We began our first full week in the mission field today. Jacksonville has been wonderful--clear skies, great temperatures and moderate humidity. What more could we ask for. Well for one a comfortable bed! The mattress is new, but very firm, so we bought a "topper" from Costco and that seemed to solve the problem. We also lowered the bed to the floor which was much better for your mother. I called Comcast and they had internet service for a pretty good price and 25 mbps so we were happy. We drove to the store north of the city and they assured us it was "plug and play." We got both our computers set up on a table and they both turned on and worked fine. We just needed Wifi! I set up the Modem and used my cell phone to check that out and initially I got on line quickly and thought we were done, but not so fast. We had to go through a “get started” phase and 3 hours later finally figured out everything. The biggest problem was passwords and user names and Pam helped immensely and finally we finished and had Wifi on all of our computers, tablets and phones and didn't have to call Alex.
Wednesday morning we enjoyed attending a District Meeting held at a local chapel about 2 miles from our apartment. We are in the Fort Caroline District with 3 other companionship's--two sets of elders and one set of sisters. It was quite a small district but what a wonderful meeting. Elder Erickson conducted and was well prepared and taught from PMG, a Missionary Leadership Council and from General Authority material. We also heard a special message from Elder Pacella, who is leaving next week for home, having completed his mission. He is native Italian. We finished about 12:30 pm and they spent the next 15 minutes trying to decide where to go to lunch (that sounds familiar). Finally settled on Panda Express and we followed them to the St. Johns Town Center and had a nice lunch. Pam and I picked up the tab and were happy to do that. In the afternoon we went to Mayport Naval Station and drove around to get the lay of the land and also stopped at the Chapel and met the base Chaplain and his assistant. They were very nice to us and feel we will have a good relationship with them. In the Spring of 1990 I had been on the base for a month doing a project on the USS Saratoga. I couldn't remember or recognize anything on the base. So much had changed with new construction, etc.
Thursday we returned to Mayport and located the USO facility just outside the base and went inside and introduced ourselves and had a very nice visit with two ladies who worked there. They remembered Elder and Sister Railes, who were the last Military Relations missionaries here in Jacksonville and had high regard for them. We hoped to continue that tradition. Later in the afternoon Pam and I got online and began the application process to volunteer at the USO.
Friday we spent most of our day at the apartment working on 3 separate lists of names we received from the Railes and two current couple missionaries. They were names of military families and we sorted through them by base and planned to make contact. Later that afternoon we drove to the Beach and met with a lady from the Jacksonville Beach Ward, Stephanie Jarvis, and she went through the names with us and sadly we learned that almost of the names were families that had transferred or left the service. She knew of several families in the Beach Ward and that is where we would start.
Saturday was a quiet day for us. Pam baked a cake for a family that invited us for dinner last Sunday and she tried out the stove and it worked just fine. We also went to a nearby Wal-Mart and did some grocery shopping and drove around our neighborhood getting to know the area. Today we began by attending the Fort Caroline Ward nearby. We arrived early and we went to the Arlington Ward offices and asked for a membership printout from the ward clerk. Sacrament meeting was excellent and we met a lot of nice people including the Stake President. Following the meeting the ward clerk in the Fort Caroline ward also printed off a member list for us. We drove to Jacksonville Beach and got a member list and then had a very nice visit with the Bishop. Mayport Naval Station lies within the boundaries of his ward so it is our primary area to work. He invited us to attend their ward council meetings and put us on their email lists for agenda items.