Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Week

Our Christmas week was Great!  Busy, busy, then pretty quiet.  So many treats for us from ward members, we are spoiled; candy, jerky, cookies, candles, a lovely hand-knitted scarf, and more.  And so fun to receive envelopes and boxes on our doorstep almost daily from our wonderful children and my thoughtful sister.  Sweet, fun gifts.  Thank you, thank you. On Monday we hurried through our chores, shopping, and laundry so we could use the afternoon and evening for the last of our Christmas visits.  We ended up distributing all 70 of our booklets "In Search of the Christmas Spirit" by President Monson, with a message, a treat, and a song.  A few booklets we ended up giving out at church because we just couldn't find a mutually convenient time for a visit, but most of them were in-home visits. We really enjoyed seeing so many people - 36 active families, couples, or individuals,  29 visits to inactive households, and 5 booklets went to non-members - one who is being taught, four who were in the home where we went for dinner and joined right in with our presentation...

We finished up our Book of Mormon reading - taking on the mission two month challenge. Yes, we have read it many times before, but this time was special as we read along with our entire mission, usually at the same time of day, keeping about the same pace.  Yes, I know it is true, I learn more each time I read it, and I am so grateful for it.  

Wayne here:  We were supposed to read and then write down what we gained from our study.  As I read this time, I really focused on Mormon and Moroni.  I tried to imagine the anguish that they went through knowing that their families and all their people would be wiped out.  And the awful scene at Cumorah where it actually happened.  Then for Moroni to wander around for several years in hiding from the Lamanites.  I was especially touched by his warnings and pleas to us with such strong testimony that his writings are true.
This book was really written for us.  It is true.  He really wanted us to know that. 
Each time I read it I am amazed at how many things I missed the previous time I read it.
It is another testament of Jesus Christ.  We know that the life of Christ is one of the most documented occurrences in history and yet there are so many learned men try to convince us that He is not the son of God.  Now we have the witness of a whole other nation who documented his life.  We don't have to wonder.  it is true. 

Tuesday we took our four Petersburg Elders to Columbia, on the outskirts of Baltimore (3-hour drive) for the Maryland Baltimore Mission Christmas Dinner and Devotional.  It's nice to have a TV and DVD player in our van so on the way over and back they could watch movies ("17 Miracles", "Ephraim's Rescue", "The Saratov Approach").  The dinner was great, the devotional was great, the Talent Show was silly with a few great moments!  The missionaries love getting together, the excitement and energy in the building was almost over-powering.  At the end of the day they got their packages from home too.  We did hit some crowded freeway roads on the way back to Petersburg, also some fog.  But we made it safe and sound about 9 pm.  
Elder Mordecai, modelling the hat his parents sent him

Trying to get everyone in the mission picture

Wednesday we had District Meeting in Romney.  The Elders from Petersburg drove their own car so they could stay and have a district activity with the Romney Elders after the meeting.  They were allowed to watch a movie, they chose "Frozen", silly boys.  We left them to their wild party and went to a Romney nursing home to see our good friend Woneda.  Since we have known her she has bounced around from an apartment in Moorefield to the local hospital to a nursing home in Baker to her son's home way out in the woods to the hospital in Winchester to a rehab facility in Charles Town - and now to this nursing home in Romney.  We seem to track her down eventually each time she moves - and she appreciates it, sometimes she feels so alone and lonely.  Anyway we were able to visit, pick up some items she needed from the store, and Wayne serenaded her with Christmas songs and guitar music.  I think we cheered her up and brought some Christmas spirit...

Christmas eve we just enjoyed being together, snacking, and watching an old black and white movie "It Happened on Fifth Avenue".  Christmas Day we went for a walk, read the Christmas story from the New Testament and Book of Mormon,  then had the joyous experience of talking on the phone, skyping, and face timing with all of our children and all but one of their spouses, and most of our grandkids.  What fun for us!  We do miss them so much.  It was great to hear the wonderful report of our grandson on his mission in Mozambique, Africa.  His family was so excited to see and talk to him!  Technology is amazing and helps us all to stay connected.  

I spent my vacation time doing a jigsaw puzzle of Noah's Ark, Wayne read a book. We watched a few Hallmark movies too. We made a trip to Moorefield on Friday to deliver a pick-up from one ward member to another couple who needed to borrow it. And we finally got to watch the movie "Frozen".  Cute.  Saturday afternoon we made several visits and finally made contact with a ward member we had been searching for.  I typed the ward bulletin for Sunday and also a program for an 8-year-old's baptismal service.  

Today was a lovely Sabbath Day.  Nice weather, good attendance at church (several investigators and a few less-actives..).  Very refreshing to partake of the sacrament and be uplifted by good music, talks and lessons.  An added bonus was a baptism after church for a special 8-year-old girl, Chloe.  Nice service.

Can't believe we are about to head in to a new year.  2015 will be a great year!  Hope yours is amazing...  
Cute Chloe with her Grandfather, on her baptism day!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas at the Orton Apartment

Elder & Sister Orton??

Thanks to the Acors for sending us window decorations to brighten up our little apartment.  And to the rest of you who have sent cards, pictures, and packages - so fun, and nice to know we are not forgotten.  

We have kept very busy again this past week.  Trying to make as many visits as we can with our Christmas message, booklet, treat, and song.  It has been very well received, and Wayne's song(s) with guitar accompaniment followed by prayer at the end of our visit leaves such a sweet spirit.  Last night we were invited up to Jack & Debbie K.'s home for dinner with some of their extended family: three of Jack's sisters and Debbie's sister, plus a niece and grandson.  Jack and Debbie are members who don't come to church - but they love the missionaries.  One of his sisters is also a member who doesn't come. The rest were all members of other churches.  But they invited us to give our message, participated openly, were very supportive, and touched by the Spirit. Besides "Away in a Manger",  Wayne also has been singing one of our new favorites, "Star of Bethlehem".  I don't think I had ever heard it before he learned it in the past couple weeks to sing with his friends Johnny K. and John P. at the ward Christmas Party Friday night.  It's a beautiful song. Anyway, we have been enjoying the extra visiting we are doing this month.  But it has meant long days as we work around our usual service at the nursing home, Zone meeting in Woodstock, other regular meetings, ward party, another viewing and funeral for deceased ward member, preparing and teaching Sunday lessons, etc.  But awesome visits with special ward members. Such a wonderful way to spend the month of December, leading up to the celebration of our Savior's birth.  HE is the GIFT, you know...

We have been seeing red cardinals around more lately, must be the time of year.  It's always exciting to spot one, they are so pretty.  

At our zone meeting last Tuesday we helped another senior couple make lunch for the Elders and Sisters in our zone (about 20 hungry young adults!).  They made Brunswick Stew, I don't think I had ever had it before, but it was delicious.  I am getting the recipe.  This coming week is our mission Christmas Dinner and Devotional in Columbia, near Baltimore.  We will be helping with the meal for that also.  That will be for over 200!  We are looking forward to it - at the devotional our friends from Romney that we helped teach and were baptized in October will be speaking. We are excited but nervous for them.

A funny thing happened on Thursday - this is a true story.  We stopped at the local grocery store, Shop & Save, to try to find a woman whose name is on our directory, but no one knows.  We had finally found her home and stopped in but she wasn't home. Her son was there and said she works at this store.  I was going to ask one of the checkers that we know, we had been to her home several times (to try to teach but mainly just had to defend our religion...). Anyway, as we pulled up I was trying to remember this lady's first name so I could ask her about the other lady's schedule.  What was that name??  We were listening to Christmas music on our CD player and it was playing "Angels We Have Heard on High" and just got to the chorus as I was trying to think of the name.  Oh yeah, her name is Gloria!  Really.  Coincidence ?? 

Our ward party was a great success.  Good food, cute Primary program, wonderful music.  Of the 75 people in attendance, 16 were less-active, 8 were nonmembers.  And we all had a good time.

We are looking ahead to a couple of busy days as we finish up our visits (and run out of booklets), mission party, and Christmas.  We sure hope to be able to skype with all our our children, their wonderful spouses and our amazing 
grandchildren.  It's great to have been keeping busy so we don't miss them all so much this second Christmas so far away from them all. We hope your Christmas is joyous and Christ-centered.  How blessed we are.
Check out baby Rachel's fancy boots!

Primary children ready to act out "Teach the Children"

We only have two babies in our ward, here they are, Rachel and Carter.
All dressed up for church this morning.
Wayne takes pictures of rusty old cars and tractors.  I take pictures of little white churches:                                                                                                                                                                                  

And this is one of the reasons we are here in West Virginia:


Sunday, December 14, 2014

A week of tiny miracles...

This week seemed very short - seems like I blinked and it was over!  I must begin with a couple of things that have nothing to do with West Virginia.  First of all, a family miracle:

Sunday, Dec 7th our daughter Karli in Lehi, Utah, wrote this about our granddaughter Katelyn:
Katelyn was in a car accident Wednesday night! I was at Golden Corral with Dustin. I took him there for a late birthday dinner. After that we were going to his futsal game. Katelyn texted me and said she was in an accident but she was ok and not hurt. She was not driving. She was riding with her friend Savannah on the freeway going to Sandy for student council. Savannah was going fast and changing the station on the radio and she slammed into another car. Her car was totalled and Savannah hit her head on the steering wheel. They took her to the hospital in an ambulance and Katelyn rode with her. The person in the other car had to go to the hospital too. Katelyn said is was so scary and she said it was a miracle she wasn't hurt. The next day her back and neck hurt and she is still kind of sore. Katelyn will probably not be riding with Savannah anymore. It was a good lesson about how you should always keep your eyes on the road and be careful! And I am so grateful Katelyn was protected, and Savannah too. It could have been much, much worse!

Monday, Dec 8th our grandson Dallin who is on a mission in Mozambique wrote:
Lastly, one night this week, I was saying my nightly prayers, just before going to bed, and I felt impressed during the prayer to pray for the safety of my family back in the United States. So I did, and asked for them to be protected. Today, I read the emails from my family, and saw that my sister, Katelyn (who turns 18 this Saturday!) was involved in a pretty crazy car accident! She wasn't driving, but her friend's car was totaled. They had to go to the hospital in an ambulance, and her friend was hurt but Katelyn came out practically untouched. HOW COOL IS THAT???? Every one was ok, and I know for sure that God protected them in that moment, and that my prayer and the accident had to have occured the same night.

Okay, that made me cry.  Pretty special.  Also I got an email from a LaGrande neighbor - she lives right next to our house there.  Right next to it. 

 Our household has been in a terrible uproar since the evening of Dec. 1st. A little past 7:00 PM the girls (two little dogs)  were outside for potty time and they saw a cougar attack two dogs in the driveway.  I was able to get them in the house but could not help the other dogs.  The larger dog was not injured bad but have not been able to locate the smaller dog.  My driveway and garage is a mess, still trying to wash off the blood. 
The girls (dogs)  don't want to go outside when it is dark now so I go out with a flash light and Ryan is going to install a motion senser light out back.  I got the street light re-installed out front.  

Not that much excitement here. We are still making as many Christmas visits as we can between other commitments.  We did Family Home Evening with a less active family that is usually difficult to see - Brandi and Bobby Lee and their three children.  It went pretty well, especially the singing part. We had District Meeting, service at the nursing home, more visits, etc.  Wednesday was awesome - we went to the temple with Becki and Theresa.  It was a beautiful day, the traffic wasn't too bad, and both ladies loved and appreciated the trip.  We finally got back in to see our friend Kathy, she has postponed several times because of work or family, but we had a great visit with her and she said she would come to the ward Christmas dinner this Friday!   We had a nice Relief Society Christmas Party Thursday evening and at the gift exchange I received a large mug and a mug warmer, so perfect for hot chocolate on cold winter evenings, I was happy with that.

We don't think we will get all the visits made that we had hoped to before Christmas, but all the visits we have made have been special, and seem to be appreciated.  We will keep plugging along at the list.  One visit was pretty interesting.  We had tried to find Dwayne soon after we arrived here as we were going down the ward list, but had an incorrect address, then someone said he was in the military and not in the area.  So we gave up.  Last month when we were working at the Food Pantry someone we were helping commented on Wayne's name badge and said that they were LDS too and had just moved back to Petersburg.  As he visited with her he found out that she was Dwayne's sister!  She told us that Dwayne had recently moved back to Moorefield and she gave us his address.  We visited him and his cute family a week ago and just loved them.  We made an appointment with them for Friday night and took two of the Elders with us. Dwayne is 37 and is the only member, his wife is from Germany and really nice, he has four children, ages 11, 9, 7, and 4.   The Elders enjoyed meeting the family and after our Christmas message and Wayne's songs, Dwayne asked the Elders if they could come teach his family about the church (we really were just about to ask him that very question!). They are coming to the ward Christmas party and the ward will love them...  That was a series of little miracles, I know the Lord cares about that family.

Have a great week.  Look up John 3:16 for a reminder of the real GIFT.   We love being here.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ready or not, December is here!

Why would my sister Judy send me such an oddly-shaped, but lovely
bamboo cutting board?  Do any of my grandchildren know the answer?
Thank you, Judy, it was a nice surprise.
December is upon us and how quickly the first week passed us by.  We had such good intentions and such an ambitious plan for the week, of course things usually didn't go quite how we had expected.  But it was a good week.  Monday was great because we got to relax a bit, get chores done, and best of all Skype Devin and Dustin on their birthday!  So good to see them and their families.

Tuesday was our District Meeting here in Petersburg, Wayne and I did the instruction part.  Right after that we had to get up to the nursing home to help with Bingo - they had changed the time from 6 pm to 1:30 pm because of an expected ice storm.  Finally by mid-afternoon we were able to get out and make several visits - giving a Christmas booklet, a little Christmas message, a few little treats, and, best of all, Wayne played the guitar and sang "Away in a Manger".

Wednesday we did make the trip to Columbia for missionary transfers.  At 6 am we loaded up Elder Bronson and Elder Moore and all their luggage plus bikes.  We left Elder Briggs and Elder Lyon here in Petersburg to be companions for the day.  Transfer Day happens every six weeks and is always so exciting, to see the new missionaries coming in to the mission, the ones leaving who have honorably completed their 18 months or 2 years, and also the chaos of all the changing companionships.  Eventually we made the switch and headed home with two new Elders.  Elder Aubrey from Gilbert, Arizona, and Elder Barzee from Payson, Utah.  Great young men.  But we will miss Elder Bronson and Elder Moore (but not Elder Moore's Donald Duck voices!).
Elders Briggs, Moore, Lyon, and Bronson

Our silly District:  Briggs, Bronson, Moore, Lyon, Farr, Mordecai
Our last District Meeting before Bronson, Moore, and Mordecai were transferred

Elder Bronson with his new companion, Elder Miller - a great guy
They will serve in Cumberland and get to drive a 4-wheel-drive pickup!

On our way home from transfers we stopped in Wardensville to visit Deb F., a less-active member of our
ward, a good friend of ours, we love her.  Sadly she lives about an hour from the church so we don't get to see her very often.  Her husband is really nice too and Wayne loves to talk race cars with him!  Then we came on through Moorefield, showing our new Elders the sights along the way:  where the beautiful fall leaves used to be, a dead skunk in the road,  Wal-Mart,  chicken plant, beautiful Christmas lights in Welton Park, etc.  Stopped in at our bishop's house (half-way between Moorefield and Petersburg) where the other two Elders were waiting for us and bishop's wife, Lucy, had dinner ready for all of us.  So nice  and she sent us home with cute root beer bottle reindeer!  We got home about 6 pm, I hurried over to the church to index and be available for family history help.  About 8 pm I came home, and Wayne and I drove out to an appointment with Ricky and Becky.  So nice to visit with them, and talk about the Spirit of Christmas. They enjoyed Wayne's song too.  
Beautiful Christmas lights at Welton Park

Still don't know how Noah's Ark fits in to Christmas - But I love it!

Thursday we left at noon, driving back to the city, this time to Ellicott City to the mission home for a Senior
Couples party with our mission president and his wife.  It was fun, we had a great dinner and a silly gift exchange.  We also said good-bye to the Pascoes, our office couple.  The Senior Couples gave President and Sister Richards a lovely Book of Mormon and a tile picture of the DC Temple.  It was a nice evening and we were home by 10 pm.  The roads were good and the traffic wasn't too bad.

President & Sister Richards

Friday we met with our ward mission leader in the morning and got to talk to our daughter Angie for a while - what a treat!  In the afternoon we made four Christmas visits, then headed up to the nursing home where Wayne entertained some of the residents with an hour of Christmas music.  It was nice and they enjoyed it.  I did too.  When he was done we visited two of our ward members who residents there, also two ward
members who work there.  More visiting on Saturday, with our special friends John and Audrey, and we also found a member that we have been searching for, nice to finally meet him and his family.  His wife is from Germany and had been making cookies and candy to send to her family in Germany.  She was so sweet to share some with us.  It was a nice day, but pouring down rain all day and I left my umbrella at the first home we visited, so I got a little wet.

Today we had a low attendance at church, lots of sickness going around, I guess.  We spent the afternoon making more Christmas visits, seeing some wonderful families.  What a treat to share our feelings about the real meaning of Christmas and talk about family, traditions, and the joy of the season.  Again - Wayne brings such a special feeling into the room when he sings to them and we have prayer with them.  So nice.  Now we are getting ready to go to the church to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, one of my favorite things to do in early December, to set the tone for the month.  We hope you all are enjoying the lights, the music, the stories, and especially the Spirit of Christ this Christmas season.  Share.  Invite.  Love.

Happy Birthday on Thursday to our lovely daughter-in-law Laura and Happy 18th Birthday on Friday to granddaughter Katelyn.  We love you both so much and miss you...
A recent P-Day project.  I only have two small flower beds, but lots of leaves...

Just barely beat the rain and snow, glad to have that done.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Done with November...

Between the holiday and the snow storm, it's been a pretty quiet week for us.  We did work at the local food pantry a couple of times and at the nursing home Tuesday evening.  We had District Meeting in Romney Tuesday morning and did apartment and car inspections for the Elders.  After temperatures in the 60's on Monday we did get hit by the big storm on Wednesday, it snowed most of the day.  I think we had about 8 inches.  Thursday evening (Thanksgiving) we made our way out in the country past Maysville to the lovely home of some people that we don't know, but have a large gathering of friends and relatives each year. Some members of our ward are extended family of this nice couple and invited us to be "honorary family" for the evening. We had a great meal and met lots of very nice people.  After the meal we walked around the local park that has an amazing Christmas light display.  Then we came home and were delighted that a couple of our children and their families Skyped us.  A little shopping yesterday and drove the van through the car wash - we had been trying to find new addresses and the unpaved roads are very slushy and muddy! Not a very good attendance at church today, end of the holiday vacation, I guess.  Came home to our apartment to crock-pot pot roast that smelled delicious and tasted delicious too.

Getting ready for a very busy December.  Want to make lots of visits with a Christmas gift and message. But we have numerous big commitments as well.  We are waiting to hear which, if any, of our Elders are being transferred, if any are then we will be taking them to Columbia (3 hours away) for Transfer Day on Wednesday.  On Thursday we go back, to Ellicott City to the mission home for the Senior Couples Christmas Dinner and Party.  We hope to go to the Temple on the 10th.  And back to Columbia on the 23rd for the Mission Christmas Party.  And District or Zone Meetings every Tuesday,  etc.  Should be a busy month, but that's great, it helps the time go faster as we spend our second Christmas away from our family.

We have so much to be thankful for, what a great time of year to remind us of that.  Wayne and I are blessed with great health, and the resources and family support that enable us to be here having this awesome experience.  We get to strengthen our testimonies and bear them often.  We see miracles and tender mercies daily.  We get to associate with and learn from bright, dedicated young men who are focused on nothing more than serving the Lord and their brothers and sisters.  We are meeting so many people, making so many good friends, and seeing such a lovely corner of the country.  We are so BLESSED.

Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with thanks giving.  For a great way to begin the Christmas season go to and watch their beautiful video.  Also be sure to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional next Sunday evening.  Remember:  Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Happy, Happy Birthday to Devin and Dustin tomorrow.  We love you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rough Week, part 2

An unexpected surprise after church today!
What a nice thing happened after church today!  An older lady, who lives up on a mountaintop about an hour from Petersburg who we visit occasionally and is having major health problems,  sent me this lovely Christmas cactus via another ward member.  So sweet, thoughtful, and generous.  I had admired it last week, and she evidently decided that I should have it. Hope I can keep it alive, it really brightens up our little apartment.

Ariann and Carter
Anyway, this week flew by, as usual.  We had Zone Training in Woodstock on Tuesday (Wayne and I got to be the investigating couple that several missionaries pretended - real played - taking on a church tour). After a three-hour meeting and a quick lunch at Arby's we drove the Elders back to their car in Moorefield, then Wayne and I drove way, way out past Mathias to Home/Visit Teach Paul, Crystal, Ariann, and baby Carter.  Good people, nice visit.  They have invited us and the Elders to a Christmas Eve buffet, too. Something to look forward to.  From there we traveled on to Broadway for the viewing and family gathering for our friend, Connie, who was killed in a car accident last week. We enjoyed meeting her family, but so sad. A nice ending to the day was to skype with grandson Noah on his 9th birthday - what an amazing smile that kid has!

Wednesday we taught a lesson to Becki, her final lesson of the Temple Preparation class, discussing her thoughts and feelings after her first visit to the temple.  We also made plans to go back to the temple with her and a few others on December 10th.  We made a few more visits that afternoon, then drove to Moorefield for dinner with Sonja and her family.  She is awesome, doing so well since her baptism last Spring.  Very faithful and dedicated.  And fun.  A great ending to this day was to skype with granddaughter Kadyn on her 14th birthday!  What a lovely, sweet young lady she is...

Thursday we left soon after noon with our Bishop's wife Lucy, Elder Moore, and Elder Lyon for an hour-
and-a-half drive to a little country cemetery out past the town of Bergton. It was a lovely setting, but was cold and windy (and right by a few stinky chicken houses).  There was a brief graveside service for Connie and we were able to visit more with her daughters, son, and sister.  They seemed to appreciate us coming, especially Latasha - I just wrote a note to her.  She is the only one involved in the LDS church at this time and our visit brought her comfort, I think.  I am glad we went and glad to have known Connie for this past year.

When we got home from the service, Wayne and the Elders made another visit, I went to the nursing home for our regular volunteer work (okay, Bingo, but they do need our help!).  Finally met up back home at the apartment about 7:30 pm.

Friday, busy.  Saturday we drove over 100 miles to Charles Town, to find our friend Woneda, who is in a rehab center there for a while.  She was so, so happy to see us. She was feeling depressed, alone, and forgotten.  We had stopped by her son's home where she had been staying (not a good situation) before she started having more health problems, and picked up her glasses, her false teeth, and some clothes and shoes that she needed.  Also got her some of her favorite pretzels, Werthers, and a little stuffed lion (she loves and collects lions).  While I visited with her, Wayne drove to a nearby store to pick up some other things she mentioned needing.  She loved that we would go all that way to see her and she cried when we left.  I just put a cheery card in the mail for her, hope she gets to move closer soon...

And today (Sunday) a chance to recharge at Church, visit with the ward members we love, worship and take the sacrament, have lunch at Doris and Walter's with their crazy, fun family and Elder Bronson & Elder Moore.  AND receive a lovely Christmas cactus from Vada.  A good day.  Hoping to hear from my daughters and daughters-in-law this evening, we so look forward to their weekly e-mails and updates.  We do miss our family.  Happy 4th  Birthday to Corinne this week.  And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this little blog.  We are blessed in so many ways being here and are grateful for the thoughtful family that has invited us to share their Thanksgiving feast on Thursday.   Remember:  It's not Happy people that are Thankful, it's Thankful people that are Happy.
Another beautiful country church.  Near Bergton.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rough Week

We had a rough week. The Petersburg Ward lost three members in one week!  We knew them all pretty well.  Two deaths were anticipated and in a way - a blessing.  Thelma (84) and Al (70) were both in declining health and somewhat ready to move on from their difficult situations... We attended Thelma's funeral Wednesday. Wayne has written such a beautiful account of the ward joining efforts to take care of Al's arrangements (his post and pictures follow this blog entry).  On Thursday we were surprised by the tragic news that our friend Connie had been killed in a traffic accident on her way to work. So sad. We met her last December, with a couple of the Elders, as a media referral.  She had requested contact, told us that she had joined the LDS Church 20 years ago, very much enjoyed it for a while, then fell into inactivity while going through a divorce and other personal trials, for some reasons her records weren't in our ward. She felt like she was ready to come back, but lived about an hour from our church and just didn't have the money for gas or the energy after working often six days a week.  But she did love our visits. We saw her monthly, sometimes with the Elders, sometimes not. There was a special spirit in her home, she was independent, fun, and very welcoming to us.  She loved to learn, was reading the scriptures, and recently we showed her where to find the BYU-TV station on her television and she loved it! She had come to church a couple of times with some members who lived several miles from her.  I had talked to her just last Friday and she was determined to begin coming to church regularly.  Connie was only 54 years old, the mother of four children, I believe, with several grandchildren. Her family must be devastated, it was such a horrible accident. We hope to go to the funeral next week.  We were blessed to know her, and to help her change her life and be more prepared to meet her Savior.

Those were the big things.  We did make quite a few visits also, and found a few lost members as we continue to work through the ward directory with the other Elders and the Ward Council.  Janet and I had a nice VT visit out in the country with Carol,  driving home through snow flurries.  I was very excited and pleased to have a successful breakthrough with Robin's genealogy, finally finding her great-grandparents who came from Germany (now I know that Heinrich became Henry, and Ferdinand became Fred!!).  I found census records verifying the discoveries, and pictures of several family gravestones on Find-a-Grave.  She was delighted with the new information and is eager to share it with her mother.  More names sent to the temple, as well.

We had a successful ward activity Friday night - a Chili Cook-off!  Had about 10 different pots of chili, lots

of desserts too.  Our judges were from the community, very good sports.  We liked the chili that we tasted, didn't try all of them.  A couple people shared their left-overs with us, so today we had baked potatoes topped with chili for dinner.  Too cold to go for our morning walk yesterday - when I woke at 6:30 am it was 16 degrees outside! It's warmer today, but has started to rain...  Our ward's Primary program was today - it was great!  Only about a dozen kids, but they were well-prepared, their talks and songs were well done.  Even had two non-members participating.  And a good attendance, 90!

We had a nice conversation with some grandkids on Monday and Klora on her 13th birthday Thursday. Happy 9th Birthday to Noah on Tuesday and Happy 14th Birthday to Kadyn on Wednesday!  Hope we get to talk to you.  Didn't get much news from home last week, but thanks Karli for your faithfulness. Hoping to hear from all my kids today, we miss you so much.  And thanks to special friend Linda for checking in and updating us on your life, we really appreciate hearing from you.  Good luck.

Have found a couple bits of needed information by looking back in my mission journal recently.  I have not been a consistent journal keeper in my life, but am determined to write daily while we are serving our mission and can already see the benefits.  A quote I have taped to my journal binder reads:  "The faintest ink is better than the fondest memory."   That's my thought for the day,  it's difficult but worth it.  We are sad and weary at times, even homesick occasionally, but feel fortunate to be here and especially to be of service and comfort to our West Virginia friends.  Hope next week is better than the last....  (Read on for Wayne's post)

Elder Briggs, Elder Bronson, Elder Moore, and Elder Lyon
Modeling their cammo ties, made for them by a kind & talented  ward member

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wayne writes about final service for a ward member

Matthew 25:40  “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

November 13, 2014  6:30 PM
I am standing at the graveside of one of our ward members.  It is dark.  The wind is blowing.  Light snow flakes are swirling around my face.  It is about 10 degrees below cold!  But I feel warm.  A kind voice breaks the silence of my thoughts.  “Would you like to get inside the pick-up and be warm?”  “No thanks, I’m OK.”  I feel warm.
I think about the events that have just taken place and things that have happened in the last few days since our friend “Al” passed away.
He was an “old” 70 years.  His life had been rough.  He had worked hard most of his life until his body had started giving in to the consequences of his hard life, his choices, his various jobs and just nature.  He worked mostly in large construction.
He suffered from various forms of physical break-downs in his once strong body.  He could only walk a few steps without having to stop and catch his breath.  He carried around his oxygen canister.  Oxygen was his constant companion.  He was told recently that he had cancer.  He was tired.  Tired of being alone in his single-wide home up a long and windy road several miles from town.  Tired of taking all those pills that brought on so many side effects.  Tired of not being able to go out and serve people like he wanted to.  Tired of everyone having to take care of him.  Tired of not being able to come to church.
He knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be called home.  He was determined to endure as best he could.  He still had a smile for you anytime you visited.  He had a dream that he would be able to sell off all his property and go to Florida to be with his ex-wife.  She came to be with him the last couple of months and cared for him.  She was a tremendous help to him.  She was really the only family he had besides his ward family here.
The warmth I am feeling comes from witnessing how this ward family took care of him in the last few days.
The resources were not available to have what we would call a normal burial so the bishop worked out with the funeral home director the details for a very memorable and better than normal burial!
Al’s home teacher has a family graveyard on his property.  He
volunteered to let him be buried there.  The

bishop and the high priests group leader got materials and built a beautiful pine box for him to be buried in.  The bishop’s wife had to help get the completed box out of their basement and into the truck. 
The missionary elders and ward mission leader went out to Al’s place and loaded 3 pick-up loads of garbage that Chris had sorted and took it to the transfer station.
The graveside service took place this evening.  His elder’s quorum president and counselor, a counselor in
the bishopric and the full time elders met at the funeral home to dress Al in his temple clothes.  It was a tender experience.  I was the only one who had had this experience before so it was new to them. They accomplished it in a reverent and respectful manner.
We then loaded the box into the funeral directors SUV and drove the 15 or so miles to the grave site.  It was off the road, past the house, and up a hill to the tree line.  Al's home teacher had used his large backhoe and dug out the grave.  It was a very large hole.  He had laid a couple of 2x10's across the hole to set the casket on. In the swirling wind, snow flakes, and headlights, a few of his friends brought the casket from the vehicle and placed it carefully on the boards.  I tried to hold my umbrella over a dear sister that was told today that she has pneumonia.  She
 refused.  “I’ll be alright” she says.  The bishop conducted a short but touching service.  Then one of Al's ward friends sang a hymn.  then his home teacher gave the dedicatory prayer.
Straps were put under the box and he was lowered carefully to his final resting place.  As they did this, I thought of the friends that lowered the man through the roof who was sick of the palsy.  They were lowering him to the feet of the Savior to be healed.  That is kind of like what Al’s friends were doing.  We                                                         know he is now healed.
This is what friends do.  I am so grateful to have been witness to this experience.  Thankful to be in this place
and feel the love that is shared here.  This scripture comes to mind,  “Willing to share one another’s burden and mourn with those that
I can leave now and go back to our apartment still feeling warm and good, hug my wife and say, “I’m glad we are here.”