Sunday, April 27, 2014

Visits, Service, Genealogy, and the Spring Mountain Festival

The heading kind of sums up our week.  We didn't make as many visits as we thought we should, but we'd
make a plan and something else would come up...   I took our neighbor to her doctor appointment one afternoon and will again tomorrow.  I spent a lot of time on genealogy this week.  A couple of the women I have been helping really needed their information, pictures, certificates, and documents organized, so I have been creating binders with sections for different items; mounting, labeling, and protecting pictures and papers; and just trying to make sense of their pile of precious information.  They are very happy with the results and we have names ready for our temple trip.  Wayne took his friend Johnny K. fishing and then up to John Parks' to make music one afternoon (fellowshipping, he calls it).  Then one morning he roto-tilled a garden space for Dave Vanmetter, who is in poor health.  I think they are planning a fishing trip also. He was called on to go with the Elders to give a blessing one evening.  We gave blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive and helped out with Bingo two evenings at the nursing home.  

Beautiful bright yellow finches at the Burr home
We did manage to teach another lesson to Traci and her friend Kitty and visit some of our favorites that we like to check in on regularly (Margarite Kindrick, Irene Kesner, George Burrs, the Vanmeters, the Bishop and his wife).  We also worked a little on our directory "Finding" list - those people no one knows.  We have sent out a couple dozen letters to people listed with only PO boxes or incomplete addresses, hoping the post office will help us find them, or that they will get the letter and respond.  Not too much luck there.  But Wayne has been using an internet address-finding program and that has given us a few more leads.  Friday we did find two of the lost.  We had a very nice visit with one lady, who is thinking about coming back to church and invited us to return to her home. The other one we found is definitely not interested and does not want us to come back!
Part of the menagerie at the Burr farm.
So it was a very busy week, we even managed to attend the local Spring Mountain Festival here in Petersburg on Saturday. After an early meeting with the other missionaries and our Ward Mission Leader we went to the small parade, then out to a park to a small Civil War encampment and watched a mock attack on a train.  We went out to the fair grounds where they had craft booths, a flea market, food booths, various entertainment, and we finally got to watch a little of a corn hole tournament (big thing here - just looks like a bean bag toss to me...).   Next week is already looking busy with appointments and lessons already scheduled, apartment inspections, and such.  Time flies when you keep busy.

Happy Birthday on Friday to Taivan (turning 11!).  We love you.
Thanks to Klora, Kendra, Kyle, and Krista for the wonderful letters and pictures you sent us.  We loved them (and love you too).
Here are some pictures of the Spring Mountain Festival :

Pageants are real popular here, so in the parade there were lots of floats, cars, and trucks
with royalty from toddlers to teens with their crowns and banners from various pageants.
Lots of trucks and  tractors

My favorite - Spring Horses:a bumblebee, a ladybug, and a bunny

Civil War encampment

Union soldiers on the train, firing back across the river
Fallen Colonel
Firing the cannon
Another casualty
Left the Civil War and back to real life - a rousing Corn Hole Tournament at the Fair Grounds.

Have a great week.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring in West Virginia - Redbuds and Rabbits

Lovely tree at our church that froze the day after Wayne took this picture
Pretty blossom on the tree before it froze
Yes, some days it does seems like Spring is coming to our corner of West Virginia,  then we have a couple
days of cool temperatures and snow flurries!  But lots of daffodils have opened up and a beautiful tree called Redbud is blooming, so we see patches of color here and there to keep our spirits up.  We have tried all week to get a few good pictures of the Redbud trees, but we can't do them justice.  I will post a couple attempts though.  Other nature highlights - a bald eagle flew over us while we were on our walk one day,  we see rabbits on
our walking path daily and Tuesday morning at 6:30 am as we headed out on our walk there were three rabbits on our front sidewalk!  One morning we scared up three deer, another morning there was a turtle on our path...  We also drove by an interesting herd of long-horn cattle yesterday afternoon.  Fun pictures.

To quickly recap our week - Tuesday we had Zone Training in Woodstock, followed by lunch together at a Mexican restaurant, we made it back to Petersburg just in time for a scheduled lesson with Traci, then helped with Bingo at the nursing home. One of the zone leaders came back from Woodstock with us for a couple days of exchange.  His name is Elder Mitch Hall and he went to school with our grandson Dallin.  He and Elder Farr asked if we would go with them visiting Wednesday.  They had a long ways to go and some single sisters to see, so they needed us to drive them.  It was a great day, really good visits.  Pizza for dinner at the Lists.  We ended with a very spiritual lesson with Connie Stever, who lives way out in the woods near Mathias.  She committed to come to church today - and she did, her first time in years!  We were pretty excited to see her there.  More visits Thursday, a lesson on financial management with the Parks,  a fun visit with Ella Sue Kimble and her sons in Moorefield and she was so pleased that I complimented her on her Easter egg tree and took a picture of it!  More Bingo, then Wayne practiced music at the church.  Friday after an afternoon of visiting Wayne sang at the nursing home and I made waffles for dinner.

Saturday Wayne helped his friend Johnny Keplinger plow up his garden space,  I guess his tiller/plow is
unique so we had to have a picture of it.  Then we drove way out to Seneca Rocks to visit a family, the Teters, there.  On the way back we went up into a mountain area called Smoke Holes to visit the shy Shirks. Wayne took a picture of their cabin,  I bought a little cardinal carving that Pam makes and sells.  It was a nice visit, they are getting used to us and said to come back!  That's progress.

Shirk's Cabin
Pam Shirk's Cardinal picture
Today - Happy Easter!  My day began way too early as our neighbor, a 21-year-old tattooed pregnant
Audrey & John Parks and Elder Bell
unmarried (LDS) young woman, Jerri Lee called me at 3 am, saying she thought she was in labor and could I take her to the hospital - which I was happy to do, in spite of the early hour.  She is due to have her baby in a couple weeks, but the pains she was experiencing were from a gall bladder attack and not labor.  I stayed with her about an hour, until they settled her in a room for the night, and determined the diagnosis. Back to bed for a couple hours more, then up to prepare for ward council meeting before 9 am church.  Lovely sacrament meeting, lots of people in our little ward.  Wonderful spirit as we worshipped our Savior on this special day.  After church we had  people over to our apartment
Traci, Sister Orton, Elder Mordecai, and Ron Holmes
for Easter dinner:  John & Audrey Parks, Traci Johnson, our ward mission leader Ron Holmes, Elder Bell, and Elder Mordecai (the other two Elders had dinner plans with ward members).  It was very nice and they all appreciated the meal and the company. Afterward Audrey and I worked on genealogy for a bit before Wayne and I needed to drive to Moorefield to help Elder Plumb and Elder Farr teach a lesson to our newest convert, Sonja.  I need to meet with her soon to work on her family history (German!), in preparation for a temple trip we are taking May 10th where she and the Parks hope to do baptism work for family names - how exciting is that!

We have had a very busy week, also enjoyed talking to Karli on her birthday Monday and today skyped with Kelsie on her 5th birthday.  So cute.  Have a great week and remember we love you.  Thanks Karli, Amie, and Julie for the emails, and thanks Darin & kids for the great letters & pictures - we sure love to find mail in our box...  And we enjoyed the Orton Family Newsletter - thanks Karli & Pat.
Fishing on the North Fork of the Potomac River,
Wayne is anxious to give it a try soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Message

For a special Easter message  watch the youtube video "Because of Him" or find it on

Pretty Awesome Week

It was an awesome week for us old folks,  and now we are pretty tired...  The temperature is in the mid-80's today, the grass is green, there are many daffodils in bloom, and the trees are beginning to leaf out!  Yeah! I even have a garden!  Some thoughtful ward members that we have become friends with and are trying to get to come back to church (and Wayne assures me that going fishing with Dave will further this quest...) started us a tomato plant, and I started zucchini and cucumbers from seeds.  We have been babying them along, last night was the first night I let them stay out on the patio all night.  Hope they survive.
Our garden!
 Tuesday we had District Meeting in Romney, it was good.  They we drove up to Parks' home and taught them a lesson using the Family Guidebook, about Family Prayer, Family Scripture Study, and Family Home Evening.  They just want to learn all they can and do everything they can to strengthen their marriage and be good.  We visited our friend Margarite Kindrick and she gave me a bouquet of daffodils, they look so pretty in a vase in our living room.  We also stopped by Traci's apartment to set up a time for our next lesson with her.  Then we had a funny experience.  We have been enjoying doing volunteer work at a nearby nursing home, helping with Bingo twice a week and other activities occasionally, and Wayne has been singing there twice a month. They had a volunteer appreciation dinner Tuesday night and had a big crowd, we saw people that we know and work with, also made new friends with six people at our table.  Had a really good dinner and a nice program. Then they gave out some awards - imagine our surprise when they gave Wayne and I lovely personally engraved trophies for being "Volunteers of the Year"!  (we haven't even been here a year...) Very embarrassing, but very nice.

Grant County Nursing Home Volunteers of the Year!
Wednesday we made a lot of visits, and I worked in the Family History Room while Wayne did computing in the clerk's office in the evening.  Thursday we taught another lesson to Traci,  then I took her to our Relief Society evening meeting.  Wayne met a few of his buddies there and they played music & sang.  Our RS Easter activity was well attended, well-planned, and fun. Friday Wayne took his friend Johnny Keplinger with him as he traveled a long distance to do some visiting & home teaching.  They had a good time.  Johnny showed Wayne the little church where he and Janet were married.  They later went to the temple.  They have had some difficulties with their marriage and their church activity recently, but have been doing very well lately. We are hoping to get them back to the temple while we are here.
Little white church in the woods.
That brings us to our busy Saturday.  We spent the morning working at the community mobile food pantry.
There is a local food pantry that gives food to local families in need weekly, we work there every six weeks or so.  But twice a year there is a huge mobile food give-away, where a big semi brings 12,000 pounds of food, volunteers unload & organize it & fill boxes.  Two hundred pre-approved families come and pick up wonderful boxes of frozen meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy products & eggs, and bread & pastries donated by big food chains.  It's held in the Petersburg fire station and is pretty fun to be a part of.  

The Elders provide a lot of muscle for this event, setting up tables, unloading pallets, carrying boxes to cars for participants, etc.  They are such good workers.  Wayne and I tried to help out wherever we were needed and made new friends.  
But the real highlight of our day yesterday was Sonja Morton's baptism.  She is just awesome.  She started coming to Relief Society evening meetings last fall with a member friend, Janet Keplinger.  We have gotten to help with her lessons and have come to know her well and love her.  She is German, spent her childhood there.  She has three daughters in their 20's and a son Joseph who is 14.  It's been fun to see her growth and her gradual acceptance of gospel principles.  She didn't want to be pushed, she wanted to learn and understand, and make up her own mind.  As she came to accept and live each principle she just became stronger and stronger, and when she was ready to be baptized she was solid.  She wanted Wayne to baptize and confirm her - what a privilege.  I spoke at the baptism.  It was AWESOME.  She bore her testimony at the baptism and also in church today.  She is amazing.  
Sonja Morton & her son Joseph, with Elder Farr and Elder Plumb

Today, Sunday, has been  lovely day.  Wayne taught the Priesthood lesson and I taught Relief Society.  The Parks, John and Audrey, came over to our apartment for dinner, then Audrey and I went back to the church to work on genealogy while John and Wayne went visiting with the missionaries.  We look forward to hearing from our kids this evening and for updates on our grandchildren who we miss so much.  Would love to hear from anyone else who happens to be reading our blog.  I am not a great writer, I know, but please understand that we love being here in West Virginia and we love the wonderful people here.  Especially we love our Savior Jesus Christ and are blessed to be serving this mission for Him.  Happy Klarese Blessing Day to the Thuesons, Happy Birthday to our amazing oldest daughter Karli tomorrow.  And Happy Easter to you all!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

We've been in the Maryland Baltimore Mission 7 months -- and we finally got to see Baltimore!!

What a wonderful weekend we have had, watching General Conference!  Amazing, inspiring talks, beautiful music,  outpouring of the Spirit - how lucky we are!  We watched Conference at our nearby ward meetinghouse with the four other (young) missionaries assigned here and a few other people.  Most ward members watched it at home on their TVs or on their computers.  John and Audrey Parks came to Petersburg today to watch at the church and had lunch with us between sessions.  John also went to priesthood meeting with Wayne last night (8-10 pm) while Audrey hung out here with me at the apartment. General Conference, of course, has been the highlight of our week, but wait 'til you see the pictures of our other highlight...

We worked at the local food pantry Monday and Wednesday, and helped at the nursing home Tuesday night.  We also managed to make several visits, including Robin & Traci, Goldie George, and Woneda.  To understand the rest of our week,  I need to mention a phone call I got a couple weeks ago.  In our mission we have two senior couples who work in the Mission Office. One of them called me and suggested that since there was an activity for Senior Couples to visit the Naval Academy at Annapolis on the 4th, why didn't Elder Orton and I come to Baltimore a couple days early to see the some of the sights and we could stay at a vacant but furnished mission apartment in the area.  They thought that since we live way over in West Virginia, but were coming to the activity anyway, why not spend a little extra time in the area. Sounded good to us, so after we worked at the food pantry Wednesday afternoon we drove to the mission office (3 hours) to pick up the apartment key and arrived at the apartment in the evening.  We spent Thursday seeing some awesome sights in Baltimore, mostly in the Inner Harbor area, and Friday at the senior couple activity ending with dinner at the mission home with our mission president and the other eleven senior couples in the mission - we were welcoming a new couple, the Bringhursts from Delta, Utah, who will be living in Cumberland, Virginia, and copying archive records for FamilySearch. It was very interesting and a fun break.
We began with a 1 1/2 hour trolley tour of Baltimore
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and funny, and wore different hats along the way

After the trolley tour we had lunch at Bubba Gumps' - delicious crab soup!
Next we went in this building, the World Trade Center, to the Top of the World observation area on the 27th floor.
Melted steel girders from 9/11, on display in front of the Baltimore World Trade Center
View from the top,  our van is in the parking lot at the bottom left, near the yellow truck!

Another view from the top, looking onto the harbor & the USS Constellation

Final picture from the Top of the World,  the Phillips Restaurant in the
center of the picture is where we ate dinner,  delicious seafood - Wayne even had swordfish!
Dragon paddleboats for rent in the harbor

Next we rode the free city bus out to Fort McHenry,  where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812.  There was an interesting visitor's center and we could also walk around the Fort.  We loved it and learned so much, picked up cool pamphlets to send to some of our grandsons, if they are interested...

The actual Fort McHenry, strategic position to defend Baltimore, on the tip of the inner harbor of the Chesapeake Bay

Back to the Inner Harbor, some interesting ships, a submarine, and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse that was in operation for a hundred years, then recently taken out of use and moved to the pier, another interesting tour.

Friday we joined the other senior couples in our mission for a tour of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, where one of our senior couples is assigned.  I cannot begin to describe the feeling of being there.  The historic old buildings (pictures cannot do it justice), the midshipmen (4500) scurrying from place to place, the history, patriotism, honor, and dedication the academy stands for and portrays in so many ways.  I've never seen anything like it.  It was AWESOME.


Tomb of naval hero, John Paul Jones

Torpedo on display in the hall of classroom building.
I think Wayne took a dozen pictures of torpedoes, jet engines, and such.  He was fascinated

This picture is for Darin - here is what their labs look like!

Memorial Hall

Our tour guide for part of the day, Sgt. John Kadz, an LDS Naval Academy graduate
who is an instructor there now.  Great young man.  Served a mission in Korea midway
through his academy education.

Academy marina where the mids get experience in different types of sailing & rowing
One of the highlights of the day was our visit with Rabbi Josh Sherman, who is one of the naval chaplains assigned to the Annapolis Naval Academy.  One of his responsibilities is to oversee the smaller faith-based groups, of which the LDS group is one, so he works closely with our senior couple, the Hilliards, and they have become friends.  He agreed to show us the Jewish chapel (synagogue) which was built in 2005.  He explained what different features are, how they worship,  opened their sacred ark and actually unrolled one of their Torahs for us to see and answered questions about his role and beliefs.  It was fascinating.  He also demonstrated some of his chants.  He was so gracious and fun.  What an experience. 


After this great tour, we drove to the mission home, had a fun dinner with the Mission President and his wife and the other senior couples, then we drove home (making a brief stop at Costco in Frederick, Maryland). We enjoyed the trip, enjoyed Conference, and are ready now to get back to work.  We have another baptism coming up next week that we are very excited about, Wayne has a lot of month-end reports to get to, and I have a Relief Society lesson to prepare.  Hope to make many visits, teach another lesson to Traci, District Meeting in Romney, etc, etc.  We count our blessings and they are many.  Love to family and friends - we miss you.