Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fun, Full Week with a few surprises...

Time is drawing short - guess we'd better think about packing.  We have tried not to think about it and just planned to leave this next week open to sort, pack, clean, and tend to so many details and so much paper-work.  Well, I can see already that plan is not working - dinner invitations, meetings, other commitments are creeping in on every day - guess we will just cut out sleep...  One of those things popping up is that we need to get the van serviced again!  We started out our mission with 42,000 miles on our trusty vehicle, last week we turned over 100,000!  Fingers crossed it continues to plug along for us.

We had a lovely dinner Sunday night with the Shreve's, quite a ways out of town.  We watched deer amble
past their road and enjoyed getting to visit with their two Utah children plus their daughter-in-law, Ashley and her four bright, active children who live next door.
Monday my Preparation Day was mostly spent Visiting Teaching and introducing my VT partner to some good people that I am hoping she will take it upon herself to visit after we leave.  Tuesday we took our Elders to Zone Meeting in Front Royal, had a good visit with the senior couple assigned there and helped them with lunch for the 20 or so Elders and Sisters in our Zone.  Wednesday was funny - the activity director at the nursing home where we volunteer had asked us to come up and help with a special session of Bingo Wednesday afternoon, so we did.  Only they 
tricked us - it wasn't for Bingo it was a going-away party for us!  Big beautiful cake with ice cream, and the residents that we have worked with were so pleased to be in on the surprise.  A little awkward, but sweet.
Wayne's special friends at the nursing home

Thursday we visited the Shirks, a family who live in a humble little cabin up in the mountains (Smoke Holes). They are shy and it took a while for them to warm up to us, but now we are good friends.  At Christmas
when we made our visits with a message and a song, they really liked Wayne's singing.  We have invited them to ward activities since then when he has been singing, but they don't like crowds so haven't come. He has been telling them that he would come up to their home and give them a private concert, so Thursday he did. He set up his karaoke machine and amp on their porch, they sat in the yard and he serenaded them.  They loved it!  They invited us to stay for lunch with them - which is a very big deal for them, we really appreciated it and it was delicious. Sweet people.

Friday and Saturday were awesome days.  We drove to the Washington DC Temple, spent 3 hours watching Chloe, an 8-year-old whose grandparents  (who she lives with) and aunt were in the temple.  She is a character and we had fun walking around the temple, spending time in the Visitor's Center, and watching a movie in our van.  When her grandpa came out of the temple we were able to go in and did a sealing session, with names provided by ward members.  We ate at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant then stayed at a nice Marriott Hotel in Bethesda.   Saturday we attending the temple marriage of Mariah (a BYU-Idaho student, we taught her the temple prep class this summer, Chloe's aunt) and Evan (also a BYU-I student, from Oregon).  They are such a cute couple, we love Mariah and her family, it was nice to be included in their special day.  We drove back to Winchester, VA, for a little shopping then the wedding reception, then hurried back to Petersburg where our friend Traci had a going-away dinner for us - she is so sad we are leaving, we have loved her back into the church, she calls us "mom" and "dad".  THEN we went to the church for the very best part of an awesome weekend - a BAPTISM.  Our girl Lisa whom Sonja and I got to teach was baptized by Wayne.  It was a nice service, I spoke on baptism,  Sonja spoke on the Holy Ghost.  So excited for Lisa and her family,  Dad has been reactivated, Mom was baptized last month, and now Lisa.  They are loving activity in the church and their new faith and new ward family.  They are very well accepted in the ward. After the service we had refreshments of leftover food from the wedding reception and donuts that we had picked up in Winchester from Dunkin' Donuts, quite a novelty for around here.  We could tell we have been in Petersburg too long when we were impressed by such things as a donut shop, a mall, chain restaurants, an actual bookstore (where we purchased a couple books on CD for our long drive next week), and my personal favorite - a USA Today newspaper!  

To pass the driving time one of the things we did was list all fifty states and look for license plates to match. Actually we could only name 49, had to check when we got home - Minnesota was our missing one!  In just two days we saw plates from 20 different states.  That's excitement for us!  

In the next week we have dinner appointments every night, we are so blessed by the good people here.  And a big ward going-away party for us Friday night.  Saturday we get to take Sonja through the temple for her first time - what a perfect way to end our mission.  Sunday after church we begin our drive west, with a day stop in Arkansas to see my sister and a day stop in Lehi, Utah to see Karli and family.  Hope to visit Darin & family at their new home in Logan on the way home and maybe catch up with Angie and family too.  On to our new home in Boise, with our children Dylan, Devin, and Julie and their families close!  We will get to spend two precious weeks with the Thuesons (Julie's family) before they head to China for a year - what an adventure for them.  So that's our funny, hectic, amazing, miracle-filled mission life!  Maybe we had better get packing....


Mariah and Evan

Picturesque farm we saw on the drive to Winchester, VA

Okay, we'll take this one...

Mariah and Evan at their reception

Happy Birthday Robin!

Traci doesn't have much, but she generously made us dinner and cake

Elder Orton with Lisa on her baptism day - 25 July 2015

Sonja, Lisa, Sister Orton

Elder Saunders, Erik, Lisa, Mark, Katja, Sarah, Dwayne, Elder Nicholes

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Only two weeks to go! How can that be?

Irene K - almost blind, but keeps her house & yard neat and tidy
How can we only have two weeks left in this wonderful place?  So sad to visit some of our regulars and know that we probably won't ever see them again... We made quite a few visits last week and took a few pictures of shy folks that we haven't been able to capture in a photo before.  We did service at the nursing home and Wayne sang Friday evening for his final performance there, they will sure miss him.  Sonja and I taught a couple more lessons to our 12-year-old investigator, Lisa B.  She had her interview with our District Leader and he felt that she needed another week of preparation, so her baptism is scheduled for July 25th.  Wayne went to a wood-cutting service project Saturday morning,too.  It was a busy week.  Rain showers, heat, and humidity continue.  
Harold - we are the only contact he has
had with the church in years...
Kathy - close to coming back to church

Thoughtful ward members are inviting us to dinner more frequently as our time here grows shorter.  Steve and Linda K. had us over for a "home-grown" dinner.  They have quite a garden and orchard, we enjoyed beets, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cabbage, plus a delicious cherry pie.  

Friday we had a meeting in the morning with our ward mission leader Oscar who is from Puerto Rico.  After the meeting he invited us and the two Elders over to his apartment for lunch that his father had prepared for us.  Puerto Rican rice and pork that was so good, a good cucumber and onion salad, and for dessert he had made a cherry cheesecake!  Good to visit with Oscar's parents, they are not members but very supportive of his choices.

Saturday after the service project we took the Elders out to Jack and Deb's country home for a barbecue with some of their family. Deb had made our favorite pineapple-upside-down cake, too. Such good people, wish we could get them to church. Tonight another dinner invitation, the Elders are grateful we are going and driving them, it's about 15 miles from Petersburg. So fun to be in member's homes, we feel loved and appreciated, we will miss our good West Virginian friends.
Ward wood-cutting project, July 18, 2015

Just tryin' to keep cool

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Time Flies - July 5-12, 2015

As it grows closer to the end of our mission the time seems to fly by faster, we are busier, and often very tired at the end of each long day...   

Monday we got up early and drove to Keyser, West Virginia, a small town about 35 miles from Petersburg.  I say "small town" but it is bigger and nicer than Petersburg.  The draw for us was a Denny's restaurant where we went for breakfast (so good) and a much nicer Wal-Mart where we did our shopping for the week.  Also picked up a few items of clothing at a department store called "Pebbles".  It was a beautiful drive there, but on the way back we went through a major storm.  They happen frequently around here, sudden quick storms.  Keeps everything green and beautiful, also very humid.  Also Monday we
worked at the Food Pantry and went to a Family Home Evening group.  It was Wayne's turn to do the lesson.  He had us sing four or five Primary songs as he accompanied on his guitar, then we talked about the doctrine and lessons we could learn from each song. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  We took our frequent passenger JoAnn - she was a "lost sheep" we found recently and has attended faithfully since, as long as we give her a ride.  She is sweet and made me a necklace and earrings in appreciation of the times we travel the four miles out to pick her up for church and activities.   
Necklace & earrings JoAnn made for me

JoAnn, under the rainbow

Doe and fawns we saw on the way home from FHE, close to our apartment complex
Tuesday we had to make another trip to Berryville, this time for personal interviews with our new mission president.  We enjoyed sitting down and chatting with him, he is a bit overwhelmed, poor guy!  And we probably won't see him again before we leave.  We got home just in time for me to help out at the nursing home and Wayne to go on visits with the HP group leader.  Wednesday we helped at the Food Pantry again then drove up to see our friends John and Audrey.  They fixed a nice barbecue lunch for us.  Then back to
the church to help with genealogy.  Thursday I helped Wanda W. with her genealogy all afternoon, then we helped out at the nursing home. As soon as we were done there we drove 12 miles to Moorefield, picked up Sonja (ward missionary), and went up to the home of Katja (new member), Dwayne, and family.  While Wayne taught a new member lesson to Katja,  Sonja and I taught their 12-year-old daughter Lisa.  She is preparing for baptism and is doing so well.  We got home late.

Friday was our last day at the Food Pantry and I turned our key in to our coordinator when we were finished.  She cried.  It's been fun, but time to let the ward take it back over. We made several good visits then headed out of town, first to visit Carol, way up in the hills, then on to Wardensville (42 miles) for our last visit with good friends Deb and Larry F (she is inactive, he is not a member, but they are awesome).  They took us to a car race several months ago, this time we took them out to dinner at a cute little restaurant in Wardensville. We had a good time, but got home late again.

Saturday, busy day.  Wayne left early for a ward service project - helping a young couple move.  Then we had our ward lawn party/potluck picnic at the church.  It went very well.  The weather was good (no rain) and we had close to 70 people attend.  Several less-actives and non-members.  The food and the music were great.  Funny thing happened.  Sonja and I had taught four lessons to Lisa and asked her to pray about baptism.  At the picnic I asked her what she thought about it, she said she was ready and wanted to be baptized, she asked if she could be today (Sunday)!  We said she had to have a few more lessons, and a baptismal interview, but it is now all set up for next Saturday night, the 18th.  We are excited...

Today Wayne and I had to speak in church.  Glad to have that over with.  Sonja and I taught another lesson to Lisa.  We finally got an appointment set up for Sonja with the Stake President for her temple recommend interview (we had been trying for a couple weeks).  Only problem was that it had to be at his home, in the country outside the small town of Huntly, Virginia - about 80 miles from here.  We had told Sonja we would take her, so we spent the afternoon on a lovely drive.  It was beautiful and his house and acreage were so pretty.  Now we can try to arrange a trip to the temple with Sonja, hopefully on August 1st, the day before we leave for home.  If all goes according to plan (ha) we will have a baptism next week, the following week go to the temple with Mariah (BYU-I student home on break) for her first time and for her marriage, then her reception.  Then back to the temple with Sonja the next week.  What a great way to end our mission... (Now if the bugs would quit eating on Wayne we'd be all right)

Our topic for our talks today was "Covenants and Ordinances" - I told a story about our dog, Cooter, Wayne talked about Katelyn's trip to Disneyland.  How do you think those stories fit in?  The Petersburg Ward knows a bit about our family...
President Boyd K. Packer once said, “Keep your covenants and you will be safe.  Break them and you will not.”

Some pesky West Virginia bugs find Elder Orton quite tasty.
Sister Orton evidently is not so sweet and is not bothered...

8-year-old Chloe made Elder Orton this bracelet

Ward Service project

Ward Picnic, 11 Jun 2015

Stake President Randall Bartlett's lovely home near Huntly, VA

Interesting rock wall