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.