Tuesday, July 29, 2014

For Elder Bronson's Family

I noticed that you are following the blog,  glad you enjoy it.  Elder Bronson is awesome.  So cute and polite, and always willing to help.  When asked to do something, he just jumps up and does it.  He is a good and well prepared teacher too, we enjoy it when he teaches the Gospel Principles class.   We are glad he is staying through another transfer.  Thought you might enjoy these pictures:

July 26, 2014 - Petersburg, West Virginia

Sunday, July 27, 2014

No Baptism, but otherwise a pretty good week

For our missionary Moms, a picture of our boys:

Have I mentioned before how beautiful West Virginia is??  I guess I have.  But we are even more amazed now that it is the end of July and we are seeing lovely roadside wildflowers, flowering bushes and trees in yards, and lush ferns and underbrush in the countryside.  It did seem to be getting a bit dry last week, but last night we had a spectacular lightning storm, then lots of rain.  Of course we went searching for someone today on muddy back roads ...
Flowers along the road
The view from our upstairs window - Mimosa trees, I think
Our front flower & squash bed
Other flower bed, plus cherry tomato plant
Very delicious cherry tomatoes
So the week went pretty well, except for our Romney baptism being postponed.  We were invited over to Janet & Johnny's for dinner (venison) and home evening, with Elder Farr & Elder Hall, on Monday.
Tuesday we had District Meeting in the morning.  After lunch we did apartment inspections,  visited our elderly, almost blind friend, Irene, out in the country, and also drove even farther to see Bonita and George, and Bonita's mother Darlene, on their lovely little farm.  We came back in to town and headed out the opposite direction several miles for our dinner appointment with some special friends, and back to Petersburg to help out at the nursing home for an hour of Bingo with the residents.
Wednesday we visited another elderly friend, Goldie.  We have become good friends with several inactive elderly women, and we are the only contact with the church they have.  We love them and they seem to look forward to our visits.  After seeing Goldie we drove up to Audrey and John's to read and discuss more in the Book of Mormon.  It's such a struggle for them to read that we don't know how much comprehension there is, but we try to simplify and explain. And they are trying so hard.  In the evening I worked at the church on genealogy (and provided a listening ear to ward members coming and going from activities and meetings). Wayne had the husband of our new Primary president come hang out at our apartment while his wife had a meeting, then he went home teaching.
Thursday we drove an hour up to Romney with Elder Farr and Elder Hall to visit with the Branch president up there about missionary work.  Back to Petersburg for another apartment and car inspection and a couple visits.  A few months ago with the help of an internet address locating program we found a lost ward member and have been visiting her occasionally, building a friendship.  This day we actually taught the first pamphlet lesson "The Restoration" to Kathy and it went so well.  She is remembering teachings of her youth and the testimony that has been in her all along.  Awesome experience.  (She also gave us cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers from her garden).  In the evening we volunteered at the nursing home again, then made crab salad to take to a dinner Friday night.
Friday - long day.  We were going to leave early on a little trip - but were surprised by a flat tire on our van!
A very nice apartment maintenance man went and got an air compressor and pumped it up so Wayne could drive it to the tire shop for repair.  It was a minor inconvenience that was quickly resolved and could have been much worse if it had gone flat later in the day...  Our main event for the day was a barbecue at 4 pm at the Mission Home in Ellicott City, on the outskirts of Baltimore (about 3 hours from Petersburg).  We left early enough to make one visit in nearby Wardensville, then visited the Civil War Battlefield, Antietam, on the way.  Wayne is very interested in all the Civil War history around here and had been wanting to see this area.  The visitor's center and car tour were really well done and instructive.  I found the reenactment film too graphic though and had to leave.  We learned a lot and took some beautiful pictures that I will add at the end of the blog. To understand them you should look up information about the 1862 Battle of Antietam, especially the Dunker Church, cornfields, Sunken Road (Bloody Lane), Burnside Bridge, and the Antietam National Cemetery (if you want to).
The barbecue was nice, our Mission President Mark Richards, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for us,  the senior couples brought salads and desserts.  We ate and sat around on their back deck visiting for quite a while.  Pleasant weather. Such great people, we love them all and are in awe of all they do.  Each missionary couple is having different experiences and finding their own ways to be of service.  And our Mission President and his wife are just amazing, so dedicated, talented, loving, and hard working.

Saturday we had a meeting in the morning with our Ward Mission Leader and our four Elders.  Then we
Traci, Robin, Mom & Dad Orton
made a couple visits - encouraging  families to come to church on Sunday.  We went to a little birthday party for our friend Robin, at her neighbor Traci's apartment,  Both of these ladies are very special to us and have needed our love and encouragement.  They are slowly being accepted by the ward and feeling comfortable in church. They have started attending an addiction recovery class, and Traci has another friend taking the missionary lessons (Traci calls us "Mom" and "Dad").  In the evening we worked on indexing, made up the ward bulletin, made phone calls, and worked on talks that we thought we might need on Sunday.  
We traveled back up to Romney to attend church today and sure enough were called on to speak.  (thanks, Dylan, for the "close the gate" idea, they loved it)  There were three stake visitors, Wayne & I, and 13 members of the little branch in attendance.  Pretty fun.  Our investigators did not show up and had previously decided to postpone their baptism, but we are very hopeful that it will eventually take place.  The Mission President has decided to put missionaries back up there and one of ours, Elder Farr, will be transferred there next Wednesday!  Still in our district so we will get to see him weekly - he is one of our very favorites.  He will make a big difference up there and already knows and loves Jim and Julie...   After church we drove around for a while trying to find Woneda, who had left the nursing home to live with her son, she didn't know his address, and their phone had been disconnected.  Eventually we found them, due to a few clues, Wayne's amazing locating instincts, plus prayer and guidance of the Spirit.  She was so glad to see us, we told her we would always track her down.   Then we visited Jane and came on back to Petersburg, tired and hungry. Looking forward to a relaxing Preparation Day tomorrow, then back to Baltimore Wednesday for transfers and to the Temple on Saturday.  Busy, happy, healthy, and so blessed.  Love to all.
Now for the Antietam pictures:
My favorite picture
Visitor's Center

Dunker Church

Interior of Dunker Church

Rail fences and cornfield

Sunken Road (Bloody Lane), picture taken from observation tower

Front and back side of interesting old house.

Burnside Bridge over Antietam Creek, pivotal in Battle
Interesting old stone fence

Antietam National Cemetery

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Family Gathers Without Us....

So sad to have our family gathering in Boise without us this past weekend - but a happy thought too, knowing that they were getting together, having fun, strengthening family bonds.  The Acors couldn't make it, neither could Elder Dallin,  but still there were 10 adults and 18 children & teens.   They had a hot dog roast Friday night and Skyped us so we could talk to each one for a minute, went to a water park Saturday, and on Sunday went to church together, had lunch at Devin & Amie's, and had a Family Home Evening.   They sent us an amazing audio recording of five of our children (plus Patrick) at their FHE telling what they think it means to be an Orton.  We were very emotional seeing their pictures and hearing their voices, and telling stories of growing up and lessons learned.  It's been almost a year since we've seen most of them - we miss them so much, but are very proud of them and appreciate their love and support - and their great examples for us.
Boise, Idaho - 20 July 2014
Wayne & Janie Orton family, minus Wayne & Janie, the Acors, and Elder Dallin
So, in order to keep our minds off the fun family stuff back home, we were blessed with a very busy week
Elder Rodrigues with Jim & Julie
here in West Virginia.  We drove two of our Elders (Farr & Hall) quite a ways several times to teach a wonderful couple that live in an area that doesn't currently have missionaries.  This couple, Jim and Julie, have studied about the LDS church and attended the small branch of the church nearest them on their own a couple times already. They love the principles and doctrine that they have learned so far and are anxious for baptism.  It's been a very special experience to get to know them and feel the Spirit during their lessons.  As an added bonus Julie is a great cook and insists on feeding us when we travel there.  Yesterday we took our District Leader, Elder Rodrigues, up there so he could do his very first baptismal interview.

On Monday also took the Elders out to Lost City for a service project for our Elders Quorum president who
Elder Farr, Hunter, Elder Hall
has been suffering with back problems.  They feed us also, and our meal included waffles (one of my favorite things) and, for the very first time, scrapple!  We moved rocks and trash for them, watched their fish, played with their bird and dogs, the Elders did laundry and played with their 11-year-old son Hunter, then did a Home Evening lesson with them.  They are a great little family, the mom Leslie has only been a member for a couple years.  They love the influence that the Elders are on Hunter.

Kelly & Leslie
Koi Pond
Beautiful dog, Valentine
Elder Orton trying to make friends with the cockatiel
We also took our four Elders to a Zone Meeting in Woodstock,  where some of the training was done by a member of our stake presidency - the author, Jason F. Wright.  He is a gifted speaker and teacher, too.  We made several visits, Wayne fixed a member's lawn mower, I helped members with genealogy and took a friend to several appointments.  Wayne went home teaching a couple times and sang at the nursing home on Friday night.  On Sunday I picked up Samantha and Jacob for church again and got to teach Relief Society again too. Wayne taught priesthood. Several of the less actives that we visited last week came to church, that's just awesome.  After church we had two of our favorite couples over for Sunday dinner.  I had baked chicken that someone had given us,  and made "Aunt Irene's Zucchini Casserole" with squash and onions that someone else had given us.  Such generous members here who spoil us!  Then Audrey and I worked on genealogy while Wayne and John visited a gentleman who has lots of health problems - Al really appreciated them coming to see him.   We finished that up and drove back to Capon Bridge for another visit with our investigators.  Long day.

Today is our preparation day - we did laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, caught up with financial stuff and journal writing,  etc.  At 5 pm we picked up two Elders and drove to Moorefield for dinner and home evening with Johnny and Janet.  We even got Johnny to sing a few songs before we headed back.  Nice day, but hot and humid again.  So glad we have air-conditioning in our apartment and car.

See - we kept busy enough that I was only tempted a little bit to get on an airplane and fly to Boise for the weekend.   We felt very productive and useful here, and had some special spiritual experiences.  What a joy it is to serve a mission (and difficult and exhausting, at times).  Our love to all.

Our friend Martha, in a nursing home in Franklin
Beautiful doe with two fawns by the side of the road   

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Thunderstorms, Supermoon, Teaching the Gospel

Just another busy week for us, as we enjoy our life here in beautiful West Virginia.  We did appreciate our day of rest and relaxation on Monday.  Other than an hour working at the Food Pantry the day was pretty quiet - and we needed that.  Tuesday was District Meeting in the morning.  My assignment was to give training from the "White Handbook".  I based my training around one little sentence,  "Maintain your health so that you can serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength."   We discussed health habits, especially good eating habits, I know I sounded like a Mom!  Oh well, I know that too many hot dogs and too much pop sometimes makes them sluggish, so we talked about it.  Probably didn't do any good, but I tried...  Of course, the next day we took our friend Traci with us when we went up to the Parks for a lesson, and Audrey had barbecued hot dogs for us for lunch!  I didn't tell the Elders!   We had a good time and our recent convert Audrey gave Traci a good lesson and bore her testimony to her about the importance of paying tithing, something Traci is struggling with right now.  On our way back from Parks I dropped Wayne off in Moorefield to meet his home teaching companion and they made some visits.  I took Traci home, then went to the church to work on genealogy with Becky.

We helped at the nursing home with Bingo on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and at the Food Pantry in the afternoons for a bit on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We were blessed Friday to find another lost ward member, and Wayne and his HT companion found one in their visits too.  We keep plugging away at that lengthy list of the lost and forgotten.  Then miracles happen and we are just in the right spot at the right time to find these good people.  Thursday afternoon we drove to the small town of Franklin, it's out of our ward boundaries (out of our stake and mission, too, I think) to meet a resident at the nursing home there. Martha has daughters in our ward, so when she had to go into the nursing home they kept her records in our ward, even though technically she lives out of the ward.  She is a lovely lady and enjoyed our visit,  we enjoyed meeting her, hearing her stories, and admiring her room and family pictures, too.  On the way home we got caught in a storm,  lots of rain, which we needed.  It cooled things off nicely for a while.

Friday afternoon we worked at the Food Pantry with Elder Farr and Elder Hall, then took them visiting in Wardensville, Baker, and Mathias.  Such nice people, fun for us to see them.  All are our good friends now. We had a dinner appointment with Joy and family, way out in the woods.  She spoiled us with roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh green beans from her garden, hot rolls, pasta salad, and pie.  It was delicious,  the Elders stuffed themselves - and she sent home leftovers with all of us.  So sweet.  We continued on visiting and were just heading back towards Petersburg when the beautiful Super Moon showed up on the horizon - it was amazing.  Beautiful end to a nice, but tiring day.

Yesterday we were adopted into another family for their family reunion picnic.  We love that.  Great food, and a nice visit with a less-active ward member plus the opportunity to meet her family.  We also had another ward member drop by our apartment with a box of fresh vegetables from their amazing garden for us. They generously gave us tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers.  I made zucchini bread last night, it smelled and tasted so good.   Another lovely lady brings us fresh eggs most Sundays - 2 dozen today!

Today Wayne left at 7:30 am with Elder Farr and Elder Hall to visit Romney, a small town about 45 miles from here.  They have a small branch of the church there but no missionaries and we had been told that there was a couple wanting to learn about our church and they had shown up at Church there last Sunday.  Wayne and the Elders met this nice couple and taught them the first missionary lesson, they are so eager to learn and already feel that this is the church for them!  I guess it was a pretty special experience.  Wayne and I and the two Elders are going up there Thursday night for dinner and another lesson with them.  I am excited to meet them.  Today I stayed here in Petersburg so I could pick up Samantha and Jacob, who were eager to attend church again.  I also went to Ward Council and had to teach Relief Society,  I really do enjoy that.  We are having trouble figuring out how to be in two places at once, so we did have to split up for the day.  We will get to be together to go to the Bishop's house for dinner tonight though, and his wife Lucy promised ribs and watermelon.   Yes, we are spoiled here.  We have another dinner invitation for tomorrow night, but have to work for it. We are taking all four elders way out to Lost City for a service project, with the promised dinner afterward.  I don't  like to give up my P-Day, but our Elders Quorum president is having back problems and really does need the help...

So that's our week, it's been a pretty good one.  And we would love to hear about yours.  We are so grateful for our good health and energy.  We are still trying to get out each morning for a walk as we begin the day.  And by the end of the day sometimes the stairs in our little apartment seem daunting - but we can do it!  We love seeing the Lord's hand in our days, how He often has a different plan than we do, but His is always better!  We try to listen...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Picnics, Harpers Ferry, 4th of July

Before I start our blog/journal for the week, I am posting a few pictures of our Petersburg missionaries - for their Moms who follow our blog and need to see their happy faces....
4th of July picnic at Bishop Kimble's
Elders Farr, Hall, Rodrigues, Bronson plus friend Oscar

Elder Farr
Elder Hall
Elder Rodrigues
Elder Bronson
These awesome missionaries are working hard, but they did get to play a little this past week too.
The families of these young men should be very proud of them,  we love them.

So our week was a little different than usual, we still had studies, did paperwork, made visits and taught lessons, but we also went to a couple of picnics: several  families in the ward adopted us and invited us to their family reunion picnic, then we had a very successful ward picnic on June 28th.  I took a lot of pictures of ward members for our friend Jane who can't come out in public because of immune system problems, I'll include a few for you, so you can get to know our good friends.  We had a fun trip to Harpers Ferry for Sonja's Naturalization Ceremony, had interviews with our Mission President followed by a District Meeting in Woodstock on Tuesday,  and on Friday we went to a 4th of July parade (consisting of trucks, cars, tractors, emergency vehicles, royalty of all ages, and at the end one marching band followed by six horses!), car show, concert, barbecue, Wayne sang a patriotic program at the nursing home, and we watched the local fireworks - which were great. During the week we also got groceries for a family in need, picked beans, onions, squash, and a tomato with Wayne's good friend Dave who insists we share his garden (he says it grows better because Elder Orton helps with it!).  Today we took a couple kids to church with us - Samantha, age 12, and Jacob, age 8.  Really nice kids who live with their grandmother. She joined the church 20 years ago, then quit coming. We recognized her name from the ward directory when she came in to the Food Pantry on a day that we were working there and we got acquainted.  She expressed a desire to come back to church and really wants her grandchildren to be taught.  They have had no experience with any church at all in their lives. The missionaries have taught them a couple lessons so far, they have begun to say their prayers, and today they went to church for the first time (their grandmother had to work).  They seemed to enjoy it and knew a few people there,  they want to go back next week! Some other people said they were coming today but didn't show up -  so we had our ups and downs.

The weather was very hot and humid for several days, but yesterday and today have been quite pleasant.  I think the temperature is going back up again though.  We miss La Grande where the nights were usually so cool.  We continue to do battle with the bugs.  Wayne had had some nasty bites, and for a while the small black beetles were winning, but we found a problem area and I think we have gained the upper hand.  Ugh! But we do love seeing the lightning bugs outside in the evening - that's a treat.

That's our week, let's hear about yours....    I will end this blog with dozens of pictures which you may or may not want to see.  They are special to us.  First a local family reunion picnic and our ward picnic.
Theresa and Roscoe with Roscoe's aunt Doris
Linda and Richard (Bill)

Elders playing Corn Hole
Sherrie and Calli
Good friend and neighbor, Becky

Leslie holding Ariann's baby Carter

Traci (newly activated) with
neighbor Eston (taking the lessons)
Lucy and Melanie
Bonita and her mother Darlene

Jeanie with granddaughter Kylie & friend Aria
Bishop Kimble with his uncle Richard

Where Wayne spent a lot of his
afternoon "fellowshipping"
Johnny & Elder Farr
What's a picnic with a bluegrass jam session?

Next our trip to Harpers Ferry, about two hours from Petersburg.  It's a cute little historic village.  Restored buildings and museums, colonial and Civil War history (site of John Brown's battle),  the Appalachian Trail passes right through it, and the site of a Naturalization Ceremony we attended.
John Brown's Fort - Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Shenandoah River
General Store
Colonial Hotel
Hand carved stone steps leading up to the church
St. Peter's Catholic  Church - built by Irish immigrants in the mid-1800's
Stone ruins of St. John's Episcopal Church, built in 1840's
Elder Orton taking a rest along the Appalachian Trail
Jefferson Rock
A 64-year-old man who was hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
He was going to take a rest day in Harpers Ferry (and a much needed shower).


Such a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail.

Local Musuem

More of the Shenandoah River
On Monday afternoon, June 30, we were privileged to accompany our friend (and recent convert) Sonja and her son, daughter, and daughter's boyfriend to Sonja's Naturalization Ceremony.  Such a beautiful setting in a tent on the bank of the river.  The ceremony was for 28 applicants from 19 different countries to take the oath of allegiance and become naturalized US citizens.  The program began with a string quartet, and included the national anthem, the oath, congratulations video from President Obama, an actor portraying Abraham Lincoln giving a little talk and reciting the Gettysburg Address, all of us reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,  presentation of certificates, and a little reception.  It was awesome, very patriotic.

4th of July Parade in Petersburg

Ward member Rodney with his Camaro

Jimmy & his Corvette

Oscar and his Toyota Supra

Johnny and his band, The Country Boys
Whew - You made it to the end.  Sorry about that, but we just love each picture and want to remember these experiences we are having.  We are working hard, just don't have pictures of the meetings, driving, visiting, helping, worrying, praying, studying, etc.  We try to be where the Lord needs us to be and we are being blessed continually.  Our love to you.    Happy 15th Birthday to Kristen next Sunday - we love you. Let us know what new and delicious gluten-free foods you are discovering, poor girl!