Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saturday, June 26, was my birthday. I was totally surprised when Linda asked if we could go for some lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Charro, at 1st Street and Country Club Drive in Mesa. As we entered the restaurant we were greeted with singing, shouting, laughter and every happy emotion you can describe as our children and their spouses were awaiting us! Also, present was our newly married granddaughter Brookelyn and her husband Ross Willis, and one of our older, unmarried granddaughters, Caitelyn Perkins, 18, (Kelly). The only one of our children not present, was, of course, Jeffery and his wife Kristi, who we would be joining in Rexburg, Idaho in a few days as they prepare for the return of their oldest daughter from a mission and their oldest son's marriage. But, low and behold, to everyone's surprise, not just mine, in walks Jeffery, Kristi and their son Jacob and his fiancee, Liz Whitaker! We were just blown away by their appearance -- coming near 1,000 miles to be part of our homecoming!! What an unbelievable experience!!

On Friday morning, June 25, we received a surprise call from our daughter Rebecca telling us that her oldest son Rathan, 18, was headed for California with some friends and was wanting to stop by the hotel and see us before they traveled on to their holiday.
We were so happy to see this fine young man! He is a premier high school football player, leading his Show Low Cougars to another great winning season! He is also a fine example to his peers in many other ways.
This picture is clear evidence that Rathan has been growing since we saw him last, 18 months ago!

After checking in to our hotel in downtown Mesa (this is the view of our old home town, looking south from our hotel room), we made contact with our Stake President, President Lewis and met with him at his home. We had the choice experience of reporting on our missionary experience in Virginia and receiving our official release from full-time missionary service. It was an emotional but very inspiring meeting with the priesthood leader who had set us apart for our missionary duties in January of 2009.

We were about a half hour out of Mesa, coming down the Beeline highway from the rim country, when we noticed a spiral of smoke a few miles ahead. We had no idea what it represented. But a few minutes later we were in a road blockage. We would later learn that a motorist had an unexplainable fire start in luggage atop his vehicle. He stopped and managed to get it pulled off onto the ground, but it caught the surrounding vegetation afire and quickly developed into a fire that would require the highway to be blocked until it could be brought under control. We had to be re-routed back toward a detour that would take us by the shores of Roosevelt Lake and on to Globe, Arizona before we were able to get into Mesa and finally get a hotel room for the night.
This is the south shore of Roosevelt Lake, taken while traveling on the highway that passes through the community of Punkin Center, the Tonto Basin area, then across the bridge at Roosevelt Dam and on to Globe/Miami and US 60 heading to Mesa/Phoenix. The last time I saw this, the largest lake on the Salt River water shed, it was so, so low. Now, because better moisture levels in recent years, it is at an all-time high!

As we said our goodbyes to Ann and the family on Thursday morning, June 24, heading to the Valley by way of Heber and Payson, we drove past the new chapel where the Linden Ward members attend their church services. The meetinghouse is new and it is only a very short distance down the highway from where Ann and Steve and their family reside, making getting to meetings and activities so much more convenient.
The picture is topsy turvy because of the photographer.

Here is Bishop Steve, rounding up all the 'little doggies' as nightfall comes on the it is time to put the put the horses and cattle in the barn and put the kids to bed.
This quad is actually for the children. What is a grown man doing with it, anyway?

We have three of our daughters and their families residing now in the Show Low area. Later in the evening of our arrival, Wednesday, after supper Steve built a fire in a fire pit out back and we all enjoyed a good visit as he prepared dutch oven blackberry and peach cobbler. It was delicious! He is getting to be the real White Mountain man, learning all these keen out-door skills!
Pictured here around the camp fire, left to right is our newly married granddaughter Brookelyn Ricedorff Willis with Gracie (Ann's daughter) on her hip. Seated is our oldest daughter Kelly, next to her husband Brock Bevell. Brookelyn's youngest brogther, Rhett, is standing on the wooden plank.
How very good it was to have these moments of reunion with our dear family members.

On that same Wednesday, June 23, after our short stop in Bluewater, we made our way on past Gallup, New Mexico where we both had possibly encountered each othe as infants when Linda's parents and my parents attended church meetings together at different times. We didn't stop, but traveled on, arriving in Linden Valley, outside Show Low, Arizona in the afternoon. We were warmly greeted by our dear daughter Ann, and these 3 precious grandchildren you see here, seated with her and their grandmother on the front porch of their lovely home.
Ann's husband Steve Williams is a young, busy Bishop of the Linden Ward. His time is split between Church leadership responsibilities, his law practice as a criminal defense lawyer which takes him all over the vastness of Navaho and Apache counties and beyond, and Ann and the children here at the home on Burton Rd.
Despite their busy lives, they always make us feel wanted and welcome, especially on this day as we finally were reunited after so many months of being on our mission in Virginia.

Here on the west side of Elm Street on the extreme soutwest boundary of Bluewater Village, is what remains of the home where Stan Burnham and his wife of one year, Lucille Rogers temporarily resided. They had living space at the back of this home, later converted to a wash room. At that time the home seen here was occupied by her Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Evelyn McNeill, being next door to the original Thomas McNeill home (still standing, but not seen in this picture). This is where Linda was born, delivered by her great grandmother Mary McNeill on January 12, 1941.

This is the old stone bakery in Bluewater where my grandparents lived, and where grandmother Edna Tietjen Chapman once helped the family income by preparing a variety of breads and pastry for sale to the passer-bys on historic route 66, which in those days went directly past the store.
The structure is now a private residence and has been altered with a stucco exterior.

On the extreme south end of Elm Street in Bluewater the McNeill family have expended considerable time, money and effort to preserve and beautify the gravesite of their pioneer ancesters who were prominent in the life of this little Mormon community since its earliest founding .
These are Linda's direct progeniters through her paternal great grandparents, Thomas and Mary George McNeill.
Linda was delivered by grandmother McNeill, the mid-wife for so many births in those early days, in the tiny dwelling place of her parents at the McNeill homestead just a stones throw to the north of this grave site.

The two headstones in the foreground mark the graves of my paternal great great grandparents, Rhoda Ann Fullmer and her husband Hyrum Chapman.
The fenced area contains the graves of my maternal great grandparents, Earnest Albert Tietjen and Emma O. Erickson, as well as other members of the Tietjen family, who played such decisive rolls in the establishment of Bluewater and neighboring Mormon settlements in this area of New Mexico.

We did partake of some authentic mexican food later Tuesday evening when we stopped for the night in the vicinity of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Because of a huge soccer tournament being hosted in Albuquerque we had to drive 13 miles out of our way, up the I-25 before we found a hotel vacancy.
Wednesday, June 23, we continued on down the I-41 from Albuquerque, stopping for a short visit to Linda's place of birth, Bluewater, situated just off the Interstate about 60 miles east of Gallup. This tiny little town is mostly dust blown and deteriorated now, but it has great meaning for both of us and our families because, 1) it was established by great, great grandfather Earnest Albert Tietjen, called by President Brigham Young to begin Mormon settlements in the New Mexico/Arizona territory, 2) It is the birthplace of my father, Oliver Glenn Chapman, and 3) Linda's parents, Stan and Lucille Rogers Burnham began their courtship in Bluewater, later married and lived in Bluewater for a time, where, 4) they gave birth their first child, a daughter, naming her, Linda.
While Linda did some shopping at the local trading post, I drove to several spots in the community and took pictures. This is a picture of the entrance to the Bluewater cemetary where several of my ancesters are buried.

We did partake of some authentic mexican food later Tuesday evening when we stopped for the night in the vicinity of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Because of a huge soccer tournament being hosted in Albuquerque we had to drive 13 miles out of our way, up the I-25 before we found a hotel vacancy.
Wednesday, June 23, we continued on down the I-41 from Albuquerque, stopping for a short visit to Linda's place of birth, Bluewater, situated just off the Interstate about 60 miles east of Gallup. This tiny little town is mostly dust blown and deteriorated now, but it has great meaning for both of us and our families because, 1) it was established by great, great grandfather Earnest Albert Tietjen, called by President Brigham Young to begin Mormon settlements in the New Mexico/Arizona territory, 2) It is the birthplace of my father, Oliver Glenn Chapman, and 3) Linda's parents, Stan and Lucille Rogers Burnham began their courtship in Bluewater, later married and lived in Bluewater for a time, where, 4) they gave birth their first child, a daughter, naming her, Linda.
While Linda did some shopping at the local trading post, I drove to several spots in the community and took pictures. This is a picture of the entrance to the Bluewater cemetary where several of my ancesters are buried.

So, it was that upon arrival in the dusty New Mexico town of Tucomcari that we left the Interstate and found ourselves looking for that authenic Mexican food restaurant ... and would you believe, we found it! Right, there as I had promised, on a stretch of Historic Route 66! The Ranch House Cafe!! Yummm, good!
Appears, we arrived after closing hours, however.

Friday, June 25, 2010

On Tuesday, June 23, we breezed across the Texas panhandle, right through Amarillo without stopping at about noontime and hit the New Mexico stateline at 3 and gained an hour with the change to Mountain Daylight Savings Time! I told Linda we would be able to get a genuine Mexican dinner in Tucomcari just up the road. She was pretty excited to know that!

This is typical of the landscape as we crossed the flatlands of western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle; mile after mile of cultivated farmland, with small farming towns and huge grain elevators.

We stopped in Shawnee, Oklahoma, east of Oklahoma City after a long day on the road from Memphis, Tennessee. The next morning we continued west on the I-40, but had to stop in the little town of Elk City, OK when Linda spotted a sign advertizing a motor lodge called the Bedford Inn. Anything with the name "Bedford" will always have meaning for us after our missionary service in Bedford, Virginia. As you can easily tell from the picture this is not Virginia! We are now in the wide open spaces of the Great Plains of America!

Except for rest stops there is no taking of pictures except from your moving car when you are traveling on the Interstate. This is a rest stop near Sallisaw Oklahoma on the I-40, overlooking the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River.

Monday, June 21, 2010

As you can see by this topsy turvy picture we didn't stop in Nashville but continued on toward Memphis on our Sunday drive, June 20. The Grand Ole Oprey has been badly damaged by flood waters of a few weeks back.
This was Father's Day and Linda had tucked away some cards and gifts from our family which she brought out and presented to me before we checked out of our hotel room in Johnson City that morning. One of the items was a CD from our daughter Melissa that her son Garrett helped her prepare. It was full of songs by John Denver, including special favorites like "Almost Heaven, West Virginia," and "Rocky Mt High, Colorado." What a great time we had playing that CD as we went down the highway through music land, USA.

When we continued on journey westward from Johnson City, TN on Sunday morning, June 20, I left behind my set of maps and didn't realize it until we were quite a ways down US 11 towards Knoxville. I knew we needed to connect with US 70 somewhere outside Knoxville, but without without the road atlas and considering the slow pace through each and every little country town it became apparent that we needed to get on the I-40 and stay there. I felt bad for Linda because she really doesn't like competing with 18-wheelers and the high-speed of the freeway, but it made more realistic our being able to arrive at our destination in Arizona by the 23rd or 24th.

Note the turn-off for Oak Ridge, Tennessee in this picture as we were westbound on the I-40. The Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory used to be in the news all the time back in the days of the Cold War. Now, you never hear of it, but it is still there.

On Saturday, June 19, as we crossed the Tennessee border on US 321 we entered the Cherokee National Forest. Our roadway took us along the southern edge of Watauga Lake State Park. It was a warm, humid day and the lake was busy with boaters, water skiers and many families and groups picnicing, swimming and enjoying their Saturday.

On our drive home to Arizona from Virginia we determined at first to take the back roads and enjoy the countryside, staying off the Interstate highways. So, after a very tiring and emotional time of packing up and saying our last goodbyes to our dear Bedford members and friends we made a very late start down the road on Friday, June 18, getting only to Rocky Mount, south of Roanoke before stopping for the night in a hotel. The next day, Saturday, June 19, we left Rocky Mount at about noontime and made our way west and south into western North Carolina, crossing up over the Blue Ridge and, after a good many twists and turns up and down narrow mountain and country roads we stopped for the night in Johnson City, on the extreme east border of Tennessee, getting a lovely, so comfortable room in a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. What a blessing for two very happy but still very tired people!
On our way across the Blue Ridge in western North Carolina we kept seeing sights like this: whole mountain sides covered in Christmas trees! Mile after mile of them! It was a first for us. We have seen tree farms before but nothing on this scale!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On June 16, Elder's Whitby and Shelburne were both transfered to serve in other areas of the mission where they were needed. In their place have come these two very enthusiastic young sister missionaries: Sister Harris (on the left) the Senior companion and Trainer, from Rexburg, Idaho, and brand new Sister Anderson, just arrived from the MTC. Her home is in Orem, Utah. We were so happy to meet these two very fine young missionaries! They will do a great work in Bedford. We know the members are looking forward to having sisters here. It has been years since sister missionaries have served here.
This picture was taken from our front porch, on the first day of their arrival. They had come to our home to meet with us and the new Branch Mission Leader, brother Reed Hatch. They have hit the ground running! Sister Harris worked as a dietician at the Utah State University in Logan before she was called as a missionary. Sister Anderson was in her 3rd year of college and surprised her family by taking a job at Disney World in Florida, playing the part of Mary Poppins in the parade of Disney characters that perform daily at this remarkable land of fantasy! These are attractive, intelligent and talented young women! We are looking forward to hearing of their missionary efforts in Bedford in the weeks ahead.

On Monday, June 14, we were again with Elmer and Sue Hodge as their guests for a tour of the nearby historic home of Thomas Jefferson, called "Poplar Forest," a large acreage and lovely home established by Thomas Jefferson as a place of rest and seclusion. The land of several thousand acres, located on the east side of Bedford County, just west of Lynchburg, was a gift from his father-in-law. Jefferson designed the home. It contains many interesting features that show Jefferson to be well ahead of his time. The guided tour is expensive but very informative concerning this most interesting American, our 3rd President. A compliment to his brilliance was stated by President John F. Kennedy, when, upon addressing the new members of his cabinet in the east wing of the White House in the early days of his presidency, said to them: "So much brain power has not been assembled in this room since Thomas Jefferson dined here, alone."

Of all the special moments on our last Sunday, June 13, was to have our dear brother Merle Dutton (to Linda's left) in attendance at our meetings at the Bedford Branch. He was again accompanied by his cousin Harry Dutton of Salem. Harry and his wife Dolores Dutton are active, faithful members of the church. They have made a pointed effort to express to us their deep gratitude for the change that has taken place in Merle's life since we began our weekly visits to his home back in February 2009. To have Merle with us now for the 4th time in 3 weeks in our Church meetings and special events means more to us than we can adaquately express. He is a very sincere person in all that he does. We are deeply honored that he has made the decision to renew his attendance. He has not been an active member of the church in close to 60 years!
He wept as he tried to tell us of his feelings about our friendship and how he will be missing us as we depart for home. But, he has friends now among the members of the branch and we believe he will want to continue his activity and hopefully prepare for the reception of the priesthood and qualifying for Temple blessings. After all, he is 81 years young! We love him with all our hearts!

Sunday, June 13, was our last Sunday with the members of the Bedford Branch. We were privileged to speak in Sacrament meeting. There were 112 persons in attendance! They had to open the folding doors between the chapel and the cultural hall to accomodate everyone. What a very sacred and emtional time for us! What an outpouring of love from the members of the branch. After the meetings they had a dinner in our honor, during which they presented us with an embroidered quilt and an embroidered, framed wall hanging, labored over by women of the Relief Society, especially Sister Glynda Nichols. What a forever memory they made for us!

Here they are, Elmer Hodge, with President Scott on his left, posing for me at the completion of their superb job of detailing our car. What a very special thing to do for someone! We were deeply touched.
This work was done at the Hodge home, out on the driveway on Nichols Rd in Bedford which they purchased and moved into just this past year. They had a beautiful home in Vinton, just out of Roanoke, but wanted to move to Bedford because of their love for the Bedford Branch and the Bedford community.
President Scott and his wife Lindsay and family of 4, have a new home in Goode, a community just east of Bedford. They too, have come to Bedford because of a special feeling that this is where the Lord wants them to work and to be of service in the Church. We will never forget these excellent men and their wives and families. They are key leaders of the church in this area. They both have a vision of what the Lord intends for Bedford.

As our time of completion of our missionary assignment in Bedford, Virginia drew near, President Harvey Scott, our branch president, and brother Elmer Hodge, 1st Counselor in the branch presidency and our ever increasing friend, approached us seperately. Each asked if they could detail our car for us, before we departed our mission. As it turned out they combined their efforts on an afternoon the week before we were to leave.
Here are the two busiest men of the branch cheerfully taking time to super clean, wash, wax and polish our car from end to end. This is easily a service that would have cost upwards of $200 at a professional shop. We hardly knew how to express our appreciation for this act of love and kindness. Boy, did they make it shine!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

At this highpoint along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can look off to the northwest for a great distance. This look-out is at approximately 3,700 ft, or some 2,900 ft above the valley below.
Elder Shelburne is from the Willamete River Valley area of northwestern Oregon. Elder Whitby is from the high plains of eastern Washington. They enjoyed getting this broader view of Appliachia than is normally possible.

Here is Elder Shelburne (on the left) and Elder Whitby, enjoying a tour of part of the Blue Ridge Parkway with Elder Chapman on the P-Day (Preparation Day), Monday, June 7.
We stopped at the Gross Apple Orchard, just off US 43, so we could introduce big Elder Whitby, the apple grower from eastern Washington to Walter Gross, the owner of the Gross apple orchard, farm and produce store here on the slopes of the Blue Ridge northwest of Bedford. Mr. Gross and his family have been harvesting apples, peaches and cherries from their trees for generations. He told us that his forebearers came to this part of Virginia and began planting apple trees in the 1850's.
This picture was taken after we said goodbye to Mr. Gross and stopped at the Peaks of Otter resort as part of our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Big Island and back home.

This is the view of the marina as we left the restaurant and took our boat ride back across the lake in the evening twilight. What a nice, relaxing and enjoyable experience for us in every way!
Smith Mountain Lake! Here is where we started back in January of 2009. Paul Martin gave us access to the Miller family's summer vacation home on the lake front as a temporary residence while we looked for a place to rent closer in to Bedford. But we had never had opportunity to be on the water until this special evening with Paul and Erica a year and a half later.

We docked at a marina on the Franklin County (south) side of the lake and were treated to a very lovely meal at "The Landing" restaurant, owned and operated by a young couple that have become good friends of the Martin's. We were treated so well, and we had such a nice evening, visiting and relaxing with Paul and Erica. It was near dark before we started back across the lake and returned to our home port in Moneta. What a special time for us!

The Martin's took us in close to this little Island, which sits out in the middle of the lake. It is privately owned. What is visible here is part of the large boat house on the left and a guest house to the right. The main residence is on the other side of the Island and is not visible in this picture.
Paul told us the owner wants to sell because he wanted a helio-pad so he could fly in and out, but the hydroelectric company that manages the lake denied his request. So, its available if you want your own Island getaway - but, remember, it is accessable only by boat! The price? Somewhere in the millions.

In the far distance, beyond this part of the lake you can see the outline of Smith Mountain from which the Lake gets its name. The Roanoke River is the water source for the lake. When the dam was built 17+ years ago, it took 6 years for the water to fill the lake to the level we see now. It is a significant recreational area for this part of Virginia.

This is one of the more upscale homes that dot the shores of this Smith Mt Lake. Each home has it's private boat dock. The endless little inlets that branch off the main body of water give opportunity for a great number of beach-front residences. Some are lavish like this one and some are much more modest.

Here is 'Captain' Martin, explaining the history and features of this man-made lake to his passengers. That is his wife Erica in the middle and, of course, our very relaxed and happy Sister Missionary, Linda Chapman enjoying it all!

On Thursday, June 3, we were treated to boat ride on Smith Mountain Lake with it's 500 miles of shoreline and many, many beach-front homes.
This is Brother Paul Martin, as he powered this big pontoon boat up to the dock so his wife Erica and Linda and I could come aboard.
Paul and Erica have a home just a short distance from the lake and enjoy lake front privileges through their Homeowner's Association. They have their own boat, but borrowed this larger craft for its added comforts, all for our pleasure and enjoyment! What a nice thing they did for us!

The evening sky, looking off to the southwest from the upstairs deck of our home on Hopes Way in Bedford, Virginia.

Friday, June 4, 2010

May 25, we hosted the Vinton District Meeting for the first time at our Bedford Chapel.
Left to right,
Elder Molina (our District Leader), Elder Jensen, serving in Vinton with Elder Molina, Elder Shelburne, one of our Bedford Elders, Elder Hansen, serving in Roanoke, Elder Whiby, senior companion to Elder Shelburne here in Bedford, and Elder Richards, companion to Elder Hansen, serving in Roanoke.
These are a great group of missionaries!

May 22, was a very special day for our Bedford Branch as Tammy Hilliker and her son Zachery and daughter Mehgan entered the waters of baptism and became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was Elder Chapman's privilege to baptize Tammy. Her son and daughter were baptized by Brother Dutton and Brother Vanderhoven of the Salem Ward where they have been friendshipped and helped and encouraged in so many ways before moving into the Bedford Branch area.
Elder's Whitby and Shelburne did the teaching (along with Elder Cowley from before). The members did the fellowshipping and inviting to church activities, meetings and scouting programs.
They are a lovely family, living with Tammy's parents and grandmother in the parent's home in Thaxton, a small rural community west of Bedford.