Monday, September 17, 2018

Week 32 (10-16 September)

Monday morning, we checked the status of Florence and it appeared like it would make landfall Thursday or Friday somewhere in North Carolina as a Category 3 or 4 storm so that could be devastating. We looked fairly safe, but it wouldn’t take much of a course change to come closer to us here in Jacksonville. We left our apartment at 8:30 am and opened up the USO. Pam went into the kitchen and did some prep work and I managed the office. We got a lot of phone calls with requests for Jaguar vs Patriot tickets and had to tell them they were all gone. Also, Titan ticket sales began today at noon. Charley Tramazzo arrived at 9:30 am and he opened up the safe and then Cheryl Vandiver arrived shortly thereafter, and she got the Titan tickets ready for the Noon crowd. I spent most of the morning setting up the main rooms for the “No Dough” dinner tonight. Another volunteer and I brought in tables and chairs and set up the Salad and Dessert bars. Also brought in the” Sneeze” screens for those two stations, put out the utensil and napkins dispensers and stocked up on water and soda for the drink station. Other volunteers arrived and helped in the kitchen primarily cutting up vegetables for the Salad Bar. At noon we had about 20 patrons waiting for Titan tickets and by then Dave Ostrum had arrived and between he and Cheryl they sold the tickets, and everything went smoothly. At 12:30 pm Pam and I left for lunch and drove to the Naval Station and had lunch at the Exchange. We noticed the HMS Queen Elizabeth was tied up at the “Carrier Pier” and it was a beautiful looking small carrier. We drove to the LaGae home and visited with Samantha concerning the threat of Hurricane Florence and her preparations. She was very concerned about what to do and we gave her our thoughts about precautions and things she could do immediately. Finally, we returned to the USO and continued preparations for dinner. At 5:00 pm tickets were issued, and food began to be served. Pam and I worked the Dessert Table, but due to a lack of volunteers Pam moved to the Salad Bar and I handled the Dessert Table. We had a steady stream of patrons for the next two hours and they served about 275. Both the Head’s and the LaGae’s came for dinner and it was nice to see both families. Cleanup began at 7:00 pm and Pam and I stayed for another hour and then returned to our apartment. It had been a long day and we were tired.

Tuesday morning was the 17th anniversary of the Attack on America against the World Trade Centers and Pentagon. There were memorials services being held in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Interestingly enough, the Cortlandt Street subway station, which was located directly below the World Trade Center, was re-opened for the first time and a Flight 93 Wind Chime memorial was Dedicated in Shanksville. We left for the Beach Church Food Pantry at 10:00 and received a van full of food for distribution at the USO. Two volunteers helped unload and Cheryl Vandiver took pictures and advertised on Facebook. We had a large turnout of military wives from the area and by noon most of the food was gone. Cheryl wondered if we could get more, so I drove back to the food pantry and they were happy to give us more food and we repeated the process. We sold more NFL tickets and at 1:30 pm Pam and I left for the day. We drove to Costco with a stop for lunch. At Costco we primarily bought more water and some food items and then returned to our apartment. We fixed two large pans of Ziti (from last nights No Dough dinner) and took them to Tara Alexander and also the LaGae’s on the Naval Station. They seemed happy to receive the food. Samantha LaGae had also come to the USO and picked up food for her and Tara.

Wednesday morning, I noticed the Mission office was using the Mission Blog to communicate with missionary families and issued a new statement each day assuring missionaries were safe and prepared. We left our apartment for Jacksonville Beach at 9:30 am and I dropped Pam off at the LaGae home where Pam babysat for Samantha while she did homework. I continued to the USO and Dave Ostrum was holding down the fort and there was a large training group in one of the main hall rooms. I did a few odd jobs until Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 11:00 am. It was her first day back from vacation to Ireland and Scotland with her husband. She was in pretty good spirits and we visited about her trip and then got busy doing a few odd jobs in preparation for a World-Wide USO Video Streaming activity that night on the Naval Station. Dave was representing the USO and we gathered items to distribute. I also put together items for a Navy Exchange activity that Pam and I would host next Friday. I got a call from Pam at 12:30 pm and she was ready to be picked up. Joyce also asked if I could make a deposit for her, so I picked up Pam and we made the deposit, had lunch and returned to the USO and visited with Joyce and looked over the schedule for the next few days and then left at 2:00 pm. We returned to the Naval Station Medical Clinic and picked up a prescription.  We did a little shopping at Big Lots and the Wal-Mart Market before returning to our apartment.  I made several phone calls, one to President Heywood and he confirmed he was setting Lyle Young apart as Lay Leader on the USS Iwo Jima that evening as Kyle was reporting aboard for a potential departure of the ship in the morning. I also called Blake Harris and he confirmed they were on alert status.

Thursday morning Hurricane Florence continued on a course towards the Carolina's, but had been downgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane, but was moving so slowly and the impact of storm surge and rain would be immense. Over 5 million people were under hurricane warnings just waiting. We opened the USO and had a moderate amount of bread and pastries put out and Pam and I got them tabulated and made available for patrons by 9:30 pm. Pam spent most of her morning in the kitchen cleaning out cupboards and I manned the office taking phone calls and checking in patrons. Dave Ostrum arrived about 10:30 am and he sold Jaguar tickets. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) went to a special meeting on the Naval Air Station and got back to Mayport at 2:00 pm. We discussed what was going on and the schedule for next week and then Pam and I left for the day. We drove back towards our apartment area and stopped for lunch and a little shopping before returning to our apartment. We made phone calls tonight and tried to arrange for some home visits.

Friday morning, I got up early and checked on the Weather Channel for hurricane updates and the eye of the storm was trying to come ashore at Wilmington, North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. Wind was down, but the rain and storm surge were massive and would continue for days as the storm was just crawling along. We were doing apartment inspections this morning and left at 7:40 am and drove across the Dames Point Bridge to the Dunn Avenue District and first visited with Sister Newman & Vai and had a nice visit with them. Sister Vai is Tongan from Salt Lake. Next, we visited Elder Aiken & Vai Tualamalii. Elder Tualamalii is Samoan from Colorado Springs. Back across the St. Johns river we stopped at Sister Byington & Abril apartment and they were both new to the zone and it was nice to meet them. Sister Abril was from Corona, California and Sister Byington from Orangeville, Utah. We saw Elder Willets & Brooksby next and had a good visit with them and finished our visits with Sister Gillins & Johnson. The other two companionships were away on a service project in the Dunn Ave Ward area. We returned to our apartment and compiled a report to send to Elder Mann tomorrow. We also did laundry this morning and vacuumed the apartment and cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. Later in the day we had some lunch and did some shopping and then returned and took care of our laundry and made phone calls about the weekend.

Saturday morning, we learned that some areas in the Carolina's had received 30 to 40 inches of rain along the coastline and over 22,000 people were being housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University’s basketball gym. The rainfall produced catastrophic flash flooding along the numerous rivers. The storm was expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolina's and the Ohio Valley by Monday. Missionaries were all safe in the Carolina Missions but the cleanup work pending would be enormous. We hadn’t heard whether missionaries from Florida would be called out to help. Pam and I finished missionary apartment inspections this morning at 8:45 am. We first visited Elder Hibbert & C. Smart and their apartment was very neat and clean. It was obvious they had prepared for our visit. We also drove to Jacksonville Beach to see Sister Knudsen & Davis. We had a nice visit and looked through their apartment which was also neat and clean. We returned to our apartment and updated the apartment inspection form and emailed it to Elder Mann. We also worked on our area book for the rest of the morning. After lunch we made a few stops and then returned to our apartment and did some texting about meetings tomorrow with our families. Alexis Connelly was down again with a migraine and we wish there was something we could do to help. I texted Sarah (Cottle) and congratulated her on her marathon run in Utah. She participated in the Huntsville Marathon and finished in 3:26 and was 57th out of 440, which was pretty amazing.

Sunday morning Florence was still in the North Carolina dumping huge amounts of rain throughout the state as it slowly moved north. We left for church at the Jacksonville Beach Ward at 9:30 am and met the saints and sat with Tyler Gneck. Sacrament meeting was excellent, and we attended the Gospel Principles class and the Sisters had two investigators attending. In Priesthood meeting they discussed relief efforts for the Carolina's. It appeared each ward in the stake would be assigned a weekend to go north, but it wasn’t clear for how long or when. They were awaiting instructions from up north. Later in the day I heard from Lynn and Maureen in Murphy, North Carolina and they were doing fine.

Sorry no pictures this week! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Week 31 (3 - 9 September)

Monday morning our week began and it was Labor Day, so the USO was closed for the day and we had time to relax and rest. I called a couple of sailors from the USS Iwo Jima about an upcoming deployment and had a nice conversation with one man being nominated to serve as Lay Leader for the upcoming cruise. Following that conversation, I contact President Heywood, Stake President, and gave him this information and left the call in his court. We had lunch and did some shopping before returning to our apartment. We heard from Alexis Connelly, one of our single sisters, and she was back from North Carolina where she had attended Boot Camp graduation for her brother who joined the Army. She had some auto problems and we were concerned about that.

            Tuesday morning, we left for the USO early to help with an expected crowd of people coming to purchase NFL tickets to an upcoming Jaguars versus Patriots game. When we arrived the parking lot was full, and patrons were waiting outside in lawn chairs and some had been there several hours. Sales didn’t start until noon, so they had a long wait. Cheryl Vandiver and Dave Ostrum had everything organized and Cheryl went outside and checked ID cards and then let them into the facility to check-in and get a priority number for ticket sales. Pam and I answered the phones and they were ringing off the hook all morning long. By noon the place was full of waiting patrons. At 11:30 am I drove to the Beach Church Pantry and filled up the back of the van with food. We placed all the food on the pool table and permitted patrons to take what they wanted. Cheryl, Dave and Pam were in the middle of selling tickets and they were calling out numbers and finalizing the purchases. By 1:00 pm all the tickets were gone, and the place miraculously cleared out. Cheryl took pictures of the food I had picked up and uploaded them to Facebook and during the next couple of hours many wives came for food. By 2:30 pm everything quieted down, and Pam and I left and returned to our apartment. In the evening we babysat for Tara Alexander while she went to a Rehab facility at Jacksonville Beach where she counsels every week. She was doing a great service at the facility. Tristin and Kyler were wonderful for us and Pam sat with them in the family room and watched TV. \

            Wednesday morning, I noted that 56 years earlier I had landed in Melbourne, Australia to commence my missionary service in Australia. Boy that day was vivid in my memory as I first met President McConkie and his big hands. Boy, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge of time since then. We opened the USO and I dropped off Pam and then returned for a doctor’s appointment. Prior to having a tooth extracted, Dr. Hoffman switched me to Xarelto and we needed to decide whether to stay on Xarelto or return to Warfarin. Xarelto required no testing and no food restrictions so the choice was not difficult to make, although a normal cost on the open market was $450 per month. Dr. Hoffman thought I could get a prescription filled at the Naval Station free of charge, so she wrote me a prescription. I also got a flu shot and a prescription for the new Shingles shot which they said was also available on the base. I drove back to the USO and joined in the morning fray. We got dozens and dozens of phone calls for tickets to the Jaguars versus Patriots NFL game but they were all gone. Cheryl Vandiver arrived and later Dave Ostrum also came so we reviewed the calendar and left for the day. Later in the afternoon we picked up the Sisters at the USO, where they parked their car, and we took them on base to a dinner appointment with a new family, Tony and Nikki Head. They are members of about 6 years and we hope to work with them. They love Sisters and, in the past, have attached themselves to missionaries rather than members and that has its shortcomings. But they are in a good frame of mind and ready to be active again. We had a nice meal with them and spent the better part of an hour discussing the gospel and enjoying a short by the Sisters.

            Thursday morning, we were up early and on the road to the Jacksonville Stake Center for Zone Conference. The chapel was full of missionaries and we greeted President & Sister Lee and found seats. Elder Vaughn, Assistant, conducted and he welcomed everyone and following an opening hymn and prayer announced the program. We first heard from President Lee and he introduced the theme of “A More Excellent Way.” He reviewed the “Pathway” to the covenant path emphasizing the Doctrine of Christ and spent quite a bit of time discussing each aspect of the Doctrine with scriptural support. He went over the mission Slogan of “Pearls”Prayer, Expectations, Authority, Read Book of Mormon, Lessons and Search the Teaching Record. Sister Lee followed with a discussion of Using the Book of Mormon effectively and she used the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. We then heard from President Lee again and he continued discussing “A More Excellent Way” using several video clips and stressed working with ward leaders. It was excellent with lots of interactive comments from the missionaries. The final hour of instruction was from Elder Vaughn and Carter and they taught about the Area Book and Smart Search and the importance of having a “Living Area Book.” Six missionaries who were in their last Zone Conference were invited to bear their testimonies and when done we sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” followed by a closing prayer. Lunch was excellent, and we enjoyed visiting with other senior missionaries and single missionaries in general. It was a very inspirational Zone Conference and President Lee was a good teacher of truth. That evening we drove to Jacksonville Beach for dinner at the Jarvis’ home. She had invited Pam and I, the Sisters and one of their investigators, named Sergio. We had a wonderful evening visiting, eating and the Sisters showed a wonderful video of President Nelson’s testimony of the Savior.

Friday morning, we returned to the USO for a few hours. It was very quiet, and Dave Ostrum had opened the facility. Shortly after noon we left and drove to a dental appointment and I met with an associate who looked at the extraction and pulled out a small piece of stitch and said everything looked good. She gave me an estimate for the next phase—Implant. With their prices I thought we would wait until we’re back in Utah. Somehow, we got to talking about our call as missionaries and that we were from Utah and she mentioned her grandparents, Bruce Marston and his wife were LDS. I asked if he was from Maine and she said yes, and I told her of our relationship with Bruce through our years in Maine. He was the Branch President in Topsham just before we arrived, in the Stake Presidency after the Portland Maine Stake was organized and had been our home teacher throughout my first deployment. A wonderful man and couple. She was not a member because her mother had kind of gone off the rails, as she put it, and was not active at all while this lady was growing up, but she lived in Brunswick, Maine and was familiar with Topsham and the Naval Air Station, etc. She came out to the foyer with me and I introduced her to Pam and we had a nice visit.

Saturday morning, we noted that Tropical Storm Florence was racing across the Atlantic and expected to increase in intensity to a Cat 3 or 4 Hurricane by the time it reached the East Coast, possibly in North Carolina. It was our first storm that we might have to contend with and at least will feel the influence of the storm with increased wind, rain and storm surge. There were two other depressions brewing off the coast of Africa, so the outlook was for a possibility of 3 simultaneous Atlantic Hurricanes. The Hurricane season is upon us! In the morning I got my hair cut and then Pam and I cleaned the apartment and did some laundry. In the afternoon we did some shopping and preparation for the weekend and next week. We were thrilled to note that our granddaughter, Beth Colton, was baptized today in Provo, Utah by her father Weston and confirmed a member of the church. We are proud grandparents.

Sunday morning, we left for church in the Jacksonville Beach Ward and were disappointed as we didn’t see any of our base families at church today. Tyler Gneck was there along with the Jarvis family. I texted Alexis and she was having a migraine again and not feeling well. Blake Harris texted Tyler that he had to be on the ship as they were doing hurricane preparations. Sacrament meeting was excellent with good talks and a sweet spirit present. Sister Davis gave one of the talks and did a fine job. We attended the Gospel Principles class and priesthood and relief society and enjoyed the instruction. Following the block, we left the beach and returned to our apartment. At 8:00 pm we watched the Face to Face event with Elder Cook. It originated from the hill in front of the Nauvoo Temple and was wonderful. Elder Cook and two Historians from the Church History Department fielded the questions, mainly about the restoration period up to Nauvoo. Been a good, busy week! 

 Zone Conference
 Lunch at Zone Conference
 Zone Conference, Pam with Elder & Sister Gilland
 Zone Conference Missionaries
 Chapel at Stake Center--not it is just like the Monroe Stake Center
 Guess who?
 Sister Davis & Knudsen who serve in Jacksonville Beach Ward
 Elders Carter & Vaughn, Assistants to the President
Jacksonville East Zone with President & Sister Lee

Monday, September 3, 2018

Week 30 (27 August - 2 September)

Pam and I began our week at the USO and were surprised at the number of cars in the parking lot. Dave Ostrum and Cheryl Vandiver had opened, and volunteers were working on “no dough” dinner preparations in the kitchen and on adjacent tables. Pam worked in the kitchen and I spent the morning setting up the main rooms—salad, condiments, dessert and drink tables. By noon all the preparation was done, and volunteers began to leave. Cheryl said they had chief selectees coming in the evening for the dinner and we didn’t need to stay. We shopped for the week and then returned to our apartment and did some laundry.

            Tuesday morning was Primary Elections in Florida and the USO was a designated polling location, so they closed it for normal operations. Dave Ostrum opened the facility and stayed throughout the day, so we didn’t go in at all. We cleaned our apartment and then drove across the river to the Dunn Avenue section of town to find a Beauty Supply store where Pam bought a permanent and some needed supplies to do a permanent at home. On the way back, we drove along the north side of the river and took the Ferry across the St. John river and continued to the Naval Station to see Samantha LaGae. She was home with two of her three kids and we had a nice visit. Jerald was at sea for a couple of weeks. After the visit we returned to our area and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment where Pam finished Alice’s Baptism dress and it was beautiful.

            Wednesday morning, we drove directly to the Beach Church on Jacksonville Beach and picked up a dozen boxes of fruit and vegetables and then continued to the USO. A fitness class was in process and all the tables and chairs were out of the main rooms because of the voting yesterday. We unloaded the food onto the pool table and got it sorted, displayed and pictures taken and posted on a Military wives Facebook page. Pam drove to the Naval Station and took care of Fiona and Clive while Samantha LaGae organized her office. She was beginning an online college course and couldn’t get anything done with the kids underfoot. After the fitness class left I swept the floor and together with Dave and a volunteer set out tables and chairs and got the facility back to normal. Once Facebook got wind of the food we had a steady stream of military wives and husbands coming in to see what was available and by noon most of the food was gone. Pam returned at 1:00 pm and we visited with Dave for a while and confirmed schedules and left. We had some lunch and did some shopping. While at Wal-Mart I had the van serviced and new wiper blades installed. Here in Jacksonville, the wipers get a workout. Later on we drove to the chapel in Jacksonville Beach to meet the Sisters (Knudsen & Davis) and when they arrived, took them to dinner. We enjoyed the meal and visiting with them for an hour. Both are Sister Training Leaders and super missionaries.

Thursday, we opened the USO at 9:00 am and laid out the bread and pastries that arrived the previous evening. By 10:00 am patrons began arriving to check out the bread and goodies and also Cheryl Vandiver arrived for her shift. We spent a quiet morning answering phones, checking in patrons and a few other sundry jobs. At noon we left and had lunch and then went to a dental appointment later in the afternoon. I had a molar removed that had been giving me issues as the root had split and was infected. Doctor Jeffrey had babied it for years, but now it needed to come out. The whole process took about a half an hour and once the tooth was out the doctor filled the root socket with bone graft material, sealed it up and I was done. The next step was either do nothing or have an implant put in ($$$). We made a stop at Wendy’s on the way to our apartment and got a large Frosty—Yum!!

Friday morning, we awoke normally, and I had a good night’s rest and my mouth felt fine, so we went to the USO and spent the morning. Cheryl Vandiver was working with one community service volunteer. It was a pretty quiet morning and Pam and I worked in the office taking care of donations and doing a little housework. At noon we drove to the LaGae home on the Naval Station and visited with Samantha for a few minutes. Following lunch we returned to our apartment and Pam gave herself a permanent and did a beautiful job.

Saturday morning, I texted Tara Alexander about coming to mow her lawns, but she replied the Elder’s had come by the previous Thursday and did the job. We asked if we could take her and kids to lunch and she said she and Samantha LaGae and kids were meeting at Costco and would we like to join them, so we did. It’s been wonderful to witness this friendship that has developed. Even though they live 10 miles apart they do a lot of things together and support each other. When they arrived, we got in line and bought a lot of hotdogs for the kids. It was good to see them all and received hugs from Eleanor, Fiona, Clive, Tristin and Kyler. They were very good and ate their food. After visiting for a while, we said our goodbyes and Pam and I did a little shopping and returned to our apartment.

Sunday morning, we drove to the Jacksonville Beach Ward and greeted the saints and other missionaries. Tyler Gneck was there along with Shay Tuttle and Jennie and Rich Black and their daughter Oliva. It was the first time we had met Rich. Sacrament meeting was excellent and following the sacrament we enjoyed many testimonies. I bore my testimony after having had a dream about it this morning. Felt it was a prompting. Following sacrament meeting we attended the gospel principles class and enjoyed Brother Novak’s lesson on Tithing. The Sisters had two men they were teaching, and they were both interesting and challenging individuals. Following the block, I visited with Rich in the foyer, but he was very shy. We hope to be a positive influence on that family. I texted Alexis Connelly before we left the Beach, but she didn’t answer so we returned to our apartment. Alexis went to her brothers Boot Camp graduation in the Army during the week and on the way back to Jacksonville was involved in a car accident. Don’t know all the details but hope we can help her if needed. Emailed our monthly report to Salt Lake and also to the mission president and President Lee called and we had a nice visit with him regarding our work. Appreciate their support. 

 Sister Knudsen & Davis are on the right and work at the "Beach Ward"
 Elder Brooksby & Hibbert with president Lee at MLC Training
 Pres & Sister Lee, Whiteheads & Manns at MLC luncheon
MLC Training, ZL, DL and STL

Monday, August 27, 2018

Week 29 (20-26 August)

Our week began at the USO this morning as we arrived at 10:00 am to help Cheryl Vandiver who opened the facility. Pam went right to the Kitchen and began baking cakes and I worked in the office with Cheryl. We were busy with patrons wanting football tickets and also numerous phone calls. There were several other small projects we worked on throughout the morning. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 12:30 pm and we discussed the next few days as she and her husband were going to Europe Friday and will be gone for two weeks. Pam and I left about 2:00 pm and had some lunch and then came home. Pam fixed a Café Rio Salad meal for Samantha LaGae’s birthday. We returned to the Naval Station at 4:00 pm and took the food to the LaGae’s home and saw the family for a few minutes. From there we drove to the barracks and picked up Tyler Gneck, Alexis Connelly, Andrew Cooper and Blake Harris and took them to dinner. We had never met Andrew or Blake but enjoyed getting to know them. Andrew served a mission in the Florida Jacksonville mission about 3 years ago. He was a Logistics Specialist (LS). Blake also a returned missionary and served in the Illinois Chicago Mission in 2012. He was a Religious Program Specialist (RP). We went to “Smashburger” and had some dinner and visited for about an hour and then took them back to the base. Andrew attends regularly at the YSA Branch, but we arranged for Blake to come to the Jacksonville Beach ward with Tyler or Alexis. Hopefully he will start coming regularly. He just returned from a deployment on the USS Iwo Jima.   

Tuesday morning, we at 10:30 am and drove to the Beach Church to see what food was available this morning. We got 3 boxes of fruit, eggs and bread and took them to the USO where they were made available for patrons. Cheryl Vandiver took pictures and posted them on the wives Facebook page and within an hour everything was gone. Pam and I filled 13 bookbags for elementary students and that completed all the bags that we had. That made about 150 bookbags we filled and distributed this summer. We visited with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) for a while and then left at 1:00 pm as they had several volunteers and didn’t need our assistance. We had lunch and came back to the apartment and cleaned and prepared for Elder’s to stay with us tonight. At 9:30 pm we drove to the Mission Presidents home and joined the group of 12 new missionaries that were getting their indoctrination from President & Sister Lee. Two Elders were assigned to us, Elder Dew and Brimhall and when they finished their interviews with President Lee, joined Pam and I and we returned to our apartment. Elder Dew was from Provo and Elder Brimhall from Taylor, AZ, near Snowflake. They were both high school graduates from this year. At our apartment we got them situated in their bedroom and had prayers and all went to bed. It had been a long day for them as they had been up since 4:30 am in Provo.

Wednesday morning Pam and I were up early and fixed some breakfast for the Elder’s. Afterwards they gathered up their few things and we loaded up the van again and headed south to the Mandarin Chapel. We took the missionaries to the Institute room where the “new missionary training” was taking place and said our goodbyes and returned to our apartment. Amazing how much quicker it was to drive north than south! At home we ate some leftover breakfast and did some laundry of bedding and towels to get ready for the next visitors. We were tired and rested throughout the rest of the morning. After lunch we did some shopping and then returned to our apartment and made some phone calls for visiting appointments and also worked on a new scrapbook of our activities here in Jacksonville.

Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the facility and there was a moderate amount of bread and pastries. We got them tabulated and set out and then the day began with patrons coming for the bread, tickets and other services. Pam went into the kitchen and spent the morning baking cakes. I manned the office until Cheryl Vandiver arrived at 10:30 am. She retrieved tickets from the safe and did all the ticket sales for this weekend’s Jaguar’s football game. I also did some consolidation and re-organization of school supplies in the back-storage room to prepare for the arrival of items for an upcoming USO sponsored Marathon in October. In the afternoon, other volunteers arrived so we left and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment.

Friday morning, we arrived at the USO at 10:00 am and David Ostrum opened the facility. Charley Tramazzo was also there, and a group of ladies were holding a meeting in one of the wings. Pam went to the kitchen and baked a couple more cakes throughout the next few hours and when done had 12 cakes in the freezer for future “no dough” dinners. Her “double chocolate Bundt Cakes” have been a hit. After finishing another project for Joyce Schellhorn (Director), we left for the day and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment. We made more phone calls to our families to check on Sunday.

Saturday morning was a day we had been looking forward to for some time. We were going to Orlando to attend the Temple with Tara Alexander, the wife of one of our families from the Arlington Ward. When we first met Tara, her goal was to receive her endowments this summer and she has been steadfast in this goal. Her husband, Wes, is on deployment on the USS Detroit and his plans are to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood when he returns in the Fall and then go himself. We left at 9:00 am and had an uneventful drive to Orlando, arriving at noon. We checked on garments at the distribution center before entering the Temple. After dressing Pam and I were asked to be the witness couple and were taken to the appropriate ordinance room. It was wonderful to see Tara come in with her friend from Texas, Tami Benson. Pam and I got up and greeted them and then took our seats and the session began at 1:30 pm. Following the session, we sat in the Celestial room for some time visiting and while there met two other couples from the Arlington Ward who had also been on a session and were there to perform sealings. Tara was invited to witness the sealing and we joined them where Sister Commander had her mother and father sealed to each other and then Sister Commander was sealed to her parents. It was a very tender moment. We returned to the Celestial room and visited with Tara and Tami for some time before going downstairs to change and leave the Temple. Tara enjoyed the session very much and was very happy with her decision. It was also her birthday today so that made it extra special. After leaving the Temple grounds we drove to Café Rio and had a late lunch. Tami was Tara’s Young Women’s advisor when Tara was a teenager living in San Antonio, Texas. They had kept in touch over the years and what a special thing for her to come and be an escort for Tara. We said our goodbyes to them and headed north to Jacksonville. The weather cooperated nicely all day long even though it appeared like rain was possible when we left the Temple. What a great day!

Sunday morning, Pam was up but not feeling too well. She was coming down with a cold, which started yesterday. At 9:30 am we drove to Jacksonville Beach and attended sacrament meeting. Tyler Gneck was there along with the Jarvis’ and the LaGae’s were out in the foyer. Alexis’ was having car problems and trying to get it fixed before she leaves Tuesday for her brother’s boot camp graduation in North Carolina. After the meeting we left and returned to our area. We had planned to attend the Fort Caroline ward meetings but decided instead to just come home and put Pam to bed. That is what we did, and I think it helped her throughout the day. In the evening we got a call from Travis and he broadcast a family gathering for Emilia’s birthday at Alex and Cynthia’s home. It was nice to see everyone, especially “birthday girl.” 

New Missionaries who arrived last week with President & Sister Lee
 Elder Brimhall & Elder Dew who stayed with us
 Sister Byington & Sister Abril, new Sisters in the Arlington Ward
 Orlando Temple
 Orlando Temple
 Angel Moroni
 Tami Benson, Tara Alexander & Sister Cottle
 Tami Benson, Tara Alexander & Elder Cottle
 Sister Cottle, Tara Alexander & Elder Cottle

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Week 28 (20-26 August)

Monday morning was the 20th of August and we began our day doing some shopping at Wal-Mart for school supplies to put in backpacks at the USO. We continued to the USO and spent a busy morning. Pam helped with “No Dough” dinner preparations and I did a dozen odd jobs for Joyce Schellhorn (Director). We were primarily trying to get the facility back to where it was last week. Everything had been taken off the walls on Saturday when the Chief Selectees came and painted out the facility. I took out trash, recycle paper, moved tables, chairs, sorted and hung pictures, etc. At noon we received a text from Stephanie Jarvis telling us that she was very sick and wondering if we could bring her lunch. We texted back “yes” and left at noon and went to Panera’s and bought some soup for Stephanie and went to her home. She was on the living room couch and could hardly move. Her stomach was in knots and she thought she was passing a Kidney stone. We felt so bad for her but were glad she thought us for help. At 1:30 pm we returned to the USO and continued helping for the night’s dinner. Volunteers were coming from all over the place and when James McCullough arrived at 4:15 pm Joyce said we weren’t needed if we wanted to leave. So, we came back to our apartment.


Tuesday morning, we left for the USO at 9:30 am and spent the morning and early afternoon serving there. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was in the office and Pam spent her time baking cakes in the kitchen. I continued helping re-hang pictures and other memorabilia left from the painting project. We re-arranged the items in the front foyer and I packed a dozen backpacks with school supplies. Joyce went home for an hour to take care of her husbands’ dog and when she returned Carole, another volunteer, arrived as did Dave Ostrum, so Pam and I finished what we were doing and left about 1:30 pm. We drove to Niki Head’s home on the Naval Station, but no one was home. The Head’s just moved into housing from a transfer from the Norfolk area. We were anxious to meet them. An hour later we drove to the Alexander’s and had dinner with Tara and her children. Tara had also invited Elder’s Willets and Brooksby and it was nice to get to know them better. Elder Willets was from Wellsville, Utah and Elder Brooksby from West Jordan, Utah. After the Elder’s left the LaGae’s came and brought a birthday present for Kyler Alexander and it was nice to see them. They spent the weekend at Disneyworld.  


Wednesday morning, I had an INR appointment with Doctor Hoffman and arrived at 9:00 am. She went over my INR of 1.9 this morning. I couldn’t believe it didn’t go up more, but she wasn’t too concerned. She was, however, concerned about a tooth extraction on the 30th. She had been contacted by the Dentist office and instead of stopping Warfarin 5 days prior to the extraction, she changed me to Xarelto which was a fast-acting alternative. She said I might get spoiled because with Xarelto there was no testing and no dietary restrictions. However, it was quite expensive, but I might be able to get it at the Base Pharmacy for free, so we would see in September. I picked up Pam and we drove to the USO and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was there along with Dave Ostrum and Charley Tramazzo. I did some jobs for Joyce, the largest one involved several boxes of books that were donated to the USO yesterday. Joyce went through them and picked out about 20 she wanted for the library and the rest we could dispose of. I took them out to the recycle bin and tore off the covers. The pages went into the recycle bin and the covers into the garbage bin. I later told Pam, it felt sort of like “burning books” in the olden days. However, few people read actual books anymore. Right in the middle of the project it began to rain. I moved over to one side under a tree because it wasn’t too hard, but that only lasted about 5 minutes and then it was pouring down. I finally gave up and ran to the patio and Pam brought me a towel to dry off. 10 to 15 minutes later the rain had stopped, and I finished the job. Joyce left to take care of her dog and Pam and I visited with Dave for a while. There wasn’t much to do so at 1:30 pm so we left for the day. We drove to the Head’s home on the Naval Station and Nicki and Tony were home and we got to meet them and one of their sons. They were in the process of unpacking but seem happy to be in Jacksonville. They joined the church in Jacksonvile about 3-5 years ago and were in the old Atlantic Beach Ward (which was disestablished). Jean McKendrick, Fort Caroline Ward, was good friends with them and let us know they were transferring back to the Naval Station. After our visit we returned to our apartment through another huge rain storm. At home I called the sister missionaries up north to confirm our trip to Orlando and Pam continued sewing on Beth’s dress. I also updated our military family file with information on the Heads. We hoped they would come to church Sunday, so we could introduce them around.

Thursday morning, we got to go to the Temple again in Orlando. We drove to the Fort Caroline chapel and met Sisters going with us; Sisters Goeller, Perry, Swann from the Kingsland Zone, and Sisters Rhoads & Ferguson from the Jacksonville East Zone. On the way south, we visited and discovered they were all going home. They were a fun bunch and kept themselves occupied as we drove along. We made two pit stops and with traffic snarls near Orlando caused a late arrival, but we made it to the group photos in the front of the Temple. Elder & Sister Schroeder and Waite, from Gainesville, were the only other senior couples besides us. Following pictures, we entered the Temple, changed and met in the chapel. There were 33 missionaries and several couples from wards coming to support missionaries going home, so it was a nice session. We sat in the Celestial room for about 15 minutes and visited then went to a sealing room for a short devotional where we heard from President and Sister Lee and President and Sister Duke of the Temple presidency. After more pictures outside the Temple, we drove to Café Rio and had a wonderful lunch. We kind of overwhelmed the place when we arrived but they seemed to handle us okay. We dropped the Sisters off at the chapel at 6:15 pm and returned to our apartment, happy but tired!

Friday morning, they didn’t need us at the USO, so we drove to a Social Security Administration office across the river. We were concerned that new cards that were coming out would be mailed to our Monroe address and wouldn’t be forwarded. A young lady helped us, and we got our address changed, cards ordered and set up to access our accounts online. We returned to our area and had lunch and also mailed Beth’s baptism dress to her and were anxious to see a picture. Back at our apartment we updated our family lists and made some phone calls for appointments.

Saturday morning, we drove to Tara Alexander’s home at 9:30 am and Pam visited with Tara while I mowed her lawns. She was doing all right and looking forward to the Temple on the 25th. Back at our apartment we got cleaned up, began some laundry and texted 8 individuals to invite to church or to find out information about them and got responses from 4 so that was a good effort. At noon went out for lunch and stopped at Wal-Mart and did some shopping for next week and then returned to our apartment. Pam did some cooking and sewing. I kept the laundry going and updated files. At 9:00 pm we joined the Transfer call and heard the changes that would take place next week. Sister Ferguson & Rhoads would be replaced by a new Sister and a new missionary, Elder Vaughn was going to be an Assistant to the President so Elder Aiken would get a new companion, Sister Vai would join Sister Newman in Dunn Avenue, and Sister Davis would join Sister Knudsen at the Beach. All other assignments in the zone remained the same. We had been asked to host two new Elder’s on Tuesday night so looked forward to that.  

Sunday morning, we were happy to hear about President Nelson’s statement on the name of the church, with an emphasis that we should be using the full name and not “nick names.” Alexis Connelly texted that she was not feeling well this morning and we felt bad for her. Her migraines just continue to plague her. We left at 9:30 am for Jacksonville Beach and enjoyed the meetings. Tyler Gneck sat with us and Jennie & Oliva Black were there, but we missed the LaGae’s and the Head’s did not come. Tyler was sustained and set apart as Elder’s Quorum secretary today and that was very pleasing. Following the block, we returned to our apartment and had some lunch and rested. I drove to the Hendricks chapel at 6:15 pm for General Priesthood Meeting and sat with Tyler Gneck, who had come with Ryan Dill, the Beach Ward Elder’s Quorum President. Quite a few men from the Beach Ward were there and it was a good meeting on various subjects—President Nelson’s challenges, Nauvoo trip, Priesthood, Ministering, Unity. Following a hymn President Bridgegan spoke, then President Button and the concluding speaker was President Heywood. They all spoke on various aspects of Ministering. It had been a good week.

Dunn Avenue District
 Fort Caroline District
  Missionaries going home next week
All missionaries at the Orlando Temple 
 All missionaries at the Orlando Temple
 Missionaries at their half-way point

Monday, August 13, 2018

Week 27

Monday morning, we received several responses from the Bishop’s emails sent out yesterday and hopefully will get a response from all of them, but it helped update the status of several military families and individuals. We opened the USO and it seemed had non-stop phone calls, mostly about NFL Jaguar tickets. Pam manned the office and I went to the new storage room and sorted through school supplies that arrived recently. Cheryl Vandiver came at 10:30 am and opened the safe so we had money to sell tickets. At 1:30 pm Dave Ostrum brought another 100 backpacks filled with school supplies and we took them to the new storage room and the room was awash with backpacks. Joyce Schellhorn called from the road (she was on her way back to Jacksonville from Clearwater, FL) and wanted the backpacks sorted by category (elementary, middle school, high school). I did that and left the zippers open, so we could add items as necessary. Joyce finally arrived about 3:30 pm and we visited about upcoming events. Pam finished the afternoon sewing and I evaluated the new responses from the Bishop’s letters.

Tuesday morning, we had a more leisurely start to the day, but eventually headed to the Beach Church on Jacksonville Beach and picked up a van full of food for the USO. The USO was also hopping with volunteers when we arrived. Charley Tramazzo’s church youth group were there to work in the yard and 3 other community service volunteers were busy inside. We unloaded the van and put the food out on the pool table and eventually updated a Navy wife Facebook page and people began arriving to pick up the donations. Pam worked in the office and I went into the new storage room and put some order to the room and then filled 30 backpacks for elementary school students. That left about 50 which could be elementary or middle school students depending on what was added to the bags. At 1:30 pm another volunteer arrived so they had plenty of help and Pam and I decided to leave as it was bedlam in the office. We did a little shopping and returned to our apartment where Pam continued working on Beth’s dress and I made phone calls to new names.

Wednesday was a day off from the USO as they were having the floors stripped and waxed and was closed for patrons. It was going to be a sewing day for Pam and I had a project to solve with the van. We had an issue with the transmission recently. It has gone into the “Limp” mode three times in the past 2 months. Nearly every system in the van is operated by a computer – including the transmission. In the “Limp Mode” the computer senses something is not right with the transmissions functions and won’t shift into 3rd or 4th gear. So far, we have been able to pull over, shut off the van, restart it and the computer reset and everything works okay. We are very concerned when the last two occurrences happened within 3 days. I found a highly recommended shop just a mile down the road (Active Transmissions) and visited with “Robin” at the front desk. They needed the van for two hours and recommended Thursday or Friday. We were committed in the mornings on both of those days but hoped to bring the van in about noon. At 5:00 pm I drove to Elder Hibbert & Smart’s apartment and picked them up for dinner. I also did an apartment inspection. Back at our home dinner was ready and at 6:00 pm we ate a wonderful Spaghetti dinner. Elder Hibbert was from Layton and Elder Smart from Draper and Elder Hibbert was the District Leader. They were fine Elders. After dinner they gave us a message and I took them back to their apartment. Later in the evening Pam “Face Timed” with Erin and they discussed setting up the quilting machine in Monroe, so Erin could finish a wonderful project she was working on for a friend.


Thursday was an interesting morning. We were out the door early and arrived at the Naval Station by 8:00 am to help in a Welcoming Booth on the pier for the arrival of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) home from deployment. As we turned onto Mayport Road, the main gate was backed up for a quarter mile so apparently a lot of people were either going to work or going to the Iwo Jima and New York arrivals. We thought it was the later. It took a while but soon we got on base and followed the traffic flow to a parking lot by the pier. We found the Navy Exchange tent that joined in giving out water, travel kits, goodies to snack on and generally observe the thousands of wives, husbands, children and families gather to welcome home the ship which had been gone since early February. There were 6 large tents set up along the pier with chairs providing seating for families. The first sighting of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) was around 8:45 am it followed a tugboat shooting water cannons on either side and welcoming the fighting ship. They came into the turning basin and eventually pushed up to the pier. It took so long! A far cry from the Oosterdam that had forward and aft side thrusters and did all that type of maneuvering on its own and quickly. Once tied up it took another hour to get a brow in place, but the families were very patient. As the first sailors walked off the ship families surged forward to greet fathers, sons, husbands, wives, daughters, etc. It was very heartwarming to watch this and reminded us of a few arrivals I had made on the “Connie” or when a squadron came home. The Iwo Jima had a crew of around 1,100, so it was a significant homecoming. When it appeared the last of the crew had exited the ship we helped the Navy Exchange clean up as they were moving to another pier for the arrival of the USS New York (LPD-21) later in the afternoon. Pam and I didn’t have to stay for that arrival and made our way to our van and drove to the USO for a short scheduling meeting. From the USO we came back to our apartment and I dropped Pam off and continued on to Active Transmission to have our van checked out. After dropping off the van, I wandered around the area, had some lunch, and eventually returned to the shop and waited and visited with the owner. Finally, at 2:30 pm the technician gave the owner the bad news. No codes in the computer which was strange, but upon pulling the pan off the transmission, the fluid smelled burnt, was black and gray and had metal in it. That was all bad news. Back in the office we discussed options. Rebuild, Replace or do nothing. I returned to our apartment and Pam and I sat down and weighed the pros and cons and finally decided we would have the transmission re-built. The most significant decision was when? They needed the van for at least 4 days. Sister’s Gillin’s & Johnson arrived for dinner at 6:00 pm and we had a fun hour with them. They were so animated and thrilled to be serving a mission. Sister Johnson from Kaysville and Sister Gillin’s from Bountiful. Sister Johnson also had Icelandic heritage and looked the part.


Friday morning, we up early and on the road by 7:40 am to do apartment inspections. We arrived at a new location for the Dunn Avenue Elders and Sisters. Their previous apartment would not renew their leases as they didn’t want to lease to “Mormons.” Sad commentary on our times, but in the “Bible Belt” you never knew what you would come across. We also had three apartments near our home and completed them and then drove to the Beach to meet with the Sisters. All the apartments looked great and we were impressed with their preparation and cleanliness. Before coming back to our apartment, we went to JoAnn’s and bought more fabric for Beth’s dress. Pam sewed most of the afternoon and I worked on our family lists and made a few phone calls.  


Saturday morning, we were up and at it early again. This time we arrived at the USO at 7:30 am to help set up for a food giveaway from the organization “Feeding Northeast Florida.” When we arrived the parking lot was packed and people were everywhere. We learned new Navy Chief Selectees (at least 50) were gathered to do a service project at the USO and were everywhere. The primary project was painting the interior of the USO. Dave Ostrum was orchestrating this effort. The food began arriving at 8:00 am and set up at the back of the parking lot. Pam and I and another volunteer set up the check-in table on the back patio, so patrons didn’t have to enter the facility at all. I had 4 chief selectees fill back packs and we ended up with over 50 to distribute to the children of military families throughout the morning. Food distribution commenced at 9:00 am and we had a steady stream of families coming for food until they ran out about 11:30 am. The backpacks were all given away and we had very few school supplies left in the storage room—which was a good thing as school starts in Jacksonville Monday morning. By noon we wrapped up things and had served over 125 families. On the way back to our apartment we did some shopping for a military dinner tomorrow afternoon. Later in the afternoon we drove to the Alexander home and celebrated Kyler’s 2nd birthday. We gave him a gift and he was pleased. He must be missing his dad because he came right to me when we arrived and sat on my lap most of the time we were there. In the morning Tara and family had gone to the zoo and celebrated Kyler’s birthday with other families.  


Sunday, we attended the Jacksonville Beach Ward and Tyler Gneck was with us, also Jennie & Oliva Black, the Jarvis’ and Shay Tuttle. Alexis called and was in bed with a Migraine, also the LaGae’s were on their way home from Disney World and hoped they arrived safely and had a good time. Sacrament meeting was excellent with good talks and music. We attended the Gospel Principles class with a nice group and finally, priesthood and relief society and enjoyed the classes. Following the meeting we visited for a few minutes with Tyler and Shay and then came home. Pam finished a fruit salad for dinner tonight and I called Blake Harris and he answered and I visited with him for a few minutes. He was still attached to the USS Iwo Jima and not sure of his schedule for the next little while but will let us know. His father and brother went home yesterday after having been here for the ships arrival. I also called Andrew Cooper, another single but left a message. At 5:00 pm we drove to Lance and Stephanie’s home in Atlantic Beach. There were a number of families and individuals there and we joined in. Attendees were Lance & Stephanie Jarvis, Jennie & Oliva Black, Shay Tuttle, Alexis Connelly, Tyler Gneck, Devaney & Gary Noblit (recently married) and Devaney’s two sons, and Tara Alexander and Trista and Kyler. After a blessing on the food we began eating wonderful grilled chicken on Shish kabob sticks with salads, chips and dessert. It was very good, and we enjoyed eating and visiting. When everyone was finished, we gathered in the living room and Stephanie asked me to say a few words. I talked about the importance of maintaining spiritual balance with spouses whether deployed or not. Too study the scriptures and have family prayer alone or together and bore my testimony of its importance. Everyone left about 7:30 pm and it had been a good night with promises to do this again periodically. There are a few others who could be invited to such an event and we will work on those. End of a great night. Additionally, we had a huge thunderstorm this afternoon—washed all the grime away!

 "Mutt & Jeff", Elders Smart & Hibbert for dinner
 Sister Cottle at USS Iwo Jima arrival
 Tugboat with water cannons "blazing"
 First look at the USS Iwo Jima (Helicopter Carrier)
 USS Iwo Jima at the pier with sailors manning the rails
Families welcoming home crew
 Unknown family reunited with "new" baby
 Sisters Johnson & Gillins for dinner
 Feeding Northeast Florida at the USO
Kyler Alexander with Mom on his birthday
 Military family dinner at Jarvis' home 
 Stephanie Jarvis & Sister Cottle in a serious discussion
 The cooks: Lance Jarvis, Tyler Gneck and Alexis Connelly
Kyler and Trista on stools and Devaney Noblit's son

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Week 26

Johanna asked about a blog for last week and I was sure I had written one, but upon examination couldn’t find one for Week 26, so here goes a little late.

Our week began at the USO where we helped prepare for the “No Dough” dinner in the evening. It was a hectic day as usual but fortunately we had a goodly number of volunteers which made light work for all. In the evening Pam and I raffled off school book bags. Each child who came with their parents filled out a little slip and then the Director pulled names out of a bucket and these families were called and notified they had won. Over the next few days we handed out these bookbags filled with school supplies—about 30. At 7:30 pm Pam and I took food to the gate guards at the Naval Station and then drove to Tara Alexanders and gave her a dish of “wings” and visited for a few minutes. This was her 2nd full week without a husband who is on deployment on the USS Detroit.

Tuesday was report day and I worked on the monthly report to send tomorrow morning. We report directly to Church Headquarters regarding our work, so that is a little different from most senior companionships. At 9:00 am I went to the local medical clinic to check on some medications that our supplier wouldn’t fill due to the change in providers. I hoped it would take care of the issue for the next year. We drove to the USO and helped Cheryl Vandiver until 11:00 am when we went to the Beach Church and was offered a large about of food which was surplus for them and distribute to needy family at the USO. Cheryl and Pam layed out the food on the  pool table and took pictures and published it on a military wives Facebook page. At noon Pam and I drove to the Naval Station and located the LCS Squadron Headquarters and delivered items for a brief that Joyce Schellhorn (Director) normally gave herself. She couldn’t be there today, so we took the items to the squadron and an instructor would do the briefing. Later in the afternoon Pam began working on a baptismal dress for Beth.

Wednesday morning, I was back at the medical clinic for an INR test. It was still low—1.8 (goal 2.0 - 3.0) and Doctor Hoffman changed my regime again to try and get me above 2.0. When finished we drove to the USO and helped there for a couple of hours. We took a large number of items to the Navy Exchange to be used in next week’s Welcome Home festivities for the USS Iwo Jima and New York. While at the USO, Pam got a call from Samantha LaGae needing help. She had a doctor’s appointment and her husband, Jerald, hadn’t come home yet. Pam drove to her home on base and sat with her children for about an hour. That wasn’t hard duty for her as little Clive is joy. Back at our apartment Pam baked cookies for families.

Thursday morning, we opened the USO and processed the normal bread and pastry donations from the previous night. It was a good selection, the most we’ve received in almost a month. Pam managed the front office and I took more items to the Navy Exchange for the ship return celebration. We were busy today and had 5 mothers with their children come to enjoy the Children’s Room and for the children to play with each other. I didn’t hear crying, so things must have gone all right. We also had a community service worker come and he was a hard worker and cleaned the bathrooms and mopped the main floor area. Cheryl Vandiver arrived about mid-morning and two JIA (Jacksonville International Airport USO) volunteers came and brought more Travel Kits. At 1:00 pm they had plenty of help, so Pam and I left. At 4:00 pm we returned to the Beach area and went on the Naval Station to the home of Jennie Black (new military member family) and Stephanie and Lance Jarvis were visiting, so we joined them, and had a nice visit for about an hour. Jennie is getting settled and her daughter has a friend nearby and would attend school within a block of their home, so life was good for them. Her husband is in Mississippi as part of a pre-commissioning team for a new ship the USS Polynesia. We left a plate of cookies and then drove to the LaGae’s at 6:00 pm and had dinner with them and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours.

Friday morning, we were at the USO again helping Dave Ostrum until Cheryl Vandiver arrived. Dave is a new part-time employee they hired recently to give the night manager some time off. Cheryl trained us on selling Jaguar NFL football tickets, which is a big deal during football season. In the afternoon Pam and I walked to the workout room at our housing complex and walked on treadmills for an hour and we needed to do that more often.

Saturday morning, we were up early and at 9:00 am went to the Alexanders and mowed lawns for Tara. Pam went inside and visited while I did the mowing. It took about 90 minutes to finish and looked pretty good when done. St. Augustine grass never will look as great as normal grass, but it’s done for another two weeks. We returned home and did housework. I vacuumed, and Pam cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. We also did 4 loads of laundry. In the afternoon we did some shopping and stopped at the homes of 3 military members and learned that one family had moved but the others were not at home. We got a text from a single member at the Naval Air Station and it was a relief as we hadn’t heard from her for over two weeks and were afraid we had hurt her feelings or something.

Sunday morning, we drove to the Beach and attended the Jacksonville Beach Ward and enjoyed their block of meetings. Alexis Connelly and Tyler Gneck were there, and they came together, which was nice. The Jarvis’ were also there along with Shay Tuttle, but we missed the Black’s and the LaGae’s. Each had some sick children. Following the block, we drove back to the Fort Caroline Ward and met the Bridger family, West & Ceyda and their two children. We hoped to see Angie Trejo, but she and her mother were not there today. After visiting for a while and making an appointment to visit the West’s at their home we returned to our apartment. In the afternoon we established a schedule to do apartment inspections during the following week with the full-time missionaries and wrote an individual letter to each Bishop in the Jacksonville East and West Stakes with a list of families that we have questions about and asked for their assistance. We also asked if there were military families they knew of that were not on our lists.  We hoped this would resolve questions we have had. Been a good week!

Week 32 (10-16 September)

Monday morning, we checked the status of Florence and it appeared like it would make landfall Thursday or Friday somewhere in North Caroli...