Monday, July 30, 2018

Week 25

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. 
 St. Johns River Front Property
 St. Johns River Front Property
 St. Johns River Front Property
 Dames Point Bridge across the St. John's River
 Houses along the River front
 Community Center by St. Johns River
 Sister Whitehead, Elder & Sister Mann & Elder Grieve at Zone Conference
 Elder & Sister Cottle entering the cultural hall for lunch at Zone Conference
Senior Missionaries at lunch
Sister Eberhard & Knudsen, STL working in Jacksonville Beach 
Elder Hibbert (6'9") and Elder Plumb at Zone Conference

 Elder Plumb with District friends from Kings Bay District at Zone Conference
 Sister Knudsen, Sister Newman, Sister Roderick, Sister Ferguson, Sister Eberhard at Zone Conf, all working in our Zone, Jacksonville East
 Relief Society Sisters and WML from Fort Caroline Ward who provided lunch at Zone Conf.
Jacksonville East Zone with President & Sister Lee--Great Missionaries!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Week 24

Our week began at the USO, but first we drove to the Naval Station and dropped off a birthday cake for Jerald LaGae who is celebrating today. At the USO we began helping Cheryl Vandiver with preparation for tonight’s “No Dough” dinner. Pam supervised several volunteers from JEA who were cutting up vegetables for the tossed salad. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had me doing a number of little projects around the center. I also set up the salad and dessert bar areas. At noon I grabbed Pam and we went for lunch at Whataburger and also made a deposit for Joyce and filled up two natural gas tanks for the grills. Back at the USO we continued setting up for dinner and around 4:00 pm volunteers began arriving to serve and at 5:00 pm the dinner began. We didn’t have a big crowd, but those who came seemed to enjoy the meal. Pam and I worked at a giveaway table where children could pick out toys, games or stuffed animals. Joyce had boxes and boxes of those items and the kids loved touching each item, trying to decide which one was just right. At 7:00 pm Pam and I took food to the gate guards at the Naval Station and then returned to the USO and helped clean up and put away.

On Tuesday we returned to the USO at mid-morning and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) put us to work. The main event of the day was peeling potatoes left over from the dinner Monday evening with the hopes of turning them into mashed potatoes for the next dinner. It was quite a job. Pam and I spent two hours on the potatoes and finally got them done. As we got them peeled I ran them through a shredding machine and cut them into potato bits and bagged them and put them in the refrigerator. We’ll see how they work out. A community service worked came just as we finished and helped us clean up. At 2:00 pm and we said our goodbyes and came home. Just as we got out on the road a tremendous thunderstorm hit along the Wonderwood road with torrential rain, wind and thunder booming every few seconds. Thankfully the traffic wasn’t bad as we moved along at about 25 mph. By our apartment the storm had let up, so we stopped at Arby’s and got some lunch. Pam spent the afternoon fixing dinner for tonight. The Lance & Stephanie Jarvis came for dinner and we enjoyed their visit. They arrived at 6:00 pm and we sat down to a wonderful meal—Ginger Chicken! They are a fun couple and have been married for a year. Lance is on the USS Philippine Sea which is in drydock across the river and we see his ship everyday as we drive to Mayport. Stefanie is currently unemployed but is working on several potential jobs. She is qualified in child development and has taught special education so it’s only a matter of time. She is from Rifle, Colorado so we have talked about our drives through her town often. Lance is from South Jordan and they met in a YSA Ward in Salt Lake. After dinner we sat in the living room and visited for another hour and Lance taught a home evening lesson on “Gratitude” and we had some good discussions. It was an enjoyable evening.  

Wednesday morning began at the doctor’s office. I had an appointment (to make up for one I missed 10 days ago) and needed an INR test (clotting factor) done. We were also having lunch with Alexis Connelly and Tyler Gneck at noon on base. At the clinic a nurse took us into a treatment room and did the INR test—1.7 (normal is 2.0-3.0). When Doctor Hoffman came in we visited over the low number and she asked me to make some changes to my meds for a week and then return on the 1st of August for another test. Both Pam and I got meds ordered and then we drove to the USO and dropped off a cake Pam made for Joyce Schellhorn (Director). Pam said Joyce was eating a piece as she left. We drove on base and found the Subway restaurant and met up with Alexis and Tyler and had a nice lunch with them. They are both enjoyable to be around and are actually doing a few things together. We returned to the USO at 12:30 pm and spent 2 hours working on children’s book bags for Joyce. Another volunteer helped us, and we put together 25 bags before we left. While there we witnessed another terrific rain storm with lightning and thunder, but it was pretty much done when we left.

Thursday morning, we opened the USO this morning and there were some bread and pastries, but not nearly the amount we usually had. We tabulated the value and then opened it up for patrons. An air conditioning man came shortly after we arrived and spent the morning going over the system throughout the building checking flow rates, etc. Pam took care of the office and I worked on the bookbag project again. The bins of items were all mixed up so I sorted them and then filled another 20 bookbags. Pam was busy keeping up with the calls and guests at the front desk. We had a couple of other volunteers come to work, but they mostly talked and not much work. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) finally arrived about 3:00 pm and we turned things over to her and left. We drove to a new pizza place call “Your Pie” and it was good. Reminded us of “Mod Pizza” in Provo and Denver.

Friday, we did not work at the USO, so spent time doing housework and laundry. I moved all the furniture to vacuum and found several roaches (dead) so the bait seemed to be working. Pam cleaned the bathrooms and started laundry and by noon we had the final load in the washer. We went to Freddy’s for lunch and passed through a couple of heavy rain storms coming and going. Back at the apartment we took care of the laundry and were done for another week. I sat at the computer and went through our list of military contacts and began calling every number to try and locate people. I spent about 3 hours doing this and made substantial progress and resolved several questions about location. I talked with several people from out of the state who had transferred and enjoyed visiting with them for a few minutes. Pam spent the afternoon making cookies to distribute next week to our families.

Saturday was supposed to be rain free, so we drove to the Alexander’s house at 10:00 am and Tara was home with her kids. Wes left on deployment last Wednesday, so we hope to be of service to her. I mowed their lawns and Pam visited and helped Tara inside. Pam sprayed me liberally and I didn’t have any issues with bugs, even the bees seemed to evade me. Wes has 4 hives in his back yard and I could see them around the boxes, but they didn’t come my way as I mowed. When done I joined them inside and we visited for a few minutes and then returned home for a quick shower. We drove to the Naval Station and took a plate of cookies to the LaGae’s and Clive was doing much better. The family was heading out to the zoo, so that was a positive sign. We then drove to an apartment building to try and see Angie Trejo, (another military single mother) but couldn’t get through the security gate. She won’t answer her phone, so will have to try something else. We had lunch and did a little shopping before returning to our apartment.

We attended church today in the Jacksonville Beach Ward. As we entered the chapel we noticed President Lee was there and it was nice to visit with him and he sat with us. Tyler Gneck, the Jarvis’ and Shay Tuttle were in attendance and the meeting was excellent. Alexis had a migraine this morning, so she stayed home. Following the meeting Sister Jennie Black, a new military wife, came up and introduced herself to me. I had talked with her on the phone yesterday and was happy to see her. Her family moved from Newport, Rhode Island and her husband is on a pre-commissioning team for a new DDG in Pascagoula, Mississippi. They will be a nice addition to our military families and live on the Naval Station. We visited with Sister Knudsen and Everhard and decided to meet them at the Beach for dinner on Wednesday instead of them coming to our home. During the last hour rain started coming down in buckets and standing in the foyer looking outside I wasn’t sure we would get to our van. Finally, in a lull I raced out and got an umbrella and came back to the chapel and Pam and I made it to the car. The rain is an amazing thing here in Jacksonville and I’m not sure we will ever get used to it. This morning when we left the apartment we set off two “Bug Bombs” in the bedroom and living room and upon arrival they were done so we opened the windows and turned on the AC again and left it that way for an additional 2 hours. We hoped it would do some good.

 Alexander Family, Wes, Trista, Tara & Kyler. Wes just left on Deployment
 Beautiful Thunderstorm clouds in Jacksonville
Light Show in Jacksonville

Monday, July 16, 2018

Week 23

Monday morning, we began our week driving to the Beach Community Kitchen located in the “Beach Church” on Jacksonville Beach and picked up some hot dogs for the USO. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had met with a group of people last week who were in the business of helping those in need and arranged for the gift. We were very impressed with the kitchen’s programs. They fixed meals and delivered them to needy families in the beach areas. At the USO we took care of the meat and then Pam helped Cheryl Vandiver in the kitchen and I did projects for Joyce getting the facility set up for the “No Dough” dinner that evening. By 3:00 pm volunteers began to arrive and an hour later Pam and I left as they had plenty of help. We did a little shopping before arriving back at our apartment. Sister Redford and Ferguson came by in the evening and picked up a dressed Pam mended for Sister Redford.

Tuesday morning, I made some phone calls and then we drove to North Jacksonville to try and visit military members in the Dunn Avenue Ward area. We stopped at 5 homes that were out by the International Airport but only found one family home. We left cards at the others and hoped they would give us a call. I got one call back from an earlier phone call and this family had transferred to Virginia and also went through a divorce. The husband called me and gave me an update on his location and status. Back in our area we did a little shopping for food as we were hosting 2 full-time missionaries for a night. I moved my stuff out of the guest bathroom and we arranged the guest bedroom and made the beds. At 9:15 pm we drove to President & Sister Lee’s home and quietly joined the group of new missionaries as President Lee was welcoming them to the Florida Jacksonville Mission.  They (13) arrived in Jacksonville at 7:00 pm and came to the mission home and had dinner and then this meeting. Following President Lee, Sister Lee gave some instructions on filling out forms and signing a table cloth and quilt. It was an interesting project Sister Lee was undertaking. The missionaries also received phones and activated them and sent a picture and notification to their mother’s that they had arrived (very important). Finally, following an interview with President Lee they were ready to leave. We were assigned 2 sisters, Sister Quinton from Pocatello, Idaho and Sister Packer from Midway, Utah. They were very interesting girls, and both on their way to the Philippines and Jacksonville was a Visa wait location. We enjoyed visiting with them and got them situated and everyone to bed (about midnight).

Wednesday morning began bright and early for Pam and fixed some breakfast for the Sisters at 6:30 am. We ate, had prayers and then left for the Mandarin Chapel, about a 20-minute drive. Elder Whitehead met us in the parking lot and escorted the Sisters into the chapel where all the new missionaries met with President Lee and their new companions to be, and he made their assignments and away they went to their new areas. Back at our apartment we did some laundry and cleaning and after lunch made some visits in the Arlington Ward area to 4 homes that had once housed military families Out of 4 visits, we got info on 2 of them. One was transferred and one out of the Navy. In the evening Stephanie and Lance Jarvis (military family from the Jacksonville Beach Ward) stopped by to visit. A friend of theirs from Lance’s ship had died of heart problems and they were visiting his wife. They stayed for about 2 hours and we enjoyed their visit and getting to know them better.

Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the facility and there was a goodly amount of bread and pastries to distribute. We tabulated the value and then opened it up to patrons. Pam ran the office and I went into the new storage room and boxed up 100 convenience packs and took them to the Naval Station Bowling Alley. They were having a promotion and Joyce Schellhorn (director) offered these gifts. Back at the USO I worked in the new storage room and got a lot of arranging and sorting done. Pam and I edited an article Charley Tramazzo was writing for a new “Pathfinder” program coming soon for transitioning military members.
Friday morning found us at the USO again at 10:00 am. Dave (new hire) had opened today and we visited for a while and then Pam went into the kitchen and did some work for Cheryl Vandiver for Monday’s “no dough” dinner. I hung pictures in the new Keiser University room by Charley’s office. Keiser “U” was the primary sponsor for the “Pathfinder” program. Charley was pleased with the pictures and then I spent the rest of the morning finishing a project in the tool room. Pam was helping with food preparation for Monday’s dinner and she supervised other volunteers. We left in the afternoon and took leftover bread to the Navy Exchange for their employees.  About 10:00 pm we got several texts from Jon Bryson from the Jacksonville beach ward inviting us to go boating with them the next day.  

Saturday morning we arrived at the Palm Cove Marina on Beach Blvd at 9:00 am and met the Bryson family, Jonathan, Charlene and their 7 year old daughter Amelia. Their boat was in the water and it was a beautiful 22-foot “Malibu” wakeboard inboard/outboard boat with a walkthrough front and seating for about a dozen people. We boarded and took on gas and then headed out into the intercoastal waterway. Every day we cross the waterway going to the Beach or back to our apartment and express an interest to each other about sailing along the various inlets. Today we got that chance. We headed south in the waterway and passed under the Beach Blvd and Butler bridges and continued south for an hour and a half. The views were beautiful. So many wonderful homes constructed along the waterway with private boat docking facilities and lifts to take their boats out of the water. Also, much protected areas which were marshland and inlets. We passed many boats coming and going and some were just cruising like us, but others were skiing, wake boarding and fishing. The weather was nice, and the overcast skies made for a pleasant day. We just couldn’t begin to imagine the amount of money that had been poured into a 40 mile stretch of the waterway with multimillion-dollar homes and facilities. We turned around about 5 miles north of St. Augustine and made the return trip back to the Marina. We said our goodbyes and thanks to the Bryson’s for their hospitality and the fun we had with them.

Sunday, we attended church at the Jacksonville Beach Ward. Tyler Gneck and Alexis Connelly were there as promised and came in their own vehicles, but the LaGae’s were not there. We enjoyed the block of meetings and following sacrament meeting got to meet Elder Roy (released the previous Monday) and his immediate family who were in Florida for a family reunion. Also, Sister Knudsen and Eberhard were settled in at the Beach and doing fine. We attended the gospel principles class and the Sisters guided the lesson. On the way to our apartment, Pam and I drove to the Alexander’s home (Wes and Tara) and they were just leaving for an afternoon activity with the kids. Wes talked in the Arlington Ward this morning and Tara said he did a great job. He leaves on deployment tomorrow or Tuesday, so we have promised to watch over his family. That’s the reality of military life—constant separations!

 Missionaries going Home
 Missionaries going Home at the beach (Mission tradition)
 New missionaries arriving at the airport
 New missionaries at the Mission Home with President & Sister Lee
 Scenes along the Inter-coastal Waterway
 On the Inter-coastal Waterway with the Brysons
 Amelia Bryson
 Home and docking facilities along the Inter-coastal Waterway
 Bridge across the Inter-coastal Waterway
 Condo's along the Inter-coastal Waterway
 Beautiful protected land along the Inter-coastal Waterway
 Beautiful protected land along the Inter-coastal Waterway
Pam, Charlene & Amela Bryson following our trip

Monday, July 9, 2018

Week 22

Our week began Monday morning with some mission admin work. I finished our June report and emailed it to Salt Lake, President Lee and President Heywood. I also wrote our weekly blog and published it. Pam and I went to Costco and did some shopping, primarily getting drinking water. After dropping off the items at our apartment we had lunch and then made some calls, primarily to the Alexander’s to see if Wes was able to get any help from his Elder’s Quorum for his bathroom renovation. I talked with President Williams and made arrangement with his counselor Brother Robinson to borrow a Sawzall to cut off the toilet drain tomorrow. Late in the evening we received a call from President Patch of the YSA Branch describing a phone call he received from a father of a young single girl (Elizabeth Stenson) who is attached to a HSN Helicopter squadron at NAS Jacksonville. She was physically assaulted, and the father hoped the church could contact her and help if possible. President Patch thought it would be something we might want to follow up on and we agreed. We called the girl but got no response.

Tuesday, we began our morning going to a reclamation center and picked up a Sawzall to use at the Alexander’s home. From there we drove to the USO and spent the bulk of the day. Pam worked in the kitchen preparing meat for Monday’s “No Dough” dinner and I worked in a new storage room; moving boxes of items from the outside storage room to the new room and sorting, throwing away, and placing them in their new locations. It was amazing how much stuff they have accumulated, but they want the outside storage room cleared out of everything except food by the 16th of July when they plan to start a bi-monthly food distribution program. At 2:00 pm I drove to the Fetner & Hartigan, Periodontics office for an appointment. I saw one of the Fetner sons, Alex Fetner, and he evaluated a problem tooth. His assistant took x-rays of all my teeth and then Alex came in and did a thorough examination which took about an hour. At the end he laid out what could be done for the tooth and it wasn’t good. He thought the root of the tooth was cracked which was causing infection and destroying the bone around the roots. He recommended removing the tooth and doing a bone graph and eventually another implant, or perhaps nothing. I made no decision and paid for the office visit and returned to the USO to pick up Pam. After about a half an hour we got the place locked up and then returned to our apartment. We discussed my visit and she wanted me to have the work done right away. In the evening we drove to the Alexanders and Wes and I went upstairs and within 30 minutes had the drain pipe cut off and a new flange installed against the new floor. I discussed filling around the flange and screwing the flange to the floor and then we left. We called Elizabeth Stenson (at the Naval Air Station) this afternoon and made contact and an appointment to visit her Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, we left our apartment and drove directly to the Naval Air Station and met with Elizabeth at 10:00 am. It was the 4th of July, so the USO was closed and Elizabeth had the day off. We met at her barracks on base and visited for about 45 minutes. She seemed like a very nice young woman, a member all her life and had been less active for the past few years and she wanted that to change. She was assaulted by a member of her command recently and a legal process was ongoing. We talked about attending the YSA Branch and at the end of the visit I gave her a Priesthood blessing which she wanted. We planned to maintain contact with Elizabeth and see her frequently. At our apartment we called President Patch and relayed information about our visit and he said he would contact Elizabeth and arrange for her to be picked up for church. In the evening we drove to the Dunn Avenue Sister’s apartment (Sister Roderick & Newman) and picked them up and drove to the River’s shopping Mall and had dinner at the Olive Garden. It was nice to get to know them a little better and to provide a meal. Normally we would have had them come to our home, but it’s quite a distance for them to drive.

Thursday Pam and I left early for the USO and opened the facility and there was no bread or pastries. Both items were delivered later in the morning. Pam did some work in the kitchen (quite a bit actually) as she cleaned out all the cupboards, removing items that were no longer used and straightening up. I went into the children’s room storage area and continued moving items from the outside storage to the children’s room storage area. The Director arrived at noon and she made some decisions on things to be placed on the “free” table and by the end of the day we had made quite a dent in things that are never used or need to be distributed to needy families. At 11:30 am I returned the Sawzall and then came back to the USO and worked for another couple of hours. 2:30 pm Pam and I said our goodbyes and left for the day. We had a late lunch and then went to the Alexanders and tended her kids while Tara went to a doctor’s appointment. We visited for a few minutes and then Tara went to her appointment and I went outside and mowed the front lawns which were very, very long, but it cut okay and looked better when done. Got to remember to cover up and use bug repellant next time. Wes leaves on a short deployment on the 16th and I have made a commitment to take care of their lawn while he is gone. After Wes returned, Pam and I returned to our apartment for the night.

Friday morning found us at the USO again Joyce Schellhorn, Director, was there along with a dozen ladies holding a women’s meeting in the south main room. The children’s room storage area was blocked with children, so I went to the outside store room and continued working there reorganizing the room and moving some things inside and reposition others. Joyce gave me the final decision on arranging the metal shelving and then I moved 2 pallets of water and one pallet of girls scout cookies to accommodate the change. Pam worked in the kitchen and in the office. Cheryl Vandiver arrived with food for Monday’s dinner and we helped unload and put the food away. We left at 1:30 pm and drove to an Express Lube and got the van serviced. We also had the AC charged. We then had lunch at Tijuana Flats, a new restaurant for us, and it was very good—we might see them again! From the restaurant we came home and rested for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening we returned to the Beach and attended a ward celebration for Elder Roy’s “Burning a Suit” ritual for Elder’s leaving for home. This was held at the Jarvis home and Lance Jarvis had a suit filled out with a wooden body in a bucket and then placed it over a firepit. Following a fun evening of games and food everyone gathered by the suit and Elder Roy lit it off with sparklers and lighter fluid. It made for a nice roaring fire and a lot of cheering. Elder Roy passed out sprinklers to everyone and the kids had a good time. He would be missed in the ward and throughout the mission.  

Saturday, we cleaned our apartment and did laundry until about noon. We decided to see a little more of the mission and went for a drive across the St. John’s river through downtown Jacksonville and southwest to Gainesville, Florida. Once on country roads the scenery was green and very rural. The many small towns we passed through were interesting and didn’t seem to have changed much in the last 50 years ago. Gainesville, however, was a large city, the home of the University of Florida “Gators.” We found our way to the downtown area and drove through and around the University and it was a pretty impressive campus. We began looking for a place to eat and eventually found a Chic-fil-A adjacent to the northeast corner of the university and had lunch and watched students. The academic buildings were an orange-red sandstone brick and quite beautiful. The northeast corner of the campus was a historic area and 22 buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. So, a lot of history there. Gainesville is the county seat and largest city in Alachua County with a population of about 130,000. We have two Senior couples working on the campus (Institute and Records Preservation) and also 9 regular missionaries companionships throughout the city. We found our way out of the city and began the drive back to Jacksonville, encountering a lot of rain, but made our way home and spent some time making our bed and putting away laundry. In the evening a set of Sister’s (Redford & Ferguson) came by to asked for help fixing a dress of Sister Redford’s. Pam looked at the dress and the fabric was a very loose weave and was coming apart at various stress points. She explained what could be done, and Sister Redford was okay with the repair. They left, and Pam spent the next hour repairing about 10 spots on the dress with iron on fabric and then re-stitching the seams. It looked really good and Pam hoped it would last. At 9:00 pm we joined a conference call with all the missionaries in the mission for transfers. After an opening by the AP’s President Lee made some announcements and then began describing the upcoming transfers. There are 13 new missionaries coming next week and the Jacksonville East Zone (where we live and operate) really got a shakeup. In the Dunn Avenue District every companionship except one received a change, either in missionaries or in assignment as ZL or DL. In the Fort Caroline District every companionship was also affected by the transfers. Companionships changed, we get a new Sister from the MTC and also the Jacksonville Beach Ward will have Sister’s for the first time in many years. Pam and I were also asked to host a pair of new Elder’s Tuesday evening after they have their orientation, interview and dinner with the President. We will pick them up about 10:00 pm and bring them to our apartment for the night and then deliver them to the Mandarin Chapel at 7:45 am Wednesday morning to meet their new companions and for training. Not much sleep! 

Sunday morning, we were up early and left for the Jacksonville Beach Ward by 9:30 am. This morning we had no one to pick up. Alexis Connelly bought a car, but she was also sick with a migraine this morning. Tyler Gneck also received his truck (his dad and brother drove it out during the week) and he was at church. The LaGae’s were there and the girls and Clive behaved themselves quite well during sacrament meeting and the rest of the block. It was nice to see Jerald with his family. Sacrament meeting was excellent and Elder Roy was given an opportunity to bear his testimony at the end. We had a good Gospel Principles class and then Tyler, Jerald and I attended the Elder’s quorum meeting where they had a good discussion on service. Following the meetings, I saw Tyler’s truck and he was pretty happy to have it. A Ford 150 short bed with a shell. When Pam and I departed, we drove along 3rd Avenue towards Beach Blvd to find the “Beam” building and a food pantry across the street in the Beach Church. Tomorrow morning, we will stop there and pick up some hot dogs for the USO. We returned home and had dinner and a quiet evening.

 Elder Roy's Suit
 Elder Lamb & Plumb
 Elder Roy & Hibbert
 Elder Roy lighting off his old suit
 Elder Roy and the burning suit
 Friends assembled and fire
 Four great Elder's, Elder Roy, Lamb, Hibbert & Plumb
 University of Florida in Gainesville, FL
 University of Florida
 University of Florida Housing
 University of Florida Tower and Chapel
 University of Florida Library
 University of Florida Symbol

Monday, July 2, 2018

Week 21

Pam and I began our week at the USO on Monday and spent about 5 hours helping get ready for the “No Dough” dinner that night. Pam helped in the kitchen and worked with several other volunteers. I did a couple of small projects for the Director connected with the renovation projects that are ongoing throughout the facility. In the middle of the afternoon a large group of volunteers arrived for the dinner, so Pam and I left and had some lunch and came back to our apartment for the rest of the day. I went through our entire military family list and called every household we have not had contact with yet. Only got one answer and one text back with information on a family that is being transferred. It just amazes me with all the technology available at our fingertips, no one answers phones anymore!

On Tuesday morning we drove to the home of Stephanie & Lance Jarvis (military members) and dropped off Pam with Stephanie and she began a sewing class with her. I went to the USO to finish a couple of projects I was doing. The Director asked me to shred some old financial records and I spent an hour finishing that job. We talked about the rest of the week and how busy the following week would be for us. At that time, we thought there might be a possibility of Erin coming east with her girls. We had lunch and then returned to our apartment and prepared for a dinner with a pair of sisters in the Jacksonville East Zone that evening. We also made arrangements to care of Tara Alexander’s children while she attended a special event. Later we learned that her husband, Wesley, would be home so that commitment wasn’t needed. But we loved to help where we could. At 5:00 pm Sisters Redford & Ferguson arrived for dinner and we enjoyed an hour with them. When they left we took leftover food to the Alexanders and visited with Wes for a few minutes. He showed us the progress they had made on their home and they were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday morning, I noted with some sadness the passing of Mark McConkie, son of Elder Bruce R. McConkie. I have very fond memories of my association with him while I served at the Mission Home in Melbourne in 1963. Later that morning we took some fruit to the LaGae family on the Naval Station and then drove to the USO. The Director and Events Coordinator were going to a meeting and we managed the facility for several hours. After finishing a list of items to do, I worked in the tool room and began to organize and clean up the room. Pam ran the front office until 3:00 pm when Cheryl Vandiver, an assistant director arrived, and we turned over to her. We left an hour later and had a late lunch and then returned to our apartment.

Thursday, we opened the USO and were happy to see the main table loaded with bread and pastries. That hasn’t happened for almost 3 weeks. We tabulated the prices and then at 10:00 am opened the facility to patrons coming for the free bread and pastries. We had a busy morning.
While Pam was covering the office, I went into the tool room and continued working on the various shelves and bins eliminating items and sorting tools and materials into a dozen categories. While I was doing that Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived and I began working with a Community Service volunteer and did some renovation work in the kitchen. We tore out a storage cabinet and moved appliances and changed the arrangement of various items. I was not sure what advantage it provided, but both Joyce and Cheryl Vandiver wanted it that way. We left the center at 1:30 pm and drove to the base and dropped off a birthday present for Eleanor LaGae, whose birthday is on Saturday. Samantha LaGae was sick and asked Pam if we could get them some milk and bread, so we drove to the convenience store by the gas station and made the purchases. Finally, we returned home in a driving rain storm until we passed over the Intercoastal Canal and it slowed down considerably. We had a late lunch and then returned home.

Friday morning, we decided to text all the military families that we had called earlier in the week, hoping for more responses. Later in the morning we drove to Kings Bay Submarine Base in Southern Georgia to get a feel for the area and how much time it would take to work with families up there. We headed north on I-95 until we crossed into Georgia where we took a state road to the Submarine Base. The countryside was beautiful with roads lined by tall trees and lots of water as we approached the coastline. At the sub base the security was more intense than the Naval Station but we got on and drove around trying to get the lay of the land. It was a well-established base with beautiful red brick buildings and manicured lawns. I had hoped to get a view of a submarine, but a second layer of security didn’t permit that. Our front-line ballistic and attack submarines sail from this base. We eventually exited the base and found our way back to the freeway and headed home. We stopped for lunch and a little shopping by the International Airport and then home to do some laundry.

Saturday was a quiet day for us and we did more laundry and cleaning throughout the morning. We recently purchased more bug traps and laid them all out and sprayed again as we have begun to have more little critters show up in the apartment. At noon we had lunch at a new Mexican restaurant we found called Pancheros and it was good. Not CafĂ© Rio or Costa Vida, but good enough. We went to Ikea and did a little shopping then returned to our apartment. We received a couple of responses from yesterday’s texts, but not nearly what we hoped for. The next step, we guess, is to show up on their doorsteps. Felt bad for Cynthia today as Argentina lost to France in the World Cup. We made some calls about tomorrow’s church meetings and Pam visited with her sister and members of the family and enjoyed the phone calls, especially hearing the voices of our grandchildren.

Sunday was the start of another month and the Sabbath Day. We were on the Naval Station at 9:30 am and picked up Tyler Gneck, a young member from Arizona who returned from special training in Maine, so we enjoyed talking with him about his trip. We enjoyed church with Tyler and also Samantha Lagae and her children. Jerald was still at sea and hopefully will return home next week. We heard a lot of wonderful testimonies and there was a good spirit in sacrament meeting as also in Gospel Principles class and Elder’s Quorum and Relief Society meetings. Following the block of meetings, we took Tyler back to the Naval Station and then came back to our apartment. We expected rain today, but only heard thunder but not much rain. In the evening we joined a group phone call with President Lee and other Senior Couples in the mission. President Lee invited each couple to describe what they were doing, and it was interesting how different the assignments are. Well that’s our week. Love my Companion!

Overview of part of the base (stock photo)
Main Gate at Kings Bay Sub Base
Missile Forest on display by Trident Training Facility
Submarine in port (stock photo)

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...