Monday, August 27, 2018

Week 29 (20-26 August)

Our week began at the USO this morning as we arrived at 10:00 am to help Cheryl Vandiver who opened the facility. Pam went right to the Kitchen and began baking cakes and I worked in the office with Cheryl. We were busy with patrons wanting football tickets and also numerous phone calls. There were several other small projects we worked on throughout the morning. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 12:30 pm and we discussed the next few days as she and her husband were going to Europe Friday and will be gone for two weeks. Pam and I left about 2:00 pm and had some lunch and then came home. Pam fixed a Café Rio Salad meal for Samantha LaGae’s birthday. We returned to the Naval Station at 4:00 pm and took the food to the LaGae’s home and saw the family for a few minutes. From there we drove to the barracks and picked up Tyler Gneck, Alexis Connelly, Andrew Cooper and Blake Harris and took them to dinner. We had never met Andrew or Blake but enjoyed getting to know them. Andrew served a mission in the Florida Jacksonville mission about 3 years ago. He was a Logistics Specialist (LS). Blake also a returned missionary and served in the Illinois Chicago Mission in 2012. He was a Religious Program Specialist (RP). We went to “Smashburger” and had some dinner and visited for about an hour and then took them back to the base. Andrew attends regularly at the YSA Branch, but we arranged for Blake to come to the Jacksonville Beach ward with Tyler or Alexis. Hopefully he will start coming regularly. He just returned from a deployment on the USS Iwo Jima.   

Tuesday morning, we at 10:30 am and drove to the Beach Church to see what food was available this morning. We got 3 boxes of fruit, eggs and bread and took them to the USO where they were made available for patrons. Cheryl Vandiver took pictures and posted them on the wives Facebook page and within an hour everything was gone. Pam and I filled 13 bookbags for elementary students and that completed all the bags that we had. That made about 150 bookbags we filled and distributed this summer. We visited with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) for a while and then left at 1:00 pm as they had several volunteers and didn’t need our assistance. We had lunch and came back to the apartment and cleaned and prepared for Elder’s to stay with us tonight. At 9:30 pm we drove to the Mission Presidents home and joined the group of 12 new missionaries that were getting their indoctrination from President & Sister Lee. Two Elders were assigned to us, Elder Dew and Brimhall and when they finished their interviews with President Lee, joined Pam and I and we returned to our apartment. Elder Dew was from Provo and Elder Brimhall from Taylor, AZ, near Snowflake. They were both high school graduates from this year. At our apartment we got them situated in their bedroom and had prayers and all went to bed. It had been a long day for them as they had been up since 4:30 am in Provo.

Wednesday morning Pam and I were up early and fixed some breakfast for the Elder’s. Afterwards they gathered up their few things and we loaded up the van again and headed south to the Mandarin Chapel. We took the missionaries to the Institute room where the “new missionary training” was taking place and said our goodbyes and returned to our apartment. Amazing how much quicker it was to drive north than south! At home we ate some leftover breakfast and did some laundry of bedding and towels to get ready for the next visitors. We were tired and rested throughout the rest of the morning. After lunch we did some shopping and then returned to our apartment and made some phone calls for visiting appointments and also worked on a new scrapbook of our activities here in Jacksonville.

Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the facility and there was a moderate amount of bread and pastries. We got them tabulated and set out and then the day began with patrons coming for the bread, tickets and other services. Pam went into the kitchen and spent the morning baking cakes. I manned the office until Cheryl Vandiver arrived at 10:30 am. She retrieved tickets from the safe and did all the ticket sales for this weekend’s Jaguar’s football game. I also did some consolidation and re-organization of school supplies in the back-storage room to prepare for the arrival of items for an upcoming USO sponsored Marathon in October. In the afternoon, other volunteers arrived so we left and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment.

Friday morning, we arrived at the USO at 10:00 am and David Ostrum opened the facility. Charley Tramazzo was also there, and a group of ladies were holding a meeting in one of the wings. Pam went to the kitchen and baked a couple more cakes throughout the next few hours and when done had 12 cakes in the freezer for future “no dough” dinners. Her “double chocolate Bundt Cakes” have been a hit. After finishing another project for Joyce Schellhorn (Director), we left for the day and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment. We made more phone calls to our families to check on Sunday.

Saturday morning was a day we had been looking forward to for some time. We were going to Orlando to attend the Temple with Tara Alexander, the wife of one of our families from the Arlington Ward. When we first met Tara, her goal was to receive her endowments this summer and she has been steadfast in this goal. Her husband, Wes, is on deployment on the USS Detroit and his plans are to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood when he returns in the Fall and then go himself. We left at 9:00 am and had an uneventful drive to Orlando, arriving at noon. We checked on garments at the distribution center before entering the Temple. After dressing Pam and I were asked to be the witness couple and were taken to the appropriate ordinance room. It was wonderful to see Tara come in with her friend from Texas, Tami Benson. Pam and I got up and greeted them and then took our seats and the session began at 1:30 pm. Following the session, we sat in the Celestial room for some time visiting and while there met two other couples from the Arlington Ward who had also been on a session and were there to perform sealings. Tara was invited to witness the sealing and we joined them where Sister Commander had her mother and father sealed to each other and then Sister Commander was sealed to her parents. It was a very tender moment. We returned to the Celestial room and visited with Tara and Tami for some time before going downstairs to change and leave the Temple. Tara enjoyed the session very much and was very happy with her decision. It was also her birthday today so that made it extra special. After leaving the Temple grounds we drove to Café Rio and had a late lunch. Tami was Tara’s Young Women’s advisor when Tara was a teenager living in San Antonio, Texas. They had kept in touch over the years and what a special thing for her to come and be an escort for Tara. We said our goodbyes to them and headed north to Jacksonville. The weather cooperated nicely all day long even though it appeared like rain was possible when we left the Temple. What a great day!

Sunday morning, Pam was up but not feeling too well. She was coming down with a cold, which started yesterday. At 9:30 am we drove to Jacksonville Beach and attended sacrament meeting. Tyler Gneck was there along with the Jarvis’ and the LaGae’s were out in the foyer. Alexis’ was having car problems and trying to get it fixed before she leaves Tuesday for her brother’s boot camp graduation in North Carolina. After the meeting we left and returned to our area. We had planned to attend the Fort Caroline ward meetings but decided instead to just come home and put Pam to bed. That is what we did, and I think it helped her throughout the day. In the evening we got a call from Travis and he broadcast a family gathering for Emilia’s birthday at Alex and Cynthia’s home. It was nice to see everyone, especially “birthday girl.” 

New Missionaries who arrived last week with President & Sister Lee
 Elder Brimhall & Elder Dew who stayed with us
 Sister Byington & Sister Abril, new Sisters in the Arlington Ward
 Orlando Temple
 Orlando Temple
 Angel Moroni
 Tami Benson, Tara Alexander & Sister Cottle
 Tami Benson, Tara Alexander & Elder Cottle
 Sister Cottle, Tara Alexander & Elder Cottle


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Week 28 (20-26 August)

Monday morning was the 20th of August and we began our day doing some shopping at Wal-Mart for school supplies to put in backpacks at the USO. We continued to the USO and spent a busy morning. Pam helped with “No Dough” dinner preparations and I did a dozen odd jobs for Joyce Schellhorn (Director). We were primarily trying to get the facility back to where it was last week. Everything had been taken off the walls on Saturday when the Chief Selectees came and painted out the facility. I took out trash, recycle paper, moved tables, chairs, sorted and hung pictures, etc. At noon we received a text from Stephanie Jarvis telling us that she was very sick and wondering if we could bring her lunch. We texted back “yes” and left at noon and went to Panera’s and bought some soup for Stephanie and went to her home. She was on the living room couch and could hardly move. Her stomach was in knots and she thought she was passing a Kidney stone. We felt so bad for her but were glad she thought us for help. At 1:30 pm we returned to the USO and continued helping for the night’s dinner. Volunteers were coming from all over the place and when James McCullough arrived at 4:15 pm Joyce said we weren’t needed if we wanted to leave. So, we came back to our apartment.

 

Tuesday morning, we left for the USO at 9:30 am and spent the morning and early afternoon serving there. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was in the office and Pam spent her time baking cakes in the kitchen. I continued helping re-hang pictures and other memorabilia left from the painting project. We re-arranged the items in the front foyer and I packed a dozen backpacks with school supplies. Joyce went home for an hour to take care of her husbands’ dog and when she returned Carole, another volunteer, arrived as did Dave Ostrum, so Pam and I finished what we were doing and left about 1:30 pm. We drove to Niki Head’s home on the Naval Station, but no one was home. The Head’s just moved into housing from a transfer from the Norfolk area. We were anxious to meet them. An hour later we drove to the Alexander’s and had dinner with Tara and her children. Tara had also invited Elder’s Willets and Brooksby and it was nice to get to know them better. Elder Willets was from Wellsville, Utah and Elder Brooksby from West Jordan, Utah. After the Elder’s left the LaGae’s came and brought a birthday present for Kyler Alexander and it was nice to see them. They spent the weekend at Disneyworld.  

 

Wednesday morning, I had an INR appointment with Doctor Hoffman and arrived at 9:00 am. She went over my INR of 1.9 this morning. I couldn’t believe it didn’t go up more, but she wasn’t too concerned. She was, however, concerned about a tooth extraction on the 30th. She had been contacted by the Dentist office and instead of stopping Warfarin 5 days prior to the extraction, she changed me to Xarelto which was a fast-acting alternative. She said I might get spoiled because with Xarelto there was no testing and no dietary restrictions. However, it was quite expensive, but I might be able to get it at the Base Pharmacy for free, so we would see in September. I picked up Pam and we drove to the USO and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was there along with Dave Ostrum and Charley Tramazzo. I did some jobs for Joyce, the largest one involved several boxes of books that were donated to the USO yesterday. Joyce went through them and picked out about 20 she wanted for the library and the rest we could dispose of. I took them out to the recycle bin and tore off the covers. The pages went into the recycle bin and the covers into the garbage bin. I later told Pam, it felt sort of like “burning books” in the olden days. However, few people read actual books anymore. Right in the middle of the project it began to rain. I moved over to one side under a tree because it wasn’t too hard, but that only lasted about 5 minutes and then it was pouring down. I finally gave up and ran to the patio and Pam brought me a towel to dry off. 10 to 15 minutes later the rain had stopped, and I finished the job. Joyce left to take care of her dog and Pam and I visited with Dave for a while. There wasn’t much to do so at 1:30 pm so we left for the day. We drove to the Head’s home on the Naval Station and Nicki and Tony were home and we got to meet them and one of their sons. They were in the process of unpacking but seem happy to be in Jacksonville. They joined the church in Jacksonvile about 3-5 years ago and were in the old Atlantic Beach Ward (which was disestablished). Jean McKendrick, Fort Caroline Ward, was good friends with them and let us know they were transferring back to the Naval Station. After our visit we returned to our apartment through another huge rain storm. At home I called the sister missionaries up north to confirm our trip to Orlando and Pam continued sewing on Beth’s dress. I also updated our military family file with information on the Heads. We hoped they would come to church Sunday, so we could introduce them around.


Thursday morning, we got to go to the Temple again in Orlando. We drove to the Fort Caroline chapel and met Sisters going with us; Sisters Goeller, Perry, Swann from the Kingsland Zone, and Sisters Rhoads & Ferguson from the Jacksonville East Zone. On the way south, we visited and discovered they were all going home. They were a fun bunch and kept themselves occupied as we drove along. We made two pit stops and with traffic snarls near Orlando caused a late arrival, but we made it to the group photos in the front of the Temple. Elder & Sister Schroeder and Waite, from Gainesville, were the only other senior couples besides us. Following pictures, we entered the Temple, changed and met in the chapel. There were 33 missionaries and several couples from wards coming to support missionaries going home, so it was a nice session. We sat in the Celestial room for about 15 minutes and visited then went to a sealing room for a short devotional where we heard from President and Sister Lee and President and Sister Duke of the Temple presidency. After more pictures outside the Temple, we drove to Café Rio and had a wonderful lunch. We kind of overwhelmed the place when we arrived but they seemed to handle us okay. We dropped the Sisters off at the chapel at 6:15 pm and returned to our apartment, happy but tired!

Friday morning, they didn’t need us at the USO, so we drove to a Social Security Administration office across the river. We were concerned that new cards that were coming out would be mailed to our Monroe address and wouldn’t be forwarded. A young lady helped us, and we got our address changed, cards ordered and set up to access our accounts online. We returned to our area and had lunch and also mailed Beth’s baptism dress to her and were anxious to see a picture. Back at our apartment we updated our family lists and made some phone calls for appointments.

Saturday morning, we drove to Tara Alexander’s home at 9:30 am and Pam visited with Tara while I mowed her lawns. She was doing all right and looking forward to the Temple on the 25th. Back at our apartment we got cleaned up, began some laundry and texted 8 individuals to invite to church or to find out information about them and got responses from 4 so that was a good effort. At noon went out for lunch and stopped at Wal-Mart and did some shopping for next week and then returned to our apartment. Pam did some cooking and sewing. I kept the laundry going and updated files. At 9:00 pm we joined the Transfer call and heard the changes that would take place next week. Sister Ferguson & Rhoads would be replaced by a new Sister and a new missionary, Elder Vaughn was going to be an Assistant to the President so Elder Aiken would get a new companion, Sister Vai would join Sister Newman in Dunn Avenue, and Sister Davis would join Sister Knudsen at the Beach. All other assignments in the zone remained the same. We had been asked to host two new Elder’s on Tuesday night so looked forward to that.  

Sunday morning, we were happy to hear about President Nelson’s statement on the name of the church, with an emphasis that we should be using the full name and not “nick names.” Alexis Connelly texted that she was not feeling well this morning and we felt bad for her. Her migraines just continue to plague her. We left at 9:30 am for Jacksonville Beach and enjoyed the meetings. Tyler Gneck sat with us and Jennie & Oliva Black were there, but we missed the LaGae’s and the Head’s did not come. Tyler was sustained and set apart as Elder’s Quorum secretary today and that was very pleasing. Following the block, we returned to our apartment and had some lunch and rested. I drove to the Hendricks chapel at 6:15 pm for General Priesthood Meeting and sat with Tyler Gneck, who had come with Ryan Dill, the Beach Ward Elder’s Quorum President. Quite a few men from the Beach Ward were there and it was a good meeting on various subjects—President Nelson’s challenges, Nauvoo trip, Priesthood, Ministering, Unity. Following a hymn President Bridgegan spoke, then President Button and the concluding speaker was President Heywood. They all spoke on various aspects of Ministering. It had been a good week.

Dunn Avenue District
 Fort Caroline District
  Missionaries going home next week
All missionaries at the Orlando Temple 
 All missionaries at the Orlando Temple
 Missionaries at their half-way point

Monday, August 13, 2018

Week 27

Monday morning, we received several responses from the Bishop’s emails sent out yesterday and hopefully will get a response from all of them, but it helped update the status of several military families and individuals. We opened the USO and it seemed had non-stop phone calls, mostly about NFL Jaguar tickets. Pam manned the office and I went to the new storage room and sorted through school supplies that arrived recently. Cheryl Vandiver came at 10:30 am and opened the safe so we had money to sell tickets. At 1:30 pm Dave Ostrum brought another 100 backpacks filled with school supplies and we took them to the new storage room and the room was awash with backpacks. Joyce Schellhorn called from the road (she was on her way back to Jacksonville from Clearwater, FL) and wanted the backpacks sorted by category (elementary, middle school, high school). I did that and left the zippers open, so we could add items as necessary. Joyce finally arrived about 3:30 pm and we visited about upcoming events. Pam finished the afternoon sewing and I evaluated the new responses from the Bishop’s letters.

Tuesday morning, we had a more leisurely start to the day, but eventually headed to the Beach Church on Jacksonville Beach and picked up a van full of food for the USO. The USO was also hopping with volunteers when we arrived. Charley Tramazzo’s church youth group were there to work in the yard and 3 other community service volunteers were busy inside. We unloaded the van and put the food out on the pool table and eventually updated a Navy wife Facebook page and people began arriving to pick up the donations. Pam worked in the office and I went into the new storage room and put some order to the room and then filled 30 backpacks for elementary school students. That left about 50 which could be elementary or middle school students depending on what was added to the bags. At 1:30 pm another volunteer arrived so they had plenty of help and Pam and I decided to leave as it was bedlam in the office. We did a little shopping and returned to our apartment where Pam continued working on Beth’s dress and I made phone calls to new names.

Wednesday was a day off from the USO as they were having the floors stripped and waxed and was closed for patrons. It was going to be a sewing day for Pam and I had a project to solve with the van. We had an issue with the transmission recently. It has gone into the “Limp” mode three times in the past 2 months. Nearly every system in the van is operated by a computer – including the transmission. In the “Limp Mode” the computer senses something is not right with the transmissions functions and won’t shift into 3rd or 4th gear. So far, we have been able to pull over, shut off the van, restart it and the computer reset and everything works okay. We are very concerned when the last two occurrences happened within 3 days. I found a highly recommended shop just a mile down the road (Active Transmissions) and visited with “Robin” at the front desk. They needed the van for two hours and recommended Thursday or Friday. We were committed in the mornings on both of those days but hoped to bring the van in about noon. At 5:00 pm I drove to Elder Hibbert & Smart’s apartment and picked them up for dinner. I also did an apartment inspection. Back at our home dinner was ready and at 6:00 pm we ate a wonderful Spaghetti dinner. Elder Hibbert was from Layton and Elder Smart from Draper and Elder Hibbert was the District Leader. They were fine Elders. After dinner they gave us a message and I took them back to their apartment. Later in the evening Pam “Face Timed” with Erin and they discussed setting up the quilting machine in Monroe, so Erin could finish a wonderful project she was working on for a friend.

 

Thursday was an interesting morning. We were out the door early and arrived at the Naval Station by 8:00 am to help in a Welcoming Booth on the pier for the arrival of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) home from deployment. As we turned onto Mayport Road, the main gate was backed up for a quarter mile so apparently a lot of people were either going to work or going to the Iwo Jima and New York arrivals. We thought it was the later. It took a while but soon we got on base and followed the traffic flow to a parking lot by the pier. We found the Navy Exchange tent that joined in giving out water, travel kits, goodies to snack on and generally observe the thousands of wives, husbands, children and families gather to welcome home the ship which had been gone since early February. There were 6 large tents set up along the pier with chairs providing seating for families. The first sighting of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) was around 8:45 am it followed a tugboat shooting water cannons on either side and welcoming the fighting ship. They came into the turning basin and eventually pushed up to the pier. It took so long! A far cry from the Oosterdam that had forward and aft side thrusters and did all that type of maneuvering on its own and quickly. Once tied up it took another hour to get a brow in place, but the families were very patient. As the first sailors walked off the ship families surged forward to greet fathers, sons, husbands, wives, daughters, etc. It was very heartwarming to watch this and reminded us of a few arrivals I had made on the “Connie” or when a squadron came home. The Iwo Jima had a crew of around 1,100, so it was a significant homecoming. When it appeared the last of the crew had exited the ship we helped the Navy Exchange clean up as they were moving to another pier for the arrival of the USS New York (LPD-21) later in the afternoon. Pam and I didn’t have to stay for that arrival and made our way to our van and drove to the USO for a short scheduling meeting. From the USO we came back to our apartment and I dropped Pam off and continued on to Active Transmission to have our van checked out. After dropping off the van, I wandered around the area, had some lunch, and eventually returned to the shop and waited and visited with the owner. Finally, at 2:30 pm the technician gave the owner the bad news. No codes in the computer which was strange, but upon pulling the pan off the transmission, the fluid smelled burnt, was black and gray and had metal in it. That was all bad news. Back in the office we discussed options. Rebuild, Replace or do nothing. I returned to our apartment and Pam and I sat down and weighed the pros and cons and finally decided we would have the transmission re-built. The most significant decision was when? They needed the van for at least 4 days. Sister’s Gillin’s & Johnson arrived for dinner at 6:00 pm and we had a fun hour with them. They were so animated and thrilled to be serving a mission. Sister Johnson from Kaysville and Sister Gillin’s from Bountiful. Sister Johnson also had Icelandic heritage and looked the part.

 

Friday morning, we up early and on the road by 7:40 am to do apartment inspections. We arrived at a new location for the Dunn Avenue Elders and Sisters. Their previous apartment would not renew their leases as they didn’t want to lease to “Mormons.” Sad commentary on our times, but in the “Bible Belt” you never knew what you would come across. We also had three apartments near our home and completed them and then drove to the Beach to meet with the Sisters. All the apartments looked great and we were impressed with their preparation and cleanliness. Before coming back to our apartment, we went to JoAnn’s and bought more fabric for Beth’s dress. Pam sewed most of the afternoon and I worked on our family lists and made a few phone calls.  

 

Saturday morning, we were up and at it early again. This time we arrived at the USO at 7:30 am to help set up for a food giveaway from the organization “Feeding Northeast Florida.” When we arrived the parking lot was packed and people were everywhere. We learned new Navy Chief Selectees (at least 50) were gathered to do a service project at the USO and were everywhere. The primary project was painting the interior of the USO. Dave Ostrum was orchestrating this effort. The food began arriving at 8:00 am and set up at the back of the parking lot. Pam and I and another volunteer set up the check-in table on the back patio, so patrons didn’t have to enter the facility at all. I had 4 chief selectees fill back packs and we ended up with over 50 to distribute to the children of military families throughout the morning. Food distribution commenced at 9:00 am and we had a steady stream of families coming for food until they ran out about 11:30 am. The backpacks were all given away and we had very few school supplies left in the storage room—which was a good thing as school starts in Jacksonville Monday morning. By noon we wrapped up things and had served over 125 families. On the way back to our apartment we did some shopping for a military dinner tomorrow afternoon. Later in the afternoon we drove to the Alexander home and celebrated Kyler’s 2nd birthday. We gave him a gift and he was pleased. He must be missing his dad because he came right to me when we arrived and sat on my lap most of the time we were there. In the morning Tara and family had gone to the zoo and celebrated Kyler’s birthday with other families.  

 

Sunday, we attended the Jacksonville Beach Ward and Tyler Gneck was with us, also Jennie & Oliva Black, the Jarvis’ and Shay Tuttle. Alexis called and was in bed with a Migraine, also the LaGae’s were on their way home from Disney World and hoped they arrived safely and had a good time. Sacrament meeting was excellent with good talks and music. We attended the Gospel Principles class with a nice group and finally, priesthood and relief society and enjoyed the classes. Following the meeting we visited for a few minutes with Tyler and Shay and then came home. Pam finished a fruit salad for dinner tonight and I called Blake Harris and he answered and I visited with him for a few minutes. He was still attached to the USS Iwo Jima and not sure of his schedule for the next little while but will let us know. His father and brother went home yesterday after having been here for the ships arrival. I also called Andrew Cooper, another single but left a message. At 5:00 pm we drove to Lance and Stephanie’s home in Atlantic Beach. There were a number of families and individuals there and we joined in. Attendees were Lance & Stephanie Jarvis, Jennie & Oliva Black, Shay Tuttle, Alexis Connelly, Tyler Gneck, Devaney & Gary Noblit (recently married) and Devaney’s two sons, and Tara Alexander and Trista and Kyler. After a blessing on the food we began eating wonderful grilled chicken on Shish kabob sticks with salads, chips and dessert. It was very good, and we enjoyed eating and visiting. When everyone was finished, we gathered in the living room and Stephanie asked me to say a few words. I talked about the importance of maintaining spiritual balance with spouses whether deployed or not. Too study the scriptures and have family prayer alone or together and bore my testimony of its importance. Everyone left about 7:30 pm and it had been a good night with promises to do this again periodically. There are a few others who could be invited to such an event and we will work on those. End of a great night. Additionally, we had a huge thunderstorm this afternoon—washed all the grime away!


 "Mutt & Jeff", Elders Smart & Hibbert for dinner
 Sister Cottle at USS Iwo Jima arrival
 Tugboat with water cannons "blazing"
 First look at the USS Iwo Jima (Helicopter Carrier)
 USS Iwo Jima at the pier with sailors manning the rails
Families welcoming home crew
 Unknown family reunited with "new" baby
 Sisters Johnson & Gillins for dinner
 Feeding Northeast Florida at the USO
Kyler Alexander with Mom on his birthday
 Military family dinner at Jarvis' home 
 Stephanie Jarvis & Sister Cottle in a serious discussion
 The cooks: Lance Jarvis, Tyler Gneck and Alexis Connelly
Kyler and Trista on stools and Devaney Noblit's son

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Week 26


Johanna asked about a blog for last week and I was sure I had written one, but upon examination couldn’t find one for Week 26, so here goes a little late.

Our week began at the USO where we helped prepare for the “No Dough” dinner in the evening. It was a hectic day as usual but fortunately we had a goodly number of volunteers which made light work for all. In the evening Pam and I raffled off school book bags. Each child who came with their parents filled out a little slip and then the Director pulled names out of a bucket and these families were called and notified they had won. Over the next few days we handed out these bookbags filled with school supplies—about 30. At 7:30 pm Pam and I took food to the gate guards at the Naval Station and then drove to Tara Alexanders and gave her a dish of “wings” and visited for a few minutes. This was her 2nd full week without a husband who is on deployment on the USS Detroit.

Tuesday was report day and I worked on the monthly report to send tomorrow morning. We report directly to Church Headquarters regarding our work, so that is a little different from most senior companionships. At 9:00 am I went to the local medical clinic to check on some medications that our supplier wouldn’t fill due to the change in providers. I hoped it would take care of the issue for the next year. We drove to the USO and helped Cheryl Vandiver until 11:00 am when we went to the Beach Church and was offered a large about of food which was surplus for them and distribute to needy family at the USO. Cheryl and Pam layed out the food on the  pool table and took pictures and published it on a military wives Facebook page. At noon Pam and I drove to the Naval Station and located the LCS Squadron Headquarters and delivered items for a brief that Joyce Schellhorn (Director) normally gave herself. She couldn’t be there today, so we took the items to the squadron and an instructor would do the briefing. Later in the afternoon Pam began working on a baptismal dress for Beth.

Wednesday morning, I was back at the medical clinic for an INR test. It was still low—1.8 (goal 2.0 - 3.0) and Doctor Hoffman changed my regime again to try and get me above 2.0. When finished we drove to the USO and helped there for a couple of hours. We took a large number of items to the Navy Exchange to be used in next week’s Welcome Home festivities for the USS Iwo Jima and New York. While at the USO, Pam got a call from Samantha LaGae needing help. She had a doctor’s appointment and her husband, Jerald, hadn’t come home yet. Pam drove to her home on base and sat with her children for about an hour. That wasn’t hard duty for her as little Clive is joy. Back at our apartment Pam baked cookies for families.

Thursday morning, we opened the USO and processed the normal bread and pastry donations from the previous night. It was a good selection, the most we’ve received in almost a month. Pam managed the front office and I took more items to the Navy Exchange for the ship return celebration. We were busy today and had 5 mothers with their children come to enjoy the Children’s Room and for the children to play with each other. I didn’t hear crying, so things must have gone all right. We also had a community service worker come and he was a hard worker and cleaned the bathrooms and mopped the main floor area. Cheryl Vandiver arrived about mid-morning and two JIA (Jacksonville International Airport USO) volunteers came and brought more Travel Kits. At 1:00 pm they had plenty of help, so Pam and I left. At 4:00 pm we returned to the Beach area and went on the Naval Station to the home of Jennie Black (new military member family) and Stephanie and Lance Jarvis were visiting, so we joined them, and had a nice visit for about an hour. Jennie is getting settled and her daughter has a friend nearby and would attend school within a block of their home, so life was good for them. Her husband is in Mississippi as part of a pre-commissioning team for a new ship the USS Polynesia. We left a plate of cookies and then drove to the LaGae’s at 6:00 pm and had dinner with them and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours.

Friday morning, we were at the USO again helping Dave Ostrum until Cheryl Vandiver arrived. Dave is a new part-time employee they hired recently to give the night manager some time off. Cheryl trained us on selling Jaguar NFL football tickets, which is a big deal during football season. In the afternoon Pam and I walked to the workout room at our housing complex and walked on treadmills for an hour and we needed to do that more often.

Saturday morning, we were up early and at 9:00 am went to the Alexanders and mowed lawns for Tara. Pam went inside and visited while I did the mowing. It took about 90 minutes to finish and looked pretty good when done. St. Augustine grass never will look as great as normal grass, but it’s done for another two weeks. We returned home and did housework. I vacuumed, and Pam cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. We also did 4 loads of laundry. In the afternoon we did some shopping and stopped at the homes of 3 military members and learned that one family had moved but the others were not at home. We got a text from a single member at the Naval Air Station and it was a relief as we hadn’t heard from her for over two weeks and were afraid we had hurt her feelings or something.

Sunday morning, we drove to the Beach and attended the Jacksonville Beach Ward and enjoyed their block of meetings. Alexis Connelly and Tyler Gneck were there, and they came together, which was nice. The Jarvis’ were also there along with Shay Tuttle, but we missed the Black’s and the LaGae’s. Each had some sick children. Following the block, we drove back to the Fort Caroline Ward and met the Bridger family, West & Ceyda and their two children. We hoped to see Angie Trejo, but she and her mother were not there today. After visiting for a while and making an appointment to visit the West’s at their home we returned to our apartment. In the afternoon we established a schedule to do apartment inspections during the following week with the full-time missionaries and wrote an individual letter to each Bishop in the Jacksonville East and West Stakes with a list of families that we have questions about and asked for their assistance. We also asked if there were military families they knew of that were not on our lists.  We hoped this would resolve questions we have had. Been a good week!

Week 40 (5 - 11 November)

Monday morning, I woke up early and Pam was still asleep so that was good. She did join me in the living room a half an hour later and felt...