The combination of February being a short month and the snow keeping us off the roads several different times had us playing "catch up" this last week of the month. Monday it felt good to get out of the apartment. We left early and drove to Moorefield for breakfast at a little diner, then much-needed grocery shopping at Walmart. On the way home we stopped in to visit with George and Bonita at their business. We drove back home to put our groceries away, then left again for more visits. We drove out to Lahmansville to see our good friend Margarite, we had tried several times previously this month so it was nice to finally catch her home. Had a good visit & message, and she insisted we leave with a pecan pie from her freezer! We didn't protest too strongly. Next out past Maysville to see Darlene and her grandson Josh. Tuesday we stopped in to see Traci and help her with some paperwork that was confusing her. Then I met Wanda at the church for an afternoon of working on her genealogy. We sent a lot of names to the temple. She gave me a lovely friendship/thank you card that she had written in: Dear Sister Orton, You have been a great inspiration in my life. I sure needed someone at this difficult time. But I know my mother is in a much better place and I hope to get her work done in a year! I put all my trust in God to get me through my challenges. You are very special to me. Thanks! Love, Wanda I am enjoying working with her and the friendship that is growing between us. She talks about coming back to church, I think she is close...
Wednesday was a long day. We picked up the Elders at 6:15 am. Elder Briggs is getting transferred to another area, so we loaded up all his stuff and put his bike on our rack. It's a 3-hour drive to Columbia where the transfers take place. In the transfer meeting we got to hear testimonies of 27 returning missionaries and 2 couples, plus meet 12 missionaries new to the mission. Several of the returning Elders were ones that had served here in Petersburg, so it was fun to visit with them for a few minutes before they headed to the temple, then to their homes. We picked up our new Elder Sloan who is from Syracuse, Utah, and all his stuff and bike. On the way home we visited Deb in Wardensville, then drove way out in the country to see Joy and Forest. Our van couldn't make it up their snow-covered lane so we had to walk up, but it was worth it, they haven't been able to get out for weeks and were glad for the company and the message that Elder Aubrey shared. We got back in to Moorefield just in time for our dinner appointment at Sonja's. Good to see her and share her good food.
Thursday we picked up the Elders again, this time to drive 50+ miles out past Mathias for another lesson with Roger. He is great. Last week he bought himself a new suit for church, but our church was cancelled due to snow. So he found another ward to go to, in Harrisonburg. Dedication and Determination. The Plan of Salvation lesson went well. Wayne and I get to teach the next lesson on Monday, since the Elders have another appointment. That will be fun, he is so eager and receptive. After our lesson we visited a bit with Roger's mother Vada, then hurried down to Carol's home for a visiting teaching/home teaching appointment. The Elders had never been out to her lovely home and were glad for the opportunity to go with us. Then we stopped in at Janet and Johnny's in Moorefield, they have been sick and requested we stop and give them blessings. Friday we met with our ward mission leader then made six visits as we try to see everyone on our monthly visit list plus some ward members with special needs. Wayne had one last home teaching visit in the evening.
It's kind of confusing that we are in the Maryland Baltimore Mission, live in West Virginia, but are members of the Winchester Virginia Stake! This weekend was our stake conference. Our visiting authority was Elder Christoffel Golden of the Seventy. We have enjoyed our meetings with him. Yesterday we took a van-full of ward members 70 miles to Winchester to the priesthood leadership meeting in the afternoon and the adult meeting in the evening. While Oscar, Paul, Roscoe, and Wayne went to the leadership meeting, Crystal, Theresa, and I did indexing in the Stake Family History Center. Then we all went to the evening meeting. It was all great. We didn't get home until about 11 pm, then had to stay up and watch the BYU/Gonzaga basketball game! Yeah, Cougars!!! This morning the stake conference session was broadcast to our building. Elder Golden directed the stake president to call up quite a few members to bear their testimony (nice to sit comfortably in our own building and not worry about being "chosen"!). One of the ones called on was our friend Julie from Romney, we helped teach her and her husband last year and attended their baptism in October. She did great and seems very happy. We didn't have a very good attendance at church today, but among the group was a returning missionary couple who will be a great addition to the ward (I counted only 60 in attendance today, and this couple is related to 40 of them: two sons, one of whom is our current bishop, and their families, one brother and two sisters and their families, and assorted cousins and other relations - that's West Virginia for you!)
In our family, Happy Birthday this coming week to Cameron on Saturday and Julie on Sunday. And congratulations to Katelyn for being on the local TV news for efforts to bring unity and comfort to a rival high school suffering tragedy at this time. We are very proud of you.
We have enjoyed our discussions this month on the difference between having a testimony and being converted. I hadn't thought too much about it before but am trying to be more aware of how important true conversion is and what I need to do to truly have a change of heart.
"The Lord taught us that when we are truly converted to His gospel, our hearts will be turned from selfish concerns and turned toward service to lift others as they move upward to eternal life. To obtain that conversion, we can pray and work in faith to become the new creature made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ."