Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tired and Homesick...

Do Senior Missionaries get homesick?  Definitely - especially when the pull to join with family in a time of grief is strong, as it has been this past week.  The Jensen/Orton families lost a good and talented man when Don Jensen (husband of Wayne's sister Rosala) passed away on Tuesday.  Our thoughts were sure with family and friends as they gathered yesterday to honor his life - such a great life of service and goodness.  He will be missed.  And we missed being there.

Do Senior Missionaries get tired?  Oh, yes.  We have had some long days recently, unexpected opportunities to serve, plans that changed at the last minute, and experiences to test patience and flexibility (not my strongest attributes, I'm the first to admit).

And in spite of being tired and homesick (or maybe because of it), this past week has been pretty special...

Monday we did household chores, watched the movie "The Saratov Approach" again, this time with the four Petersburg Elders, then made a quick trip to the Wal-Mart in Moorefield.  Tuesday we had District Meeting in Romney, about 40 miles away.  Wayne did car inspection for the Sister Missionaries we have in Romney (of course it was cold, windy, and snowy as they checked tire pressure, fluid levels, blinkers, brakes, and such).  I did apartment inspection with them.  They are much better housekeepers than the Elders, and needed a few miscellaneous supplies that we can furnish.  Our District Meeting was great, very helpful instruction and a great spirit.  These young people are so wise and obedient and dedicated.  We are learning so much from them all the time.  When we got back to Moorefield the Elders went their separate ways, and so did Wayne and I.  I dropped him off at Johnny Keplinger's and they did some visiting.  Then Johnny took him home to Petersburg in time to help with Bingo at the nursing home.  I headed to the furthest edge of our ward to do my visiting teaching -- my partner is ill, again, I had the appointments set up already, and the month is almost over, so I just went by myself.  Had a wonderful time, sometimes the one-on-one visits are pretty special.  One of the visits I made was to Woneda Kenney's apartment, but found out from her granddaughter that she had just been taken to the hospital in Petersburg.  Called Wayne and Johnny for them to check on her.  It was a long afternoon.  I got back to Petersburg just in time to pick Wayne up from the nursing home - good thing, because it was snowing.  We had a quick dinner, then Wayne went up to the hospital to pick up Woneda Kenney's son and give him a ride home to Moorefield.  Woneda will have to go back in to the nursing home in Baker,  her family just cannot give her the care she needs.  She sure did appreciate the pictures from Kyle, Cache, and Naomi. Anyone who wants to color, draw, or write a letter for her, just send them to me,  I'll deliver them to her and it will make her day,  she is lonely and discouraged.

Wednesday we taught another lesson to Traci Johnson, Robin Martin's friend.  Made a few other visits, worked on genealogy at the church and Wayne caught up our area book.  Thursday we did some planning and scheduling, then I worked on genealogy at the church - that's where I can get on for free and spread out stuff that I am working on.  Audrey Parks sent me a lot of information on her family that I needed to organize, research, and put on familysearch.  It's pretty fun.  Wayne worked at home on a talk he was preparing and also on the computer, trying to find correct addresses of people on our ward directory that we haven't been able to locate.  Is that a never-ending job?  Later in the day we visited Woneda in the hospital,  helped out at the nursing home again, then made an evening visit to a neat couple, the Haslackers, who have suffered multiple challenges in their lives lately recently and needed a little encouragement.

Audrey and John Parks at the temple visitors center
Friday - we had a plan, but it was changed at the last minute when Traci needed a ride to the hospital in Winchester for some blood tests and counselling for some health issues.  Oh, well.  It was fun to visit with her and get to know her better.  And she loved watching "Ephraim's Rescue" on our van TV.  Long drive. Saturday Wayne took the Elders and Johnny K. about an hour away to a member's home to split and stack wood for the morning.  They stopped at the Baker nursing home to visit Woneda on their way home.  I did chores, prepared ahead Sunday dinner for guests,  and worked more on Audrey's genealogy.  I was called at the last minute to help with an activity at the nursing home for an hour.  The rest of our Saturday was the most AWESOME part of our week.  First we sat in on a lesson the Elders had with our friend Sonja - and she accepted the baptism date of April 12th!  She was so ready and anxious to get on with it. She started coming to Relief Society activities with her friend Janet Keplinger in the fall, then started coming to church, then
Janet Keplinger, Audry Parks, Sister Orton, Sonja Morton
taking the lessons and reading the Book of Mormon.  It has been fun to get to know her and see her testimony grow and the changes she is making in her life.  She thought drinking coffee would be a stumbling block,  but she decided on her own recently to quit and is so proud of herself and feels so much better now. Her 14-year-old son Joseph and her 20-something daughter Kristie come to church with her some times too and seem to be interested.  We are very excited for her.

After Sonja's lesson we then had the baptism of our good friend Audrey Parks.  We have spent a lot of time with Audrey and her husband John. John was able to baptize Audrey,  Wayne has worked a lot with him to help him prepare.  Wayne gave a talk on baptism and at the last minute had to play the piano for the service.  He was not prepared for that, but did his best. Today Audrey
Elder Orton, Johnny Keplinger, John Parks

was confirmed in church and she and John both bore their testimonies. Very humble, sweet people. As has become our routine, after church they came to dinner at our apartment, then Audrey and I went back to the church to work on her genealogy while Wayne and John made a visit to a less active man.  So --  great couple of days.  At Audrey's baptism was also Lou Black, an neat lady we visited with Elder Bell and Elder Mordecai.  She has set a baptism date of April 29.  We had a great attendance of non-members and less-active members at church today, but not such a good attendance of regulars,  there was fog and snow in some of our ward areas and the members who live a ways from Petersburg in the bad weather areas couldn't make it in.  Crazy weather here in West
Elder Orton, John & Audrey Parks, Sister Orton - Mar 29
Virginia - snow today, forecast of 70 degrees for tomorrow!

(Someone gave me the book "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" last week.  I am loving it.  I highly recommend it to everyone.)   

 Our love to all who are reading this blog  (and we still would like to know who that is??).  And even though we are tired and homesick occasionally, we are so happy to be here and to be busy and useful.  We feel the Spirit testify to us of the importance of the Work of Salvation and feel privileged to be missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ at this time in this place.  

Elder Farr (from Salem, Oregon), Audrey & John Parks, Elder Plumb (from Arizona)
I believe I said last week that Elder Farr was from Ogden, wrong - sorry.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Another week flies by...

What a fun, tiring week that just seemed to fly by.  We are so blessed with good health and energy, and the resources to be having the wonderful experience of this mission.  We appreciate the prayers and encouragement of our family and friends.  Know that we are working hard, learning so much, and feeling the Spirit of this great work!

We enjoyed watching the new movie "The Saratov Approach" on Monday.  The four Petersburg Elders got permission from the Mission President to watch it tomorrow also, so "Party at the Ortons' Apartment", probably pizza and snacks as well, if Elder Orton has anything to say about it. It's an interesting movie.
Monday evening we had a fun dinner with Elder Bell and Elder Mordecai at the home of  our new friend Tracy Johnson.  Wayne and I are teaching her.  She moved in to an apartment next to Robin Martin and they became friends.  Robin and Tracy worked together to make us a nice spaghetti dinner and were so excited and pleased to do it.  They are both trying hard to get their lives in order (and quit smoking) and come to church regularly. It was nice to get to know them better and they were so happy to do something for us.

Our District - Elders Mordecai, Plumb, Goodell, & Bell
Elder & Sister Orton, Sisters Hendrix & Gates
Tuesday we had our Zone Training in Woodstock, about 70 miles from here.  We took two Elders with us, the other two had to drive their mission car, then go from there on to Berryville to switch companions. Our Elder Goodell from Wyoming was transferred unexpectedly and we received a new missionary, Elder Farr from Ogden, Utah.  We will miss Elder G., but Elder Farr is great, so missionary life goes on.  I try not to get attached, but these young men are just awesome and we love them.  We also spend a lot of time with them and get to know them quite well, their fun side and their spiritual side.    
Elder Plumb & Elder Goodell,  Elder G's last day here.
Off to new adventures!
On Wednesday we drove Elder Plumb and Elder Farr to some visits that are a ways out,  saving their mission car miles and fun for us to go visiting and teaching with them.  One visit was to Dan Cassell in
Elder Plumb, geared up.
Wardensville (45 miles),  Dan is former CIA and is very concerned about our country and the way it is headed. I think he would be considered a Libertarian, prepared for civil war and financial chaos coming soon, he thinks.  Our Arizona Elder Plumb is fascinated with his predictions and preparations - was thrilled to get to try on some of his tactical gear.  We wish we could get Dan to be as concerned about his spiritual preparations....  Visited Kelly Kipp in Lost City,  then to Mathias for a wonderful lesson with Connie Stever. It was a great day.  Also treated the Elders to dinner at a little restaurant in Wardensville that was surprisingly good and very inexpensive  (a nice combination).

Thursday it was time for missionary car and apartment inspections again.  Also made a few good visits to less active ward members.  More visits Friday, also cleaned the church with the Elders, printed the ward bulletin for Sunday, and Wayne sang at the Nursing Home.  When we visited the home of Dave and Elaine Vanmeter they had a surprise for us.  Dave and Elaine are not active, we visit them often and really like them. We recently had talked about missing having a garden and admired their little starts of tomatoes and peppers.  Well, they bought a big pot, planted one of their tomato starts in it and gave it to us!  It's so cute and they said it was doing better than any of their other starts.  So nice of them.  (Even better - Elaine came to church today, the first time since we have been here...)

Elder Farr, Audrey & John Parks, Elder Plumb
Yesterday (Saturday) was another awesome day.  Fortunately good weather as we made another trip to the Washington, DC, Temple.  It's about a 2 1/2 - 3 hour drive.  This time we took Elders Plumb and Farr, and John and Audrey Parks.  John is a returning less active member and his wife Audrey is going to be baptized next Saturday, the 29th.  Audrey has been working on genealogy with me and we wanted them to set their sights on preparing to go to the temple in a year, to be sealed and to do family temple work.  Wayne was helping with ward youth temple baptisms while the Elders and I took the Parks to the visitor's center and walked around the temple grounds.  They loved seeing the temple and learning about what goes on in temples and how to prepare.  We are excited to
John and Audrey outside the Temple Visitor's Center
think that we could possibly go to the temple with them before the end of our mission.

Something fun happened at the Temple.  When we got there we all went in to the lobby of the temple to wait as the ward youth and leaders assembled. As we were quietly visiting, someone came up and tapped Wayne on the shoulder and said, "Hi, Brother Orton!"   We were so surprised to see a good high school friend of our son Darin,  Kirk Huntsman, and his lovely wife Tina.  Tina evidently knew Darin's wife Laura at BYU, too. Kirk is with the military and they live in Virginia.  They looked so good and we had a nice little visit with them. His parents, David and Betty Huntsman, are also on a mission - in Siberia, I believe.  What a chance meeting - so unexpected and nice.  
Kirk and Tina Huntsman

So today was our ward conference.  I showed up for the wrong meeting at 8 am,  went to pick up a couple that had indicated they wanted to come to church this morning - but didn't answer the door when I got there, I missed a meeting I was supposed to go to after church,  and had to sing with the missionaries in sacrament meeting - not a comfortable thing for me.  Whew!  Sounds like a bad day, doesn't it?  But actually it was a great day in spite of a few bumps in the road.  We had a wonderful ward conference with lots of stake visitors and a very good attendance of ward members, including several returning less actives and five non-members.  Sonja, who will be our next baptism, brought her daughter Kristie again and Kristie (who is in her 20's) took a Book of Mormon and committed to start reading it.  We had a fantastic ward potluck after church, to feed the stake visitors who have to come so far to our little ward.  Good food and fellowship. Then Audrey and I worked on her genealogy again and Wayne had priesthood training with John. Now Wayne is taking a well-deserved nap - I can hear him!

Just one more thing - March Madness is upon us and our favorite teams, BYU and Duke were quickly eliminated.  Still have hopes for Gonzaga?  But in our stake March Madness means something else.  The Young Men and their leaders have been challenged to read the entire Book of Mormon during the month.  They have cute March Madness calendar/reading schedules and are working hard.  Also other ward members that want to - Wayne has taken the challenge, too.  What a great idea!

Our love to you all.  We are here in West Virginia - helping to Hasten the Work of Salvation.
(Loved the quote that  appeared on someone's facebook page last week:
  "Drama doesn't just walk into your life out of nowhere,  you either create it, invite it,
   or associate with people that bring it..." )

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is "Studliest" even a word?

This has been one of those weeks that we have to remind ourselves that missionary work is more than knocking on doors!  We have been very, very busy,  just not out visiting a lot.

We did visit an elderly, vision-impaired single sister, Irene Kesner, outside of Maysville one day.  She had given me a little African violet plant last Fall and it is blooming so beautifully that Wayne took a picture of it on his IPad to show her.  She was very impressed at how well it is doing and that I successfully repotted it recently.  She likes us and gave us Honey Tangerines this visit.

On Monday Wayne spent the afternoon taking an older gentleman to the doctor in Winchester (oops, the guy is younger than Wayne, just in very poor health).  I did household chores, a little laundry, walked to the library, and did check up on a neighbor/member.  

Tuesday we had District Meeting here in Petersburg.  On the chalkboard, in the graph where our District Leader writes the weekly statistics, for Wayne and I he had written "The Ortons - the Studliest Couple in the Mission!!"  We are assuming (hoping) that is a compliment.  Fun meeting.  After the meeting we went to Robin Martin's neighbor, Tracy Johnson, where we reviewed the lesson we taught her last week, then taught about the Book of Mormon.  She is pretty fun and very interested.  We then met Elder Bell and Elder Mordecai at the home of one of their investigators and sat in on their lesson with her. She is a widow named Lou Black,  very nice lady and seems quite sincere.  We visited a couple more members in the area and drove 12 miles to Moorefield to see our dear friend Woneda who is out of the nursing home and back in her apartment with family tending her.  She was thrilled with Kyle's hummingbird picture, we are hoping there are more pictures coming for her.  We had a good but short visit because  we got a phone call from an inactive member needing help.  It was complicated, but the Grandmother was in the hospital in Morgantown with four-year-old Clarissa again, and needed a car seat from their home in Wardensville taken to Keyser, where the people who were giving them a ride home from the hospital Wednesday needed it.  Grandma Sheila said her son Will could meet us in Moorefield with the seat if we would take it on to Keyser (30 miles) for them. Actually we had been wanting to go to Keyser and it worked out fine for us.  It was a nice afternoon and a lovely drive.  We delivered the car seat, looked around the town,  found a Denny's and had a really good dinner, then drove the 40 miles back home.  No Bingo at the nursing home - they are quarantined due to a flu outbreak.  We had a fun visit with our granddaughter Cassidy who was turning twelve!

The rest of the week just flew by with a few visits, getting the van serviced (again), Relief Society night meeting and guys' jam session,  Wayne taking a couple of men home teaching, etc.  This weekend was our Winchester Stake Conference. We took our four elders to Winchester Saturday night for the Adult meeting - it was great, the theme was Hastening the Work of Salvation, are you all following that theme for your stake conferences this year?  My favorite quote was  "If you share yourself, your faith will follow."  It's true,  I have seen it again and again the past several months. For the intermediate hymn we sang "Hark All Ye Nations", with the full-time missionaries singing the first verse,  then joined by the youth for the 2nd verse, then with the whole congregation for the third verse.  Tried to show the power when everyone works together (and shows how puny the effort of just the missionaries alone...). Today the session was broadcast to our building and it was a regional broadcast from Salt Lake.  Very good with Bruce Carlson, Jean Stevens, Paul Johnson, and L. Tom Perry speaking.  After the meeting, John and Audrey Parks came to our apartment for dinner again, then John went visiting with Wayne while Audrey and I worked on genealogy at the church.  Five investigators at church today - they are enthusiastic and just soaking everything up. We hope to take John and Audrey Parks to the Washington DC Temple visitor's center next Saturday,  they are pretty excited about that.  But we will have to wait and see what the weather is like - because it is SNOWING today.

Our love to each of you.  We are excited to be a small part of this amazing work.  You are in our prayers, please pray for us.

Happy St. Patrick's Day and thanks to my maternal grandfather Closson Scott's ancestors who originally came from Ireland.  Here are my Irish sayings for the day:
"If you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough!"
"May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far."
"May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song.
 May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long."


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Prayers for Krissy

This week started out great as we heard from son-in-law Patrick that after months of unemployment  he had
been offered (and he accepted) a great job opportunity with a good company.  He will be based locally but may have travel commitments as well.  We are very happy for him and the family,  it's been a long, stressful ordeal.  As they looked forward to getting back on their feet, a new challenge was presented to this faithful family.  Their 14-year-old daughter, Kristen, went to the doctor for a check-up and was diagnosed with diabetes.  She was immediately sent to Primary Children's Hospital, where she is spending several days as they regulate her blood sugar (which was sky high) and teach her and her family the skills to manage her new-found condition.  They will accept this new challenge with their usual steadiness, perseverance, and faith - but we
sure wish we were there to offer help and support.  Good luck, Krissy - our prayers and those of many others are with you.

We did have more snow on Monday and spent a quiet day, mostly in our snug apartment.  Good thing we rested up because the rest of the week we were on the go and the time just flew by. We had a District Meeting in Romney on Tuesday, then we visited our friend Robin and her friend Tracy, who wants us to start teaching her about the Gospel!  Then we picked up Elder Bell and Elder Mordecai and went a few miles south of town to the home of Walter and Doris Whetzel for dinner and lesson. Wednesday Wayne took returning member John Parks home teaching while I worked on genealogy for John's wife Audrey. Audrey has been meeting with the Elders and had a baptism date set in April, but has decided that she doesn't want to wait that long, so the date is now set for March 29th!  That's pretty exciting.  In the evening I went to the church with a member neighbor, Becky Hovatter, and worked on genealogy with her.

John and Audrey Parks
Thursday we made a 2 1/2 hour drive to Frederick, Virginia, for a conference for the senior couples in our mission.  It was really nice,  good to see our friends, and receive instruction and encouragement in our assignments.  Our Mission President Mark Richards and his wife are awesome, we are so fortunate to serve with them. They read a letter of appreciation from our bishop, that was pretty special for us. We also talked about future activities for the senior couples and decided that in April the couple that is assigned to serve at the Naval Academy at Annapolis will give us a tour - that should be interesting.  In June we are all going to Gettysburg too.  And the mission president is going to arrange a temple day for us soon.  The conference ended with a nice lunch at 1 pm, then Wayne and I hurried home to pick up the Elders again and drive them 14 miles outside of Petersburg, to the area called Upper Tract where we had a dinner appointment with Baxter and Sandy Borror (no, we were not too hungry - but it's not always about the food...).  After dinner they got out a fiddle for one of the Elders to play, a guitar for Wayne, and Baxter grabbed his banjo, and they made a little music for a while before the Elders' message.  Fun.  Several related families live on the same road, so we made the rounds visiting before we headed home.  Another long day for us old folks ...

Friday we taught our first lesson to Robin's friend Tracy.  Robin sat in too - so it was officially a "member present,investigator lesson" - that's a good thing here in the mission field.  It went well.  Tracy gave us brownies, too - we eat way too many sweets, but what can we do?  It would be rude to refuse.

Saturday we took four ward members to the Washington, DC, Temple.  The weather was beautiful and so was the temple.  It was a great experience and they really appreciated the ride,  it had been quite a while since any of them had been.   We were happy to change our clocks last night,  we like Daylight Savings Time.  Good attendance at church today - Robin & Tracy came, Audrey & John Parks,  Sonja & her son Joseph,  our big black ex-NFL football player friend Will Taylor (for the first time since we have been here!),  another returning member Joan Stahl,  and a good turnout from the regulars.  I taught the Relief Society lesson,  then we had the Parks over for dinner.  After we ate, Audrey and I went back to the church to work on genealogy while Wayne took John to do some home teaching.  When they left we drove to Moorefield to sit in on a lesson the Elders were teaching to our progressing investigator Sonja.  She is really coming along,  learning, studying, so enthusiastic and sincere.  She has given up coffee and is really close to setting a baptism date,  we are really excited for her progress.  What a busy, fun, exhausting week - like I said, it flew by.  Many opportunities to bear testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to learn and grow, to serve, and to feel the Spirit in this wonderful, amazing work we are privileged to be a part of.

Nice to talk to Cameron and Julie on their birthdays last week.  This coming week our beautiful Cassidy will turn 12!!  Happy Birthday, Cassidy!   Thanks to Katelyn and Krissy for the letters - we LOVE to get mail. And thanks to Klora and Kendra for the fun emails, pictures (cool horse), information about hummingbirds, and captions for the pig picture. You guys are great.  Thanks to Kyle for the beautiful hummingbird picture for our friend Woneda - she will love it!  Krissy - our prayers are with you.   Love to all.
Potomac River, near Petersburg - Wayne experimenting with a new camera
We drive by this pink house often - my kind of color scheme!
Cabin in the woods

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We had a good week!

Yes, we had a good week.  Very busy, that's the way we like it.  But Wayne is coming down with another cold - so he is taking a nap this afternoon,  I won't let him go out in the pouring rain and besides, who wants someone with a cold to come visit them?  So here is our week:

Monday Wayne went with the Elders and some other ward members on a service project.  They drove to Upper Tract, to the Holloway home.  Jimmy Holloway recently had heart surgery and is slowly recuperating. There was siding coming off their home and flapping in the wind, so the guys repaired it for them.  Good project.  It happened to also be the day for the Red Cross Blood Drive and I didn't want to miss that but Wayne had the van - so I walked to it.  It was further than I thought to the Baptist Church where it was held, also didn't take into consideration that I would have to walk back home after giving blood.  So I sat there a little longer than usual, had a few snacks and a couple glasses of
juice, and I was fine to walk back home. After Wayne got home we drove to Moorefield for some groceries at Wal-Mart.

Tuesday we had a District Meeting in the morning, then we drove to Wardensville in the afternoon to do some visiting.  Then helped with Bingo at the nursing home in the evening.  Wednesday we were able to take our four Elders to the Washington, DC, Temple.  What a nice day.  We left about 5:30 am.  The traffic was pretty congested part of the time and there was a little snow, but it was a great experience and the Elders loved it.  It was a new experience for them, the mission was just given permission
for the young missionaries to attend the temple every six months, instead of just at the end of their mission, so they were very excited to go.  It's always fun to travel with the four of them, they manage to have a good time even when we are stuck in traffic.  They wanted to go to the nearby small LDS bookstore after our session,  and to stop at a Costco for shopping and lunch.  Our Wyoming Elder had never been to a Costco, so he was pretty wide-eyed.  It was a very nice day.  Wayne and I were tired when we got home (about 6:30 pm), the Elders still had places to go and things to do.  They have way more energy than we do.

The rest of the week was pretty normal - meetings, visiting, planning and paperwork, genealogy, etc.  We had a great attendance at church today.  One inactive lady we have been working with came and brought her neighbor.  The neighbor loved it and said she would like to come back every Sunday "if that was all right?" We have two investigators that are nearing baptism, one stayed after church today to work on genealogy with me for an hour.  And several new friends who have not been attending church are returning.  At church today we had three dinner invitations for the next couple weeks, and yesterday an inactive friend brought us four dozen fresh eggs to share with the Elders.  Two thoughts from our Relief Society lesson today that I loved:
     In all of living have much Fun and Laughter.  Life is to be Enjoyed and not just endured.  (Pres. Hinckley)
     Happiness is not determined by what happens on the outside of us, it is determined by what happens on           the inside.

A big snowstorm is expected tonight and tomorrow.  I wouldn't mind being snowed in for my P-Day.  
Thank you to the Acors for the pictures along the way of their vacation,  looks like a great time.
Happy Birthday to Cameron on Friday and Julie on Saturday.  We love you.
I hope my grandchildren are working on the questions I sent you....
We did have a good week and know that the next week will be great as well. We are so blessed. Happy March.