Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Greetings from Windy Wheeling

The weather in this part of the country seems to be very unsettled lately. Most of the devastation is south of us. The Ohio River is running very high but no flooding yet. The rain seems to never stop and the forecast is for more rain every day this week. Everything is green as a result and it is very beautiful right now; a welcome relief after the grey of the winter.


This is a tug boat pushing barges full of coal down the Ohio. You can see how high the water is and how green the hills are. We are not getting tornadoes where we are but we do get micro bursts: high winds without the funnel. They hit hard and are gone in minutes. Last Saturday, a family from our ward, the Murphys, couldn’t get home because a huge tree had fallen across their road. They had to stay with some friends for the night until the city could get a chain saw big enough to cut it up and move it. Needless to say, they were late for church the next morning. There were hundreds of trees down but no severe damage to people or property.

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Two nights ago we had another micro burst hit. The next morning we discovered this tree down in our back yard. It was obviously already dead because it broke into pieces when it hit. Fortunately it missed the house but hit the shed and finished knocking down the retaining wall behind the shed. Schools were cancelled because they were without electricity when trees fell and took down power lines. Fortunately, we still had power.

We had a convert baptism Saturday. Adam Angel is the father of Allison Carman, our Relief Society president. They moved here two years ago from Columbus to take care of him so they bring him with them to all of their meetings and activities. A few months ago he asked them when he could get baptized. He was converted by just being there.

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Adam is wheelchair-bound so it took four men to get him into the font. His two non-member sons dressed in white and helped lift him into the water where his son-in-law and former bishop held him up while the ordinance was performed. Adam can’t bend back so they bent him forward to get him immersed. Despite the unusual circumstances, it was a very spiritual occasion. Allison was loading everyone and everything in the van and was wearing her son’s helmet. I couldn’t resist this picture because it depicts her to a tee.

We were asked if we could pick up the food order for the ward last Wednesday. A member who is receiving welfare usually makes the trip but his car was broken down. The closest Bishop’s Store House is in Cleveland and a truck comes every two weeks to Pittsburgh with food orders. We pushed district meeting back an hour and took a two hour detour to Wintersville via Greentree where the stake house is. We almost didn’t fit it in the car. We had all the seats down but the two front ones. We should have brought a truck.


We had district meeting at our house yesterday. Elder Jeromchek has been told that he will be transferred next week so this was probably his last time with us. We will really miss him. We’ve got to quit getting so attached to these elders so we can let them go.

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Elder Van der Spec was at the dentist’s office so he missed the meeting. Because of a recent car accident with the Wintersville car, the elders had to get a ride down for the appointment and meeting. Brother Zoog is one of the ward missionaries in Wintersville and consented to bring them down.


He has served as branch president and bishop in Cadiz and Wintersville. He and his wife were the fleet coordinators for the mission for two years and served in the Washington D.C. temple for 13 years. They are now serving in the Columbus Temple. As a side note, he told us that Carol Mikita from KSL television grew up in Steubenville, OH, which is in their ward.

Faye Dulaney passed away and we had her funeral this week. We had met with her often and had taught her the temple prep lessons. We will miss her. Rod was asked to be a pall bearer so we drove down to New Martinsville to the cemetery after the service which was about an hour away. This is Faye’s niece, Nancy, Mike and Rod at the cemetery. Mike was Faye’s home teacher and a very good one. Nancy was Faye’s cousin.


Everyday continues to be a new adventure out here and we are loving it. We love the people we meet and wish everyone would accept the restored gospel, but we will keep trying to share the message by loving and serving them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hellos and Goodbyes

We had our last Zone Conference this week with President and Sister Summerhays.  They have one more transfer to do before their three years are up.  We have really enjoyed working with them and will miss them, but we knew when we were called here that we would only serve five months with them.  I can’t believe we have been on our mission for four months already.

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Elder and Sister Johnson, on the left, are the office couple and will be leaving in June also.  They have been serving for 23 months.  They live in Rexburg and said they would go by and see Grandma Ward when they get home.  They have done such a great job taking care of all the details of the mission.  They will be greatly missed also.

Our biggest surprise was the new CES couple who came last week and who we saw for the first time at the Zone Conference.  Elder and Sister Marshall, on the right, came from Cortez, Colorado and have been working in the Monticello Temple since they got married three years ago. She just retired from school teaching so they decided to serve a mission.  She said they know the Chamberlains.  Elder Marshall is originally from Pima, Arizona and moved to Cortez after they were married.  He and Rod grew up together. What a surprise when they walked in the he and Rod recognized each other.  Another connection for Rod. We are going to enjoy getting to know each other and spending some fun p-days together.

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We also got to spend some time in the Columbus Temple with Ashley Groetzinger who  received her endowments.  The people in the picture are, from left to right, Patty Wylie. Sister Green, Nancy Groetzinger, Elder Green, Ashley, Mike Orum, Patty Johnson, AD Wilson, Allison Carman, and Pam Wilson.  Chuck Wylie was taking the picture.  Ashley graduated from BYUI and knew Kara, Riley and Michael there.  Small world. Patty Wylie is in the RS presidency and Chuck is the ward mission leader.  Nancy is Ashley’s mother and one of the sweetest people I know and a long-time member.  Mike is in the elder’s quorum presidency and was baptized just two years ago.  Patty Johnson recently lost her husband and this was her first time back to the temple since he died.  She said she felt him there with her.  AD is the first counselor in the bishopric and he and Pam are Addiction Recovery Missionaries.  Allison is our RS president.  It feels like we have known these good people all our lives.

After the temple we drove the two hours back to Wheeling and then an hour on to Greentree in Pittsburgh for stake conference. It was six hours total driving with four hours of temple and meetings.  The men also had priesthood leadership for another two hours.  What a great day!


I finally got a picture of our great Wheeling Elders and the Zone Leaders.  Elder Garner, Elder Neerings, Elder Florence and Elder Jeromchek.  We really love these young men.

We are having a wonderful time doing this work and getting to know all these wonderful people. I am so grateful we get to spend our whole mission in Wheeling.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Weird Noises

As it has gotten warmer we have been sleeping with our windows open.  We started hearing the weirdest noises from outside.  It reminded both of us of a squeaky belt on an automobile.  It goes for several seconds and stops and then another starts from what sounded like a different location.  We listened to this for several days until we finally found out what it was.  We have a pond in our back yard and there are frogs in it.  This weird noise is coming from these frogs.  As far as we can tell, there are six of them living in the pond.  They are very musical in a weird sort of way and they sing us to sleep at night now.

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The one on the left was making the sound and blowing out the little pouch under his chin.  Mystery solved. 

We had a Siete de Mayo party at the church Saturday.  We couldn’t have it on the 5th so we renamed it.  The Holbrooks got asked to head it up and they did a great job.  Adam is the Elder’s quorum president and is from Woods Cross.  Becky is in the Primary presidency and the week night Relief Society leader.  They have three daughters, Corduroy 5, Adylin 3, and Clover 1.  He is an ER resident at OVMC and will be here for three more years.  They served really good Mexican food and Becky even made homemade churros.  They had a piƱata and other games for the kids.  It was a fun ward party and much needed.

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Rod contributed by vacuuming afterwards.  Actually, we cleaned the whole building after the party because it hadn’t been done and the next day was Sunday.  Fortunately it is a small building.  The Bishopric is working on a building cleaning schedule and scheduler.  That’s Dave Phillips, our YM president talking to Rod.  His wife, Misty, is in the Primary presidency.  They have three kids, Katlyn 8 who just got baptized, Lindsy 5, and Wyatt 2.  They moved here from Texas so Lindsy could receive medical treatment in Pittsburgh where the leading specialist in her medical condition is.  She can’t walk and has a muscle- deteriorating disease with a very long name I can’t remember.  They just bought a home  and are planning on being here indefinitely. 

We had a fun p-day this week in Pittsburgh with the Brenchleys.  President and Sister Summerhays were going to come too, but couldn’t at the last minute.  We met Brenchleys at Greentree where the stake house is and drove together down town.  We found a place to eat and then went to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play the LA Dodgers.  That’s been high on Rod’s list of things to do and the Brenchleys are going home in July so we want to do all these things with them before they go home. 

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The Pirates beat the Dodgers and Rod was even cheering for the Pirates.  He’s always been a big Dodgers fan.  It was a good game and a fun p-day for us.  The stadium is right on the river, as you can see.

We were invited by AD and Pam Wilson one night this week to a big gala evening at the WesBanco Arena where the Nailers play hockey.  It was a fund raiser for a medical clinic in Wheeling that gives free medical care.  AD sponsored a table and invited us as guests along with his two daughters and their husbands.  There was lots of good food and an auction to raise money for the clinic.  It was a good community event to be associated with.  AD is the first counselor in the Bishopric, Pam is the compassionate service leader and they both are called as missionaries to teach the addiction recovery class.  They converted to the gospel as a family when the girls were young. 

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The missionary work is going great.  We have another investigator committed for baptism on May 28th.  The elders are teaching him and we have met with them several times.  Chias is from Guatemala and his sister, Lete, and some of her grandchildren are members.  We are also teaching a 10 year, Austin Beaver, whose mother, Rebecca, is less-active.  We have been meeting with the family since we got here and Rod is teaching Rebecca driving lessons so she can get her drivers license and have a way to get to church.   Hopefully Austin will be baptized soon.  Rebecca says Austin has been teaching his five year old brother, Alex, everything he has been learning.

We are loving the people here and they are loving us back.  We would like everyone to come out and meet them and see what a wonderful place this is.  We pray we are doing what the Spirit directs and accomplishing what He wants to happen in the Wheeling Ward.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fun in Pennsylvania

We drove to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to the Acura dealer to get a recall notice taken care of.  They gave us a loaner car so we didn’t have to sit there waiting for it to get fixed.  Wednesday we were able to go to leadership training in Pittsburgh again and were spiritually fed.  We watched a talk from Elder Holland that he had given in the MTC a week before we were there. He was speaking to missionaries, testifying in Elder-Holland fashion and it was powerful.  It set the tone for the whole day.  That night President Summerhays called and told us to meet them in Gettysburg Saturday morning and spend the day with them.  We called the Brenchleys and made arrangements to pick them up on Friday in Somerset where they are serving and drive over together.


As you can see, it was a cold, wet and windy day in Somerset.  They took us to the crash site of Flight 93 on 9-11-01.  It’s only a few miles from where they live.  It was a very sobering experience.

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They are trying to get the memorial built by the tenth year anniversary in September.  It will be a beautiful memorial when it is finished.  There is a temporary visitor’s center where we were able to see pictures and read details of what happened.  They even had the content of phone calls the passengers had made before the plane went down so they know pretty well what happened that day.

The Brenchleys took us as guests to their Rotary luncheon and then we took off for Gettysburg where we had made hotel reservations for the night.  It was fun getting to visit with them and hear in more detail how the missionary efforts are going in their part of the mission.  They will be going home (Centerville) in July. 

We met up with the Summerhay’s Saturday morning at the visitor center in Gettysburg and spent the day together learning and touring. 


We watched a film about the history of the battle and then saw this “Cyclorama”  which is a 360 degree oil painting on canvas depicting the battle.  It’s 42ft high and 300 plus feet around.  This picture is one small section of the painting.  It’s pretty spectacular.  We spent some time in the museum and then went on a bus tour of the battle sites. 

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The six of us got stopped several times by members and non-members asking us where we were from and what we were doing.  There are always opportunities for missionary work.  Sister Summerhays told us that Pennsylvania has the fewest members of the church than any other state.  Lots of missionary work to do here.

After the bus tour we walked around the cemetery where the Union casualties from the battle were buried. The Confederacy took their dead home to be buried.  There were approximately 50,000 casualties of this three–day battle, the most casualties of the Civil War.  It is said to be the turning point of the war.

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The Soldiers’ National Monument is the location of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  I remember memorizing the address but it never made such an impact on me as reading it here where the battle took place. 

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Afterwards we drove out to this covered bridge which is just out of Gettysburg.  This is where we said our goodbyes and drove back to our areas of service where we do the real work of the mission. Gettysburg is about four hours from Wheeling.  It was a fun break and good to spend time with other couples.