Sunday, April 29, 2018

Week 12

We began our week at the USO this morning and spent the entire day helping get the “No Dough” dinner ready. Pam chopped vegetables and cooked chicken most of the day and I did odd jobs for the Director and manned the office. In the evening a wonderful group of high school students from a local school, Fletcher High School, came and did a service project to serve the food and help clean up. They were pretty amazing. We had over 100 in the first 15 minutes and 200 in the first hour, so lines snaked around the facility as the kitchen just couldn’t keep up, but we prevailed in the end and ended up with 293 patrons and everyone got fed. All in all, it was a good night and the patrons had a good time even if they had to wait for their food. During the meal it was pouring rain and that surprised us that so many came despite the rain. We had no food for the gate guards tonight and Pam and I came home and happily flopped into bed.

Tuesday morning, we went to District Meeting at the Fort Caroline chapel. We met with Elder’s Lamb & Roy, Erickson & Kindley, and Sisters Knudsen & Gillins. Both Elder Kindley and Sister Gillins arrived in the mission field on the last transfer and it was the first time we had met them. They both seemed very engaged and loving their experiences. Sister Knudsen and Elder Erickson will be great trainers. Elder Lamb, the District Leader, conducted the meeting and did a wonderful job. He’s been out for 8 months and acts like a veteran. The meeting went until shortly past noon and then we went to Moe’s, a Mexican Grill restaurant and treated the missionaries to lunch. We enjoyed the food and visiting with the elders and sisters and then took some pictures and they left for their assignments. Pam and I had to be at our medical clinic at 1:30 pm and Pam got her 2nd Pneumonia shot and now we are through with that series. I got a call from a nearby imaging clinic and made an appointment for a back x-ray tomorrow morning. I’ve been having issues with my lower back and the doctor wanted to see what was going on. Back home we cleaned the apartment and I vacuumed the house and Pam did 4 loads of laundry. Pam also baked cookies to take to members. We had an appointment, but at the last minute they called and cancelled as they were leaving for Orlando tomorrow morning.

Wednesday was a pretty quiet day for us. I went to the imaging clinic and had x-rays taken of my back and then returned home. I stopped at the doctor’s office with some updated information on a Hepatitis shot series that we began last winter and schedule our 3rd and final shot for Tuesday the 1st of May. We especially like their southern hospitality where we are always referred as “Mister Joseph” and “Miss Pamela.” When I returned home, Pam was fixing dinner for the Elder’s tonight. We took a plate of cookies to Tara Alexander and visited with her for a while. Wes is in San Diego, so she is alone with 2 little ones and a construction project going on in their home (sound familiar Erin?). We discussed some help she might need this week and also the upcoming stake conference. In the evening I drove to the beach and picked up Elder’s Lamb & Roy and brought them to our home for dinner. We enjoyed the meal and visiting with them. They left with a spiritual thought and prayer and that was nice. They are outstanding young men.

Thursday was a busy day for us at the USO. We opened the facility at 9:00 am and that was a first for us. Day-old bread had been delivered the night before, so we counted and put it out for patrons to take. We also took care of some food and toiletries that were donated and then settled in to welcoming patrons, selling tickets to the zoo and taking phone calls. Joyce, the Director had an activity downtown and we didn’t see her at all, but she called frequently to ensure we were okay. After lunch we had some volunteers arrive to help with dresses that were being taken downtown for the activity, but they must have gotten their dates mixed up because the dresses were taken yesterday, however, one of the young men asked about our name tags and indicated he was a member. Not active and married to a non-member, but we had a nice visit with him and got his phone number and asked if we could visit. He said yes and hopefully we have another potential family to work with. His name is Matthew Garrison and he grew up in Iowa. James McCullough, the assistant director, arrived about 4:30 pm and we turned over operations to him and visited for a few minutes and then left. We drove to the LaGae’s home on the Naval Station and gave Samantha some bread from the USO and visited for a while. Her kids were anxious to show us their bedrooms, their play room and talked constantly. Samantha was doing all right, but Jerald was gone for 3 weeks on a shack-down cruise on his LCS, the USS Detroit. She didn’t think she would try Stake Conference with the kids but hoped we would sit with her the following Sunday. That was a nice conclusion to our day.

Friday morning, we opened the USO again and both Charley and Joyce arrived about 10:00 am. Joyce talked about the dress activity yesterday and we had a lot left over and I unloaded her SUV and put them away. Joyce was going to the Navy Exchange for an annual “Cupcake Wars” and the USO had an entry. After she left Pam and I manned the office and we had a steady flow of clientele throughout the morning, using the computer room, needing something faxed, buying Zoo tickets, etc. Charley bought us lunch and when Joyce returned we spent an hour going over things that had happened and upcoming dates and then Pam and I left. We stopped at the LaGae’s and dropped off some goodies from the Cupcake Wars and then came home.

Saturday, we did some cleaning again and preparation for the weekend. I called families and missionaries to see if anyone needed a ride to the stake center for stake conference this evening. No one needed rides so in the afternoon we drove to the Hendricks Avenue Chapel for the Saturday evening session. We arrived and found seats in the chapel and observed people coming in and preparations for the night. At 7:00 pm President Button stood and began the meeting. In the afternoon, at 4:00 pm, they held a leadership meeting for all members of ward councils and the stake council. That could have been a large group. The theme of that meeting and the evening meeting was “Ministering” by direction of the First Presidency. All the talks were centered on that theme with the exception of two conversion testimonies from recent converts. We heard from President Bridegan, 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency, Sister Yvonne Roberts, Stake Young Women’s president, Bishop Miller from the Mandarin 1st Ward and Sister Kathleen Thomas a Relief Society president. The final speaker was President Heywood. All of the talks were excellent and to the point. President Heywood also showed two videos on Ministering. At the conclusion of the meeting we visited with several families, including President & Sister Lee of the mission. Also, Rebecca Cotton came up and introduced herself to us and it was nice to finally put a face to a name. She is in the Coast Guard and serves aboard the cutter Valiant. We made an appointment to visit with her Monday afternoon. Elder Lamb came by and asked if we could take him and Elder Roy home and we could, so we said our goodbyes and made the journey to the beach and then to our home.

Sunday morning, we were in the Fort Caroline Chapel at 10:00 am for the General session of conference. Alexis didn’t call us this morning, so we were alone. The transmission was very good, and they used the internet to broadcast and receive the signal. Right at 10:00 am President Heywood began the session. President Bridegan conducted the stake business and it was nice to sustain our new Prophet again. We heard from President Button, Patriarch Warner, President & Sister Duke, members of the Orlando Florida Temple Presidency and two conversion testimonies. We then heard from President & Sister Lee, Mission President and wife, Sister Kathleen Seymour, Stake Relief Society President, and the concluding speaker was President Heywood. All the talks and testimonies were excellent and also addressed the topic of Ministering. They gave us a lot to think about in the next few months. Following the session, we visited with members, saw a few military families and got updates on their status and visited with the missionaries who were attending. Finally, we came home. 

These are the Fort Caroline Missionaries

Monday, April 23, 2018

Week 11

Our week began on Monday the 16th of April. We spent most of the day at the USO. Prepping for the dinner that night in the morning and returning in the afternoon to help with the dinner. We had a nice lunch at Freddy’s and took an hour or so rest by the St. John’s river watching the water and boats go by. That night JEA, a local power company was sponsoring the dinner and they had a host of volunteers present to man the kitchen, salad, dessert and drink tables. We had a nice group come to the dinner, but not as many as they hoped for—only about 180. We texted the LaGae family and invited them to come and Pam and I joined them for dinner and it was nice to see them again, especially the kids. At the end of the event we took a box of food to the gate guards at the Naval Station and they were thrilled with the food and drink.

Tuesday was our preparation day for this week and it was cold and rainy outside, so we were happy to be inside our comfortable apartment. We were also thinking of the Boston Marathon going on this morning up north. However, the weather up there was horrible, but didn’t Sarah Callister Sellers do us proud. Pretty amazing story. We cleaned the entire apartment and are still amazed at how much dust and dirt we accumulate in the vacuum each week. We also did loads of laundry and shopped for food items we need for upcoming meals we are taking to military families this week.

Wednesday morning, we spent on the telephone trying to contact new military families and singles with not much luck. It’s amazing in this world of instant communication no one answers phones. We had lunch at a salad restaurant called “Crispers” and had an interesting encounter with a minister. He didn’t reveal his faith, but we imagined it was Baptist. He told of missionaries visiting with him around the Dunn Avenue Ward building and how impressed he was with their excitement about the Savior and the message they presented. He complimented the church on their missionary work and wished his church did the same. After lunch we met with Alexis Connelly and Elders Lamb and Roy at the Jacksonville Beach chapel and visited for a while and then the Elder’s and I gave Alexis a Priesthood blessing. She had an MRI last week which proved to be normal, but she was still having migraines several times a week. We blessed her to be healed and properly diagnosed and treated and then Pam and I took her back to the Naval Station and dropped her off at her apartment. Before leaving the base, we stopped at the chapel to see if we could meet a single member, Blake Harris, but he wasn’t working until the evening.

Thursday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:00 am to learn the opening routine and then I counted bread with Jim and Pam went with Carmel to review other opening procedures. This was their last week at the USO and next Thursday Pam and I will be there on our own. We did a lot of odd jobs throughout the morning until Cheryl arrived with food for next Monday’s dinner.
We helped until about 2:30 pm and then left for the day. Spent an hour on the phone with USAA changing insurance coverage for the van to make it legal so that is taken care of.

Friday morning, we arrived at the USO shortly at 10:00 am and Joyce (Director) and several ladies were there, and work had started in the kitchen baking chicken and cooking pasta for Monday’s dinner. While in the office Pam’s phone rang and it was Karin Hadley and she informed us of Sherwood’s passing that morning at 7:30 am. I went out and found Pam in the kitchen and whispered the news into her ear and she came out into the TV lounge area and made calls to our children and also to Ann Marie. It happened a lot quicker than they planned but we were sure it was a huge blessing. I worked in the office and did a lot of little jobs. In the afternoon Joyce wanted me to document the channels available on the various TV’s in the center because she was not happy with the setup xfinity/Comcast had provided—imagine that!

Saturday morning began very early for us as we were going to the Temple in Orlando. We invited a military wife to join us (Stephanie Jarvis) and she arrived at our apartment at 7:00 am and following prayers we were off. The freeways were fairly clear that early in the morning, but we traveled through light to heavy rain for most of the way. We enjoyed the scenery through coastal Florida and visiting with Stephanie. She was quite a girl and had an amazing medical story. She was also from Rifle, Colorado so that was interesting. Her husband was attending a military school in Norfolk, Virginia. We arrived in Orlando and thanks to GPS arrived at the Temple and it was beautiful. We entered, changed and sat in the chapel for the 10:30 am session and the ordinance room was full, and we enjoyed the film and proceeding through a beautiful session. We spent a few minutes in the Celestial Room but I didn’t remember much from when I was in that Temple in February of 2002 with George Judd. What was really amazing was the changes in the neighborhood around the Temple. My memory was open land and not much around the Temple, but now trees were tall, and housing and business areas were everywhere. We left for Jacksonville and stopped for food at a Wendy’s and the drive home was a lot more crowded, but we arrived safely at our apartment at 4:00 pm. It had been a very good day and we so much needed the peace and spirit of the Temple.

Sunday morning, I got jarred awake to an early morning text from both Stephanie and also from Alexis. Stephanie had a question about whether she had dropped her phone in our van—she hadn’t, and Alexis, on the other hand, texted to tell us she was just going to bed after spending the night doctoring her boy-friend who had a stomach virus. So, we wouldn’t be seeing her today which, was a huge disappointment. The good news, however, was that she was 4 days without a migraine headache. We went to the Jacksonville Beach Ward this morning and President Heywood was present and presided. During the business portion of the meeting, he changed the Bishopric. Bishop Maughn and his counselors Brother Dill & Hardy were released and a new bishopric of Bishop Scott Currie with counselors, Brother’s Kory Simmons and Howie Christianson. Following the sacrament, we heard from the old and new bishoprics, plus Bishop Maughn’s wife, and they all gave wonderful testimonies. President Heywood concluded the meeting with his own testimony. Pam and I met Shay Tuttle following the meeting and verified our meeting with her and her husband on Tuesday evening. We then attended the Gospel Principles class where we met Joe Novak, ward mission leader. We were disappointed that the LaGae’s were not in church today. Not sure why! I got a chance to meet Bishop Currie and he was on active duty in the Navy assigned to VP-30 (VP Rag Squadron at NAS Jacksonville) and he flew the new P-8 aircraft and had flown the P-3. We agreed to meet later when the dust settled from his new calling. Here are some pictures of the Orlando Temple:

 Pam & Stephanie
 Pam & Stephanie
Pam & Stephanie

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Week 10

We began our week at the USO and arrived at 10:00 am. Pam helped with preparations for the "No Dough Dinner" and I manned the office and did other odd jobs. There were a lot of volunteers this morning so "many hands make light work." We left at 1:30 am and had some lunch and then drove down the beach highway for about 20 miles. It was interesting to see the beach town, golf courses (Sawgrass) and eventually open beaches. They were beautiful with some small waves. We arrived back at the USO shortly after 3:00 pm and Joyce was there along with a gathering group of volunteers for the dinner tonight. By 4:30 pm everything was ready and we began feeding families at 5:00 pm. I worked in the office checking people in and Pam worked in the kitchen and on the salad table. We had about 200 tonight and it was an enjoyable activity. Following the cleanup Pam and I took a box of food to the gate guards at the Naval Station and they were happy recipents.

Tuesday we spent cleaning our apartment and doing laundry and shopping for a meal we were taking to one of our military families tomorrow. 

On Wednesday, Pam fixed a lovely dinner for the LeGae family and in the afternoon we drove to the Naval Station and delivered the meal and had a nice visit with Samantha and her children. They are a nice family and making wonderful progress in the gospel. Back at our apartment I called several phone numbers I had garnered from the YSA Branch list but didn't have much luck. It appeared most of them were gone from the area. I did talk with one young man and he was stationed at Camp Lejune in North Carolina. So much for our church records. 

Thursday was a busy day at the USO. We arrived early at 9:00 am and met the couple who normally perform that function and opened up the center and then I helped count bread and pastries donated last night by the local Publix Market. Pam helped in the kitchen with the wife. After that was done the couple manned the office and Pam and I did a project categorizing and counting sizes of dresses the center has donated. We ended up with 5 huge bags of dresses and I would imagine about 100 dresses, all brand new from Ann Taylor in New York. They will be distributed at a Dress give away at the end of the month. After lunch we returned to the USO and did dinner prep work for Cheryl for Monday's dinner--Pam cooked Pasta and I cut Peppers. We finished at 5:00 pm and were happy to go home for the night. 

Friday was a busy day for us. We arrived at the USO again for our regular day and did a project for Joyce, the director, at the Navy Exchange. We manned a table at the exchange for the Month of the Child program. We took two bins of childrens wood toys, a bin of candy, and other information about the USO. For two hours we visited with mothers and dads and grandparents and gave out about 100 toys and gave our menus for the No Dough dinners and got a couple of names of people who wanted to volunteer at the USO. One vendor was headed by a man called Bill Kennedy. He was a former Navy pilot (S-3’s) and most recent assignment was as CO of the USS Saratoga. He took command shortly after we did work on the “Sara” in 1993 when I worked for American Pipelining Co. At that time the “Sara” was homeported in Mayport. When he saw our missionary badges, he told a story about his neighborhood last Fall when Hurricane Irma stormed through Northern Florida. He had a tree in his backyard blow over into his neighbor’s yard. For several days he contacted companies to get the tree removed and currently they were only clearing roads and strategic areas. One day he heard some noise next door and looked over the fence and there was about a dozen young people, including young women wielding chain saws and within two hours had the neighbors yard cleaned up and wood neatly stacked along the road. Without asking him they appeared in his yard and began working on the rest of the tree and he approached them and asked who they were from and what would it cost. They told him they were “helping hands” from the LDS Church and their work was free of charge. He was blown away and in just an hour his backyard was cleaned up also and another neat stack of wood along the roadside and they were gone. He was very impressed and wanted us to know how much he appreciated the volunteering of the LDS church and in our mission. So hopefully we planted another seed in someone’s mind that the church is made up of good people. At 1:00 pm we ended the assignment and all of the vendors cleaned up and moved out. We loaded up our bins (much lighter) and before returning to the USO had some lunch at the local Wendy’s. After getting things returned to the USO we visited with Cheryl about the mornings activity and then for the rest of the afternoon we unpacked, sorted and tabulated sizes on wedding dresses. We ended at about 4:30 pm and had a dozen or so bags with about 16 different dress styles in a variety of sizes. Back at our apartment Pam received a box from Erin and she was a happy camper. We had something to eat and then settled in for the night. I got a call at 8:30 pm from President Lee and he asked if I would give the closing prayer at the Transfer Call tonight at 9:00 pm. I was happy to do that and at 9:00 pm called and joined the conference call and for the next 20 minutes heard all the transfers that were happening in the mission next week. I don’t remember the numbers but about 8 missionaries are going home and they are receiving 6-8 missionaries. Transfers will officially take place next Wednesday and that is a regular activity every 6 weeks. After some concluding remarks by President & Sister Lee, we heard a short testimony from Elder Stuart who was released as an Assistant to the President and reassigned, and then I was invited to give the closing prayer. It is quite an interesting process and quite effective way to get the information out. 

Saturday was another quiet day for us and we cleaned the apartment again and several loads of laundry. We also made a number of calls to see if the families were are working with will be at church. 

Sunday we awoke to our 52nd Anniversary. It was also the Sabbath and we attended the Jacksonville Beach Ward. Alexis Connelly, our single sister from the base, couldn't go again and that was distressing to us. I hope they will find out how to treat her Migraine Headaches. We attended church at 10:00 am and enjoyed the meetings. Three of our families were in church and it was nice to visit with them. After the block we took some pictures and arranged with Stephanie Jarvis to attend the temple with us this coming weekend. We returned to our apartment and had lunch and watched some KBYU programming and enjoyed a quiet evening. 

 Jacksonville Beach
 Jacksonville Beach
 Jacksonville Beach Sand
 Jerald & Samantha LeGae and their children, Eleanor, Fiona and Clive

Monday, April 9, 2018

Week 9

Well this was our first week in April and began with a bang as we thoroughly enjoyed General Conference commencing with the Solemn Assembly to the numerous changes announced and explained throughout Saturday and Sunday. I have been very impressed with the way our stake out here in Jacksonville and moved ahead with the changes, releasing the HP and EQ presidencies and holding a combined 1st Sunday of the month meeting. Wonderful discussions about conference, favorite talks, the changes, Ministering, and Temples. Haven't had a conference with such impact for years. Probably not since President Hinckley announced 30 new "small" temples back in 1998.

Monday began at the USO for us and we spent the morning doing odd jobs in the office and around the center. We stayed until 2:00 pm and then did some shopping for food and other items we needed for some missionary dinners we planned during the week. 

We spent Tuesday morning cleaning and I got the good job--vacuuming, while your mother worked through the two bathrooms and kitchen. We are moving into "bug" season, so it's very important to keep things clean. This evening we had Sister Knudsen and Meyers over for dinner. They are Sisters in the Fort Caroline Ward and they are wonderful missionaries and work hard every day. We enjoyed visiting with them, sharing a meal, and a spiritual thought they left with us. 

Wednesday morning we were at the USO again and spent the morning and early afternoon sorting and marking boxes of items that had been donated to the USO for military families. Lots and lots of bathroom items and food items (snacks). It's important that we review them to make sure they haven't expired (especially the food products) and sort them out so they can be distributed easily. The airport USO uses a lot of these types of items for the many military travelers they see. 

We enjoyed calls from Johanna and Erin. Johanna told us about her trip to Salt Lake to attend general conference with Haley. Erin and Weston were in Monroe at the house and Erin bought some Preen and spread it all over our flower beds for us. She sent videos of the kids in the backyard and it was wonderful to see them climbing and swinging in a familiar place. 

Thursday morning we were back at the USO again to learn some new procedures. We met another volunteer couple (Carmela & Jim) who open the facility and count the bread donated by Publix (local grocery store chain) to the USO on Wednesday night. They are leaving soon for Massachusetts (home) following a winter in Florida. Pam and I are scheduled to take over that day of service and the “bread” project. We arrived in time to watch them open the doors, turn on various lights and get the building up and running. I followed Jim and counted donated bread and pastries and tabulated their prices. Pam and Carmela went into the kitchen and did a number of other items. I was quite amazed at how much food was donated and it happened every week--approximately $1,000 worth of items. Before we could hardly get that done people were arriving for bread and pastries—a very popular donation. When things settled down Pam and I went out to the storage room and went through 10 bins of school items and got them all sorted out and the bins labeled for future distribution. The rest of the morning with visited with Carmela and Jim and handled patrons as they came in for tickets, bread, and sometimes to use the computer room. At noon Carmela and Jim left, and we were alone for a short period of time. Two community service youth came a little later and then Joyce arrived and came in like a tornado. Finally, she calmed down some, sold some tickets to a few men that were waiting and checked on what we had done in the morning and then we spent some time going over the next few weeks with her. We left at 3 pm and had a late lunch, early dinner at Freddy’s--good! 

Friday we were back at the USO on our regular day and Joyce left at noon for an assignment, so Pam and I had the place to ourselves for a while. Cheryl came and began preparations for Monday's "No Dough" dinner and Pam spent the afternoon working with her. I took care of phone calls and checking in patrons. We finally left in the late afternoon and were bushed. 

Saturday morning we cleaned the house again and made calls to all of our military families about this evenings Stake BBQ at the Stake Center. We hoped they would attend. We did some shopping and dodging huge rain storms in the afternoon. At 5:00 pm we drove to the Stake Center (about a 25 minute drive) in constant rain and joined in a huge crowd of stake members enjoying food and music. they planned for 300 and over 500 showed up but they had plenty of food. There were a lot of missionaries and we enjoyed shaking hands and renewing acquaintances. The Alexander's, one of our families we are working with, were there we visited with them their little girl came right up to Pam and gave her a hug. That made Pam’s night. We enjoyed the meal and visited with people from the Hendricks Avenue Ward. We also walked around the building, because it was built on the Monroe Stake Center plan without the Stake addition and the Young Women’s addition. We left at 6:30 pm and returned home and arrived safely. 

Sunday was spent at the Jacksonville Beach Ward and we enjoyed have another of our families come and spent meetings with us. The LeGae's came to Jacksonville from San Diego and he's been in the Navy for a dozen years. We hope to get them to the Temple during our time here. They also have 3 little children so Pam enjoyed the hugs and cuddles especially from the baby--about a year old. In the evening we were invited to dinner by the Jarvis family. Sister Jarvis is a military relations liaison from the ward and we have enjoyed getting to know her and her husband who is in the Navy. 

This is Sister Knudsen & Meyers at our home. Sorry, not many pictures this week, will try and do better. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Week 8

Our week began at the USO and when we arrived at at 10:00 am the lights were off, they were in the middle of a power outage. During the night a transformer on a nearby pole had exploded and the USO was affected. Unfortunately the refrigerator was off for a significant amount of time and when Joyce and Cheryl checked on the meat that had been prepared for the "No Dough" dinner that evening, they felt they couldn't use it. So the morning was spent figuring out what to do about dinner. They decided on Burgers and Dogs and Cheryl went to buy the meat and buns and Pam and I helped clean out the refrigerator and I reluctantly dumped container after container of meat into the dumpster. Pam worked with other volunteers on the salad condiments and I brought in two grills and checked them out. By noon the new transformer was installed and we had power, but the damage had been done. After lunch Pam and I returned at 3:00 pm to help with cooking, etc. but were amazed at the number of volunteers that began to assemble. We pretty much ran the office and checked in people throughout the afternoon. When dinner began at 5:00 pm Pam worked on the Salad line and I checked in families and handed out tickets to the dinner. It was a tremendous success and we fed over 200 people. 

Joyce had asked if we could work Tuesday instead of Wednesday because she and Cheryl had to attend a meeting on the base. We said sure and were at the USO by 11:00 am. After they left we had little to do so busied ourselves by cleaning up things and supervising two people who were doing community service. When Joyce and Cheryl returned they brought 15 big boxes of dresses. Apparently, Joyce had taken a delivery of those dresses plus many more from a firm in New York and they had been stored on base. Joyce asked if we could help them unpack and sort the dresses and we said "sure." We also had a training meeting that evening so ended up staying throughout the afternoon and into the evening. We un-boxed the dresses and sorted them into types (“V” neck, Scoop neck and Strapless) and then by size. I didn't know who would wear these dresses because they were very small, size 00 to 2. Every year they had a program and gave out dresses not only for weddings but for such dances as junior proms, etc. to military wives and dependents. It took most of the afternoon but we got the job done and I typed up a report with numbers for Cheryl. By then people started arriving for training and we had a dinner of "No Dough" leftovers while the director of the Airport USO conducted training. It was interesting and outlined the purpose of USO’s and a little about their history. At 7:00 pm the Mayport USO volunteers and staff split away to the other end of the room and we held our own training about issues concerning the Mayport facility. 

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were fairly quiet days. We did housework, laundry, shopping and hosted two sets of Elders to dinner, one on Wednesday evening and another on Friday evening. On Thursday evening we visited two military families, the LeGae's, a new family to Mayport and we enjoyed being in their home, which was on base. We can have a very positive impact on that family. The other family, the Line's, are a very active family, Greg is a Jag officer and works on the base, but they are transferring to Sasebo, Japan in the summer. But we had great visits with both of them and left a plate of cookies at each home. 

Saturday arrived with great anticipation about General Conference. We were able to see conference through our Roku streaming device and downloaded the ByuTV app and the reception was wonderful. The solemn assembly was very special and we enjoyed joining with other members of the church throughout the world in witnessing and participating in the sustaining of a new President of the Church, a new first president, and new apostles. Of particular interest to us was the sustaining of Elder Gong to the quorum of 12. he released me as stake president last fall and we really enjoyed having the Gong's in our home and in our stake for that weekend. His kindness, spirituality and love for the members was evident and it was nice to sustain his new calling. The rest of the morning session was wonderful as we heard from the general authorities. At 4:00 pm we again settled down to watch the afternoon session of conference. The biggest surprise to us was the release of the general Young Women's presidency. Hardly seemed possible that they had served for 5 years. We have loved Sister Oscarson and her counselors. Additionally, in a long list of new Area Seventies was the name of Richard J. DeVries, that’s right our “Ric.” It didn't surprise us at all and he will be a wonderful addition to church leadership in Michigan. We later learned that Elder Gong was the general authority that had extended that call to serve. In the evening I went to a local chapel to watch the priesthood session with members of the Fort Caroline Ward. Boy were we in for surprises. President Nelson's announcement on the restructuring of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums was exciting to contemplate and we look forward to its implementation and the blessings that flow from it. 

Sunday was also a significant day--“April Fools Day,” Easter Sunday, General Conference, and the first day of another month. We picked up a young lady from the base and brought her home to watch conference and spend the day with us. We were presently surprised when President Nelson conducted the morning session as we haven't had the prophet conduct for some time. it was also a pleasant surprise to hear from the entire first presidency in one session. We certainly heard some wonderful counsel. Between sessions we had dinner with Alexis and then at 4:00 pm watched the final session. It was nice to hear from Elder Gong and Soares and strongly felt their spirits and love of the Lord. What surprised us was President Nelson's second talk of the day where he abruptly announced the demise of Home and Visiting teaching programs to be replaced by Ministering. I almost half expected him so smile and say "April Fools" but he didn't and what followed by Elder Holland and Sister Bingham was wonderful. We certainly were challenged to do more and be better. Finally President Nelson stood again at the end and bore witness to all that had transpired and then another bombshell--7 more new temples. Hearing the reaction in the conference center congregation was amazing. Wasn't the choir's final number “Let Us All Press On” a fitting conclusion? This new presidency is going to keep us moving forward and upward. 

Well that's our week. We were so saddened by the news of the death of Hunter Syddall, a wonderful young man from the Central Valley 1st ward. I hope all of you will pray for Steve, Rackell, Shaillee and Shelbee. Hunter was killed in a motorcycle accident doing what he loved best. All our thoughts and prayers go out to this wonderful family.

 USO Office
 Main dining and assembly area
 TV lounge
 Computer lab
 Freddy's provided dessert--yum!
 Military families for dinner
 Military families for dinner
Kitchen volunteers
Pam on the Salad Bar line
 Pam with Elders Lamb & Roy
 Fort Caroline National Monument
 Museum artifacts
 Museum artifacts
Dugout canoe
 Walk to Fort Caroline
Indian settlement, example
 Replica Fort Caroline

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...