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