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).