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

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