cranberry Pound Cake, but I made it in loaves.  So good.  I took a plate to our Senior Missionary Couples Christmas Party at the Mission Home in Ellicott City, Maryland (near Baltimore) on Tuesday.  It's quite a drive for us, close to three hours, we are the furthest away of anybody in our mission.  But it was good to get together.  There are two other couples that we went through the MTC with that we are especially close to, and the Kunz couple from Ogden who are in our zone so we see them quite often and really like them.  We are getting to know the others also and enjoy seeing them at meetings, transfers, and activities.  A special bond has quickly developed.  We had nice weather for travelling and enjoyed a lovely dinner and gift exchange.  Our Mission President & his wife gave us each a nice picture that says "Feel Loved",  kind of Sister Richards' theme.  Nice. 
Mission Home in Ellicott City, Maryland

Elder & Sister Orton at the Seniors Party
Good Friends: Sisters Lewis, Larsen, Van Horn, & Kunz

After the party we drove down to Kensington to the Washington, DC, Temple to see the amazing lights and nativity scene around the visitor's center and the beautifully decorated trees and nativity sets from around the world inside.  It was truly breath-taking.  We spent the night nearby, then did an endowment session at the temple early Wednesday morning before heading back to Petersburg.  What a fun little trip.

More visits Wednesday evening and Thursday.  So nice to visit all the new friends we have made here, with a Christmas message and treats,  to talk about the Savior's birth and the real meaning of Christmas.  To be polite we have also had to sample cookies and candy.  And have received other gifts and cards.  Such nice people.  After returning home Thursday evening I made a large Pistachio Salad for the mission party and early Friday morning we were on the road to the Mission Devotional and Dinner for all the missionaries in the mission, again in Ellicott City,  this time at a Stake Center there.  We first drove to Romney and picked up a pair of Elders there (our four Petersburg Elders drove there together in one of the mission cars to trade it for a new car - they were pretty excited about that!).  At the stake center all 240 or so missionaries gathered for a nice devotional,  a big dinner (that we senior missionaries served),  then a surprise visitor came.  Not Santa Claus.  A former BYU football player who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens,  Dennis Pitta.  He served a mission to the Dominican Republic and is a great guy.  Both he and his wife spoke briefly, then each missionary got to meet him and get their picture taken with him.  Also each of the missionaries received a small stocking full of goodies and a sterling silver ring with RWH etched on it (Return with Honor).  Then there was a talent show, with some really good acts and some pretty silly ones.  Nice day for the Elders and Sisters.  Nice, but long and tiring for us old folks.  We got home about 10:30 pm.

Maryland Baltimore Missionaries - 20 December 2013

Elder & Sister Orton with Dennis Pitta & family

Saturday we had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader, printed the ward bulletin, and made more visits.  We had dinner at our Bishop's home.  Wayne stayed up way too late listening to the BYU basket ball game.  Today (Sunday) we had a wonderful sacrament meeting.  One of the musical numbers was "Angels We Have Heard on High" by the Full-time Elders  - 4 young, 1 not-so-young.  They did great.  Very good attendance today too.  We made four more visits this afternoon,  I think we have a couple more planned tomorrow and Family Home Evening with a less active family.  Then we will take a couple days off to rest and relax, celebrate Christmas, Skype our children and their families, and regroup for the new year.  Can't believe we have been out almost 4 months already.  What wonderful experiences we are having  and how much we are learning.  We are trying to encourage and support the active ward members here and offer love and fellowship to the less active.  We give service where we can and welcome in new members.  We try to keep busy and to understand what the Lord wants us to do and where we should be.  We appreciate your prayers and support.  Merry Christmas. 

PS.  Don't understand how we could be snowed in a week ago,  and have 70 degree weather yesterday and today!   

House I love driving by in Moorefield
Grandpa's new tie,  Thanks Cache, Naomi, & Gage

Cabin I love driving by on the way to Winchester

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More visits, more meetings, more snow

Yes, we were able to get the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional on Wayne's IPad last Sunday.  What a great way to enoy a snowy evening and begin our Christmas season.  We have a little tree, and lights in the window too.  Thanks to the Jensen family for the fun Christmas box they sent us, we appreciated the thoughtful decorations for our drab apartment.   And thanks to the Thueson family for the hilarious Storybot video they sent us yesterday.  I watch that again and again,  it makes me laugh. (I hope Kendra's grumpy face was just an act for the picture, not her usual expression!) 

So - more snow Monday.  But we enjoyed being snowed in and tending to our housework and relaxation.  By Tuesday we were on the go again.  We are trying to visit everyone we know in December, giving them a Christmas booklet, a little message, and some candy.  Fun visits so far, but the weather is slowing us down a bit - some driveways we just can't get into with our van.  We saw quite a few friends Tuesday after our trip to Romney for District Meeting,  Wednesday,  and Thursday.  Thursday evening Wayne helped with Bingo at the Nursing Home then made a visit up a mountain to spend some guy time with a good man he is fellowshipping,  and I went to our Relief Society Christmas Party.  We ate pizza and salad,  followed by wonderful desserts brought by the talented cooks and bakers in our RS.  Then sang, listened to a Christmas message, and had a gift exchange.  It was nice.  One lady brought peanut butter fudge that was so yummy.  I was also introduced to something new - potato candy.  Very interesting.  Made with mashed potatoes mixed with powdered sugar until it's stiff enough to roll out into a rectangle,  spread with peanut butter,  rolled up and sliced off like cinnamon rolls.  Actually looks pretty and tastes very good - I just couldn't believe it when they told me what it was.  Nice ladies sent home cookies and candy for Wayne, too.  I recently tasted a new kind of fudge (new to me, that is), it was a lovely pink color and was cranberry nut fudge.  It was my new favorite kind of fudge until I tasted the peanut butter fudge.  So good.  It's sure fortunate that most people don't make fudge year-round...

Friday Wayne and I drove to Elkins, West Virginia, over the mountains and a bit out of our mission - but
Lovely little church in Onego, on the way to Elkins.
we did have our Mission President's permission.  We visited with Wayne's old mission companion, Lynn Muhlestein and his wife, then went to a dinner theatre with them.  His brother-in-law (and bishop) owns and performs in the musical.  The food was good and the Christmas production was great, very professional, fun, energetic, and inspirational.  It was Mormon night there,  lots of members,  we met their stake president,  also got to visit with our friends from Yucaipa, California, who are serving a senior mission there,  the Harrisons.  It was a nice evening and it wasn't too late when we got back home. 

More snow on Saturday.  The mission vehicles were grounded again.  But not us, so we made some more visits, spreading Christmas cheer.  We only got stuck in the snow once,  I was scared and was sure we were about to tip over.  But Wayne walked about a block to the member we were trying to go see and he came and pulled us out.  We made one more quick visit to a friend in a care and rehab center, then drove home to safety.  It was pretty nice today, no snow on the roads, so church and visits as usual.  Our teacher for Relief Society was sick, so I got to give the Lorenzo Snow lesson about Joseph Smith that I was supposed to give last week when church was cancelled.  Such a neat lesson, I'm glad we got to have it.  Good discussion and testimonies shared.  Looking forward to next month and beginning the Joseph Fielding Smith book.  Wayne will still get to give his talk too,  they rescheduled him for the 29th. 

Outdoor wood furnace, common to heat homes around here
by heating water and circulating it through nearby house.   
Funny thing that happened Saturday - the Elders have been grounded several times lately and they get a little bored.  They know that we have the video "17 Miracles" and got permission from our Mission President to watch it.  But we were gone all afternoon visiting.  Evidently they were taking turns watching the road for us to return and when they saw our van returning to our apartment they all ran down here to see if they could watch the video at our home.  So they relaxed in our little living room drank hot chocolate, ate chips and biscuits with apple butter and watched the movie,  then watched "Mr. Krueger's Christmas".  Laughed and joked around with Wayne while I cross-stitched.   Had a nice little break. Such good boys,  we love them.

Next week will be busy as we continue to make our Christmas visits,  work at the local Food Pantry,  and have two trips to Baltimore - one Tuesday afternoon for our senior couples Christmas Party,  one Friday when we take a vanload of Elders to the mission devotional and dinner.  We hope to add a trip to the Washington, DC Temple to one of those trips.  We hope the weather cooperates and that there is no new snow. 

Last week we tried to visit with both Laura and Katelyn on their birthdays, but missed them both, busy girls.  Sorry.  Congratulations this week to Sara on her college graduation and Noah on his baptism.  Two great events that we are sad to miss.  We love you and are proud of you.  To all of you following our pathetic attempt at blogging - have a great week.  Thanks for your love and support.   

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowed In !

Yes, today we are officially snowed in.  Our church services were cancelled and all missionaries in the entire
mission are "grounded", confined to apartments.  There was only a skiff of snow on the ground when we got up at 6:30 am,  but then it really came down and we have 8 to 10 inches now - and the freezing rain has begun.  We are snug in our apartment, with plenty of food and water.  But no alternate heat if the power goes out, so we are hoping that doesn't happen,  it's 28 degrees in Petersburg right now. Hard to believe that it was 73 degrees here on Wednesday!  Our children have had frigid weather all week in their various places, especially the Acors in Havre, Montana - we even heard Havre mentioned on the national news yesterday.  So good luck to all of you.   One of the
less active women that we have been working with was planning to come to church today - maybe next week...  Wayne was scheduled to speak in church today and worked hard on his awesome talk all week.  Oh, well.  We both prepared lessons to teach today too.  So we have spent the day reading, watching church videoes, studying,  playing games (Racko and Pairs in Pears - thanks, Jensens).  Hopefully we can get the Christmas Devotional online tonight,  it's always such a great way to begin the Christmas season.

We drove with two of the Elders to zone training in Winchester (Berryville) on Tuesday.  Really good meetings, mostly done by the AP's.  Also by Mission President Richards & his wife.  We were a little late getting there,  traffic was stopped at two places for accidents along the way.  I helped Sister Richards and another senior sister with lunch for the group, it went well.  We got home just in time to head out about 20 miles west of Petersburg, near Seneca Rocks, for dinner with the Teter family.  What a treat.  They are great and treat us well.  We also filled up our water jugs there,  they have good water and we are on city water here that is not very good.  Wednesday we helped with games at the Nursing Home, then had District Meeting.  In the evening I picked up Becky Hovatter and we worked on genealogy at the church.  We found so much information on her family - it is going very well.  We are both excited about it and getting lots of names ready for temple work.  She is close to being ready to get her first temple recommend too. We have a new convert (September) named Rebecca who is working on genealogy also and will be going soon to do baptisms in the Washington, DC, Temple.  We will send our names with her, then they will be ready for more work when Becky is ready to go.  Such a neat experience. 

Here is a little miracle that happened last week:  When I went to pick Becky up for our genealogy session
she was on the phone with her grandson and I could tell she was needing help moving furniture around.  When she got off the phone I told her that if she needed help she could just ask the missionaries, they live right across the road from her.  Well, Becky said that a neighbor was moving and was giving her some furniture and she had to get rid of her old couches and recliner, she was asking her grandson to come get them and burn them.  I looked at them, they looked fine to me, so I asked if the missionaries could have them - one set of our missionaries had no living room furniture.  Becky was glad to give them the furniture,  they were thrilled to get it.  When they went to move it they also helped move the new furniture into Becky's apartment and the neighbor moving out gave them a kitchen table and chairs and another recliner.  I am so relieved that the elders have furniture now and just because I was in the right spot at the right time!  A miracle. 

Elder Ashby and our new missionary Elder Goodell
Several years ago we were visiting the Poyfairs and went to church with them.  In our Sunday School class Brother Haws used a phrase that has become a favorite of ours since then and comes up pretty often, "The thing we think is the thing isn't really the thing."   This past week we mentioned that phrase several times.  Once we went to visit a lady whose name is on the rolls but hasn't come in years, goes to another church, and wanted her name taken off so peope from our church would quit bothering her.  We made an appointment to visit her and get her signature for name removal - but, when we were there she had a care giver who was quite friendly and enjoyed our visit and some of the things we said.  Wayne asked if she would like us to visit her some time and tell her about our church,  she said yes and gave us her name and phone number! 

Another time we used that phrase was when we stopped by to visit our bishop on Wednesday afternoon.  He lives in a nice housing development between Petersburg and Moorefield,  we headed out there to check on him since he had back surgery a week ago.  Had a nice visit,  but his wife Lucy eventually mentioned that she just found out she had skin cancer and had to have treatment.  Bishop had been trying to reassure her, but she was pretty worried.  Just happened that I had had the same thing several years ago and could explain the process and calm her down.  Wayne was able to assist Bishop in giving her a blessing also.  We thought we were going there to check on the the bishop, but were sent there for a different reason. 

Those little coincidences - tender mercies - are quite special and such a blessing to us.  We are trying to be where we are supposed to be and where the Lord can use us to touch others.  So grateful, too,  that a little deer got out of the road just before we would have hit it Thursday night on our way out to Sandy and Baxter Borrer's for dinner!!  Whew!  We had a nice dinner,  they are such good people and so generous.  We had two Elders with us, and after dinner Sandy packed up a hefty food box for the other two missionaries, they really appreciated that.  Sandy also pulled out a stack of pictures she had saved from years ago of missionaries in the area when she was  teenager.  So fun to find that she had a picture of Wayne,  also of his friend Leon Johnson.  He recognized some of the others too.  (I think that picture of Wayne at age 19 will eventually show up at some future ward activity, what do you think?)

After lots of rain on Friday we had a pretty nice day Saturday and Wayne was able to help out with a wood splitting project before he sang at the nursing home.  I enjoyed a long walk downtown to a Christmas bazaar and to several antique/craft stores.  Nice to be out and about before being home bound today (and maybe tomorrow).

We have had requests for our address - yes, we would love Christmas cards.
Elder and Sister Orton,  2202 Michael Avenue,  Petersburg,  WV  26847

Our love to all of you.  Stay safe and warm.   

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving and Deer Hunting Week

This was a pretty quiet week.  We had fun dinner invitations last Sunday evening, Tuesday evening, and Thursday.  Nice people who fed us and the Elders well, and we enjoyed visiting and getting to know them better.  We had a district meeting in Romney on Tuesday and helped with Bingo at the Nursing Home also.  Wednesday we attended a funeral,  then had several appointments fall through for the afternoon and evening.  On Thanksgiving morning we were feeling pretty homesick in the morning,  missing our kids and grandkids.  But a nice family invited us and the Elders to share their Thanksgiving Dinner and we enjoyed the food and the company.  In the evening we drove to the Petersburg city park for the ceremony when they turn on the Christmas lights in the park and have a visit from Santa Claus.  It was awesome. We also enjoyed strolling around the park on the walking trails, since of course we ate too much for dinner.  We later received phone calls and Skypes from our kids, and got a wonderful box of treats and letters and drawings from the Thueson family on Friday.  Sweet, special surprise!!  Friday Wayne drove our District Leader Elder to Frederick for a training meeting in the morning and sang at the Nursing Home in the afternoon.  (they love him)   Saturday we had a coordinating meeting with our Elders and the Ward Mission Leader, then we cleaned the church and printed the Sunday program/bulletins.  In the afternoon we made some visits and went out to dinner in Moorefield.  It's deer hunting week here and they take it pretty seriously.  Heard some good hunting stories and, of course, had trouble finding people at home...  But most hunters depend on the meat to feed their families, they can it, freeze it, make jerky and bologna and sausage, grind burger, etc.  We like venison too and have appreciated what has been shared with us. 

We had fun Skypes this evening with birthday boys Dustin and Devin, and their families.  Sad to miss Dustin's ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood, what a neat kid he is.  Congratulations to Krissy on her soccer team's successful weekend tournament in St. George. 

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and spent some time counting your blessings.  We sure feel blessed to be here, for the experiences we are having and the lessons we are learning. Thank you all for your prayers, your love and support.  Stay healthy.

Our Thanksgiving dinner hostess, Bonita Burrs - an amazing cook.

Beautiful dessert table - I had to get the recipe for the Cranberry Pound Cake

One of the tables, there were seven more people in another room.

Christmas lights at the Petersburg City Park

I don't know what Noah's Ark has to do with Christmas, maybe it was just for me - I loved it!!