Monday, November 12, 2018

Week 40 (5 - 11 November)

Monday morning, I woke up early and Pam was still asleep so that was good. She did join me in the living room a half an hour later and felt better. Her breathing was more normal, but she had a lot of abdominal pain and thought it was just muscle exertion from yesterday. I told her I wanted her to stay home today and that was a relief for her. I planned to take care of some obligations we had this morning with the USO and then come home about lunch time. First of all, I bought a Birthday Balloon for Cheryl Vandiver and then drove to the mission office, hoping to drop off a letter we received from the leasing office concerning lease renewal. The office was not open so sent the letter via text to Elder Grieve and he said he would get right on it. I made a stop at Costco and bought a dozen Roses for Cheryl and then continued to the USO. People were all over the place at the USO and I remembered today was the opening day for Steeler tickets. I checked in with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and told her about Pam and my plans for the day and then gave the Balloon and Roses to Cheryl and she seemed to be pleased. I drove to the Beach and there were people all over the USO and I remembered “Steelers” tickets went on sale today. It was also a “No Dough” dinner night so they were going to be busy. I jumped in and worked on physical preparations for dinner—washing the tables, set out the “sneeze guards” on the desert and salad tables and put out the utensils and napkin dispensers. Today’s meal was Mexican, and Cheryl had brought a number of items for the food tables—Mexican table clothes and hats. It made everything look festive. I did a few other small jobs for Joyce and then at noon left to come home. At home, Pam was in the bedroom and we visited for a few minutes and she was still not feeling very well. She was hungry, however, and I went to a local Arby’s and bought some salads and came home and we ate and then Pam tried to rest. At 4:00 pm the pain was still giving her fits and I said we needed to go to an emergency room and get her checked out. She finally agreed, and we got dressed and drove down Merrill Road with the intention of going to the Medi/Express emergency room about 2 blocks away, but decided to go to Doctor Hoffman’s office which was across the street and see if she might be able to see Pam. I talked to the receptionist and she couldn’t be seen today but could be seen tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. So, we decided to wait for that and returned home. We spent a quiet evening and Pam sat up for a while, but finally lay down and went to sleep about 8:30 pm and slept through the night.

Tuesday was National Voting Day so the USO was closed and we didn’t have any commitment there. We hoped to get to the bottom of Pam’s abdominal pain. We arrived at Dr. Hoffman’s office at 9:00 am and had a nice visit with the doctor and she examined Pam and indicated some kind of lower bowel infection. She referred us to another facility— “Crucial Care, Emergency Medical Doctors” a facility that specialized in emergency treatment. They had Board Certified Emergency Medicine Doctors with Cat Scans, their own Labs, X-rays, and treated everything from minor to major cases. We drove to the facility by President Lee’s home and were welcomed by 3 receptionists, one was Virginia Wilkes, formally of the Jacksonville Beach Ward. She was recently baptized and married the son of Greg & Alisa Wilkes and they live in the Arlington Ward. They did a little paperwork and looked at the referral from Doctor Hoffman and whisk Pam away. During the next two hours Pam had an MRI and was told she didn’t have Appendicitis, but had Diverticulitis, which caused severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a marked change in bowel habits—all which Pam had. It could also be treated with medication. We left with a hand full of prescriptions and instructions and drove to Costco where we filled the prescriptions. We arrived home about 4:00 pm and during the next hour prepared a meal for the Fort Caroline Sisters—Johnson and Wasden who arrived for dinner at 6:00 pm. Pam was tired but was feeling fair and was a gracious host to the Sisters. We had a nice meal and visited with them about their homes, families, etc. After they left, Pam got ready for bed and I cleaned up the kitchen. We called it a night about 9:30 pm.

Wednesday morning, the pundits were out discussing the election and it appeared the Democrats won the House and the Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate which was surprising. Mit Romney won in a landslide in Utah and would replace Orin Hatch in the Senate. I received a text from Tara Alexander who said her house had been robbed and wondered if we could go and take some pictures. We went over to her home and indeed the back door to the family room was broken, glass everywhere but inside the house looked amazingly clean. Wes’ gaming system was all gone but we didn’t see anything else amiss. We talked with Tara and she said the police had been there and did their forensic work when the man who was taking care of their dogs called her. We spent an hour taking the window apart and dropping all the glass onto the floor and outside on the porch, and then cleaning and vacuuming everywhere. Their friend, Clifton Martwick, also a member of the Arlington Ward had been taking care of their dogs and discovered the break in this morning and called the Police. Pam and I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of plywood and some self-taping screws and returned and covered the open window in the back door. Tara was expected back in town around midnight but was going to stay somewhere else for the night. When done we had some lunch and gassed up the van and then returned to our apartment for the rest of the day. Pam was tired and needed to lay down.

Thursday morning Pam stayed home, and I went to the Temple with 3 Elders from the Kingsland Zone who met me at the Fort Caroline Chapel. Elder Nicholas Birch, Elder Craig Jenson and Elder Jacob Kunde. Both Elder Jenson and Kunde were finishing their missions and Elder Birch was at the halfway mark. We had a word of prayer and got underway and enjoyed a good drive. I learned that Elder Birch was from Saratoga Springs, Elder Jenson from Bakersfield, California and surprise, surprise, Cloras Jenson was his grandmother. Elder Kunde was from Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Elders played some road games on the way and most interesting was a “Gospel Baseball” game and I was impressed with their knowledge of the Book of Mormon. At the Temple, we met President & Sister Lee and other missionaries as they arrived and there was a lot of back slapping and hugging going on as friends met each other again. The entire group moved to the front of the Temple for pictures. Elder & Sister Waite and Schroders were in attendance from Gainesville, but no other couples. Inside the Temple I discovered my recommend had expired and thankfully President Lee had his book and we did a quick interview and he issued me a new one for the duration of our mission plus a few months. Finally, I was in the Temple and what a relief that was. Kind of a weird feeling to be rejected! I changed and met the other missionaries in the chapel and then we were escorted into an ordinance room for the session. In the Celestial room we had about 15 minutes to contemplate and then moved to a large sealing room where President Duke, counselor in the Temple Presidency, spoke for a few minutes and then Sister Lee and President Lee gave us some excellent counsel. Finally, we changed back into street clothes and departed the Temple grounds for Café Rio and lunch! We were not disappointed as the food was excellent and they handled the large crowd easily. The missionaries chatted up all the other visitors to the restaurant and had a good time. After eating we loaded up again and head home on the last leg of the journey. I dropped them off at their car and they had an hour’s drive into southern Georgia. When I arrived home, Pam was fine and had a good day. She was feeling quite well and the pain in her abdomen was gone. We were grateful for the blessings of Heavenly Father and good medicine. I brought Pam a Steak Tostada from Café Rio and she savored it for some time. 
Friday morning, we went to the Akumin imaging facility on Fort Caroline Road for a bone density test for Pam. Unfortunately, the equipment to do the test was not working and we left with another appointment for next week. We drove on to the USO and were amazed at what was going on there. We hadn’t been to the USO for 4 days and the main room was filled with food, the storage room by the office filled with bins and boxes of candy and about a dozen boxes of candy out in the foyer—all donations for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Pam took a seat in the office and helped Cheryl with some Christmas projects and I helped out Joyce Schellhorn (Director) on getting things more organized. Initially cleaned up a pile of boxes from the food donations by Beams. It was a shame to have to break down the boxes because they looked perfect, but recycling companies won’t take boxes that have had food in them. When done I worked on two electrical issues with two lights. I solved one, but the second will have to have a more experienced person check it out. We had patrons coming in all morning, including Tony Head, to get food and meat and the pile of food on the pool table diminished quickly. At 2:00 pm Dave Ostrum needed a ride to NAS Jax to pick up a USO truck, so Pam and I finished what we were doing and provided the ride. The traffic wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be and had a nice visit with Dave. From the USO office at NAS Jax we retraced our steps across the St. John’s river and continued to our apartment. I made some calls to the Fort Caroline Elders about dinner tonight. They responded that Elder Saxton was Gluten intolerant, so the food we had prepared would not work. We ended up inviting them to meet us at a nearby Golden Corral and had a nice meal and Elder Saxton was able to choose what he wanted. Elder Smart was his companion and we had nice visits with each of them. Elder Smart was from Draper and attended Corner Canyon High School and Elder Saxton from North Ogden and attended Weber High School. After Elder Saxton gave us a spiritual thought we left and said our goodbyes and returned to our apartment. It had been a busy day and Pam was quite tired.

Saturday morning, we drove to the Naval Station for the arrival of the USS Farragut (DDG-99) representing the USO. We arrived at the Carrier Pier C-2 at 9:30 am and the Navy Exchange employees had set up a tent and were distributing candy and water families. They had so many employees helping that Pam and I were kind of redundant. When a gate was opened to the pier, we joined others looking for the Farragut as it came into view out on the eastern horizon and its progress into the channel and finally to the pier. We were entertained by a pod of dolphins out in the channel. Once pier side, the gangway was quickly set in place and the USS Farragut was officially home and the crew permitted to disembark. It was fun watching wives and children greeting their husbands and fathers and brought back a few memories of our reunions when squadrons returned home. We left at 10:30 am and while on the base drove to the Heads home, but their car was gone so didn’t stop. We continued to the Lagaes and they were home and we visited with them for about 30 minutes. On the way back to our apartment we gassed up the van and had some lunch. Checking Facebook, we noticed an entry from Nikki Head indicating she was in an Emergency room. It took a while, but we learned she was at the Baptist Medical Center emergency room and was in the process of being transferred to the Naval Hospital at NAS Jacksonville. Later we talked with Nikki on the phone to see if we could help out with her kids or transport Tony anywhere, but they were set. She had an infection that was causing pain and needed hospitalization for IV antibiotic treatment. Nikki’s mother had come north from Orlando to help out. We also had a nice visit with Tara Alexander and she was home and felt secure. She had arranged for a friend to replace her door but would have to wait a little while to purchase a new door. I let her know we could help with the door and hopefully get it installed sooner rather than later. At 9:00 pm we joined other missionaries for the Transfer Call from President Lee. Elder Vaughn conducted and after some preliminaries President went through each zone and district detailing the changes. Our zone had a number of changes and it will be enjoyable getting to know the new missionaries.

Sunday morning, we got ready for church and drove to Jacksonville Beach and attended church there. We met Tyler Gneck in the foyer and visited with him, and the Jarvis’ were in sacrament meeting, but we didn’t see any other families. During Sunday school the Lagaes joined us in the Gospel Principles class as did Gary Noblit. In the final hour we had a combined meeting and the “My Path for Self-Reliance” program was presented by a member of the stake with hopes of encouraging members to take one of 4 classes. Shay Tuttle joined us in the chapel so what we thought was a sparse showing by military families ended being 5 families represented. Alexis Connelly was in Arizona, Nikki Head was in the NAS Jax hospital, and Jennie Black was visiting Rich, so they were not expected today. We left Jacksonville Beach and drove to NAS Jax and located the hospital and visited with Nikki Head. Tony had just left with their children and Nikki’s mother was with her. She didn’t look too red hot and we hoped the antibiotics kicked in soon to cure the infection and relieve the pain. From the hospital we made our way north to our apartment and spent a quiet afternoon and evening. 

 Sister Wasden & Johnson with Pam in our apartment for dinner
 Pam getting treatment for Diverticulitis
 Repair done to Alexander's door following a home evasion

 Navy Exchange Crew for home coming of the USS Farragut
 Tugboat with fire hoses blazing for the USS Farragut arrival
 USS Farragut (DDG-99) with crew manning the rails
 Sample of families awaiting loved ones with their "welcome home" signs
 USS Farragut safely tied up at the pier with beautiful flags flying
 We were in the large crowd of families welcoming the ship
Dinner with Elder Smart and Saxton--great missionaries

Monday, November 5, 2018

Week 39 (29 October - 4 November)

Monday morning, we were at the USO by 10:00 am and the place was hopping with volunteers working on preparations for the “No Dough” dinner that evening. Pam and I joined in and she went to the kitchen to help with the food and I helped with the physical arrangements. Joyce Schellhorn, Director, also had a number of other small projects for me to do and we kept busy for the next 3 hours. At 1:00 pm Pam and I took a break and went on the Naval Station and had lunch and also went to the base clinic to see if they had the new shingles vaccine—they didn’t, maybe in November. Back at the USO we continued helping with final preparations for the dinner. At 4:00 pm volunteers from the “Ocean Side Rotary” club arrived, and they had over 20 individuals, so Joyce approached Pam and I and said we didn’t need to stay. We were tired and happy to return to our little apartment. Tonight at 9:15 pm we joined a mission-wide phone conference with President & Sister Lee. After an opening prayer, President Lee invited Sister Lee to share some thoughts about a recent Mission President’s Seminar they had attended in Charleston, South Carolina. Elder Bednar presided and Elder Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy attended along with the Presidency of the South East Area. The seminar lasted 4 days with 45 attending (17 Missions). Elder Bednar emphasized the Lord is Hastening His work and wanted us to Pray for a vision of how to carry this work forward. It was a wonderful 30 minutes with President Lee’s instruction and we took notes for future use on how we could implement this counsel in our work with military families.

            Tuesday morning, we did some studying of President Lee’s notes from the phone conference last night and then began the morning at the USO at 10:30 am. An exercise group was working out when we arrived with 4 or 5 little kids running all over the place driving Joyce Schellhorn (Director) crazy. Pam did some cleaning in the kitchen from last night’s “No Dough” dinner and I worked with Joyce going through bins of items from the office. I was surprised at how much stuff she actually threw away. By the end of the morning we had a garbage can full of items for the dumpster and two recycle bins full of paper, so that was progress. At 1:30 pm another volunteer arrived so Pam and I left for the day. We had some lunch on the Naval Station and then returned to our apartment. We watched the Missionary Department’s #Light The World video which was available through the Missionary Portal and then discussed how we could use the various options with our families. Later Pam did some sewing and I made phone calls.

            Wednesday morning was Halloween day here in Jacksonville. We drove to Bob Ross’ home south of NAS Jacksonville this morning to deliver a van load of marathon glasses from the recent USO sponsored marathon. Bob is on the executive board of the USO and had room to store the glasses for next year’s event. We drove back to the USO and arrived about 11:00 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was there along with Li Yao and Jim and Carmel, another volunteer couple. We talked with Joyce about the next few days and left for the day. We stopped at Wal-Mart on Atlantic and did some shopping and then had some lunch before returning to our apartment. I dropped off Pam and returned to a nearby Wal-Mart and had the van serviced. Following that I went to a new car wash that had just opened on Merrill Road just beyond I-295 and took advantage of a Manager’s Special—a free car wash. It was similar to the Supersonic in Provo and they gave me the works. Following a thorough vacuuming I returned to the apartment, set up the seats and returned the van to normal.  At 6:40 pm we were dressed in missionary finest and drove to the Fort Caroline Sisters home and picked up Sisters Johnson & Wasden and took them to a discussion. They couldn’t drive on Halloween night, so we provided their transportation. We met their investigator, Tasha, and had a nice visit with her. She was a 40 years old single black woman they met while tracting. She has met with Elders before, but they stopped coming according to her. Sister Johnson and Wasden basically taught a first discussion on the restoration and coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Tasha was attentive and had a lot to add to the discussion, but I felt a genuine spirit there. She accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and promised to read in it. She would like to attend church and they will make arrangements for that. After a closing prayer we returned the Sisters to their apartment and came home for the night—good day!

Thursday morning, we opened the USO and bread and pastries were waiting for us on the back patio. We brought everything inside and separated the pastries into what we would give away and what we would save for the next “No Dough” dinner. Pam and I counted the value of everything and patrons began arriving for the bread and other items on the “free” table. Pam also cleaned the kitchen and I went to the storage room and brought out 12 boxes of hats that had been delivered yesterday by Mike Brien. We will give out the hats at the next “No Dough” dinner. I sized and restacked the remaining boxes of hats in the storage room. Pam then manned the office and I worked in the back room cleaning out the office supply cabinet and re-stocking everything and finished with an orderly cabinet by the time Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 12:30 pm. There were still several other bins in the rear storage room to work through, but we are getting there. When Joyce arrived, she came with a check for $1,000, a trophy, and a large box with about a dozen sandwiches she and others from Mayport had made in a Hoagie making competition at the opening of a new Wawa Gas Station and Convenience store. We had a sandwich and visited with Joyce and outlined the next few days.

            Friday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:00 am. Dave Ostrum opened the facility and within 30 minutes Beams delivered a huge supply of dry goods and meats. Also, another individual brought about 20 bags of canned goods which we sorted outside, because of bugs in her bags. The Beams food was placed on the pool table and adjacent tables and we stored the meat into 5 coolers and there was a lot of chicken, beef and pork available. By 10:00 am Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived and Dave took pictures of the food and posted an article on Facebook and within 30 minutes patrons began arriving for food. Cheryl Vandiver also arrived with food and material for next Monday’s “No Dough” dinner and we helped unload her truck. We had a house full of volunteers and they spent the morning and early afternoon fixing salad items and making Enchiladas and cooking Taco shells and meat for the meal on Monday. I am amazed at how the same volunteers come every Friday to help and without them I don’t think they could manage the dinners. Margaret and Mike are primary volunteers at the JIA USO, but they are here for every “No Dough” dinner. They are quite the couple and Margaret tries every week to get us to come to the JIA and volunteer. She knows we will just love it! Pam worked with the volunteers on salad fixings and rolling Enchiladas and I continued working in the back room and sorting and cleaning out boxes of stuff. We made good progress and are about done. Joyce seemed pleased with everything. Pam and I finally left at 3:30 pm and were tired, but it had been a good day.

            Saturday morning, Pam got a call from the Jacksonville Beach Sisters asking if we could take one of their investigators, Charlene, to a baptism at the Dunn Avenue Chapel. We said we could, and they provided the information we needed, and we would pick the Sisters and Charlene up at her home at 12:15 pm. We got busy with our Saturday morning routine and I vacuumed the house and Pam started laundry and then we showered and dressed for the baptism service. We left for Jacksonville Beach at 11:45 am and drove to Charlene’s home where we met Charlene and the Sisters. We then retraced our steps to I-295 across the St. John’s river to the Dunn Avenue Chapel. Sisters Vai and Newman had taught these two young people, son and daughter of a member family and an older brother did the baptizing. The Bishop was there and presided and Elder Whitehead, the ward Mission Leader, conducted the service. Approximately 30 ward members were in attendance to welcome these two youngsters into the church. Both the baptism and confirmation were conducted today, and the Bishop encouraged the boy and girl to bring their parents to church the next day because he wanted to introduce them to the congregation as new members of the ward. Following the service, we had some refreshments and then loaded up and returned Charlene and the Sisters to Jacksonville Beach. On the way back to Arlington we drove to St. John’s Center and did a little shopping at JoAnn’s, had some lunch and made a pass by Costco and then back to our apartment. It had been a full day. We settled in for the night and made some phone calls to our families about Sunday. We also moved the clocks back one hour as we went off Daylight Savings time at 2:00 am Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, began early as we both had a pretty miserable night’s rest—especially for Pam. She began coughing up bile and her throat burned. She couldn’t get it to stop despite drinking lots of water and eating some bread. She slipped out of bed and went into the living room for several hours thinking she was allowing me to sleep. I knew she wasn’t feeling well and felt impotent to help. I finally got up at 6:00 am and Pam lay down in bed and I did some reading and checking my email and the news. I also showered early and began to get dressed for church. Pam got a little bit of rest and then she too showered and got ready for church and when we left the apartment at 9:30 am she seemed to be feeling much better. Tyler Gneck was in the foyer when we arrived, and we gave him a package that was delivered earlier in the week. We also saw Jennie & Olivia Black and Stephanie Jarvis. All the other families were not with us today. We later learned that Alexis developed a headache this morning, the Heads were in Orlando and the Lagae’s were getting things ready for Jerald to go to sea again. We miss them in church and someday they will realize how important those little things are to their spiritual welfare. Fast and Testimony meeting was excellent, and they had a lot of members stand and give their thanks for this and that. Not many actual testimonies borne, but the spirit of the meeting was excellent, and a good feeling was had by all who attended. In Sunday school we met in the relief society room for the gospel principles class and while waiting for the Sisters to come and get us started, Pam left the room and was gone for about 10 minutes. When she returned, she said she needed to go home! She had a pain in her lower abdomen and was having difficulty breathing. We got on the road and 20 minutes later arrived at our apartment and I found a bottle of oil and administered to her. We fixed a little dinner and hoped that would help but nothing much changed throughout the afternoon. That’s not entirely true. The pain diminished, but she still was discomforted through most of the afternoon, especially when she tried to lay down. I got information on an emergency room nearby, but she wasn’t having any of that. She got online and tried to find out what was wrong, and we had a couple of ideas, but didn’t know anything for sure. We hoped rest would help.

 Gary & Devaney Noblit
 Jennie & Olivia Black
 Olivia Black
 Tara Alexander (right) visiting friends in Texas
Legae family, Eleanor, Samantha, Fiona, Clive & Jerald

Monday, October 29, 2018

Week 38 (22 - 28 October)

Monday morning, they didn’t want us early at the USO because of a floor cleaning and waxing crew that would be there, so I went to the Alexanders and mowed their lawns. The cool weather slowed down the growth, and when done it looked good and should last for another 2 weeks. Back at the apartment, Pam and I cleaned the apartment and then left for the USO prior to noon. They were still doing the floors, so we went for a drive to Ponte Vedra Beach and had lunch and returned about 1:30 pm. We spent the afternoon helping set up the office again following the installation of flooring and painting. The biggest issue was power, and the internet but we finally figured out the network and got the desks and computers set and operating. Pam worked in the kitchen unpacking new cookware and sorting drawers and cupboards. We heard from Tara Alexander, and she was safely in Orlando and having a good time with Wes’ family. 

Tuesday morning, we noticed a significant change in the weather to more Fall weather and it was nice. Pam and I left for the USO in the morning and assisted Joyce Schellhorn (Director) in setting up the main room with tables and chairs. Also cleared out the Pathway room and returned it to normal, organized the new storage room and spent the afternoon in the office organizing, cleaning, hanging pictures and generally trying to get them set for day to day operations. They are having a corporate meeting on Wednesday, so Joyce wanted the facility looking as good as possible. Pam and I left at 2:30 pm and had a late lunch or early dinner and returned to our apartment. Made some calls to members and invited Shay Tuttle to dinner tomorrow when we host the Jacksonville Beach Sisters—she accepted.  

Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO at 10:00 am but they had plenty of volunteers and didn’t need us right then. A Corporate meeting was underway in the Pathway room, so everyone was on their best behavior and not much work was being done. Pam and I drove through Ponte Vedra Beach area and took the Palm Coast Highway back across the inter-coastal canal towards the West and drove through some pretty country, mostly wetlands and seemingly undeveloped areas. We returned to the beach via Butler Blvd and had some lunch before returning to the USO. We occupied ourselves for the next few hours helping in the office. Pam worked with Cheryl on a Christmas gift list for children and I worked with Joyce installing pictures, shelving brackets and unloading bins of items taken from the desks and cabinets prior to the floor project. The Corporate Board meeting finally broke about 2:00 pm and Mike Brian brought in key players and introduced them to everyone. We cleaned up the lunch table and put away food and then Pam and I said our goodbyes and left for the day. We passed some time on the Naval Station and in the chapel parking lot before going to the Sisters apartment and doing an inspection and then took them to Panera’s for dinner. Shay Tuttle met us at the restaurant and we had a delightful 45 minutes with them all. Shay was doing well and was finally looking pregnant, and she reported Chris was having a good cruise. Sister Davis gave a short message and then we said our goodbyes. We gave Shay a small Lemon Birthday cake as her birthday is Saturday. We dropped off the Sisters and then returned to our apartment.

Thursday morning, we opened the USO. Almost immediately we had patrons arrive for bread, but alas no bread. Don’t know why, but Joyce Schellhorn (Director) told us last night that we wouldn’t have bread. Joyce arrived at 10:30 am and she had things for us to do and we took care of them. Pam finished a list of Christmas items for an Angel Tree at the NEX and manned the office and checked in patrons. Cheryl Vandiver arrived about 11:00 am with food for Monday’s “No Dough” dinner and we helped her unload her truck. At 12:30 pm I made a deposit for Joyce and then we returned some poster making items to the Navy Exchange and Pam and I left for home. We had some lunch and spent the rest of the day at home. We made a number of phone calls and texts contacting families and had some texts from missionaries about a baptism on Friday evening at the Fort Caroline chapel.

Friday morning, we left at 7:40 am to do apartment inspections and drove to the River Market Area and visited with Sisters Vai & Newman, followed by visits to Elders Shurtleff & Tualamalii in the Dunn Avenue area. We crossed back across the St. John’s river to the Arlington and Fort Caroline areas and visited with, Sisters Byington & Abril followed by visits to Elders Brooksby & Hendricks and to Sisters Johnson & Paulsen (Sister Wasden was on exchange with Sister Davis in Jacksonville Beach) and finally Elders C. Smart & Saxton. All the apartments looked okay, some better than others, but all the mechanical features of the apartments were working, the kitchens and bathrooms clean and orderly and with one or two exceptions the apartments were also clean orderly and prepared for inspection. All the kitchens had received new appliances—George Foreman grills, Ninja food processors, Waffle Makers, and new plates, bowls, cups, and utensils. The old items were removed so all missionaries now have the same basic features in their apartments. After the last apartment we drove to BJ’s on Atlantic for gas and did some shopping. We returned to the Arlington Hills area and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment. We spent time updating contact information and finished the apartment inspection report and called Elder Alexander (new senior missionary over housing) and got his email address and forwarded our report to him. Later in the afternoon we changed into church clothes and drove to Jacksonville Beach and met the Sisters at their apartment at 6:15 pm and picked up one of their investigators, William, and returned to the Fort Caroline chapel for a baptism. They had another investigator, Charlene, who was supposed to go with us, but she couldn’t go at the last minute. We arrived at the chapel at 7:00 pm and a nice group was assembled in the relief society room for the service. The ward mission leader, Brother Murdock, conducted the meeting and Bishop Ladd presided. Sisters Johnson and Wasden taught the investigator, Roberta Pierre, and she was excited about her baptism. A talk on baptism was given by Rachel Smith, a ward member and a talk on the Holy Ghost by Sister Johnson. Brother Brandon Smith performed the baptism. After Sister Pierre was dressed we met again in the relief society room and heard a short message from Bishop Ladd and the service concluded with notice that Sister Pierre would be confirmed in sacrament meeting on Sunday. We visited with other Fort Caroline members and several missionaries who were attending from the Arlington and Fort Caroline Wards and then returned to Jacksonville Beach and dropped off William and the Sisters at their respective homes and then returned to our own apartment.

Saturday morning, we learned of another Tropical Depression forming in the Atlantic and will have to watch that. Around mid-morning Pam and I began cleaning the apartment and we vacuumed and cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen and dusted. We also began 5 loads of laundry which took most of the day to finish. At noon we were dressed and drove to the St. John’s Center and had lunch and did some shopping at Costco. On the way back to our apartment we stopped at a nearby Wal-Mart and bought a few items. Pam got a birthday box from Janet and then spent the next few hours talking with her and Johanna, getting caught up on happenings at Monroe and Denver. We made phone calls about Sunday meetings and settled in for the day.

Sunday morning, we drove to Jacksonville Beach and attended church. Today they only had sacrament and Sunday school meetings as at least 20 adults were gone to assist in Hurricane Michael cleanup in Crawfordsville, Florida near Tallahassee. A smaller group went to North Carolina last weekend and we were anxious to hear how that went. I called Alexis Connelly this morning, but she just got in and said she wouldn’t be at church. We are worrying about her. Sometime today the Chile Conception Temple was being dedicated by President Russell M. Nelson, our Prophet. That made 160 operating Temples in the church. It also concludes his week long tour of South America. We left for the Beach at 9:30 am and met with the saints in Sacrament meeting. Samantha Lagae and her kids sat with us and Jenny Black and Oliva were there along with the Jarvis.’ Tyler went to Crawfordsville and the Heads must still have sick children. Following wonderful talks by Sister Ward and Sister Hardy we concluded Sacrament meeting and attended a fine Gospel Principles class led by Brother Novak. Following the block, we drove to the Lagae home and picked up some dishes we had left from the military dinner party there on the 19th of October. At our apartment Pam fixed some dinner for us and we settled in for the day. Pam called her sister and had a nice talk and we also heard from Travis and he updated us on the happenings in Denver and Provo with his family. I called all the families from the Arlington and Fort Caroline wards that we have been trying to reach and also talked with Sister Reese from the Dunn Avenue ward and went through a list of names with her. She invited us to a Ward Chili Cook-off on the 10th of November and indicated all the military families would be attending, so that would be a good event for us to attend. Finally, I talked with Rebecca Cotton and got an update on her address and found out how she was doing and the forecast for the WMEC Valiant’s next cruise. 

 Visit by Brent & Joyce Cottle, 1st Cousins
New floor in USO office and Cheryl Vandiver
 New arrangement of Joyce Schellhorn's desk with new floor in USO
 Floor newly waxed and buffed in USO
 We seldom see this in the USO, its generally covered up
 Dining & Meeting area, South wing at USO
 TV Lounge at USO
 Flags and Banners at the USO
 Computer Room with new floor at the USO
 Children's Room at the USO

Monday, October 22, 2018

Week 37 (15 - 21 October)

             Monday morning we got up and celebrated Pam’s 73rd birthday. We ordered a sewing table for her Elna to do machine quilting. I Love my dear wife. A year ago, we were finishing our application for a mission and now are in our 9th month. Pam is a dedicated woman and responds so well to the wives of these military families and especially the children. When we enter a home the children all gather around her legs and hug her like a grandmother and that makes her feel complete. Not totally but works in a pinch.  We drove to the USO this morning to help with “No Dough” dinner preparations and the place was in an uproar as they were getting ready to replace the floor in the office and computer rooms. All desks and storage shelving were being emptied so they could be taken out of the room. Last Friday, Dave Ostrum began and today we moved all the bins back in the new storage room by the children’s room. We had volunteers available to help with that and also with the “No Dough” setup. Pam helped in the kitchen. I got a call from Tara Alexander came by at noon with her children and gave Pam a dozen red roses and cards the kids had made. Pam was thrilled. I also got a call from Brent Cottle. He and his wife Joyce were on their way to Jacksonville to see us. They were coming with friends from Macon, Georgia. What a surprise! At 2:00 pm all prep work for the dinner was done and they had plenty of volunteers, so Pam and returned to our apartment. About an hour later Brent & Joyce and two friends arrived and it was wonderful to see them and meet their friends who had served as Brent’s counselor in the mission presidency. They stayed for over an hour and we talked about everything—home, family, missions, etc. They were really travelers and spent time in Europe this summer. After they left we looked at each other and said “Wow, what a day!”

Tuesday morning, we returned to the USO and Feeding Northeast Florida had already delivered food for tomorrow’s giveaway. Flooring contractors were moving furniture from the office and computer room and other contractors installing new ovens in the kitchen. How had they scheduled all this on the same morning? Last night James McCullough set up a temporary office in the foyer area. Pam and I waited in the TV area until the dust settled, and we could get busy with the food. Finally, we had 7 volunteers waiting to work, so permission was given, and we went to the storage room and began. Within 2 hours we had 50 bags of meat in the freezer, 50 bags of corn on the cob, and 50 bags of spaghetti, spaghetti sauce and cans of corn and beans. We were done, and it was pretty simple. A large bin of dry goods that was delivered was about 50% out of date, so Pam and I and Carmel and Jim went through each item and sorted the good from the bad. We were done by noon and Pam and I returned to our apartment and changed clothes and left again for a dental appointment for me. It was a cleaning appointment and took about an hour and my teeth looked good. Back at our apartment I did some work on the front door (bugs) and Pam began cutting material for a new quilt.  

Wednesday morning, we were at the USO again early for the food giveaway. We had a number of volunteers and in the first hour got tables loaded with dry goods inside the USO and out in the storage room got things set up to distribute the bags of food. Feeding Northeast Florida made another delivery of two pallets of bags that had dry goods to distribute. They should have been delivered yesterday but was forgotten. In the middle of all this the floor contractors had put self-leveling concrete on the office and computer room floors and when dry they started installing the laminate flooring in the office. It looked very nice and went down quickly. At 10:00 am the first military families began arriving for food and Pam helped Cheryl Vandiver check them in and Carmel and Jim and I worked in the storage room and gave out 4 bags of items to each family, which included meat, fresh corn and 2 bags of dry and canned goods. Before coming outside, they ran the gauntlet of other items where they could take what they needed and in the next hour we went through a lot of food. I think after an hour we replenished the tables inside continuously. We had 40 military families come for food and Dave took 8 portions to an Army base south of NAS Jax. We had 3 men who wheeled grocery carts full of food to each patrons’ cars and that was convenient. At noon we were basically through and most of the volunteers left, but Pam and I stayed at the request of Joyce Schellhorn (Director). She and Cheryl were running the make-do office and we took care of stragglers. They bought us some lunch from the Olympia Café and it was very good. We finally left at 2:00 pm and returned to our apartment, tired but happy with the way things proceeded.

Thursday morning, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my Commissioning in the United States Navy. This happened in Pensacola, Florida. That afternoon I flew to Cincinnati, Ohio and met Pam and Johanna who drove from Mount Pleasant, Michigan and we were reunited again after AOCS. This morning we were going to Zone Conference and arrived at the Hendricks Chapel at 8:30 am. This conference was for the missionaries in Kingsland, Lake City, Mandarin and Jacksonville East Zones. We greeted the single missionaries in the cultural hall and enjoyed the hugs and shakes. President & Sister Lee were also there greeting the missionaries and then we proceeded to the chapel and reverently took our seats and listened to prelude music until time to commence the meeting. President and Sister Lee each said a few words of welcome and then turned the time over to Elder Vaughn (AP) who conducted the meeting. After an opening hymn and prayer, we heard from President Lee, Sister Lee and then President Lee again. They both taught important principles of missionary work and were very inspiring. Elder Vaughn & Carter conducted training concerning online teaching methods using Facebook and Messenger and it was interesting. At the conclusion of the morning session, they invited four missionaries who were attending their last zone conference to come forward and bear their testimonies and then the congregation sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.” Following a closing prayer we moved to the cultural hall for lunch and met a new Senior Couple, Elder & Sister Alexander, who replaced the Youngberg’s who left for their home last Monday. Sister Alexander was the mission nurse and Elder Alexander would probably be the Branch President of the Crescent City Branch. After lunch, visiting and zone pictures were taken, Pam and I departed.  

Friday morning, we left for the USO at 9:00 am. Cheryl Vandiver had opened and flooring contractors were busy working when we arrived. Almost immediately we got a delivery from Publix of bread and pastries. They didn’t have one yesterday and the store more than made up for it today, because we got a lot of bread and pastries. After we laid it out and began to tabulate it, another delivery from Beams showed up and it was almost as much as Publix and included meat and chips. By 10:00 am we had it all costed out and patrons were allowed to take what they wanted and fortunately Cheryl and Dave Ostrum, who had also arrived, determined they could take whatever they wanted. We had 5 coolers filled with meats (chicken, pork, beef) and with leftover corn and the bread and pastries, we had a lot of variety for patrons. Samantha Lagae came by and got some food and also took Pam with her to watch her kids while she did a project. I stayed at the USO and worked here and there. The contractors finished the computer room and it looked very nice. When I left they were almost done with the office, only baseboard and transitions to finish. The floor contractors were also going to put furniture back, so they had a lot of work left to do. Cheryl also received boxes of kitchen pots and pans for her new stove. Wondered where she would put things? I picked up Pam at the Lagae’s and we returned to our apartment and spent a quiet afternoon. Pam finished up some food items for tonight’s dinner and we texted the Sisters about dinner and made plans to pick them up. We also texted Tyler and Alexis and got a reply from Alexis saying she couldn’t make it. She was so excited about it the last time we talked. We left for Jacksonville Beach at 4:30 am and picked up the Sisters and drove to the Lagae home on the Naval Base. Jerald had a grill going and Nikki Head was just leaving. She had dropped off her food, but her family couldn’t come because of a sick child so we were sad about that. They sure battled with illness since coming to Jacksonville. However, in the next half an hour Jenny Black and Oliva, Stephanie and Lance Jarvis, Gary and Devaney Noblit and there 2 boys arrived. So, with the Lagae’s, Sisters and Pam and I we had 16 in attendance. They decided to set up tables outside so the food was all laid out and after a prayer by Samantha we began eating and visiting. The food was excellent—tacos with carne asada and all the toppings, black beans, corn and rice. Everything was very tasty, and we had plenty. At 6:30 pm I texted Alexis and Tyler and told them we had just started so if they were finished with their assignments to please come. Pam and I had to leave shortly after 7:00 pm to get the Sisters to another appointment, and shortly after we left Tyler came and we were pleased. All in all, it was a wonderful evening, just a few pesty bugs, but we managed with some spray.

Saturday morning, we did housework and laundry throughout the morning and at noon drove to a Hobby Lobby on Old St. Augustine road. Pam bought a little more fabric for a quilt she was making. We continued across the St. John’s river and located a different Costco off I-295. We did some shopping and filled up with gas. We returned to our apartment but approaching Atlantic Blvd, traffic came to a stop. An accident up ahead around Monument Road kept us at a crawl for about 45 minutes. It involved a tanker truck which appeared to have side-swiped a small sedan or ran it down on the drivers’ side because the car was crushed. Finally, we made it to our apartment and took the groceries inside and had a late lunch. We received a text from Tara Alexander indicating she had arrived in Orlando safely. She was visiting Wes’ family there and then continuing on to San Antonio, Texas for the next 3 weeks. She had a friend who joined her in Orlando to make the drive with her.

Sunday morning, we attended church in the Jacksonville Beach Ward. It was the annual Primary program and there were a lot of additional people attending. Tyler Gneck, Shay Tuttle, Noblit’, Jarvis’ and Lagae’s were attending today. As it turned out Alexis Connelly was in St. Augustine, and the Black’s and Head’s had sick children. Following the sacrament, children moved to the podium and the program began and was excellent, both music and spoken words. Eleanor Lagae took part and did a good job herself and made her parents proud. We attended the Gospel Principles class and it was huge today with at least an additional 6-10 people attending who we hadn’t seen before. It made for some lively discussions especially on the subject of eternal families. During priesthood, I led the discussion and spent about 40 minutes talking about “Wisdom.” Brother Dill & Smith seemed okay with the end result and at 1:00 pm we concluded. I talked with Tyler about his flying sorties this past week and he enjoyed being in the air very much. We came home, and Pam fixed lunch and watched KBYU programming throughout the afternoon and settled in for the night. I called or texted the Heads, Blacks, and Alexis and learned how they were all doing.
That's us getting ready for lunch at Zone Conference
  Sister Tua and Newman from our Zone
 Sister Johnson and Wasden from our Zone

  Elder & Sister Whitehead from the Office
 Elder Grieve and Sister Whitehead from the Office
 Elder & Sister Gilland from the Hillard Branch (MLS)
 Elder & Sister Alexander, new Senior Couple, Mission Nurse and Crescent Br President
  Elders & Sisters singing "Called To Serve" with a special 3rd Verse
Jacksonville East Zone with President & Sister Lee

Monday, October 15, 2018

Week 36 (8 - 14 October)

            Monday morning we began the week attending an OZONE Conference for all senior couples in the mission. We had looked forward to this for some time. Johanna and Haley were with us and attended also. We left our apartment early and drove directly to St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States. We met President & Sister Lee and the other missionaries at the “The Old Jail.” The other senior couples included the Lee’s, Young’s, Waite’s, Schroeder’s, Mann’s, Whitehead’s and Gilland—18 in all. Sister Lee had purchased ticket packages and handed them out and we began at the “Old Jail” and it was interesting and a little morbid. Also, on the property was the “Oldest Store Museum Experience” and it was amazing to see the items the store sold and supplied to patrons. The next part of the day was a Trolley ride through St. Augustine narrated by an entertaining driver. We covered virtually all of the old Historic district including the Visitors Center, The Oldest Drug Store, Oldest Schoolhouse, Historic City Gates, many, many churches, and a variety of buildings constructed by Henry Flagler who transformed St. Augustine. We had lunch at the Flagler Museum in the bottom of a swimming pool. It was actually an old Hotel, originally built to attract high rollers with a swimming pool, bowling alley, archery range and gamboling. We also toured the front lobby of the Flagler College nearby and it was spectacular with a domed ceiling and exquisite wood work throughout. At that point the missionaries went separate ways. We continued the Trolley tour through the rest of the Historic District stopping at the Castillo San Marcos (Fort) and let Johanna & Haley enjoy this historic beauty. The final area we saw was the Ponce De Leon Fountain of Youth park. The water itself was pretty nasty, but they had a lot of displays on the Indian inhabitants of the area and their homes, etc. From this last stop we caught the last trolley back to where our van was parked and headed south to Orlando for the night. We appreciated the welcome all of the missionaries extended to Johanna and Haley and that made the day extra special. We arrived in Orlando about 6:30 pm where we had rooms for the night. We learned that Hurricane “Michael” was moving closer and closer to the panhandle region of Florida and what was supposed to be a Tropical Depression at best was forecast to be a Category 2 or 3 hurricane upon landfall at Panama Beach. We hoped the people in that part of Florida and Georgia were ready!

Tuesday morning, we were up early and met Johanna & Haley for breakfast and then drove to the Universal Studios parking plaza. Pam’s legs were pretty sore from yesterday’s activities and we inquired about a wheelchair and she reluctantly agreed to ride. It turned out to be a bonus for us. We got preferential parking and renting a chair for the day was simple. I remembered the entry area but that was about all as it had really been expanded and changed from when I was there in 2002 with a group of teachers from Sevier School District. We got our tickets and began our adventure. We were so glad Pam agreed to ride as she would have been finished within an hour. The primary goal of the day was Harry Potter World and we first went to Diagon Alley and wandered the various shops and corridors. It was uncanny the detail expended in the alleys, stores, streets, buildings, etc. You felt like you were in 1900 England. We took a ride in this section of the park called “Escape from Gringotts” and it was a fun, multi-dimensional thrill ride. Next, we took the “Hogwarts Express” train between two Harry Potter locations and ended up in Hogsmeade. We walked the streets of this beautiful village with many shops and activities. In the castle we went on another ride taking us through the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and soaring above the castle grounds as we joined Harry Potter and his friends on a thrilling adventure. We had lunch at the castle and it was quite a feast, highlighted, of course, by “Butter Beer.” For the next hour we exited the Hogsmeade area and went to the Island of Adventure park and road the “Jurassic park River Adventure ride” which was fun. Haley also road the “Hulk” coaster. We wandered through dozens of other attractions surrounding a large lake and then returned to Hogsmeade and took the Hogswart Express back to the Diagon Alley area and moved towards to park exit. We saw a myriad of themed areas and stopped at The Mummy and Haley and Johanna went on the ride and Pam and I relaxed under a tree watching and listening to street performers while enjoying a Slurpee and Popcorn. When they returned we continued towards the entrance and left the park at 4:00 pm. It had been quite an adventurous day and it was easy to see why there were thousands and thousands of families in the park on a Tuesday in October. The drive back to Jacksonville was uneventful and we safely made it to our apartment after a fun-filled day.

Wednesday morning, the big news was the progress of Hurricane Michael. It appeared like it might be the strongest hurricane to hit that area of Florida in years, possibly a category 4 storm which would be devasting. President Lee has evacuated missionaries from Cross City and Chiefland to the Ocala District. We were only experiencing some wind and clouds here in Jacksonville. At 12:30 pm we drove across the St. John’s river hoping to take Johanna and Haley to the Kingsley Plantation. We enjoyed the drive and talked about the various places we were passing. As we approached the plantation turnoff, we noticed a “Closed” sign but continued on and enjoyed the unique drive through the forested area of Fort George Island. At the Plantation the gate was indeed closed (hurricane precaution), and we couldn’t see anything so that was a disappointment. We made the circle loop back to Heckscher Road and continued east towards Little Talbot Island State Park where the gate ranger let us drive around without paying. Haley wanted to walk on the beach and she and Johanna made it that far, but it was quite a hike and Pam and I returned to the van as the rain started to fall. Haley returned with a handful of shells and said there were signs warning not to get in the water because of rip currents. We returned to Jacksonville and had some lunch then on to Mayport and went on base and drove to the Lagae home and visited with Samantha and her children and introduced them to Johanna and Haley. Before leaving the base, we drove around and showed them what a Naval Base was like. There were a couple of ships tied up but not many, because of the hurricane warning. Finally, we returned to the Arlington area and went to a boat ramp on the St. John’s river and walked out on the fishing piers. It was enjoyable to see the huge bridge, river island and homes.

Thursday morning, we learned the full extent of Hurricane Michael’s rampage through the panhandle of Florida. It came ashore at Mexican Beach as a Category 4 storm with winds of 145 mph and 9-13 feet of storm surge along the coastline. It quickly moved inland knocking out power, taking off roofs, destroying trees and homes and remained a Category 3 storm well inland. This morning the storm was crossing Georgia into South Carolina as a Tropical Storm and forecast to be out in the Atlantic by evening. The fast movement and downgraded status were a blessing to those areas already devastated by Florence last month. Today Johanna and Haley returned to Denver and we began the morning opening up the USO and things were quiet with not much bread or pastries. However, we got everything tabulated and set out for patrons. Pam took Johanna around and showed her the place and I manned the office and took calls and checked in patrons. Cheryl arrived at 10:00 am and we introduced Johanna to her and Charlie Tramazzo, but we missed Joyce Schellhorn (Director). We left the USO at 11:30 am and returned to the apartment and Haley was up and they finished packing and we loaded up their bag and headed north to the airport. We had some lunch and then dropped them off at the departure gate and said our goodbyes. We certainly enjoyed having Johanna and Haley with us and enjoyed the feeling of family closeness again. They had an uneventful series of flights to Denver, arriving in Chicago later that afternoon and in Denver around 8:30 pm.

Friday morning, we went to the USO to see if Dave Ostrum needed our help this morning. Dave was working with a volunteer cleaning off all the knick-knacks from the cabinets in the office preparing for flooring which was coming Tuesday. We helped out where we could and sold football tickets, cleaned up and made a deposit for Dave at a local credit union. We left at 2:00 pm and had lunch and then returned to our apartment. Pam did some housework and I got my hair cut throughout the afternoon. We missed Johanna and Haley!

Saturday morning, I watched several videos of the destruction in Mexican Beach (by Panama Beach) and it was just frightening. Practically everything from the coast to about a half a mile inland was gone—just empty concrete pads. Couldn’t imagine what those residents were feeling. With the passage of the storm, the weather was picture perfect throughout the southeast. Temps in the 80’s and low humidity, couldn’t ask for anything better. We heard it had turned to pre-winter in Utah with snow in the mountains and freezing temps. This morning after studying, we cleaned the apartment thoroughly and began a mountain of laundry. We drove to Panda Express and bought lunch for Samantha Lagae as she and several of her kids were sick and Jerald had the duty. We dropped off the food and she was very appreciative. On the way back through Mayport area we had lunch and then did a little shopping, filled up with gas and returned to our apartment.

Sunday morning, we left for church at Jacksonville Beach and had a bonus day—the Head’s, Black’s, Lagae’s, Shay Tuttle, Stephanie Jarvis, Noblits, and Tyler were all in church. Alexis Connelly was sick this morning and Lance Jarvis had the duty. It was wonderful, and we enjoyed the various meetings with these good families. During Elder’s quorum meeting the president discussed assignments for hurricane cleanup in North Carolina and the Florida panhandle. The Stake was asked to provide a number of workers on two upcoming weekends and I was sure they would meet their goal. “helping hands” was a popular thing here and they had enjoyed the benefits of it from other areas in the past. After church we returned to our apartment and Pam fixed some dinner and I made a number of calls to several families and single members inviting them to a Military dinner the Lagae’s are hosting this coming Friday. We can’t wait to get them all together again. 

 Pam, Haley & Johanna looking over a brochure for St. Augustine
 Senior Mission group in front of the Oldest Store Museum
 Oldest Store Museum
 Flagler Hotel, not a Museum
Lunch in the Swimming Pool of the Flagler Museum
 Flagler College
 Rotunda in foyer of Flagler College
One of the streets in Harry Potter's Diagon Alley
 Haley & Johanna at #12 (someones home, but not sure who?)
 Hogwarts Express
 Hogsmeade Castle
Water ride in Adventure Park

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Week 35 (1 - 7 October)

            Monday morning, Pam and I had to be at the Lagae home by 8:00 am so Samantha could take Eleanor to an appointment. We arrived and got ourselves comfortable with Clive and then Samantha and Eleanor left, and we entertained Clive. Fiona was up shortly thereafter, and she was humorous as she flitted around telling us this and that and hardly understanding anything she was saying. They both were very good for us and the time went by quickly. We fed them, and Pam and I cleaned up some and Samantha was appreciative of that. I left for the USO at 9:30 am and Pam stayed until Samantha returned. At the USO I noticed the floors were quite sticky and wondered what happened. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Cheryl Vandiver were there along with one other volunteer. Joyce said over the weekend they hosted a baby shower and apparently spilled something on the floor that didn’t get cleaned up very well, so immediately the other volunteer and I mopped the entire facility. For the rest of the morning I assisted in setting up for the “No Dough” dinner—brought out the “Sneeze Guards” for the salad and dessert tables, placed the utensils and napkin dispensers on the pool table and got out plates and bowls necessary for the night. Also set up the drink table with dispensers, cups and the ice bowl. About 10:30 am Pam was ready to be picked up, so I drove to the Lagae home and we both returned to the USO. Pam worked in the kitchen for the rest of the morning. At 1:30 pm Joyce went home to take care of her dog and asked me to man the office for her which I did. Later Pam and I went to a nearby Arby’s and had some lunch and then returned. American Legion Post #129 sponsored the dinner and volunteers began arriving at 4:00 pm. Pam and I stayed to ensure they had enough, and I manned a table giving away school supplies to families and Pam the Dessert table. We stayed until 7:00 pm and then took two boxes of food and two cases of drinks to the gate guards at the USO and they were appreciative of the gesture.

            Tuesday morning, we left at 8:30 am for the Naval Station where we picked up Alexis Connelly and took her to a doctor’s appointment at the Naval Air Station. She had participated in a sleep study and they gave her an evaluation and some recommendations. On the way back, we took Alexis to lunch at Freddy’s and enjoyed spending some time with her. After dropping her off at her housing building we stopped by the USO to check on an item and did a little work for Joyce regarding Halloween decorations and then made a stop at the ITT (Information, Tickets & Travel) office by the Navy Exchange to check on tickets for Universal Studies in Orlando. We then drove to the Naval Station where Pam watched Samantha Lagae’s children (Clive and Eleanor) while Sam took Fiona to an appointment at the Naval Station to evaluate her hearing and speech problems.

Wednesday morning, we left for the USO at 10:30 am and made a short visit to check on the Marathon items that were delivered yesterday. I moved them in the storage room and did a couple of other things and then we left. Dave Ostrum was working and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived just before we left. Pam was to sit for Samantha’s children but got a text telling her that she had cancelled the appointment for Fiona, so Pam didn’t need to come. We had lunch and then drove Costco where we did some shopping. Afterwards we stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought some fresh vegetables and then returned to our apartment. Pam spent the afternoon baking a cake and getting ready for tomorrow evenings Baby Shower for Shay Tuttle.

Thursday morning, Pam and I opened the USO and were surprised at the number of cars in the parking lot waiting for us. Today at 9:00 am tickets to the Jacksonville Icemen Hockey team were supposed to be available. We didn’t have them, but shortly Charlie Tramazzo arrived, and he had them and we began to give them out for free with very few restrictions. I checked the bread and pastries and tabulated them and got them ready for patrons by 9:30 am. So, the morning was filled with a lot of people coming and going. We also had a community service worker with us and he worked on the lighting system in the entryway. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was having him do a lot of maintenance items because he was very skilled. We had 3 mothers come with their children to spend time in the children’s room and that was nice. Joyce arrived about 11:30 am from an eye doctor appointment. I took Pam to Samantha Lagae’s home at 12:30 pm and she watched her children while Samantha went to an appointment for herself today. Back at the USO I did a number of small projects until Pam called. I picked her up and then we returned to our apartment. At 5:45 pm we loaded up food and other items for the baby shower for Shay Tuttle at Dwight & Kathy Thomas’ house in Atlantic Beach. Kathy was the Relief Society President in the Jacksonville Beach Ward and offered her home for the occasion hosted by Pam, Sister Tiara Christianson and Stephanie Jarvis. We drove back to the base and picked up Alexis Connelly and then proceeded to the Thomas home. They lived in a very nice area on Atlantic Beach and had a lovely home. After unpacking things, I left, and Pam and Alexis stayed for the shower. I drove to an Ace Hardware store to pick up a replacement toilet handle and then drove along Mayport Road and found a road to a Reserve walkway out into the marshland by the intercoastal canal. After dark I returned to the Thomas home and waited for the shower to conclude. There were a lot of cars parked by the Thomas home and when it was over Pam said they had about 30 women present, and it turned out to be a huge success. Not many people in the ward knew Shay at all because she was very shy and teaches in the Primary, so kind of gets lost even though she is there regularly. Her mother came for the event and met everyone, and they had a good time with a lot of food, games and other activities. Shay was overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and Pam said it was perfect.

Friday morning, we spent the morning cleaning the apartment and doing laundry. I vacuumed the house and Pam cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. We repositioned the beds in the guest room and cleaned out a little space for Johanna and Haley when they arrive. We drove to the Beach and went to the ITT office again by the Navy Exchange and purchased tickets to Universal Studies in Orlando for us and Johanna & Haley. We then drove to the St. John’s area and did some shopping for a shower gift for another mother in the Jacksonville Beach Ward and then we had some lunch. We shopped at Costco for a few things and returned to our apartment. Tonight, I did some phone calls to families with little success.

Saturday morning, Pam and I got ready and drove to the airport about 10:45 am. I called Nikki Head and talked with her about a blessing she had requested and made arrangements when that could take place. The Head family had all been sick this past week and wasn’t getting any better. We arrived at the airport a half an hour before Johanna’s arrival time and waited in the luggage area and soon they came down the escalator following their landing. It was great to see them. We loaded up and returned to our area and stopped for lunch before coming to the apartment. At our apartment we got Johanna & Haley set up in the guest bedroom, then we checked on BYUtv because the morning session had already commenced. I restarted the morning session and Pam, Johanna and Haley watched it and I drove to the Naval Station and with Tony’s help blessed his family. I gave him my bottle of oil and hoped he had the confidence to use it.
Back home I changed clothes and joined the ladies watching the rest of the morning session. President Russell M. Nelson opened the session and welcomed members and explained the direction being taken to make the church more of “a home centered” church rather than a “Sunday church.” Following his testimony, Elder Elder Quentin L. Cook explained adjustments mentioned by President Nelson. The major change was the Sunday meeting schedule which was shortened to 2 hours consisting of a 60-minute sacrament meeting followed by a 10-minute break for movement and then a 50-minute period for Sunday School on the 1st & 3rd Sunday’s, and Priesthood and Relief Society and Young Women’s on the 2nd & 4th Sunday’s. A 5th Sunday would be at the direction of the Bishop. Primary would be held every Sunday. He gave much more information on the reasons for the change and bore his testimony that it was the will of the Lord. Next, we heard from 5 more general authorities. Shortly thereafter the afternoon session began which was live and we heard 6 talks and they were also wonderful. During the interlude between Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening sessions Pam fixed dinner. At 8:00 pm we watched the first General Women’s session of conference held on the Saturday evening of Conference weekend. We heard from 3 general officers from the relief society, young women’s and primary and then from the first presidency. A great meeting.

Sunday morning, everyone slept in, but we got up to watch the morning session which began at noon. As the session began we got a text from Samantha Lagae asking for help. Clive had his hand shut in a door and she thought his fingers were broken. She needed someone to sit with her girls while she went to NAS Jax emergency room. Pam got dressed and drove to the Naval Station. Sam had called 911 and they checked Clive and said the blood supply wasn’t hurt, but felt she needed an x-ray. Pam ended up going with Samantha and her children and felt she needed Pam’s moral support. Pam watched the girls in the lobby.

In the meanwhile, the session began and Johanna, Haley and I went into our room and watched conference. President Eyring conducted and we heard 5 wonderful talks on a variety of subjects. I warmed up a dish of stroganoff and Johanna, Haley and I had that for lunch. At 4:00 pm we began watching the afternoon session we heard 7 talks and a final message from President Nelson in which he announced 12 new Temples to be built throughout the world. It had been a good week.

 Marshland next to the Intercoastal Canal
 Marshland next to the Intercoastal Canal
 Sister Ferguson returned to the mission field following gall bladder surgery. We are very proud of her.

Week 40 (5 - 11 November)

Monday morning, I woke up early and Pam was still asleep so that was good. She did join me in the living room a half an hour later and felt...