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.