Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hot and Humid

We have had a fun week that has passed by us very, very quickly.  I am posting on Saturday this week because tomorrow we are leaving right after church and driving to Harpers Ferry.  We have wanted to explore this cute little town that sits close to where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together.  We drive past it often on our way to transfers and other meetings. It has a lot of Civil War history and the Appalachian Trail passes through it.  Our reason for going there, however, is that our good friend and recent convert, Sonja, has asked us to attend her citizenship ceremony there on Monday.  Sonja comes from Germany and has lived in the United States for 25 years, but has just recently completed the process to become a US citizen.  Should be interesting - and we can do a little sight-seeing as well.

For our Monday excursion this past week, we really wore ourselves out.  We drove up to Seneca Rocks
Seneca Rocks
National Park (went there last Fall, too).  In the visitor's center we watched an interesting film about how the rocks there were used as a training area for Army troops in the early 1940's.  It is still a popular rock-climbing area.  Then we hiked the trail up to the observation deck.  It was a pretty trail with lots of switchbacks.  Supposedly only 1.5 miles, but I know it was more than that...  There was a beautiful view from the top.  An amazing thing happened up on the observation deck - we started visiting with some other people that were there who commented on our LDS missionary
Restored cabin and garden  in Seneca Rocks National Park
name tags, they were LDS too.  After a little chatting we discovered that one of the young women was the daughter of the inactive man that Wayne has been visiting occasionally, trying to develop a trust and friendship.  Hillary, her husband, and baby were visiting from Salt Lake City.  She was very grateful that her prayers are being answered, her father is having positive contact with someone from the church.  It was so nice to meet her - what a "coincidence".

Crossing the Potomac River on the way to the hiking trail
Beautiful hiking trail

Awesome view from the top

Our new friends, Hillary, Nathan, and Casey M. from Salt Lake City
Closer view of Seneca Rocks, the observation platform is
just a little below the tree line near the center of the picture
After our hike, on our way back to Petersburg, we stopped in at Smoke Hole Caverns - another place we have been curious about.  A large section of the back woods near Petersburg is referred to as the Smoke Hole area, so named because Indians used to use some of the caves to smoke their meat and explorers saw the plumes of smoke rising from the caves.  Anyway, this particular cave was used by Indians,  later by Civil War soldiers for their wounded,  and also used for making moonshine!  The tour was a third of a mile walk in on a narrow path, sometimes up metal stairs.  We saw such interesting rock formations, an underground river and pond,  and learned a lot.  After the third of a
mile walk back out we were getting a little stiff and sore...  But it was a very fun and interesting day.

Moonshine still inside Smoke Hole Cavern

Underground river

Famous golden trout in an underground pond

Tuesday we had District Meeting, then drove up to John and Audrey's to read the Book of Mormon with them.  Their tiny home in the woods gets so hot, it was difficult to stay awake!  In the evening we helped with Bingo at the nursing home.  Wednesday we met with Becky H. to go over the temple prep class that she missed last Sunday.  She is so excited to have overcome a habit that was keeping her from the temple,  she is ready to go.  We hope to be able to take her soon.  In the evening Wayne went home teaching and I did genealogy and indexing with ward members.  Thursday we did a lot of visiting and I went to Relief Society in the evening.  We had a service auction - I traded genealogy work for peanut butter fudge!  Friday we helped some friends clean the church, then after we cleaned up we picked up Elder Farr and Elder Hall and spent the rest of the day and early evening visiting in the further out areas of our ward.  (it's the end of the month and they are completely out of miles on their mission car)  We had great visits and lessons with Jane H. and Woneda in Baker, Joy W. out in the woods near Wardensville, Connie S. near Mathias,  and Vada D. high up on a mountain top out towards the Virginia state line.  So nice to see these ladies, most are inactive (some due to health reasons) but have testimonies and love to see us.  In the middle of our visiting we had dinner with our Elders Quorum President and his wife and son,  they live in Lost City and had invited the Elders to meet them at a local diner for pizza. Since we were the chauffeurs for the day we went too and had a delicious chicken dinner.

Today (Saturday) we are picnic-ing.  We were invited to a lunch picnic in the park for some of our members' family reunion.  Great food and good to mingle with active and inactive ward members there.  Some of our favorite people, and they consider us family, too.  So nice.  Later today is our ward picnic at Welton Park. Wayne is pretty much in charge of it, so is kind of stressed with all the details, but it will be fun.  It's been pretty hot, but we just had a nice rain so I think it will be pleasant.

I had a nice conversation last Tuesday with my sister Judy on her birthday.  She and her husband are planning to come see us in September.  Yeah!!  Happy birthday on Friday to granddaughter Kendra Jayne. We have spent most of her previous birthdays with her, as the country sets off fireworks in her honor, so sad to be apart this year.   Our love to you all.  And yes, time does fly when you are having fun.  What greater fun could we be having than to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and testify of Him every day?      

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Upkeep for our trusty van!

Our poor tired van needed some upkeep this past week.  We put so many miles on it and often drive on rocky, rutted roads.  We had to replace the back two tires (already had replaced the other two) and got new brake pads or something to do with the brakes - yes, it's true, I don't listen too well when Wayne starts talking about our car, or any car...   And it was still leaking transmission fluid from a service several weeks ago, so that had to be fixed as well.  Of course it took two different appointments at two different locations, and more time than anticipated, but that's to be expected, right?  If only we could cut down on the amount of gas it uses.  It does get good gas mileage, but we drive it so much.  We are very grateful for its size, reliability, and dependability.

We also have done battle with bugs this week.  Earwigs, beetles, spiders, other crawly things.  Guess the bugs (or is it insects?) like the heat and humidity.  And obviously our apartment isn't airtight, 'cause they keep finding their way in.  Even found an earwig in our bed and one in my washcloth as I was taking a shower!

We taught several lessons this past week and visited quite a few of our shut-ins and less active ward members.  Wayne went home teaching several times and I went on a long visiting teaching route Friday. Today (Sunday) I picked up a handicapped investigator for church,  Wayne and I taught the temple preparation class, then Wayne taught the high priests' lesson.  We had the Parks over for dinner after church and worked on genealogy before taking them home.  Then Wayne met his HT partner and they visited a hard-to-see single lady (inactive because her ex-husband is in our ward...).  Then he drove to Moorefield to help his friend Johnny do his home teaching.  This next week will also include more home and visiting teaching visits as we try to encourage members here to go out, and have offered to assist them, if needed.

Wayne had a busy day Wednesday.  It was Transfer Day for our mission and two of our Petersburg
Elders Farr, Plumb, Bell, Rodrigues
missionaries were transferred.  Their companions wanted to go to the meeting also (3 hour drive to Columbia, near Baltimore) - one of them was called as our new District Leader and had a meeting after the transfer meeting - so our van had to transport Wayne, our four Elders, and all the luggage and bikes for two of them.  We could tell there wasn't enough room for me, so I had to stay behind with the whole day to myself and no car!  I didn't mind, and I think some of the other senior sisters that Wayne talked to at the meeting were a little envious.  I spent the day writing postcards to my grandchildren (and walking to the post office to mail them), reading, studying for temple prep and VT lessons, making handouts for visiting teaching, weeding my little flower beds, and doing apartment chores.  Wayne left at 6 am and got home about 4 pm.
Good-bye to Elder Plumb and Elder Bell
We sent off Elder Plumb (one of our very most favorite missionaries who has been here since February) and Elder Bell, both great young men. We welcomed to our District Elder Bronson, from Ogden, Utah, and Elder Hall, from Bancroft, Idaho.  We will come to love them too.  In the evening I did indexing with a couple other ladies, and Wayne went home teaching.

Loading up
Yesterday (Saturday) we made a couple visits in the Lahmansville and Mayfield areas.  One to our elderly
Beautiful West Virginia back roads
friend Irene, who gave me the African violet last fall.  She was happy to see us and had saved a newspaper clipping for us about whip-or-wills, we are hoping to hear them some night. She obviously had been anticipating and looking forward to our visit, she is lonely and we seem to be her only link to the church. Then we visited our new friend Mindy, the lady we ran into at the Food Pantry who hasn't had any contact with the church for many years.  She is raising three grandchildren and now wants the Elders to teach them, we are excited about that. We tried to find another lost member way out in the country.  Beautiful drive, and we did find what we think is her house, but no one home.  We saw a sign pointing to "Dolly Sods" a popular National Forest recreation area we have been
The road gets narrower
wanting to see, so we took off on a road that got progressively worse and worse, and went way further that we thought it would.  Nice view from the plateau on top, and several good hiking trails that we may explore later.  An adventure.

Narrow, curvy, muddy, and foggy!
Dolly Sods area

Hiking trail to a beautiful viewpoint on the edge of the plateau,
we will explore this some future day...
We did service at the nursing home, Wayne sang there Friday night, too.  We had our highs and lows,  good visits and ones that fell through.  We are frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm for home and visiting teaching and we excited about several individuals and couples that are preparing to go to the temple.  Missing home and family, but loving the work and the people here.  Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. Stay strong in your faith.  Keep the commandments and serve others.
I know you've heard this before, but I just love
these little white churches in the country.
This is the Davis Baptist Church outside of Maysville. 
Way out in the country, came upon a chicken house right by the road.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Blackwater Falls, Sunshine & Storms, Fireflies

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!  Our love goes out to our wonderful sons and sons-in-law, who are just the greatest dads there could be.  Wayne and I were each blessed with good, honest, hard-working fathers, who loved and served their families all their lives.  I was fortunate enough to marry a kind, patient, honorable man who turned in to a pretty amazing father himself.  To honor him, we had grilled steak and corn-on-the-cob for lunch today, with key lime pie for dessert - and then he got to take a nap!  What a nice day.

We have had a great week!  I'll begin back at Monday, our P-Day.  We headed out early in the morning
Mt. Storm Lake and Power Station 
to explore a place we had been wanting to visit - Blackwater Falls. It's about 45 miles northwest of Petersburg.  We drove past Mt. Storm Lake to get there, which is very interesting.  Mt. Storm Lake is a man-made 1200 acre lake in the Allegheny Mountains.  The water is used to circulate through and cool the large, coal-powered Mt. Storm Power Station, which produces electricity for Washington, DC. The water temperature in the lake seldom drops below 60 degrees and the lake is a popular recreation area for boaters, swimmers, and scuba divers! The power plant is huge and uses about 15,000 tons of coal per day, I believe. We also drove by one of the coal mines in the area,  the Mountain View Mine, owned by Mettiki Coal. There is a wind farm in this area too, with 132 wind turbines. I think they are beautiful.
Mt. Storm Lake
Coal Mining
Wind turbines
Then we got up to the Blackwater Falls area.  There is a nice wooden walkway down to the falls - it was fun going down, but coming back up was a little more difficult.  There were lots of walking paths in the surrounding area and other smaller falls that were pretty too.  We saw several deer, a large lodge and many cabins and camp sites, interesting birds, and lots of lush forests.  It was very beautiful and pretty quiet since it was a Monday.  We had lunch in the nearby tiny town of Davis, at a small deli.  Fun experience.
Blackwater Falls

View out the car window on our drive home
When we got home I did some chores, one was vacuuming out the van.  Then Wayne took our four Elders out to a service project of helping clean up an old house for a member's son who is coming home from the service.  They all worked hard, then were fed Kentucky Fried Chicken, then piled in the van to come home and got it very dirty...  

Tuesday we had Zone Training in Woodstock, Virginia, about 90 miles from here.  Part of the training
involved "real play" of contacting people on the street and striking up a conversation.  Several of us got to be the "real" people on the street.  Wayne and I were grumpy old folks, Wayne pretending to be a minister of another faith.  We do grumpy well evidently, guess we've been practicing for that one.  One of the missionaries really got into the moment, pretending to be a redneck fixing his car,  even had sound effects ... Hopefully it helped the missionaries develop their conversational skills.  Real play is usually not our favorite thing to do, but this made it fun.

Wednesday we picked up the Elders early again and drove to Wardensville, a small town about 45 miles east of Petersburg, to help our friend Will and his family load up a moving truck. They are moving to Baltimore.  Will is a large black man who recently played football for the Baltimore Ravens. When he stood by Wayne for a picture, Wayne said Will's arm on his shoulder felt like it weighed 50 pounds!  Will and his wife Jennifer have two very cute children, Roman and Clarissa.  We love them.  Will's mother, Sheila, also lives with them.  Sheila has been a member of our church for about 20 years.  Will and Jennifer joined about a year-and-a-half ago in Front Royal, just before they moved to Wardensville and into the Petersburg Ward.  Because of distance, lack of gas money, health problems of
little Clarissa, etc. they have only been to our ward a few times.  But we found them and visited them regularly, and helped them out when we could with transportation to appointments and once to the hospital with Clarissa.  We really like them and will miss them, but we hope the move is a good one for them.  Jennifer already has found a good job and they will be very close to a church building.

Will, Jennifer, Sheila, Roman, & Clarissa

Our work is done and two Elders try to get into
the same seat in the air conditioned Orton van...
When we got home from Wardensville we cleaned up and made a couple visits, then I went to the Family History Center and helped a couple with FamilySearch and Indexing.  Very fun two hours.  Wayne drove out in the country to visit a man who is not attending church because of hurt feelings many years ago.  Wayne visits him occasionally and just is a friend and listener.  (I encourage Wayne to go by himself when I am working on genealogy, because the one time I did go with him, he and Tim talked for two hours about hunting, fishing, motorcycles, and music....)

The rest of the week was normal.  Visits, lessons to prepare, errands to run, chores to do.  It would be hot and humid one minute, then pouring down rain the next.  We are grateful for good air-conditioning in our apartment and also for good umbrellas, which we don't always have with us at the right moment...  One highlight of the week for me was seeing fireflies (or lightening bugs) for the first time.  As we were driving home from a late appointment Thursday night the trees and bushes to the side of the road just sparkled - it was magical!  Last night we drove up to the park on the hill near us and just watched them in amazement. Don't know why we don't have them "out West".

I'll just say again - I don't know where the time is going!  How can it be the middle of June already?  We are keeping very busy and trying to do some good.  We are having fun, and I think we are growing younger instead of older....    Our love to you.