Monday, May 13, 2019

Week 66 (6 - 12 May)

Monday morning, Pam and I left for the USO at 9:30 am. No Dough dinner was that evening, so we were busy. Upon arrival my birthday was celebrated and that was a surprise. They sang “Happy Birthday” and presented me with a cake and cupcakes. It was nice. Afterwards Pam went in the kitchen and I helped Dave Ostrum finish the main room set up. Lots of volunteers and the prep work went by quickly. I drove to Publix and bought Cream of Chicken soup for a potato dish and later in the morning consolidated items in the outside storage room and eliminated another pallet so the room was wide open, and Dave could move the shelving systems back away from the walls. Shortly after noon a film crew came and set up and began filming a commercial with JEA volunteers and USO staff members, so we stayed out of the way and manned the office for an hour. When done Pam and I left for the day. We had an early dinner and returned to our apartment for the evening. We were thrilled to learn of another adjustment to church policy when we read a First Presidency announcement regarding Temple sealings: “Effective immediately, a man and a woman who have been married civilly may be sealed in the temple anytime after they receive their temple recommends for the sealing ordinance…” What a blessing in this day where over half of the countries where the church is established dictate a couple marry civilly before being sealed in the Temple. Allowance have been made for those conditions and now it is the same throughout the world.

Tuesday morning, Pam and I arrived at the USO at 9:30 am to help with a food delivery by Feeding Northeast Florida. We joined Dave Ostrum in the outside storage room as the final pallets of food was being off-loaded: 1 pallet of baby food, 1 pallet of canned goods, 1 pallet of strawberry’s and 1 pallet of meat. We sorted the meat into grocery carts and then Pam and I and Christiana and Monica (volunteers) bagged meat and placed them in a freezer. We completed 50 bags and then moved the canned goods via grocery carts into the USO main room and sorted them onto tables in the North end of the facility. Following the canned goods, we did the same with the baby food. Dave already had two refrigerators full of strawberry’s for tomorrow and we put the remaining flats on the pool table to be given out today. We had this all done by 11:00 am and then began moving remaining food products from the shelves in the storage room inside the USO. When done practically all the stored food was available for distribution tomorrow. Dave had an empty room to organize again for the future. Pam went to the Commissary and bought a couple of items to use in making pies and returned and made a Strawberry pie with the fresh strawberries and the staff members really enjoyed it. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at noon and we visited about the schedule for the rest of the week and then Pam and I left about 1:30 pm. We drove to the Arlington area and had lunch and then returned to our apartment. Shortly thereafter we received a call from John Walton (Jacksonville Beach Ward) asking for help in giving his Aunt a blessing. She was visiting his grandmother at the Fleet Landing Care Center in Mayport and was unable to give the blessing due to his schedule. I made a few calls and Lance Jarvis could go with me, so we changed clothes and headed back to Atlantic Beach and picked up Lance and continued to the Fleet Landing facility (only about two blocks from the USO). We located the room, where John’s grandmother was staying and met her, John’s mother Paula and Aunt Roma. John’s grandmother was recovering from a stroke and Paula and Roma were visiting. After a few minutes we were able to give the blessing to Roma who was having problems getting a leg to heal from an earlier operation. Afterwards we took Lance back to his home and we returned to our ours. Later we heard on the news of a school shooting in Denver. The STEM school in Highland’s Ranch. Travis called and was quite emotional because several of those involved were individuals, he knew from the Roxborough Ward. It was hard to figure out why those things happened, or what “snapped” in an individual to cause them to shoot peers, but it had become an epidemic in our country—very sad!

Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO by 9:30 am and there were several ladies already waiting for food, but the distribution didn’t start until 10:30 am. Dave Ostrum opened, and we helped get things ready for the day. Pam worked the front desk with Margaret (volunteer) and I worked in the outside storage room with Jim and Carmel (volunteers) and we distributed meat, diapers, strawberries and cookies. There were 3 other volunteers who guided the patrons through the food items and directed them outside where we were. After an initial rush, it slowed down, but by noon we had distributed food to about 45 families. It was fun to watch the look on their faces as they received the various items and were so grateful for the boost to their budgets. At a slow point I made a bank deposit for Joyce Schellhorn, and when I returned Pam and I went over the next week schedule with her and then we left about 1:30 pm. We drove to the mission office and dropped off a letter to Elder Grieve which detailed the sale of our Apartment Complex to another company and information on billing. We continued to the Arlington area and Pam spent the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner for the Sisters. Sisters McComb and Densley arrived at 5:00 pm and it was nice to have them in our home. Sister Densley was brand new and hailed from Draper, Utah. Sister McComb was from Colorado Springs, although her family had moved to Provo and now lived in Erin and Weston’s stake. We had a great meal and enjoyed visiting with the Sisters and finding out how their work was going here in the Arlington area.

Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the center and were pleased to see a large amount of bread and pastries waiting to be distributed to military families. It had been quite a while since we had received that amount. Pam loaded up pastry items to be saved for No Dough dinners and took them to the outside storage room freezer. It was a quiet morning with not a lot of traffic. We manned the office and I brought in strawberries from the refrigerators to those who wanted them. I also organized and moved the remaining food products from yesterday’s distribution to the front tables in the north end and then put down the chairs, preparing for tomorrow’s luncheon activity with the Coast Guard. Dave Ostrum came for a while and opened the safe, so we had access to tickets the USO were currently selling. At 1:00 pm we left and drove on base and visited with Nikki Head and her boys Caleb and Matty. She seemed happy to see us. We had some lunch on base before returning to Arlington and our apartment. Pam spent most of the afternoon sewing on a dress for Sister Johnson and a quilt for Stephanie Jarvis (binding). I did a little scrap booking this afternoon.

Friday morning, Pam and I left for Jacksonville Beach where we picked up 75 pounds of ground beef from Beam’s and delivered it to the USO for an upcoming No Dough dinner. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) opened the facility and had a community service volunteer working helping get the north and south rooms set up for a Coast Guard luncheon at noon. Pam helped in the kitchen with desserts, plates, utensils, etc. I took a load of bread to the Navy Exchange and spent most of the morning in the office answering phones and checking in patrons. At 11:30 am Coast Guard wives began arriving for the lunch with the wife of the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Charles Ray. She arrived about 12:15 pm and came right into the office and met Joyce, Charlie and both Pam and I were introduced to her. She was very much an Admirals wife and seemed like a nice person. She was escorted to the north room where the luncheon was being held and she and a Coast Guard Ombudsman for the area talked and fielded questions and ate with a dozen women invited to the activity. The Admiral was on the Naval Station conducting a similar meeting with Coast Guard leadership both men and women. By 1:30 pm it was over, and Joyce reviewed our schedule for next week and we left and drove to Stephanie Jarvis’ home and Pam dropped off the baby quilt Stephanie had sewn but ran out of steam and asked Pam if she would quilt it for her. She was very pleased with the finished product. We continued to our apartment in Arlington and did a little preparation for a Temple Preparation lesson this evening. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to babysitting issues.

Saturday morning, we began our weekend routine of cleaning and laundry. Pam stripped our bed and started that load and then as she dusted and cleaned bathrooms, I vacuumed the floors and cleaned up the kitchen. We were done by noon and dressed and ready to do something fun today. I did a little research and found another fort to discover south of St. Augustine, near Crescent Beach. It was called Fort Matanzas National Monument and consisted of a 1740 Spanish fort called Fort Matanzas, and about 100 acres of salt marsh and barrier islands along the Matanzas River. We enjoyed our time there and rode a ferry across the river to the fort and it was small but seemed very well positioned to protect the river. The gun deck had 4 cannon and the facilities hosted a small crew of men and one officer who manned the fort on 30-day rotations. Back on the visitor center side we walked a short nature trail in the preserve area, and it was beautiful, especially the oak and cedar trees. We took AIA back up the coastline to St. Augustine and continued north to Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and had a late lunch in Atlantic Beach. Finally, we made it back to our apartment in Arlington—a nice day.

Sunday morning, we attended the Jacksonville Beach ward and enjoyed wonderful meetings. We were pleased to see Jenny Black and Olivia, the Lagae, Jarvis and Noblit families. Tyler Gneck was also in attendance and he received orders to HSM-70 at NAS North Island, California. He would be leaving around the end of June. We will be sad to see him go. Before the meeting Jerald Lagae came and slipped into our pew and we visited for a moment and then he asked about the sacrament and I knew what he wanted—to pass the sacrament. I took him up front and introduced him to a young man who was in charge of the deacons, and they were happy to have him help. During the sacrament portion of the program, Jerald did a fine job and we hoped he would want to do it again and possibly bless the sacrament. The Mother’s Day program was excellent with fine talks and music from the Primary children and during that portion of the program Eleanor and Fiona Lagae went up and sang with the children as did Olivia Black. The 2nd hour was relief society and elder’s quorum meetings and we enjoyed good lessons. After the meetings we visited for a while and then returned to Arlington and our apartment. We had some lunch and settled in for the afternoon watching some enjoyable programming from BYU television. At one time or another all our children called Pam and wished her a happy Mother’s Day and I called Lynn and got an update on his condition. He was still in a rehab facility but was doing better and hoped to be released by the end of the month.

Sister Densley & McComb for dinner
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Pam at Fort Matanzas National Monument
Visitors Center
Onboard ferry to the Fort on Rattlesnake Island
Fort Matanzas
Fort Matanzas Sentry Tower
Sentry Watch Tower

Gun Deck
Matanzas River
Fort Matanzas roof top view
Spanish Flag
Fort Matanzas
Fort Matanzas National Monument nature walk
Fort Matanzas National Monument nature walk

Monday, May 6, 2019

Week 65 (29 April - 5 May)

Monday morning, Pam and I opened the USO as both Dave Ostrum and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had medical appointments this morning. Charlie Tramazzo was in but was cloistered away in his office. We had a community service volunteer show up and we put him to work cleaning windows, floors, etc. throughout the morning. Pam went into the kitchen and made a “Funeral Potatoes” dish to be sampled by the crew for next weeks No Dough dinner. By noon Dave had arrived and he had the volunteers move water and work out in the outside storage room. Can’t say anything substantial got done today but they were concerned about a luncheon tomorrow for a financial contributor. Pam and I left about 1:30 pm and drove to the St. John’s Center and shopped at Costco and Hobby Lobby and then had lunch before returning to our apartment. I made a number of calls to new phone numbers we garnered on members living on the Naval Station, but only got on answer. Most of the numbers were disconnected or didn’t work so the individuals had probably transferred. The one that answered was the right name but indicated he was not a member and wasn’t interested in any contact. Pam finished watching the Missionary Safety videos, so we completed that task.

Tuesday morning, we arrived at the USO by 10:00 am to help with the luncheon. Dave Ostrum was in charge and two community service volunteers had the foyer and south end set up for the luncheon. I worked with the two volunteers making kits for the USS Lassen which was going on deployment soon. We first made over 500. At 11:30 am guests began arriving—The Armed Forces Families Foundation (AFFF); a non-profit organization made up of volunteers with primary focus on areas of significant need which often fall outside the budget constraints of the military and its family support organizations. In particular, the AFFF donated money to USO to renovate the bathrooms, office flooring and install a new air conditioning system. The main representative was a senior executive from Taco Bell, and he brought the main course for the luncheon and we provided salad and drinks. Mike O’Brien and Charlie took this man and another young woman (whom we later learned was from Utah and LDS) around the facility and described our mission and what we had accomplished with their donations and what still needed to be done. We had about 20 single and married men and women come from various commands for the lunch and they ate and visited and provided a nice visual setting for the guests. At 12:45 pm Pam and I drove to the Naval Station and dropped off Girl Scout cookies to the Fire Station and the Ocean Breeze Conference and Catering Center. On the way out of the station we noticed a four-masted sailing ship in the basin and drove around to get a closer look. It was the Cisne Branco, a tall ship of the Brazilian Navy. We were able to drive right next to it and it was a beautiful vessel. From the Navsta we headed back to our apartment and spent a quiet afternoon. In the evening we returned to Atlantic Beach and purchased dinner for Stephanie Jarvis and delivered it to her home. We then drove on base and checked out 7 homes that I had called yesterday, where members used to live, but six of the seven had new families in residence and no one home at the seventh. We had some time to kill, so drove around the Mayport area, especially in the “old town” area by the ferry landing and saw some interesting old homes along the fence line to the Naval Station. At 7:45 pm we drove to the Lagae’s home where we held our Temple Preparation class with the Lagae’s and Perry’s. We had a wonderful class and taught lesson 4 and had some good discussions about Ordinances and Covenants. Both families were doing well and still had an urgent desire to go to the Temple.

Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO by 10:30 am and Dave Ostrum had opened, and Beam’s had just made a small delivery with a promise of a larger one later. Two community service workers were helping. We had peppers, mangoes and meat and it was all out and Dave announced it on Facebook. Pam and Julie Davis went into the kitchen and worked on plans to bake a “test” pan of Lasagna for Joyce and Pam asked me to go to the Commissary and get a container of Ricotta Cheese. When I returned Beam’s was there again with a much larger delivery, especially of meat and bread products. By then patrons were arriving for food so we were putting out new meat while they were filling up boxes and carts with food. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) asked me to return to the Navy Exchange and get some scratch sheets for upcoming sales and a box of crayons for this summer’s school bags. At 11:30 am Joyce, Dave and Julie had a staff conference call with Mike O’Brien in Charlie Tramazzo’s office, and they were out of sight until after 1:00 pm. Pam continued in the kitchen and I took care of the office. When the test Lasagna was done everyone liked it, especially Joyce, so they knew how they would assemble and cook it next week. Joyce, Dave, Julie and Charlie went into another meeting at 2:00 pm in the Pathfinder room and Yao Li manned the office while I took 5 bags of meat to Pam Haley at the exchange for some of her employees. When I returned Pam took lunch to Stephanie Jarvis and said she was up and around, and that Lance was home. During the food distribution, Shay Tuttle came and got some food, as did Samantha Lagae and later Wes Alexander and it was nice to visit with all of them. By 3:00 pm the food was gone which was pretty amazing.

Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the facility. Dave Ostrum was there getting items ready to take to Camp Blanding, an Army detachment south of Jacksonville. We had a small amount of bread and a lot of pastries which we set out and patrons began arriving by 9:30 am. The morning was quiet, and Pam worked in the office and I did a few odd jobs. We prepared for tomorrows Spouse Appreciation Day at the Navy Exchange which Pam and I would host. Dave left with a car full of food items for Camp Blanding families and by noon Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Julie Davis were there along with other volunteers, so Pam and I left for the day. We bought some lunch for Stephanie Jarvis and before leaving the base stopped at the Besvold residence in Housing to check if Helen Besvold resided there. She did and was home and I introduced ourselves to her. She indicated she wasn’t a member, but then acknowledged she had been a member when she was married to her first husband, but since her divorce she and her current husband attended a non-denominational church in the area. She was very friendly and knew who we were but was not interested in the church. We left a card and offered support and help if she ever needed it and then left. That cleared up all the names we had been working on this past week. We continued to Stephanie’s home and Pam took the lunch to her and indicated she had overdone it yesterday and was back in bed today. We had some lunch and then did some shopping at nearby Wal-Mart before returning to our apartment. Elder Alexander called and needed some help securing an apartment in our facility, so I went to the leasing office and visited with Sydney Turner (Leasing Manager) and over a period of an hour filled out some forms and negotiated a lease for a new apartment for the Elders in June. Pam had a long visit with Erin and enjoyed getting up to date on our grandchildren.

Friday morning, we left for the USO at 10:00 am and picked up items we would give away at the Navy Exchange for today’s “Spouse Appreciation Day.” Dave Ostrum had opened and when we arrived Beam’s was just delivering a second load of items which were being sorted and laid out for patrons—meat, produce and bread products. He asked us to take some to the Exchange, so we took 4 boxes of lettuce and 2 boxes of peppers and a bag of meat for Pam Haley (Manager). At the exchange I delivered the produce and meat and Pam began unloading and setting up our table in the Exchange Foyer. We were front and center again and joined by ten other organizations from the naval station and local volunteer organizations. This was the first event we hosted for the USO a year ago and we enjoyed mingling with military members and families. We were pleased to meet with Bill Kennedy again, a former Navy pilot (S-3’s) and most recent assignment as CO of the USS Saratoga prior to its decommissioning. He knew we were missionaries and visited with us for a few minutes and thanked us for our service and wished us well knowing we would not return for the 2020 event. At 1:30 pm some of the vendors began leaving and we finally packed our things and departed at 2:00 pm and returned to the USO. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) visited with us about next week and then we left for home. While at the Navy Exchange I learned, via text messages and a phone call, that my brother Lynn was in a hospital in Murphy, North Carolina having suffered sepsis poisoning from a cat bite. It happened six weeks earlier and we were just learning of his recovery which was not going well. Later in the evening severe weather was experienced in the Jacksonville area and about 9:00 pm a Boeing 737-800 owned by Miami Air International, a charter airline company based in Miami, Florida. Crashed at NAS Jacksonville and slid off into the St. John’s river. The flight was a bi-weekly “Rotator” flight from Guantanamo, Cuba to Norfolk, VA via NAS Jacksonville providing transportation to military families and DOD employees to and from Guantanamo. There were 136 passengers and 7 crew members on board, and 21 adults were taken to Memorial hospital, but no one was critically injured. It was unclear what impact the weather had on the landing—more to come!

Saturday morning was a lazy morning for us. After sleeping in and doing some studying, we began housework and laundry. By noon we were dressed for the day and drove to Atlantic Beach and helped Stephanie Jarvis in her home. I vacuumed the carpet and Pam swept and mopped the tile floors in the kitchen and entryway. Stephanie was mobile but had to be very careful. Lance was home working on the baby’s crib. We left their home by 1:30 pm and had some lunch before driving to the Alexander’s home for a “baby reveal” they were hosting. A number of ward and military friends were assembled in their front yard and after some visiting they gathered around a Magnolia Tree in the front yard where a Pinata was hanging from a limb and the kids and mom and dad smacked at the Pinata until it broke revealing “blue” candy and toys—they were having a Boy! They were really surprised but happy. The Arlington Sisters were there, and we met Sister Densley (new) and made an appointment for dinner next Wednesday. Back at our apartment, we finished a few more loads of laundry and in the evening watched a wonderful program from the Women’s Conference at BYU featuring a panel discussion by the three Women Auxiliary Presidents—Sister Cordon, Bingham and Jones. Sheri Dew moderated the discussion, introducing the Presidents and presenting questions. They did a wonderful job discussing difficult questions and bore powerful testimonies of the gospel.

Sunday morning, we left for Jacksonville Beach at 9:30 am. Sacrament meeting was excellent with wonderful testimonies borne by many ward members. Chris & Shay Tuttle, Stephanie & Lance Jarvis, Devaney & Gary Noblit and Tyler Gneck were in attendance today. Sunday School was held, and Sister Ward led the discussion. Following the block, we attended a baptismal service for Collin Moore who was baptized by Tory Martin. Talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost were given by Elijah Rogers and Ryan Dill. About half the ward stayed and supported Collin. During the service the skies got dark, the wind whipped the trees and lightning and thunder boomed and rain came down in torrents. Lasted about 20 minutes but certainly got everyone’s attention. We spent a quiet afternoon and watched the YSA fireside this evening where Elder & Sister Carl B. Cook spoke on marriage.

 Brazilian Training Vessell, Cisne Branco in port at Mayport Naval Station
 Sister McComb & Dreiling, last Sunday before transfers
 Sister Dreiling leaving the Arlington District
 7 Missionaries going home
 Chris Tuttle receiving the Navy Achievement Medal
New Missionaries arriving
 Mayport Lighthouse
 Old Presbyterian Church in Mayport
Pam at our USO table at Navy Exchange event honoring Military Spouses

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Week 64 (22 - 28 April)

Monday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:00 am and Pam went right to the kitchen and began the task of warming up chicken drumsticks and wings that had been cooked previously. That took most of the morning. She was assisted by Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and another volunteer. I spent my morning setting up the main room for the dinner and assisting in the kitchen with whatever they needed. We ended up with 7 volunteers at different times throughout the morning and early afternoon and Pam kept them busy. In the afternoon corn and mac n cheese were prepared in huge volumes and the only issue was power. Every time we used multiple roaster pans; we kept tripping circuit breakers. I also worked in the outside storage room consolidating the Girl Scout Cookies and was able to move out 4 pallets so we could get shopping carts into that room. Joyce said we were not needed for the dinner, so we left at 3:00 pm and were both very tired and sore from standing for such a long time but dinner preparations were finished.

Tuesday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:00 am and the Feeding Northeast Florida truck had just arrived and was unloading four pallets of food—meat, canned goods, Mangoes and a pallet of baby food. There were three volunteers from JEA and 2 other ladies and they were a big help and stayed with us throughout the morning and early afternoon. We made up 50 bags of meat and placed them in a freezer. The canned goods were taken inside and placed on tables in the north wing and sorted by type. We also brought out some food from the pantry that could be reached as pallets of Girl Scout Cookies continued to block access. By noon everything was ready, and patrons began arriving. Pam and Margaret manned the check-in desk in front. Stephanie Jarvis came about 1:00 pm and we had an opportunity to visit with her as she gathered food. Joyce asked me to take some briefing material to HSM-46 on base and after I returned, Pam and I left for the day and returned to the base and mailed a package for Charlie Tramazzo to his son in the middle east and also delivered Girl Scout Cookies to Nikki Head, Shay Tuttle, Samantha Lagae and Jenny Black. We learned Tony Head left for Wisconsin and would be there until June. That was a surprise as he had been taken off the “pre-commissioning” crew list. In the evening we returned to the Beach area and picked up Sister Tidwell and Weyland and took them to dinner and had a wonderful hour with them—great missionaries!

Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:30 am and Dave Ostrum had opened. The north wing had been set up for a Pathfinder event at 11:00 am. At 10:30 am Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived and we went over some items she wanted done today and then she and Dave left for St. Augustine where they attended a special meeting involving the USO. Pathfinder representatives and vendors arrived and set up in a few of the tables and then 4-6 potential students arrived to participate in the event. They had a quick lunch and visited with the vendors and then went into the Pathfinder room and had a meeting which lasted about an hour. The primary theme was the IT career path. Pam manned the office and worked on recipes for upcoming No Dough dinners. I was in and out doing jobs for Joyce. When the Pathfinder people left, I set the north end up in the normal configuration. At 2:00 pm a lady representative from Kings Bay Sub Base arrived and I loaded 90 boxes of girl scout cookies into a pickup truck and she left. I also took some cookies and candy to Brenda at the Naval Station Post Office for Joyce. Finally, at 4:00 pm Dave made it back to the USO and James McCullough arrived a half an hour later so Pam and I left for the day.

Thursday morning, we left for Orlando at 7:00 am to join President & Sister Lee and other missionaries at the Temple. The drive south was enjoyable and upon arrival, President Lee and his wife were just unloading their car and the mission van also drove in, so timing was perfect. We joined the other missionaries and senior couples in the front of the Temple for pictures. After entering the Temple, we changed and met in the chapel to await our session. It was a wonderful session and the ordinance room was full. Following the session, we visited in the celestial room for fifteen minutes and then followed President Lee to a front sealing room for a short devotional. President Mills of the Temple presidency spoke to the missionaries and then we heard testimonies from President and Sister Lee. We left the Temple about 12:30 pm and gathered again at CafĂ© Rio for a wonderful lunch. There were five missionaries going home next Tuesday and eight at their halfway point. After lunch we said goodbye to the departing missionaries as we would not see them again and then Pam and I headed back to Jacksonville. The ride home was equally good, and we were pleased with the van’s performance and actually achieved over 32 mpg on the freeway—amazing! At 6:15 pm we drove to Stephanie Jarvis’ home and picked her up and continued to Katie Dill’s home for a baby shower for Stephanie. After dropping them off I purchased gas and then parked in the chapel parking lot and waited. At 9:00 pm they were done, and I picked them up and returned Stephanie to her home with all her gifts.

Friday morning, we left the apartment at 10:00 am and drove to the Navy Exchange in Atlantic Beach where we helped Charlie Tramazzo and his wife Sharon host a table for the annual NEX Cupcake Wars event. Commands from the Naval Station sponsored tables and displayed cupcakes and baked items to be judged and sold to patrons. Joyce Schellhorn (director) joined us along with Charlie and his wife Sharon and grandson. Charlie’s grandson was autistic and could hardly contain himself as they walked around and looked at the various tables, so eventually Sharon took him and left, and Joyce and Charlie returned to the USO. Pam and I manned our table, welcoming patrons who came to look and, in some cases, purchase cupcakes, cookies, and other items for sale. There were really some beautiful presentations from the various commands. Five judges arrived around noon and each wandered around with clipboards grading the presentations and then sat down and sampled each command’s selected cupcakes. That whole process took about 45 minutes as there were 10 commands participating. Finally, the XO of the base stood, and she announced the winners. LCS-17 Pre-Commissioning Detachment took 3rd Place, LHD-7 Iwo Jima FRG took 2nd Place and LHD-7 Iwo Jima took first place. Those were hard choices because they were all wonderful. When the judging was over, we packed away leftover cupcakes and cleaned off our table and returned to the USO where we visited with Joyce for a few minutes before leaving for the Arlington area. We took a drive across the Dames Point Bridge and ended up at the River City Marketplace area where we had lunch and then returned to our apartment. Pam began sewing and I worked on pictures taken during the week.

Saturday morning, we did housework and Pam stripped the bed and washed the mattress pad and I began vacuuming the floors. Pam dusted and cleaned the floors in the bathrooms and kitchen and prepared a box of Girl Scout cookies for the Alexander’s. Just prior to noon we got a call from Lance Jarvis who was on his way to Orlando with a youth baptism trip. He indicated Stephanie had thrown out her back that morning and was bed-ridden. Could we take her some lunch? We said sure and called and found out what she would like. We drove to a restaurant on Atlantic and bought lunch and continued to Atlantic Beach. Pam went in with the food and visited with Stephanie and she was in bad shape, especially when her baby was due within three weeks. After we left, we drove to the river by the town of Mayport and ate our lunch watched the ships go by and the activity on the beach. We then returned to the Arlington area and dropped off Girl Scout cookies with the Alexanders and then home to our apartment and continued laundry, rested and spent a quiet evening. A great disappointment occurred at 9:00 pm when we realized we missed the senior couples phone conference an hour earlier. How did we do that? We quickly dialed the conference number and joined the transfer call and President Lee was just starting transfers. The Jacksonville East and Mandarin Zones were combined into the Jacksonville East Zone and most of the companionships were changed so we would have new missionaries to meet and get to know. Additionally, President Lee announced three new stakes to be part of the mission by the end of June—Tallahassee, Panama City, and Tifton, GA when the Macon Georgia mission is dissolved.  

Sunday morning, we left for Jacksonville Beach and church at 9:30 am. We visited with the Sister Tidwell & Weyland and other ward members before the meeting. Sacrament meeting was excellent with talks by Brother Simons and Dill who spoke to an Easter theme. During the second hour the priesthood met in the overflow room and the women to the relief society room. Following the block, the ward scheduled a “linger longer” activity and most of the ward stayed and enjoyed pot luck dishes and visiting with each other. Military families today included Jenny and Oliva Black, Tyler Gneck, Lance Jarvis and Gary and Devaney Noblit. Gary returned home during the week from Bahrain and we were sure they were happy to be together again. Following dinner and visiting, we gathered up our things and confirmed with the Lagae’s and Perry’s that we would meet on Tuesday evening, Pam and I left and drove back to our apartment and spent the afternoon and evening resting and napping in between byutv programming.

 Jacksonville East Zone missionaries that we worked with in April 2019
 Preparations for food distribution at USO during the week
 Missionaries at the Orlando Temple on the 25th of April
 Elder & Sister Cottle along with Elder & Sister Waite serving in Gainesville at the University
 Missionaries waiting for pictures
 Pam saying goodbye to Sister Roderick who is going home
 Sister Cottle with Sister Roderick, Johnson, Dreiling & Rydalch
 President & Sister Lee with departing Sisters, all great missionaries
 One of the table displays at the Navy Exchange "Cupcake War" activity
Another table at the Navy Exchange "Cupcake War" activity

Monday, April 22, 2019

Week 63 (15 - 21 April)

Monday morning was highlighted by the celebration of our 53rd Wedding Anniversary. Seemed just yesterday that we were on our way to Puerto Vallarta with our children to celebrate our 50th. But each year gets sweeter and this past year wonderful being here in Jacksonville, Florida. We loved the work we were doing, the families we’ve met, the association with other missionaries and senior couples and our wonderful Mission President and his wife. We left for the USO at 10:00 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had opened and a community service worker was busy moving tables and resetting the main rooms after Saturday’s activities and I joined him in that task and Pam worked in the office. Pam and I emptied the leftover bags of gifts from the “baby shower” activity and boxed them up as Megan DeGance had to mail them back to headquarters. Tax service personnel arrived at 1:30 pm for their last day and they had a full slate of applicants. Pam and I left about 2:00 pm as things were slow. We spent a few hours in the afternoon purchasing a new van. We’ve been having more and more transmission issues and with the miles on the van decided to replace rather than repair. We celebrated our anniversary with a dinner at Texas Roadhouse—wonderful! Later in the evening we were stunned to hear the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France was on fire! We tuned to a news service and learned the cathedral was being renovated and somehow a fire started in a roof area and throughout the evening destroyed a good portion of the building. Very sad.

Tuesday morning, we left for the USO at 10:00 am and Dave Ostrum had opened. Beams had made a huge bread delivery and they had bread products all over the place. We did a lot of odds and ends throughout the morning and Dave posted the bread on a Facebook page, but not many takers. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at noon and we did a few things for her and talked about the schedule for the next few weeks. Pam had been helping bake chicken with a community service volunteer, but Joyce wanted Pam to sit down in the office and take it easy—I appreciated that. We left at 1:30 pm to check on the Lagae’s as Samantha and Eleanor were at the NAS Hospital. Jerald, Fiona and Clive were home, but Eleanor had been admitted for severe dehydration following a trip to Orlando over the weekend. They weren’t sure exactly what happened as she was fine in Orlando, but on the way home began vomiting profusely and became dehydrated. We offered Jerald help at the house, but he said they were fine. We wanted to do some laundry or clean or something, but everything look good. While at the USO we received a call that our van was ready, so we drove to the dealership and completed the sale and became owners of a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica. Before leaving we called USAA and transferred insurance coverage and then drove away to a new adventure.

Wednesday morning, we left for the USO at 10:00 am and Dave Ostrum had opened, and it was pretty quiet. Pam checked out the chicken that was baked yesterday and I worked in the back rooms off the office, cleaning and organizing and doing a list of jobs that Joyce Schellhorn (Director) asked about yesterday. Julie Davis came mid-morning and took over the baking project and Pam worked in the office. At 12:30 pm we loaded up all the leftover bread in our van and took it to the Navy Exchange where it would be distributed to employees. From the exchange we had lunch, did a little shopping and returned to our apartment. I spent the afternoon going through the owner’s manual on the van and Pam had a much-needed nap. The van was nice to drive and smelled fresh and new. Hoped we keep it that way for a while.

Thursday morning, we opened the USO at 9:00 am and there was a small amount of bread and pastries which we arranged for patrons. Dave Ostrum arrived shortly thereafter and then a truck pulled up loaded with Girl Scout Cookies for the USO. Annually the USO received a donations of cookies and they distributed them to commands at the Naval Station and other facilities in the Jacksonville area. Dave was expecting the truck at noon, but it was early and needed unloading. It backed up to the double doors of the outside storage room and we began—Dave, Yao Li and me and for the next several hours we moved thousands and thousands of boxes of girl scout cookies from the truck to pallets laid out on the floor of the storage room. Later in the morning two seaman from the chapel on base helped us and around 11:30 others arrived, including girls scouts themselves from a local troop. Also, at noon commands began arriving to pick up cookies so the last of the cookies in the truck were moved directly to command vehicles as well as from the warehouse. It was quite an activity and I don’t think I had worked so hard in a long, long time. To top it off when that truck left, another truck from MWR on the Naval Station came with a pallet of water for the USO which had to be manually unloaded as the pallet of water was too heavy for their lift. Pam had manned the office throughout the morning and when I finished with the water, we were more than ready to leave. We returned to the Arlington Hills area and had lunch before returning to our apartment. We spent a quiet afternoon and evening and made contact with the Lagae’s and Eleanor was fine and Samantha wanted to know if we could have a Temple Prep class Friday evening—wonderful!

Friday morning, we were off at 7:45 am to perform apartment inspections and started with the Fort Caroline Sisters (King/Oakes) and had a nice visit with them. Next was Arlington Sisters (Dreiling/McComb) and they were doing well. When we got to the Arlington Elders we were surprised when they were a trio (Smedley/Yentes/Jensen) as we learned that Elder Hafen went home. We were saddened with that news because he seemed to be doing so well. Next, we crossed the St. John’s river to the Dunn Avenue area and visited the Dunn Avenue Sisters (Kennedy/Baird) and then the Elders (Carter/Shirtliff) and enjoyed visiting with them. All the apartments were okay, fairly clean and Elder Anderson wanted to know which leases should be renewed. When done we returned to our apartment and I worked on the report and Pam did some baking and sewing. We had a late lunch during a significant thunderstorm which covered Jacksonville and, in some areas, uprooted and destroyed trees. Following lunch, we did some shopping and then returned to our apartment. In the evening we drove to the Naval Station with the intention of holding a Temple Preparation class with the Lagae’s and the Perry’s. Upon arrival we learned the Perry’s would not be able to come, so we just visited with Jerald and Samantha for a couple of hours and enjoyed the evening.

Saturday morning, we learned of the upcoming closing and renovation of the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square. We were impressed with the changes and it would certainly open up Temple Square. We had one final apartment inspection and drove to Jacksonville Beach to see Sisters Tidwell & Weyland. They were home and we visited with them for about 20 minutes and their apartment was fine. We were invited to Trista Alexander’s birthday party, also in Jacksonville Beach, so located Sunshine Park where Tara and Wes were setting up their things. Trista was 4 years old this week and happy to see us. We visited with them and two other families with children. Wes cooked hotdogs and we had lunch with “dogs” and fruit, and it was nice. Adjacent to the pavilion was a playground and the kids had a great time playing on all the apparatus built out of wood, similar to a playground we had seen in St. Augustine. “Happy Birthday” was sung to Trista, cake eaten and presents opened and it was a fun time. We left at 1:30 pm and drove back to our apartment; finished our laundry and house cleaning duties and spent a quiet evening.

Sunday morning, we drove to the Stake Center on Hendricks Avenue and attended Stake Conference. We arrived early but it was nice to have time to visit with missionaries and other families as they arrived, and the best benefit was a seat in the chapel on soft benches. Stephanie & Lance Jarvis joined us on our pew. President Heywood presided and conducted, and visitors included President & Sister Lee of the mission and President and Sister Duke of the Orlando Temple. We heard wonderful talks from the visitors, stake members and President Button and Heywood of the stake presidency. Additionally, a stake choir provided beautiful music. It was a perfect Easter Morning. Following the closing hymn and prayer we visited a little as we made our way back through the cultural hall and outside to our van. The only military families that we saw were the Jarvis’ and Tyler Gneck, but there could have been others. At our apartment, Pam began dinner and we ate and watched some byutv programming during the afternoon. In the evening we joined the family in Denver via “FaceTime” in a family “Come Follow Me” lesson on the last week of the Savior’s life and it was wonderful to watch and listen to the children and their parents discuss each day’s activities leading up to Easter morning and the resurrection. 

USO activity "Baby Shower" for expectant mothers
 USO activity "Baby Shower" for expectant mothers
 Pam created the table center pieces--"Diaper Cakes"
 Joe & volunteer unloading boxes and boxes of Girl Scout Cookies
 Girl Scouts helping load cookies into command trucks
 Two volunteers who helped with the unloading
 Storeroom after everything unloaded and a Girl Scout from a local troop
 Local Girl Scout troop and parents
 Birthday party for Trista Alexander (left) 
 Trista blowing out her cupcake candle (very windy)
 Trista opening presents

Monday, April 15, 2019

Week 62 (8 - 14 April)

Monday morning, we left for the USO at 9:00 am and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Dave Ostrum had opened. The plan of the day was “No Dough” and Pam went to the kitchen and stayed most of the day cooking chicken and getting it ready to make Quesadillas. During the first hour we had a number of volunteers arrive and helped with the food prep. I set up the main room with the help of a community service volunteer. Both Joyce and Dave had to leave for periods of time during the morning, so I manned the office while they were gone. By noon the salad bar was ready, desserts were out, and we got an influx of sailors from the USS Iwo Jima who came to help assemble the Quesadillas. They did a wonderful job and by 3:00 pm they had over 300 in the warming ovens. One of the volunteers from the Iwo Jima was Blake Harris, a member of the church. Both Pam and I got a chance to visit with him for about 15 minutes. He was not being allowed to reenlist during the summer because of health reasons and is planning on returning to school to earn a master’s degree and we hoped the best for him. Megan DeGance roared in about 2:00 pm and used many of the volunteers to set up the lounge area with her Disney gifts and paraphernalia to giveaway at the dinner. Finally, at 3:00 pm Pam and I were done for the day and left. We did a little shopping and had a late lunch. While eating it began raining with thunder and lightning and we had quite a show. Later in the evening we received a call from Joyce about tomorrows activities and she indicated they served 400 and the Quesadillas were a huge success.

Tuesday morning, we left for the USO at 10:00 am. Upon arrival no one was in the office and we found them outside in the storage room sorting food that had just been delivered by Feeding Northeast Florida. Pam went into the kitchen to clean up and put away from last night’s No Dough dinner and I helped Dave Ostrum and two other volunteers stuff bags with meat and place them in freezers for the food giveaway on Thursday. When the meat was done, we attacked two bins of prepared food items and sorted by type and placed them on the shelves. We also emptied a bin of peppers and placed them in the refrigerators. Megan DeGance arrived about noon and began working on bags for Saturday’s “baby shower” activity. They brought out all the goodies she had ordered last week, and they filled bags and I brought out diapers and wipes from the outside storage room to include in the giveaways. By 2:00 pm that was done, and we all took a breather and Pam and I left shortly thereafter. At the apartment Pam did some sewing and we settled in for the evening. We visited with Stephanie Jarvis during the day and she was feeling better and also with Tara Alexander and planned to visit her and Wes tomorrow.

Wednesday morning, we had a few extra hours before leaving and Pam spent the time working on “Diaper Cakes” for Saturdays USO event and then we left for the USO at 10:00 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was there along with Mike OBrien and many of the USO hierarchy. Last night they set up the north side for a Jacksonville Military Coalition luncheon today from 11:30 until 2:00 am and closed the USO for normal patrons during that time. Jim & Carmel (Reid) had opened and were in the office and we bounced around helping here and there with last minute requests. I went outside with Jim and assisted visitors with parking and filled the lot by the time the luncheon began. We then sat in the office and tried to be quiet while the meeting was ongoing. “Jersey Mike’s” a local sandwich shop catered the luncheon and they had plenty of food and drinks. I didn’t pay too much attention to the presentations, but several individuals gave reports on what their part of the organization was doing for the military. At 1:30 pm the meeting ended and then a lot of small groups formed and that went on for another hour. We helped clean up and take care of leftover food and then Pam and I left about 2:00 pm. We visited the Alexanders and Wes was home and it was nice to see the entire family and they seemed to be doing all right. At home we did some preparation for tonight’s Temple lesson and at 7:00 pm drove to the base and stopped at Jenny Blacks and gave her a birthday card and cake as today was her birthday. We visited with her for a few minutes and she was doing okay, just wishing her hubby could have come home. Finally, we arrived at the Lagae’s and met with the Perry’s and Lagae’s. They were very excited about the lesson and had a lot of comments about conference and their successes and failures at watching it. We proceeded through the lesson with many excursions here and there, but after two hours concluded and said our goodbyes. It had been a busy but good day.

           Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am as we are opening this morning. A Feeding Northeast Florida truck was in the parking lot and had been there since 8:00 am. We opened the building and shortly thereafter Dave Ostrum came, and the truck unloaded 2 pallets of items into the outside storage room (pet food and diapers). We moved fresh produce from the refrigerators inside for the food distribution today and then about 10:30 am the giveaway began. Pam worked at the sign in table and I was outside distributing meat and diapers. Shay Tuttle came with her baby and we visited, and she went away with a lot of food and other items for their home. After the initial rush, I went with Dave Ostrum to a storage facility down Mayport Road and brought 10 round tables back to the USO for Saturday’s “baby shower” event. Pam put together 4 more Diaper cakes and finished everything so that they eventually had 12 centerpieces for the baby event. Pam and I finally left at 2:00 pm and had lunch and returned home. 

Friday morning, I got up early and Pam joined me at 6:30 am and said she didn’t feel well, thought she might have some food poisoning. She got something to drink and went back to bed. I checked on her from time to time, but she was quite sick and needed to stay in bed and after discussing plans for the day decided she would stay at the apartment and I would go help with the food delivery at the USO and then come home. Dave Ostrum had opened and within 30 minutes, Beam’s showed up with a huge load of meat and produce. Julie Davis and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had also arrived and helped. We had the coolers available and began going through the meat boxes and sorting by type. We filled up 3 large coolers with pork, beef and chicken and took the remaining meat to the storage room freezers. We also received zucchini and cabbage and that was easy to take care of. When done Dave sent out a Facebook notice of the delivery and hoped patrons would take advantage of the food. We also separated chicken wings and drumsticks for the next No Dough dinner and ground beef for a future dinner. Dave set aside meat and produce to take to Camp Blanding, south of Jacksonville, for 10 Army families down there. I was about to leave with Joyce asked if I could take a large mirror to Jacksonville Beach City Hall and give it to Gerry from JIA USO. He and Robin of NAS Jax USO were doing an event there. I said yes and also would make a deposit for her. We got the mirror loaded into the van and I set off and located Gerry and Robin and made the exchange. I made the deposit and returned to the USO with the receipt and left for home. Pam was sound asleep when I arrived at 12:30 pm and when she woke up, she was still not feeling well but hadn’t thrown up for a while. I drove next door and got some food items Pam wanted and then fixed them and she nibbled a little through the afternoon. Gradually she did better and better but stayed in bed and slept most of the time. By evening she was able to sit up and concentrate on her tablet for a while, but finally went to bed for the night by 9:00 pm.

Saturday morning, Pam came into the living room at 7:00 am and was feeling better and had some toast and then returned to our room, but she was up and walking and that was progress. I updated this file and did some studying before commencing housework. We vacuumed, dusted and did laundry all morning long. At noon we drove to Wal-Mart and bought a card and present for Stephanie Jarvis (Birthday) and drove to their home in Neptune Beach, but she wasn’t home. We had some lunch and returned to our apartment where we continued laundry and had a quiet afternoon. Pam had a good day today.  

Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure Pam was up to going to church, but she insisted she try, and we left for Jacksonville Beach at 9:30 am and attended sacrament meeting in the Beach Ward. It was a full house today and we were joined by Jenny & Olivia Black, Lance & Stephanie Jarvis, Chris & Shay Tuttle and Tyler Gneck from our military family. Marisol Perry gave the first talk and did a wonderful job. She was petrified, but it didn’t show, and we were proud of her. Following the meeting we gave Stephanie a birthday present and wished her a belated Happy Birthday and then returned to our apartment. Pam lay down and rested which was the best medicine. We had some lunch and enjoyed a quiet afternoon watching a couple of movies on the Mormon Channel. Pam talked with Erin for a while and Miles was thrilled with the “Flat Stanley” pictures. A good week.

Example of Diaper Cake Pam created

It was a great day...

Sorry but we didn't get any pictures this week. Will try and do better next week!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Week 61 (1 - 7 April)

Monday morning, the start of a new week and month. We left for the USO at 8:30 am to help with No Dough dinner preparations. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) opened and as volunteers arrived Pam organized them in the kitchen and work began on the dinner menu. Julie Davis and Sue Lowthian arrived a half an hour later and pretty soon they were in full swing. Dave Ostrum arrived about 10:00 am and was there for a shipment of 3 produce coolers from Feeding Northeast Florida which could be rolled around and be useful for meat or produce and today for milk. We also received a pallet of baby items for an upcoming Baby Shower activity on the 13th of April which Megan DeGance was running. After I got the main room set up for dinner, cleaning tables, sneeze guards in place and the utensil table set up, I went out to the storage room and inventoried the baby goods. I also brought out the dessert items and inventoried hamburger patties for Joyce for an upcoming dinner. The ladies had dinner preparations finished by 2:00 pm and we visited in the office about upcoming events for an hour. Pam and I left about 3:00 pm and had lunch and then continued to our apartment. We finished up an email for the Kelley’s and sent it off with a letter and dozens of pictures of the apartment and complex here at Avia St. John’s.

Tuesday morning, we left for the USO at 9:30 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had opened and a NOSA (Naval Officers Spouses Association) group was having a meeting, so the parking lot was full of cars. The morning was spent doing little jobs for Joyce and Pam cleaned the kitchen and re-organized the No Dough storage room. I made a couple of deliveries, lettuce to the Navy Exchange and candy to an MWR facility on base. We also sorted through all the Disney paraphernalia she had accumulated the past year for giveaways at next Mondays No Dough dinner. We left at 2:30 pm and stopped for a late lunch and then returned to our apartment. Both Pam and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching “Safety” videos from the Missionary Portal and got them done. In the evening I texted Alexis Connelly, Andrew Cooper, Blake Harris, Elizabeth Stenson and Kyle Young. Throughout the evening I got responses from each one which was amazing. They were all doing okay, but we had not had any contact with Alexis, Elizabeth or Blake for some time. We wished them well and encouraged them to watch conference this weekend.

            Wednesday morning, we didn’t have to be at the USO until 11:00 am so had time to relax and study at leisure. After getting ready we left for the USO at 10:30 am and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Dave Ostrum were both there along with a community service volunteer and Carmel and Jim. Pam went to the kitchen and cooked chicken for an upcoming dinner and I did some jobs for Joyce throughout the facility and drove to Beams and picked up two more boxes of chicken. Tax personnel were there so we had a lot of traffic from their clients. After lunch, Joyce, Dave and Julie Davis went into Charlie’s office and participated in a conference call with Mike Obrien and other USO staff members. Carmel and Jim left at noon, so I took over office duties and checked in patrons and answered phone calls. The conference call lasted until 2:30 pm and when done we visited with Joyce about upcoming events and then Pam and I left and returned to our apartment to prepare for a dinner tonight with the Arlington Sisters. Sisters Dreiling & McCombs arrived right at 5:00 pm and we had an enjoyable time with them. They are a hard-working pair and seem to get along fine. Pam prepared a wonderful meal and they were hardy eaters. We enjoyed a message they shared and after they left we cleaned up the dishes and the kitchen.  

Friday morning, we weren’t rushed and finally left for the USO at 9:30 am. Upon arrival a Beams truck was just leaving, and they had received a huge delivery of meat and fresh vegetables. For the next half an hour we helped sort meat and produce and then Pam and I loaded up items to take with us for the “Month of the Child” event at the Navy Exchange. Pam (store manager) always placed the USO table by the entrance to the exchange in the lobby so we were the first table patrons saw. By 11:00 am the various organizations from the naval station and support groups were manning tables and we waited for people. It was the most interesting thing for a Friday morning not to have more patrons streaming into the exchange. For those who did come we welcomed them, gave out treats, wooden toys, information about upcoming events and encouraged signing up for the “blast” (email). Near us was the Base Chapel’s display and the new chaplain came in and I had a chance to meet him. He had recently arrived (December) and I introduced myself and Sister Cottle and explained our purpose and offered our assistance to help in any way we could. I gave him a card of our information and we’ll see if that opens any doors. At 1:30 pm some of the groups began to close up shop and by 2:00 pm we were all gone and out the door. Pam and I returned to the USO and unloaded our goodies and toys that were leftover and visited with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) about our day and next week. We were amazed at how much of the meat and produce were gone, which was wonderful. We drove back to our apartment and rested for a while and then at 5:15 pm drove back to the Beach and met Jon and Charlene Bryson and their daughter Amelia for dinner at “Safe Harbor.” The restaurant was located on the Intercoastal Canal off Beach Blvd. We sat on a covered patio and had wonderful seafood and enjoyed visiting with the Bryson’s and getting to know them better. They were the first family we really got to know in the Jacksonville Ward as Jon had invited us for dinner that first Sunday. In fact, we hadn’t even been to our apartment yet—straight from the mission home to church. We so appreciated their hospitality and wanted to take them to dinner. Following dinner, we visited for a while before coming home.

Saturday morning, we awoke in anticipation of General Conference today. We spent the morning doing laundry and housekeeping and made a quick trip to Costco. At noon General Conference began with President Oaks conducting and music by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. We heard from Elder Ulisses Soares, Sister Becky Craven, Elder Brook P. Hales, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell and the final speaker President Henry B. Eyring. For the next two hours we continued watching KSL programming on church changes, travel by President Nelson, Temple dedications and humanitarian efforts since the October 2018 general conference. At 4:00 pm the second session began with President Henry B. Eyring conducting and music provided by a combined choir from BYU. President Dallin H. Oaks conducted the sustaining of General Authorities and General Officers of the church and then we heard from Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Mathias Held, Elder Neil L. Anderson, Elder Takashi Wada, Elder David P. Homer and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. At 7:45 pm I drove to the Fort Caroline chapel to attend the Priesthood session of conference. President Dallin H. Oaks conducted, and music was provided by a young men’s choir from stakes in Layton, Utah. We heard from Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Carl B. Cook, Elder Kim B. Clark and the first presidency—President Henry B. Eyring, President Dallin H. Oaks and then from our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. When I arrived home, Pam had watched the session and we discussed the talks.  

Sunday morning was a casual morning for us. I downloaded conference talks that were available and we both had plenty of time to study and ponder the messages from yesterday’s conference talks before conference began again. At 11:30 am we tuned in and watched the choirs weekly broadcast and then at noon the Sunday morning session began. President Dallin H. Oaks conducted with music provided by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. We heard from Elder Dale G. Renlund, Sister Sharon Eubank, Elder Clinton L. Cook, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Tad R. Callister and President Russell M. Nelson.  No bombshells this morning, just basic gospel instruction. During the two hours Pam fixed lunch and we watched programming on the Rome Temple dedication and several other topics. At 4:00 pm the afternoon session of conference began with President Henry B. Eyring conducting and music provided by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. We heard from President Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Juan Pablo Villar, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Kyle S. McKay and Elder Ronald A. Rasband. President Nelson gave some closing remarks and announced 8 new temples: Pago Pago, American Samoa, Okinawa City, Okinawa, Neiafu, Tonga, Tooele Valley, Utah, Moses Lake, Washington, San Pedro Sula, Honduras and Antofagasta, Chile. How wonderful for those saints, especially for Neiafu, Tonga. Who would have ever thought—two temples in Tonga? Well our work is cut out for us and we have much to do—a great ending to a good week.  
Dinner with Sister Dreiling & McCombs 
 Sister Cottle manning a table at the Navy Exchange for the USO--Month of the Child celebration
 Other vendors and sponsors for the Navy Exchange event
 Sister Cottle helping a young man pick out a treat
 One of many flags flying in the Navy Exhange
 Elder & Sister Wining who will be going home at the end of the month
 Elder & Sister Waite who will be going home in May
 Senior Couples from the southern Zones
 Sister Lee our Mission "Mom"
Senior couples from the Northern Zones
 We are assembling to sing "Called to Serve" to the ladies who provided lunch at Zone Conference
Jacksonville East Zone--missionaries we work with closely

Week 66 (6 - 12 May)

Monday morning, Pam and I left for the USO at 9:30 am. No Dough dinner was that evening, so we were busy. Upon arrival my birthday was cele...