Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Christmas day, after a leisurly, lovely morning of gift opening and some phone calls with our family we enjoyed a Christmas dinner at the home of Elmer and Sue Hodge and their entire family of married sons and daughters and grandchildren. It was a very enjoyable time and wonderful food! They are so nice to us!

This is a view toward the Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge in the background as the morning sun's rays first begin to hit the mountains. I get to walk along through this lovely setting Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday when I walk our little road before our day of missionary work begins. Pretty nice, huh?

Each year on our mother Elsie Chapman's birthday, Dec 23, we give a close friend of mother's a bouquet of flowers as a way of honoring our mother's memory. This Dec 23rd it seemed appropriate for me to surprise my dear wife Linda with this Poinsetia plant in mother's honor. She was truly surprised and very, very appreciative! They did truly love and care for one another over many years.

Linda got her wish of another White Christmas! It was a blessed day for us with so many thoughful, beautiful gifts, cards, pictures and expressions of love from our dear friends and family!
We were invited to the home of Evelyn and Buck Deel in Blue Ridge for Christmas Eve dinner. We took Elder's Fullmer and Liddiard with us. For some reason I failed to take any pictures.
I got us stuck in the snow on the narrow road as we returned home, but with the help of the elder's we got ourselves safely out of the ditch and back on the road with no damage.

Bedford calls itself "The Christmas Capitol of Virginia." We are not yet sure why, but one possible reason is the expansive lighting that takes place each season at the National Elk's Home. They do put on a great array of lighting and Christmas displays on their large grounds and buildings. The public is invited to motor slowing through the interior roadway to view the lights. No stopping or foot traffic is permitted. It is a nice effort by these senior residents of the Elk's Home. We took a number of pictures the evening we drove through the property.

On Monday, Dec 21, we had the opportunity of assisting Branch member, Danny Laprade and his wife Kathryn and her three grandchildren with Christmas giftgiving at the Woodhaven nursing home in Blue Ridge, located some 17 miles west of Bedford on the Salem/Lynchburg Turnpike (US 460). This was a very nice experience. Kathryn and the grandchildren had made soap dishes and other small homemade items for each of the residents of the nursing home. When we finished visiting with each one and providing them with these little Christmas items we ended up walking through the halls and open living area singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." You could tell these aged residents enjoyed seeing the children, especially.

As Sunday, Dec 20, dauned with clearing sky and bright sunshine we had a cleared driveway and our road was now passable to the US highway 221 that leads back into town, but we found the going still very slippery and hazardous on all the surface streets in Bedford. We were happy to stay snugged in at our warm and comfortable home and enjoy a quiet Sabbath, reading, sharing Christmas stories and programs on the TV.

Saturday afternoon, our good neighbor at the end of the lane, Dave Schutte, plowed out the snow-covered road to the main highway and then came back and plowed sufficient snow off our driveway to make it possible for us to get our car out and later make a trip to the grocery store and to the post office.

This is Mr. Schutte, using his tractor and scraper to clear the area in front of our garage. What a nice guy!

Saturday, Dec 19, we woke to a continuing storm with snow coming down all through the day. It was beautiful! It brought everything to a stop however, with schools and churches and other community holiday events forced to cancel as roads became inpassable and residents were snowed in. Our Mission President and his wife had been planning to come to Bedford Saturday to speak at a Branch Christmas Fireside and to be with us at Church the following morning. They ended up snowed in at their hotel in Salem. Our Church activities and meetings were all canceled for the weekend. The church parking lot and driveway was blanketed in snow.
This is a view to the north from our front porch Saturday morning!

This is our view from our kitchen storm door, looking across the yard to the south as the heaviest snow storm to hit Virginia in many a year, first began making itself felt in the mid-afternoon of Dec 18. Before it was over, 14 inches and more of snow on the level was recorded throughout this region of Appalachia. The intensity of the storm increased as it moved toward Washington DC and the eastern seaboard.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I am a skygazer. There is no doubt about it! This is another early December morning, looking east as the Sun is just breaking over the horizon. This is the view from the veranda at our residence on Hopes Way in Bedford.

A couple of weeks ago the young elders and I drove over to Thaxton to help a family from Roanoke move into their new residence. We had the address but none of us had ever been on this particular part of Thaxton before. It had been raining pretty steady for two days. Elder Fullmer had the map and was directing us from one county road to another. Finally, we ended up here on the banks of a stream that had completely flooded over the roadway. We had to back around and find an alternate route in to where this family was located. We did finally get there, although we were a little late. The elder's worked hard and we had the help of three other members of the Branch and we soon had the big U-Haul truck unloaded and things placed down mostly in the rooms where they were supposed to go. This family makes a big addition to our Branch with 7 children and one more on the way. The branch members will need to help this mother with her children because the father is in the US Army and he is being sent overseas in January. They have been to all their meetings since they moved here. They are a very nice family.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Three days a week I take an early morning walk along the little road that provides access to our residence and to the other two homes on Hopes Way.

This is a view to the north, looking toward David and Betty Schutte's home at the end of the lane. To the north and west is the beautiful Blue Ridge. It is a clear, cold morning. You can just see the low hanging ground fog beyond the home which burns off as the sun rises.

This is the scene that greets us each morning from our bedroom window as we look east toward the sunrise. The trees, now bare of leaves as winter approaches, make lace-like patterns against the dawning light.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We drove out to a nearby tree farm and purchased a small blue spruce. Dan Young, the owner of the tree farm, escorted us out among his trees and let us pick one that was still growing, so we know it is fresh!

We found a tree stand at the local Goodwill store that still had the orignial wrapping and advertizement on it and got it for half what we would have paid at the nearby Wal mart. It didn't take long before we had it up and on display in the living room of our residence on Hopes Way.

Several months ago, we went out to a yard sale in Montvale, about 12 miles west of Bedford and bought all the Hallmark christmas ornaments the lady had available. She had actually put things away and was closing up shop when we arrived, but graciously brought out her christmas ornaments for us to look at. They were all still in their original little boxes and in excellent shape. So, although we didn't bring any of our christmas decorations with us we have been most fortunate to have found some at a minimal cost.

Christmas is coming!

This picture was taken as we ended our recent Zone Conference, held at the Roanoke Virginia Stake Center in Salem, Virginia. The only missionary missing from this photo is Sister Linda Chapman.
It was a very fine conference with excellent presentations from the Zone Leaders and from the two Assistants to the President, and of course from our dear President and Sister Thornock (they were taking the pictures).

Monday, November 30, 2009

This is Lillian Grace Tomlinson, 10 yrs old, with her dear friend, fellowshipper and mentor in the gospel, Sister Mabel Adams. This picture was taken right after her baptism this past Sunday, Nov 29 here the Bedford Branch chapel.

It was a very special baptismal service, one we will always remember because it was our privilage to teach Lilly the missionary lessons in her home where she resides with her uncle and aunt, Paige and Jackie Tomlinson and their family of 5 children. Each time we taught a lesson, Sister Adams would come 32 miles round-trip from her farm east of Bedford to be present at the lessons. She would bring hot cinamin rolls or some other special treat. She is such a kind and loving friend to each member of this Tomlinson family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The season of Thanksgiving is upon us with all of its fond memories and reminders of how very blessed we are to be citizens of this United States of America and to enjoy such freedoms and opportunities, denied to so many of our fellowmen in other parts of the world, even today.

The colors of autumn are still with us. It is a delightful time of the year.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, we will be guests in the home of Danny & Kathryn Laprade, down in Goodview. They have worked very hard and long to improve their home and now they want us to come and join them for Thanksgiving Dinner. Kathryn is not letting us do a thing to help, just wants us to come and enjoy.

Monday we were dinner guests in the home of our Relief Society President , Evelyn Deel and her husband Buck. We had Elder's Fullmer and Liddiard with us. We were also joined by Sister Rosemary Overstreet and her husband Mike. It was a very nice dinner and a nice evening in their lovely home in Blue Ridge, west of Bedford about 16 miles.

Tuesday we were dinner guests in the newly purchased home of Elmer and Sue Hodge. Again, the young elders were also invited and we had a most enjoyable time and a lovely meal. These are such fine people, serving so faithfully in the branch and in the Roanoke Stake. Elmer is in the newly installed Branch Presidency as counselor to President Scott. Sue continues as teacher of the Gospel Doctrine class and leader of the branch choir.

We will be waiting with great interest for updates from our children in Arizona regarding their Thanksgiving gatherings and for the results of the State Championship game between Show Low and Blue Ridge (Pinetop) to be held this Saturday on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff. Our grandson Rathen is the star quarterback of his Show Low Cougar team and his father is the coach. They have had another outstanding season. We hope they can take it all like they did in 2007, winning the state 3A championship.

Monday, Nov 23, we attended District Meeting at the Vinton Chapel with the other members of the Vinton District. Recent transfers brought us Elder Liddiard (far right), of Elk Ridge, Utah. He replaces Elder Hart and is companion to our District Leader, Elder Fullmer, standing next to him. On the far left is Elder Pirir of Utah, orginally from Guatamala. Then his companion Elder Hegland of Utah, then another new missionary to our District, Elder Reed, former Zone Leader. He is companion to Elder Boling (in the middle with dark hair and glasses). We always enjoy our opportunity to be with these missionaries.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Elder Riley Hart, of Payson, Utah (on left) saying his goodbyes to us and his fine companion and District Leader, Elder Fullmer, of Rexburg, Idaho.

They are standing outside their apartment here on Greenwood Street in Bedford, Tuesday evening, Nov 17. The following morning they would be at the Roanoke Virginia Stake Center at 5:30 a.m. for Elder Hart to catch his ride north to his new area in West Virginia and for Elder Fullmer to await his new companion, Elder Lilliard of Elk Ridge, Utah, coming in from the MTC.

We will surely miss this fine young missionary, Elder Hart. He has been the best!

We love Elder Fullmer and we are looking forward to getting better acquainted with his new companion, Elder Lilliard, who we saw just briefly upon their arrival Wed evening.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Before we returned to Bedford, after our dinner with the other missionary couples we drove through the Virginia Tech campus and stopped to take this picture of the big football stadium where the high ranking V-Tech Hokies play.

It is a very nice campus with many lovely buildings constructed of stone. It has a painful past with the mass shootings and other incidents of violence that have occurred here. The shooter in the recent tragedy at Ft. Hood, Texas was a graduate of Virginia Tech.

This past Saturday, Nov 7, we enjoyed a Senior Missionary social, held at the LDS Institute of Religion on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, just 70 miles west of us, down the I-81.

We had turkey and dressing and all the trimmings for an early Thanksgiving feast. (We provided mashed potatos and a Razzleberry pie)

Most of you will recognize dear Bishop Rob Cochran and his wife Linda, seated at the front left. They are on a CES mission assigned to the Institute on the campus of Southern Virginia University up in Buena Vista, Virginia. Two other couples, the Lewis's to their left and the Bennion's at the far table (center) also teach at the SVU Institute. Elder Uhreh in the blue jumpsuit at the rear table (right) with the big smile, hosted our dinner. He did a lot of the work himself as his wife was home sick a bed. He is assigned to the VA Tech Institute which has one student ward and about 160 enrolled. SVU in Buena Vista has many more LDS students attending and needs more teachers and staff. They have 5 Student Wards on campus up there.

The other two couples seated at the back table, the Avis's and the ? (shame on me) serve in proselyting assignments in branch's up in West Virginia. They drove the furthest to be with us. Two other couples in West Virgnia did not come down.

Not shown in this picture besides ourselves, was President and Sister Thornock who were saying goodbye to the young missionaries at the door when I took this picture. We had a very fine meal and a wonderful visit together.

Brother Smith, a member of the Bedford Branch Elder's Quorum, helping with a firewood cutting service project a week ago, Saturday. These men of Bedford County are pretty much born with a chain saw in their hands. They cut through logs like so much butter! Brother Smith could keep two of us busy supplying him logs and two more busy stacking what he was cutting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It is interesting, that while some hardwoods are still carrying their full green foliage, others, like this beautiful pecan tree in our yard here on Hopes Way in Bedford, Virginia lost all its leaves days ago. So, everywhere you look there is the fullest variety of color and stages of change that accompany this wonderful season of the year.

Autumn leaves provide a beautiful change of color in our back yard near the end of October.

This is the sun, rising before us as we returned from an all-night stay in Salem, Virginia, trying to break through a heavy, low-lying cloud cover in the early morning hours after a rain storm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We took a drive along the highest part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, making stops at some of the posted overlooks in order to take a picture or two. These are the Alleghany Mountains, of which the Blue Ridge are a part and which stretch from northeast to south and west across western Virginia, West Virginia, parts of eastern Kentucky, Tennessee and western North Carolina and beyond, forming part of Appalachian Mountain chain of eastern America. This road is one of the great scenic by-ways of the country. This picture was taken at 3700 ft elevation, looking off toward the north from the Blue Ridge. This would be almost directly north, some 10 miles from the town of Bedford, Virginia where we reside while serving in the West Virginia Charleston Mission.

While at the Peaks of Otter restaurant we encountered branch member Gloria Craig and her brother, Wayne Poynter. Gloria was so happy to have her brother come down from Illinois for a visit. They had not known each others whereabouts for some 43 years, until recently. Both had been placed in an orphanage as children. Wayne had been adopted by a family named Poynter when he was 7 years of age. Gloria remained in the orphanage and they never saw each other again for all that time. She had invited us to her home Monday so could introduce us to her brother. We had a nice visit. He is a very pleasant person to meet and talk with. So, it was doubly pleasant when we bumped into them unexpectedly at the Peaks of Otter!

This picture was taken on October 20, on th shore of the small lake below one of the famous Peaks of Otter where we had gone to view the autumn leaves after our visit with one of our older branch members, Rosemary Overstreet at her home in Thaxton. We were waiting for a table in the restaurant. During this time of year they do a rousing business with tourists and "leaf-seekers" who come from all over to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy the scenes of Autumn.

Linda took this picture of the man of the house with his apron on, asking what the woman of the house would like for Sunday dinner.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I carry our little camera with me just about everywhere we go, even when I am out mowing the yard. These are such beautiful, clear days as we enter into the first stages of this Fall season, I just had to stop the riding mower and take a picture.

This is looking north, back toward the Hodge home (our rental) from down the slope of the back yard, here on Hopes Way on the east side of Bedford, Virginia. Such a peaceful, pleasant place!

This is another view off to the south from the outside deck of our home on Hopes Way, at about 7:30 a.m. before the ground fog burns off with the rising sun.

It is not uncommon for us to wake up to the sight of considerable ground fog, misted about our home and the surrounding area while straight up we can see blue sky and a clear day.

In a short time the sun has burned away the mist and we have a bright and shiny day, with only a few scattered clouds; the air so fresh and clean.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Last Thursday morning Elder's Fullmer and Hart completed an exchange with Vinton Elders, Elder Shill (on the far right) and Elder Boling (on the far left).

On these exchanges between areas of the District where they are many miles apart, we try to help with transportation so the missionaries can save miles on their mission vehicles.

We met up with them at a pre-arranged point on the Blue Ridge Parkway, approximately 22 miles out of Bedford. Before transporting Elder Fullmer and Elder Hart back to their apartment in Bedford, I took this picture, as this is the last time we may see or be with Elder Shill as he has learned that he will be transfered to another assignment this coming Wednesday. He doesn't know what that assignment is, as yet. And we don't know who will be coming to be Elder Boling's companion. That is the way it is in the mission field.

We will miss Elder Shill. He has been a most exemplary young elder, full of love and devotion to the work. We love these missionaries!

Our weather remains very moderate, here below the Blue Ridge in this part of Virginia. Even though we are in the first days of October there is little or no color change yet in the hardwoods. As you can see all is green, just like summer. The lowest temperature we have seen on our out-door thermometer has been 38 degrees.

This is the view looking north as we approach our neighbor's home on Hopes Way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Friday, September 18, fire erupted while workers were removing old paint from the exterior wall of Bedord's historic old train station, now a popular restaurant where we have enjoyed a number of fine meals. Liberty Station!

They say the workers were using a blow torch to soften the old paint and the flames got out of control. The damage was very extensive. Even though the fire station is only a block away and responded quickly. It was fully involved by the time they arrived. We saw pictures on the news of one of the waitresses that has waited on us several times, being interviewed by the media. She was in tears. It started right after she arrived at work she said. There were numerous employees in the building but no one was injured.

The owners have made it clear that they are going to quickly renovate and restore and they say they intend to be reopened for business before the end of the year. We were happy to hear that. Apparently they do have insurance coverage.

The week prior to our recent Stake Conference (Roanoke Virginia Stake) we were again out on the many by-roads outside of Bedford placing type-written notices about the conference with the less-active members of our Bedford Branch. Always, there is something interesting to see as we drive these country roads. It would be interesting to know the history of this old homestead, out along highway 714, otherwise known as Falling Creek Road, south and east of Bedford in the township of Huddleston, Virginia. Several of our branch members live out this way, scattered about, sometimes on unpaved, gravel roads, a long ways off the beaten path.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The all-male members of the Vinton District are seen here, finishing off some full platters of double layer pizza at the nearby New York Pizzarea, following our Wednesday District Meeting. The quantity of food these skinny elders can consume is, as I said to Elder Fenton (left front), "prodigious."

Sister Chapman was not with us to set an atmosphere of restraint. I am afraid I over-indulged myself as well. It really was good pizza!

The only thing you see of our District Leader, Elder Fullmer, are his hands as he loads a take-home box with slices of pizza for later in the day. These guys can eat!

On the left, front to back is Elder Fenton from Salt Lake City, Utah; Elder Hart from Payson, Utah.

On the right, front to back is Elder Chin, our Zone Leader, along with Elder Fenton; Elder Hegland of Salt Lake; and his companion Elder Pirir, also of Utah.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We attended our District Meeting today, September 9, 10:30 a.m. at the chapel in Vinton, Virginia.
After the meeting Sister Chapman took this picture of all the male members of the District. (She declined to be photographed).
Back row, l to r:
Elder Pirir (pronounced Pareer, originally from Guatamala, his family now lives in Utah); Elder Boling of San Diego in the dark glasses; our District Leader Elder Fullmer of Rexburg, Idaho.
Front row, l to r:
Elder Hegland of Salt Lake City, Utah; Elder Shill of Plano, Texas, (Elder Shill is our former District Leader and grandson of our former Seminary colleague, Wynn Call); myself, Elder Chapman; and Elder Hart of Payson, Utah.
We love these young, hard working missionaries!

During the recent Roanoke Virginia Zone Conference, September 2, they had the missionary companionships pair off as part of a practice session, role playing approaches and meetings with investigators and new contacts.

Here we see our new District Leader, Elder Fullmer of Rexburg, Idaho and his companion Elder Hart (Payson, UT) practicing their testifying skills.

Elder Fullmer replaced Elder Wright here in Bedford at the Transfer that occurred the week prior to Zone Conference. He is an excellent Elder.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Linda took this picture as we had to say our goodbyes to Elizabeth and John at the Lynchburg airport, just prior to their flight back home to Arizona on Tuesday afternoon, September 1.
It is hard to put in to words what our family means to us and how much we love them and how happy we are when we see them or get to hear from them in any sort of way.
Thanks, John and Elizabeth for this wonderful visit here with us in Virginia!

After the women had their nails all beautified we finished our tour of the D-Day Memorial and picked them up from the nail salon and took them for lunch back up to the Peaks of Otter resort and restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway north and west of Bedford.

We had a most enjoyable time!

Here they took a seat on the porch at my insistance so I could get a picture. Neither one of them would have thought to sit down otherwise. They are so full of energy!

Nineteen soldier boys from this little village of Bedford, Virginia were killed by massive enemy fire on June 6, 1944 as they tried to struggle ashore from their landing craft during the first minutes of the invasion at Omaha Beach. Three others from Bedford would die that same day. That is why Bedford was later selected for this Memorial. They had sacrificed so much.

This is an attempt depict the climb up virtical cliffs that had to be surmounted by American forces as they stormed the shores of France in an area designed as Utah Beach.

This is the very recognizable bronze of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of all the military forces involved in the D-Day invasion. It was the quiet, intelligent and untiring thoroughness of this remarkable man that helped make it possible for all the many elements of the army, navy and air forces of England, America and all its allies to work in harmony and support of each other in this mighty accomplishment of turning the tide against Hitler. What a superb accomplishment! We should not forget their heroic efforts in behalf of freedom!

It was good to be there with my son, John. It was my first time to visit the memorial, even though we have been here in Bedford since last January.

Monday, while Elizabeth and her mom were getting manicures and pedicures at a local shoppe in Bedford, John and I visited the National D-Day Memorial which is located in Bedford.

It is a beautifully designed and maintained memorial, paying honor to the sacrifice of those who participated in the invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944, in Operation Overlord; perhaps the descisive day in the ultimate victory over Hitler and the Axis in WWII.

Before dropping down off the Blue Ridge and returning to Bedford, on our Sunday drive, we stopped for a few minutes at the lake located at the foot of the famous Peaks of Otter.

We promised them we would return the next day for lunch at the restaurant that is part of a resort located here.

Later, in the afternoon on Sunday, August 30, we took John and Elizabeth a ride through the Virginia countryside, including a short stretch of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.

It was a little hazy, but still a nice day to be out.

This is at an overlook on the Parkway, about 15 miles west of Bedford.

John arrived on his birthday, August 29, so the next day, after they attended our Bedford Branch Sunday meetings with us we had the traditional Chapman family Sunday dinner complete with Roast beef, mashed potatos and gravy, tossed green salad, hot rolls, and fresh peach shortcake and ice cream for dessert! Not too bad!

Of course, just because it was John's birthday dinner didn't mean Elizabeth and I should forgo our practice of mustard on our roast beef!

Two of our children, John and Elizabeth, flew out from Arizona for a 3-day visit with us, August 29 to September 1. They were coming by way of Charlotte, North Carolina and were due to arrive at the Lynchburg airport at 11:28 p.m. We got to the airport in plenty of time, we thought, to be there when they got off the plane. I let Linda off at the main entrance while I parked the car. She took a seat near the entrance to wait for me. I came in and saw her waiting and told I was going to look for a monitor to see the status of the flight. I stepped into a small eating area (this is a small regional airport) and saw a young fellow seated there, eating a large burrito. Oh, my gosh! It was John! I was so surprised!
They had arrived in record time!
Linda said that just as I walked away she heard someone in the nearby women's restroom sneeze. She said to herself, "That has to be Elizabeth!" And sure enough, out came Elizabeth from the rest room and spotted her mom!
This picture was taken just as their mother greeted them for the first time! How great it is to get a visit from members of your family when you have been away from them so long.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We will not soon forget our day with Sister Rosemary Overstreet and the Kingston's and the other dear members of the Bedford Branch who were there that special day in the Raleigh North Carolina Temple, showing their love and support for Rosemary as she experienced the sacred ordinances, washings, annointings and endowment through the authority of the Holy Priesthood, available only in these Holy Temples. She had qualified herself to be there and it was such a choice experience to share in it with her and these other dear members.
Prior to the beginning of the session the endowment room was filled to overflowing and there were still members of our branch who had not been seated. In an act of true Christian charity, Sister Ball, our Young Women's leader and Sister Bible, our Branch Primary Nursery leader each got up from their seats and offered them to Sister Strawn, one of our oldest members and to Sister Smith. They were not with us then in this memorable endowment session, but we were pleased and very gratified to find them waiting for us, dressed in their white temple clothing as we completed the session and entered the celestial room. We won't forget the smiles and the tears and the wonderful spirit of love, brotherhood and sisterhood that surrounded us there on this sacred day in the Raleigh Temple.
We all went together to a nearby restaurant later in the afternoon for a late lunch before returning to Bedford. We had a wonderful time!
By following their directions we returned home a different way than we had come and cut our travel time from 5 hours to 3! Sometimes you have to admit that the locals know the territory!