Monday morning found us at the USO by 10:00 am and we worked with Cheryl Vandiver who had opened the facility. She had been getting Jacksonville Jaguar (NFL) tickets ready to sell at noon. This was a really big deal for military members and we have been getting calls for weeks about when the tickets would be available for the pre-season and season games. Pam stayed in the office and I went to the storeroom and spent an hour sorting school items into individual bins and labeling each bin. I put extra back packs on the shelves and cleaned up the floor and was done until Joyce Schellhorn (Director) directed otherwise. At 11:30 am Dave Ostrum (new temporary employee for the evenings, arrived, and he and Cheryl took inventory of all NFL tickets, put them into row packets and at noon began selling them to a half dozen men and women who were waiting. They sold for $20 instead of almost $100 on the open market. Pam and I didn’t get involved in those sales and that was okay with us. At 1:30 pm it was obvious we were not needed so we said our goodbyes and drove to the Navy Exchange and did a little shopping for some Peppermint Essential Oils and found two bottles. Sister Shirts, from the Jacksonville Beach ward told us she used the oil as a mosquito repellent and it works fabulously, so Pam wanted to try it. We had lunch and did a little shopping at Costco. While in the store a terrific rainstorm came through the area and against the metal roof you could hardly hear yourself talk. Just as soon as it started it was finished but the parking lot was awash with water.
Tuesday morning was the 24th of July but just another day here in Florida. We hoped Erin and Sarah and their families were having a grand time in Monroe. We saw some pictures of the Primary parade the previous evening and all the cousins joined in the walk along Main Street. We looked forward to pictures of the parade and other events they enjoyed. Sarah ran in the “Milk Run” and was the overall winner of the 5K, both men and women, so we are thrilled for her. We arrived at the USO at 10:00 am and Cheryl Vandiver and Charley Tramazzo were both there and Pam and I began doing a few odd jobs. Pam helped in the office and I took care of some donations which arrived the previous day. We had a number of people come for Adventure Landing and Jaguar tickets and also several who used the computer room and needed office support. Joyce Schellhorn and Dave Ostrum arrived at 1:00 pm and Pam and I left a half an hour later. We had lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant (Tijuana Flats) and then returned to our apartment. Weston sent a beautiful picture of the cousins on the front porch and it almost did Pam in as she was quite homesick knowing the kids were at the house and enjoying the 24th of July. But seeing the grandchildren brightened our day. I spent the afternoon and early evening calling all remaining names on our military families lists. I got information on 11 families that had transferred from the area and another list of families we need to visit in order to confirm their status.
Wednesday we were in the USO again at 10:30 am and spent 3 hours working in the back room filling 25 book bags with school supplies. We had a good visit with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) about the next two weeks scheduling as Cheryl Vandiver is taking some leave and Joyce is going to Europe for 2 weeks towards the end of the month. We left at 1:30 pm and had lunch before returning to our apartment. At home, Pam received a box from Erin with some clothes and other sundry items she had requested, and it was like Christmas. We also enjoyed video and photos from the 24th celebration in Utah. At 5:30 pm we returned to Jacksonville Beach and picked up Sister Knudsen and Eberhard and took them to dinner at “Panera’s.” We had invited them to our home, but it was not convenient for them, and out of their area, so we decided to go to them instead. We enjoyed a delicious meal and visiting with the Sisters. They are a strong companionship and Sister Eberhard is in her last month of her mission.
Thursday we were up early and on our way to the Hendricks Avenue Chapel for Zone Conference. President Lee gave some welcoming remarks and then turned the time to Elder Carter, one of the AP’s, who conducted the meeting. Throughout the morning we heard from President and Sister Lee and Elder Carter and Masino. They all gave wonderful instruction to the missionaries and a sweet spirit prevailed. Following a wonderful lunch and Zone pictures, we returned to the chapel and had a closing hour from President & Sister Lee, with a video from Elder & Sister Holland and learned that Sister Holland was seriously sick but had a miraculous recovery that permitted her to speak. Finally, a tribute to the missionaries who were in their last transfer and an opportunity for them to bear a short testimony. Following the meeting we shook the hand of each missionaries and then left. It had been a spiritually uplifting day and gave Pam and I some useful ideas on how to work with our Military families. President & Sister Lee seem happy with our efforts and we hope we are contributing in a positive way.
Friday was a quiet day for us and we spent the morning doing housework and laundry. We found several dead bugs under the furniture, so the “bombing” we did last Sunday seem to have worked. We drove to the St. John’s Center and had some lunch then to JoAnn’s for Pam to get some needed items for baptism dresses she is making for Beth and Alice. In the evening we had a huge storm pass by with rumbling thunder and lightning that went on for minutes at a time and tremendous amounts of rain. There were storm warnings throughout Northeast Florida, so it was a serious storm.
Saturday morning, I finished reading the Book of Mormon again and the final chapters of Moroni are so poignant and tender, reminding us of the love of Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. Especially their invitation to enjoy the fruits of the Atonement and seek to do good and to love all mankind. What a challenge that places on us as we face the onslaught of Satan, whose goal is to divide and conquer; to draw us away from anything that is of “light and truth.” I pray that we all will be faithful to the truths in the Book of Mormon and constantly seek to improve our lives and devotion to family, to the church, and to our Heavenly Father.
We left our apartment at noon and spent a few minutes with a T-Mobile representative and he helped us figure out an issue with Pam’s tablet. It was all pretty simple. We then drove to Wal-Mart where we got a prescription filled and a picture of the grandchildren printed which Weston sent us earlier this week from the 24th of July in Monroe. Pam also bought a cutting board to layout cloth. We had lunch and took an extended drive through our area of Jacksonville by the St. John’s river and found a community park where we could walk out on a pier into the river and view the Dame’s Point Bridge and the coast line both east and west. It was beautiful. Finally, we returned home, and made a dozen phone calls checking on families and individuals to visit tomorrow after church.
Sunday morning, we began in the Jacksonville Beach Ward and attended their sacrament meeting with the LaGae, Black and Jarvis families in attendance along with Alexis Connelly, a single member. Tyler Gneck, our other single went to the YSA Branch to “check it out.” Following sacrament meeting we introduced the LaGae’s and Sister Black and then Pam and I drove back to the Fort Caroline Ward building and attended the last two hours of their block and enjoyed visiting with the two sets of missionaries and ward members. After church we made some visits to homes of individuals we couldn’t get to return our calls or respond to our texts. Our primary goal was to determine if the family was still located in Jacksonville. We started out with the Beger family and they were home, but Amanda Beger (member) was not available and I talked with her husband for a minute and he indicated we needed to contact her another time. But she was in the area and the address was good. We next went to the Overlie family whose records were still in the Fort Caroline Ward, but another family lived in the home. I talked with the owner and he said he had lived there for 5 years and didn’t know any Overlie’s. We next went to the Speakman family, but they lived in a controlled access facility and the gate guard said there was no Speakman family living there, so that was an answer. Finally, we went to the Hammatt family and tried to find their apartment, but the apartment address didn’t make any sense so will have to drop by the leasing office to see if they still live there. With that we came back to our Apartment and Pam fixed some dinner for us and we enjoyed the meal and watched some programming on KBYU and settled in for the night.
Senior Missionaries at lunch
Sister Eberhard & Knudsen, STL working in Jacksonville Beach
Elder Hibbert (6'9") and Elder Plumb at Zone Conference
Jacksonville East Zone with President & Sister Lee--Great Missionaries!