Sunday, September 30, 2018

Week 34 (24 - 30 September)


            Monday morning, we arrived at the USO early to open and help in “No Dough” dinner preparations. Over the weekend a Wedding Shower had been held at the USO and all the tables had been moved in one section, so we reset tables and chairs and most importantly, cleaned the floor—it was a mess! We had other volunteers arrive and helped with the heavy lifting. Cooking and meal preparation also began, and several volunteers arrived for those tasks also. Pam and I were committed to taking Alexis Connelly to a medical appointment at NAS Jacksonville this morning and left at 11:00 am and picked up Alexis and then proceeded to the Naval Hospital. She got right in and saw a doctor regarding her migraine headaches and he issued her a new prescription for medication and then we returned her to the Naval Station. While on the road Pam got a text from Samantha Lagae asking if she could watch Fiona and Clive while she took Eleanor to a reading appointment. Timing was critical, but we arrived in time, so I dropped Pam off at the Lagae’s and Alexis at the Medical Clinic and I went to the USO. Meal prep was ongoing strong, but they had a terrible time keeping roaster pans and deep fryers from tripping circuit breakers. We eventually solved the problem and had roasters all over the facility. At 4:00 pm Pam called for pick up and we returned to the USO and continued helping for another hour. Navy Federal and MOAA volunteers arrived in mass to serve the meal and we weren’t needed so we came home.


Tuesday morning, I drove directly to the Beaches Church Pantry and loaded up the back of the van with food. Pam stayed home and Samantha Lagae arrived at our apartment about 11:00 am and she and Pam studied her Psychology textbook. At the USO a volunteer helped me unload and place the food on the pool table for patrons. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) got it posted to Facebook and soon wives began arriving for food. Joyce had some things she wanted me to do and then she left to take care of her dog and make a deposit and I held down the fort. I sold a few Jaguar tickets and took phone calls and checked in patrons. When Joyce returned I said my goodbyes and left for home. Samantha and Pam were still studying, and I went into the bedroom until she left. Samantha decided she has too much on her plate with all the testing she is doing for Fiona and Elinore, so she won’t take any more classes for a few months. Pam and I had some lunch and then took a drive, crossing the St. John River and along the river front as it made its way to the ocean. We stopped a couple of places for pictures and then took a turnoff for a stake park to a restored Slave Plantation on Fort George Island, called Kingsley Plantation. The entire island was actually a Cultural State Park and the drive was very beautiful and pristine. At the end of the road we arrived at Kingsley Plantation but didn’t see too much because we arrived too late and the gates were closing in 15 minutes. But we planned to return when Johanna and Haley come for a visit.

Wednesday morning, we were not needed at the USO so went to the Alexanders at 10:00 am and I mowed her lawn and Pam visited with Tara and the children. Back at home we showered and got cleaned up and went to a nearby Home Depot and bought a weather-stripping package for our front door and had some lunch. We next went to the ITT facility by the Navy Exchange and checked into tickets to Disney World, Harry Potter World, etc. for when Johanna and Haley come. We did some shopping at Costco and put gas in the van. Finally we returned to our apartment and unloaded and put away things and I installed the weather stripping around the door and we are nice and tight again. We downloaded some research papers on Schizophrenia Samantha Lagae asked us to review and that took up the balance of the evening.

            Thursday morning, we were up at 5:00 am and got ready to drive to the Temple. We picked up 5 Elder’s at the Fort Caroline chapel at 6:45 am and headed south. One of the Elders was Elder Plumb from Travis and Jennifer’s ward in Denver and it was good to see him again.
We made really good time until we were about 25 miles from Orlando and began to see warnings on the overhead signs of an accident ahead. Well we came to a dead stop and then inched along for almost an hour. I called President Lee and informed him of our predicament and he said they were in the same stoppage and it appeared they were behind us, so we didn’t feel bad about being late. As usual we eventually moved forward going faster and faster and then were up to highway speeds passing one police car alongside the road, but no indication of a problem. President Lee determined we could still make the 11:00 am session and would do photos afterwards and that is what we did. At the Temple we went right inside and changed, and the session began at 11:15 am and was very enjoyable. There were about 20 Elders and 8 Sisters and several senior couples in the session, so the room was full. We spent 15 minutes in the celestial room and then moved to a large sealing room and had a short devotional. President Duke, Temple President, said a few words and then had to leave. He was followed by a Sealer, Brother Tilton, who was a former Temple President and he talked for a few minutes. Finally, we heard from Sister Lee and then President Lee and a short testimony by the Bishop of the Normandy Ward who was with us. After getting changed we met in front of the Temple for pictures and then loaded up and headed to CafĂ© Rio. We dominated the place and they fed us well and the food was good. While standing in line a man behind me asked what was going on and I learned he was a member, so we had a nice talk about the church in Orlando. We finally got back on the road and the drive was okay, but we were glad to get out of the environs of Orlando and the endless construction zones. The Elders entertained themselves going and coming with several games but about Daytona, it suddenly got quiet and they were all asleep and remained that way until we arrived in Jacksonville. We arrived at the Fort Caroline chapel at 7:00 pm and dropped them off and returned to our apartment. It had been a wonderful day.

Friday morning, we spent a couple of hours reviewing a rough draft of Samantha’s paper she had to turn in by Sunday. Pam sat next to me and we read each sentence and made grammatical and spelling corrections, re-wrote a few sentences and generally reviewed the entire paper and were very impressed with the end product, especially Sam’s final synopsis and conclusion. We emailed it back to her and she was pleased with the end result. We then got dressed for the day and drove to the USO. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Cheryl Vandiver there and Cheryl had a crew of volunteers working on the “No Dough” dinner preparation for next week. Pam went into the kitchen and helped, and I worked in the office doing odd jobs for Joyce. Tyler Gneck, one of our single sailors, came at 11:30 am and picked up a package he had mailed to our address. We visited for a few minutes and then he left. I took leftover bread and pastries to the Navy Exchange employees and made a deposit for Joyce. I guess she trusts us because I went to the Credit Union with over $4000 in cash. When I returned, food prep was completed, and Pam and I went over the schedule for next week and then left for the day. Pam and I had lunch, filled up the van with gas and returned to our apartment and promptly went to sleep. After an hours rest, I awoke, and checking Facebook learned it was Olivia Black’s 10th birthday today. We decided to go get her a cake (it was almost 5:00 pm) and drove to a local “Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts” place and purchased an ice cream cake that was cute and drove to the Black’s home on the Naval Station. Unfortunately, they were not home, so we checked with a neighbor and left it with them. Jennie Black picked it up when they returned, and they enjoyed it.

            Saturday morning, we cleaned the apartment and did laundry until noon. We had some lunch and did a little shopping at a nearby Wal-Mart and returned to our apartment and continued laundry, folded clothes and Pam did some sewing on a baby blanket she planned to give Shay Tuttle at a Thursday Baby Shower the Jacksonville Beach Ward was holding for her. I made a call to Kyle Young and got him in Norfolk where the USS Iwo Jima was tied up. I got an update and asked about his wife because we had not been able to get her to answer her phone. He confirmed she was home, so we would try again. We also called all our active families and singles to check how they were doing with a hope of seeing them tomorrow at church.

            Sunday morning, we were up and on our way to the Jacksonville Beach Ward by 9:30 am. We enjoyed sacrament meeting and Samantha Lagae and her children came along with Jennie Black and Olivia and Tyler Gneck and Alexis Connelly. It is always nice when these families attend and get to know the ward better. They all stayed throughout the block and we had wonderful classes. Following church, we returned to our apartment and had some lunch and then settled in for the evening. It had been a good and productive week.


Fishing Boat pier on St. John's River 
 Marshland on Fort George Island
 Road to Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island
 Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island
 Kingsley Plantation Main House on Fort George Island
 Slave quarters on Kingsley Plantation
 Mission Temple group on the 27th of September trip to Orlando Temple
 Guess who?
Fountain in front of the Temple

Monday, September 24, 2018

Week 33 (17 - 23 September)

Monday morning began early at the USO to help with the “Feeding Northeast Florida” food delivery. This was part of a new USO initiative called a “Food Pantry” for needy military members as designated by the base Chaplain. We assisted Dave Ostrum in the outside storage room trying to make sense out of what was received—much more quantity and more variety than was planned on. We expected more dry goods and fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, but it was more like what we got from the Beach Church Pantry—a lot of packaged items from local grocery stores, like Publix or Winn Dixie. What was distressing was most of the fruits and vegetables packages were old and not in good condition and in many cases covered with mold. We threw away about half the fruit and vegetables. We also got a pallet full of frozen meat and sorted and loaded up bags with at least 4 pieces of meat each. We also filled two more bags with vegetables and fruits and another one with dry goods. We ended up with over 150 bags of food. It was the most physically challenging morning of work we had done on our mission and we were tired puppies. We must have made 50 trips to the dumpster unloading boxes of vegetables and broken-down boxes and it was a continuous process all morning long. Also, today Cheryl Vandiver was working and selling Jaguar tickets to the Titans game this weekend and at noon began selling Jets tickets for a future game. While Dave Ostrum was charged with running the Food Pantry, Joyce Schellhorn (Director) certainly had her input and they both worked hard all morning alongside Pam and myself and Julie, another volunteer. We finally got the storage room cleaned up and all the boxes unloaded and shelved by 2:00 pm and left, very tired. We stopped for lunch and then continued home to our apartment—a good day.

Tuesday morning, we were saddened to learn that Hurricane Florence had devastated the Carolina’s and flooding was everywhere as it moved north into the Virginia’s. We felt so bad for the many displaced families and also families that lost lives during the event. The Carolina’s experienced upwards of 40 inches of rain and would continue to be flooded for possibly weeks without power, potable water, etc.  Because of the food delivery yesterday at the USO, Joyce told us not to go to the Beach Church Pantry today, so we stayed home and did some studying and organizing to see if we could make some visits later today. At noon we drove to Tara and Wes Alexander’s home in Arlington and Tara was home with her children and she was also sitting the LaGae’s children, Fiona and Clive. We spent an hour visiting. I drove to a nearby McDonald’s and bought lunch for the kids and they enjoyed the “Happy Meals.” After leaving the Alexander’s we had lunch and then drove to the Naval Station and visited with Samantha LaGae, who was home alone studying for a class in Psychology. She was almost finished, and Tara was giving her some relief from her kids, so she could read and write without interruption. While visiting, Jerald came home with Eleanor and it was good to see them. Jerald goes to sea tomorrow. From the LaGae’s we drove to the Black’s home and visited with Jenny and Olivia. Jenny had been in Pascagoula, Mississippi over the weekend with her husband in the much anticipated “Khaki Ball” for new Chiefs. Olivia had just returned from school all bright and happy. We got a lot of questions answered by Jenny concerning Rich Black’s activity and how we might work with him. She emphasized his shyness and that he comes across as angry and arrogant but is not. Finally, we stopped at the Head’s and had a wonderful visit with them. They were so excited about being in Jacksonville and finding the church again. Bishop Currie had them in for an interview this past week and they made commitments regarding tithing and Nikki wanted to renew her recommend again and Tony wanted to go to the Temple. He showed me his priesthood certificate when he was ordained an Elder. It was a great afternoon.

Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO early again and helped Dave Ostrum get ready for the food distribution. Within the next half an hour Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Cheryl Vandiver arrived along with 3 other volunteers, Julie and Carmel & Jim and between all of us we got tables set up outside on the patio loaded with food items and by 9:30 am were ready to go. We were giving 3 bags of food that we put together on Monday, one with meat, one with produce, and one with dry goods and then the patrons could take items from the tables if they wished. By 9:45 am Mike Brian from headquarters was there with a half a dozen other men and women who were from the USO and from Humana. Humana sponsored the event and bought the two new freezers we had. We were set up for a 10:00 am, 11:00 am and noon presentation to invited families where they explained the program and then those families came out back and were given the 3 bags of food and could make selections of the other items on the tables on the patio. The recipients were very thrilled with everything. There were several of the men who helped get the patrons to their cars using grocery carts and it all went very smoothly. Pam was inside checking in the patrons and giving them a ticket and Carmel, Jim and I handed out the bags from the storage room and Dave and Julie offered the food items on the tables. Nikki Head came for food this morning. At the 11:00 am presentation, a news team from Channel 47 came and filmed the presentation and did some one-on-one interviews while the food was being distributed. At 12:30 pm Pam took the van and drove to the LaGae’s and helped Samantha with homework. She read to her from a text book and that seemed to help a lot as Samantha was an auditory learner. She returned to the USO at 2:30 pm and things were wrapping up. I was quite tired again and looked forward to a rest. We returned to our apartment and changed clothes and at 5:00 pm were at the Beach again and met Sister Knudsen & Abril (exchange) and Shay Tuttle at Cantina Louie for dinner. It was really enjoyable and we all had nice visits. Shay was doing fine, and her pregnancy progressing normally. Chris was doing well on deployment. The sisters were upbeat and positive, and it was always nice to be with them.

Thursday morning Pam was going to read with Samantha LaGae again but instead of meeting her at the Naval Station Samantha dropped off her kids with Tara Alexander (nearby) and came to our apartment for their study. I went to the USO and opened and took care of the bread and pastries and stayed the morning. There were a few other chores to do, but mainly I answered the phone and checked in patrons. Cheryl Vandiver arrived at 10:00 am and sold Jaguar tickets to patrons. On the way to the USO I got a text from Nikki Head asking if I could come and give her son Caleb a blessing. I told her my situation but could come at noon and that was fine, in fact would permit her to take Caleb to the doctor and for Tony to be with us. I drove to their home at 11:45 pm and visited for a few minutes then instructed Tony on anointing with oil and the prayer involved and he did a wonderful job. I think it was his first time ever. I then sealed the anointing with Tony’s assistance and blessed Caleb. He is a fine young man. I returned to the USO and remained there until Joyce arrived about 1:30 pm. She checked on what I had done, and we went over the schedule for next few days and I returned to our apartment. Pam and Samantha were still holding forth, so I slipped in and disappeared into the bedroom. They continued studying for another hour and then Samantha picked up her kids from Tara Alexander’s home and Pam and I had a late lunch. Another good day.

Friday morning, we arrived at the USO at 10:00 am and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Charlie Tramazzo were there. We loaded up goodies we were taking to the Navy Exchange this morning for an annual Member Appreciation Day celebration. Our table was first in line by the main entrance and we put out our items we were giving away—girl scout cookies, paper, pencils, swizzlers, travel kits, key chains, lanyards, etc. People came at us like we were giving away money and before we knew it were surrounded by little Filipino ladies who loved these events wanting a little of everything. We also had a signup sheet for the USO Blast (email notices) and got a lot of signatures. By noon we were running low, so I returned to the USO and got more goodies and we continued at the NEX until about 1:30 pm. There were 10 other tables from Navy and Non-Navy vendors giving out their wares and promoting everything from healthy living to banking. We enjoy seeing the people and their responses to our Missionary badges. Back at the USO we helped Cheryl Vandiver unload and put away her food for the “No Dough” dinner and then pushed Joyce out the door as she was going to Tampa to be with her grandchildren for the weekend. After Cheryl got organized she and I went to the kitchen and began cutting up Flank Steak into small strips for the dinner. She had 9 packets of meat and we went through 2 of them, which took about 30 minutes each—trimming the fat and cutting ¼ inch strips to serve with Broccoli. Pam maintained the office, taking calls and selling tickets. James McCulloch arrived at 4:30 pm and Pam and I were able to leave.

Saturday morning, we slept in this morning and then did some studying. Later in the morning we both cleaned the apartment and did laundry in preparation for next week. At 1:00 pm we left for some lunch and shopping. Back at our apartment, Pam baked a cake for Tony Head’s birthday and I texted a number of families regarding church tomorrow.

Sunday morning, we were up and ready for church and arrived at the Jacksonville Beach ward at 9:45 am and greeted members as they arrived. I had texted Alexis Connelly again, but she had just awoken and missed a ride with Tyler Gneck who was at the church. Jennie Black and Olivia and Shay Tuttle were also there, and it was nice to see them. Sacrament meeting was excellent and following we attended the Gospel Principles class and then I went to Priesthood meeting and Pam to Relief Society. Following the block, we returned to our apartment and Pam frosted the cake she baked for Tony Head’s birthday and we drove back to the Naval Station and delivered the cake to the Head’s and it was good to see them. All of them were sick with some variety of a cold but they were happy to receive the cake. We also went to the LaGae’s and checked on Samantha LaGae and she and her children were fine. She had been sleeping so we didn’t stay. We then returned to our apartment for a late lunch—another great week behind us. 

Bread & Pastries to give away 
 USO patron at the "free" table which we try to keep stocked
 Inside the Navy Exchange Foyer
 Pam and Joe at our Table at the Annual Appreciation Day
 Pam visiting with Trista Alexander
 Kyler Alexander
 New Family, Tony & Nikki Head and Caleb and Matthew
 Food thrown away that was bad
 Food pantry shelves
 Food pantry Freezer
 Volunteers, Jim, Julie & Carmel
 Dave Ostrum explaining Pantry to visitor
 Tables on patio with giveaway items
Sister Abril, Knudsen, Shay Tuttle & Pam at dinner

Monday, September 17, 2018

Week 32 (10-16 September)


Monday morning, we checked the status of Florence and it appeared like it would make landfall Thursday or Friday somewhere in North Carolina as a Category 3 or 4 storm so that could be devastating. We looked fairly safe, but it wouldn’t take much of a course change to come closer to us here in Jacksonville. We left our apartment at 8:30 am and opened up the USO. Pam went into the kitchen and did some prep work and I managed the office. We got a lot of phone calls with requests for Jaguar vs Patriot tickets and had to tell them they were all gone. Also, Titan ticket sales began today at noon. Charley Tramazzo arrived at 9:30 am and he opened up the safe and then Cheryl Vandiver arrived shortly thereafter, and she got the Titan tickets ready for the Noon crowd. I spent most of the morning setting up the main rooms for the “No Dough” dinner tonight. Another volunteer and I brought in tables and chairs and set up the Salad and Dessert bars. Also brought in the” Sneeze” screens for those two stations, put out the utensil and napkins dispensers and stocked up on water and soda for the drink station. Other volunteers arrived and helped in the kitchen primarily cutting up vegetables for the Salad Bar. At noon we had about 20 patrons waiting for Titan tickets and by then Dave Ostrum had arrived and between he and Cheryl they sold the tickets, and everything went smoothly. At 12:30 pm Pam and I left for lunch and drove to the Naval Station and had lunch at the Exchange. We noticed the HMS Queen Elizabeth was tied up at the “Carrier Pier” and it was a beautiful looking small carrier. We drove to the LaGae home and visited with Samantha concerning the threat of Hurricane Florence and her preparations. She was very concerned about what to do and we gave her our thoughts about precautions and things she could do immediately. Finally, we returned to the USO and continued preparations for dinner. At 5:00 pm tickets were issued, and food began to be served. Pam and I worked the Dessert Table, but due to a lack of volunteers Pam moved to the Salad Bar and I handled the Dessert Table. We had a steady stream of patrons for the next two hours and they served about 275. Both the Head’s and the LaGae’s came for dinner and it was nice to see both families. Cleanup began at 7:00 pm and Pam and I stayed for another hour and then returned to our apartment. It had been a long day and we were tired.

Tuesday morning was the 17th anniversary of the Attack on America against the World Trade Centers and Pentagon. There were memorials services being held in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Interestingly enough, the Cortlandt Street subway station, which was located directly below the World Trade Center, was re-opened for the first time and a Flight 93 Wind Chime memorial was Dedicated in Shanksville. We left for the Beach Church Food Pantry at 10:00 and received a van full of food for distribution at the USO. Two volunteers helped unload and Cheryl Vandiver took pictures and advertised on Facebook. We had a large turnout of military wives from the area and by noon most of the food was gone. Cheryl wondered if we could get more, so I drove back to the food pantry and they were happy to give us more food and we repeated the process. We sold more NFL tickets and at 1:30 pm Pam and I left for the day. We drove to Costco with a stop for lunch. At Costco we primarily bought more water and some food items and then returned to our apartment. We fixed two large pans of Ziti (from last nights No Dough dinner) and took them to Tara Alexander and also the LaGae’s on the Naval Station. They seemed happy to receive the food. Samantha LaGae had also come to the USO and picked up food for her and Tara.

Wednesday morning, I noticed the Mission office was using the Mission Blog to communicate with missionary families and issued a new statement each day assuring missionaries were safe and prepared. We left our apartment for Jacksonville Beach at 9:30 am and I dropped Pam off at the LaGae home where Pam babysat for Samantha while she did homework. I continued to the USO and Dave Ostrum was holding down the fort and there was a large training group in one of the main hall rooms. I did a few odd jobs until Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 11:00 am. It was her first day back from vacation to Ireland and Scotland with her husband. She was in pretty good spirits and we visited about her trip and then got busy doing a few odd jobs in preparation for a World-Wide USO Video Streaming activity that night on the Naval Station. Dave was representing the USO and we gathered items to distribute. I also put together items for a Navy Exchange activity that Pam and I would host next Friday. I got a call from Pam at 12:30 pm and she was ready to be picked up. Joyce also asked if I could make a deposit for her, so I picked up Pam and we made the deposit, had lunch and returned to the USO and visited with Joyce and looked over the schedule for the next few days and then left at 2:00 pm. We returned to the Naval Station Medical Clinic and picked up a prescription.  We did a little shopping at Big Lots and the Wal-Mart Market before returning to our apartment.  I made several phone calls, one to President Heywood and he confirmed he was setting Lyle Young apart as Lay Leader on the USS Iwo Jima that evening as Kyle was reporting aboard for a potential departure of the ship in the morning. I also called Blake Harris and he confirmed they were on alert status.

Thursday morning Hurricane Florence continued on a course towards the Carolina's, but had been downgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane, but was moving so slowly and the impact of storm surge and rain would be immense. Over 5 million people were under hurricane warnings just waiting. We opened the USO and had a moderate amount of bread and pastries put out and Pam and I got them tabulated and made available for patrons by 9:30 pm. Pam spent most of her morning in the kitchen cleaning out cupboards and I manned the office taking phone calls and checking in patrons. Dave Ostrum arrived about 10:30 am and he sold Jaguar tickets. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) went to a special meeting on the Naval Air Station and got back to Mayport at 2:00 pm. We discussed what was going on and the schedule for next week and then Pam and I left for the day. We drove back towards our apartment area and stopped for lunch and a little shopping before returning to our apartment. We made phone calls tonight and tried to arrange for some home visits.

Friday morning, I got up early and checked on the Weather Channel for hurricane updates and the eye of the storm was trying to come ashore at Wilmington, North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. Wind was down, but the rain and storm surge were massive and would continue for days as the storm was just crawling along. We were doing apartment inspections this morning and left at 7:40 am and drove across the Dames Point Bridge to the Dunn Avenue District and first visited with Sister Newman & Vai and had a nice visit with them. Sister Vai is Tongan from Salt Lake. Next, we visited Elder Aiken & Vai Tualamalii. Elder Tualamalii is Samoan from Colorado Springs. Back across the St. Johns river we stopped at Sister Byington & Abril apartment and they were both new to the zone and it was nice to meet them. Sister Abril was from Corona, California and Sister Byington from Orangeville, Utah. We saw Elder Willets & Brooksby next and had a good visit with them and finished our visits with Sister Gillins & Johnson. The other two companionships were away on a service project in the Dunn Ave Ward area. We returned to our apartment and compiled a report to send to Elder Mann tomorrow. We also did laundry this morning and vacuumed the apartment and cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. Later in the day we had some lunch and did some shopping and then returned and took care of our laundry and made phone calls about the weekend.

Saturday morning, we learned that some areas in the Carolina's had received 30 to 40 inches of rain along the coastline and over 22,000 people were being housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University’s basketball gym. The rainfall produced catastrophic flash flooding along the numerous rivers. The storm was expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolina's and the Ohio Valley by Monday. Missionaries were all safe in the Carolina Missions but the cleanup work pending would be enormous. We hadn’t heard whether missionaries from Florida would be called out to help. Pam and I finished missionary apartment inspections this morning at 8:45 am. We first visited Elder Hibbert & C. Smart and their apartment was very neat and clean. It was obvious they had prepared for our visit. We also drove to Jacksonville Beach to see Sister Knudsen & Davis. We had a nice visit and looked through their apartment which was also neat and clean. We returned to our apartment and updated the apartment inspection form and emailed it to Elder Mann. We also worked on our area book for the rest of the morning. After lunch we made a few stops and then returned to our apartment and did some texting about meetings tomorrow with our families. Alexis Connelly was down again with a migraine and we wish there was something we could do to help. I texted Sarah (Cottle) and congratulated her on her marathon run in Utah. She participated in the Huntsville Marathon and finished in 3:26 and was 57th out of 440, which was pretty amazing.

Sunday morning Florence was still in the North Carolina dumping huge amounts of rain throughout the state as it slowly moved north. We left for church at the Jacksonville Beach Ward at 9:30 am and met the saints and sat with Tyler Gneck. Sacrament meeting was excellent, and we attended the Gospel Principles class and the Sisters had two investigators attending. In Priesthood meeting they discussed relief efforts for the Carolina's. It appeared each ward in the stake would be assigned a weekend to go north, but it wasn’t clear for how long or when. They were awaiting instructions from up north. Later in the day I heard from Lynn and Maureen in Murphy, North Carolina and they were doing fine.

Sorry no pictures this week! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Week 31 (3 - 9 September)

Monday morning our week began and it was Labor Day, so the USO was closed for the day and we had time to relax and rest. I called a couple of sailors from the USS Iwo Jima about an upcoming deployment and had a nice conversation with one man being nominated to serve as Lay Leader for the upcoming cruise. Following that conversation, I contact President Heywood, Stake President, and gave him this information and left the call in his court. We had lunch and did some shopping before returning to our apartment. We heard from Alexis Connelly, one of our single sisters, and she was back from North Carolina where she had attended Boot Camp graduation for her brother who joined the Army. She had some auto problems and we were concerned about that.

            Tuesday morning, we left for the USO early to help with an expected crowd of people coming to purchase NFL tickets to an upcoming Jaguars versus Patriots game. When we arrived the parking lot was full, and patrons were waiting outside in lawn chairs and some had been there several hours. Sales didn’t start until noon, so they had a long wait. Cheryl Vandiver and Dave Ostrum had everything organized and Cheryl went outside and checked ID cards and then let them into the facility to check-in and get a priority number for ticket sales. Pam and I answered the phones and they were ringing off the hook all morning long. By noon the place was full of waiting patrons. At 11:30 am I drove to the Beach Church Pantry and filled up the back of the van with food. We placed all the food on the pool table and permitted patrons to take what they wanted. Cheryl, Dave and Pam were in the middle of selling tickets and they were calling out numbers and finalizing the purchases. By 1:00 pm all the tickets were gone, and the place miraculously cleared out. Cheryl took pictures of the food I had picked up and uploaded them to Facebook and during the next couple of hours many wives came for food. By 2:30 pm everything quieted down, and Pam and I left and returned to our apartment. In the evening we babysat for Tara Alexander while she went to a Rehab facility at Jacksonville Beach where she counsels every week. She was doing a great service at the facility. Tristin and Kyler were wonderful for us and Pam sat with them in the family room and watched TV. \

            Wednesday morning, I noted that 56 years earlier I had landed in Melbourne, Australia to commence my missionary service in Australia. Boy that day was vivid in my memory as I first met President McConkie and his big hands. Boy, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge of time since then. We opened the USO and I dropped off Pam and then returned for a doctor’s appointment. Prior to having a tooth extracted, Dr. Hoffman switched me to Xarelto and we needed to decide whether to stay on Xarelto or return to Warfarin. Xarelto required no testing and no food restrictions so the choice was not difficult to make, although a normal cost on the open market was $450 per month. Dr. Hoffman thought I could get a prescription filled at the Naval Station free of charge, so she wrote me a prescription. I also got a flu shot and a prescription for the new Shingles shot which they said was also available on the base. I drove back to the USO and joined in the morning fray. We got dozens and dozens of phone calls for tickets to the Jaguars versus Patriots NFL game but they were all gone. Cheryl Vandiver arrived and later Dave Ostrum also came so we reviewed the calendar and left for the day. Later in the afternoon we picked up the Sisters at the USO, where they parked their car, and we took them on base to a dinner appointment with a new family, Tony and Nikki Head. They are members of about 6 years and we hope to work with them. They love Sisters and, in the past, have attached themselves to missionaries rather than members and that has its shortcomings. But they are in a good frame of mind and ready to be active again. We had a nice meal with them and spent the better part of an hour discussing the gospel and enjoying a short by the Sisters.

            Thursday morning, we were up early and on the road to the Jacksonville Stake Center for Zone Conference. The chapel was full of missionaries and we greeted President & Sister Lee and found seats. Elder Vaughn, Assistant, conducted and he welcomed everyone and following an opening hymn and prayer announced the program. We first heard from President Lee and he introduced the theme of “A More Excellent Way.” He reviewed the “Pathway” to the covenant path emphasizing the Doctrine of Christ and spent quite a bit of time discussing each aspect of the Doctrine with scriptural support. He went over the mission Slogan of “Pearls”Prayer, Expectations, Authority, Read Book of Mormon, Lessons and Search the Teaching Record. Sister Lee followed with a discussion of Using the Book of Mormon effectively and she used the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. We then heard from President Lee again and he continued discussing “A More Excellent Way” using several video clips and stressed working with ward leaders. It was excellent with lots of interactive comments from the missionaries. The final hour of instruction was from Elder Vaughn and Carter and they taught about the Area Book and Smart Search and the importance of having a “Living Area Book.” Six missionaries who were in their last Zone Conference were invited to bear their testimonies and when done we sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” followed by a closing prayer. Lunch was excellent, and we enjoyed visiting with other senior missionaries and single missionaries in general. It was a very inspirational Zone Conference and President Lee was a good teacher of truth. That evening we drove to Jacksonville Beach for dinner at the Jarvis’ home. She had invited Pam and I, the Sisters and one of their investigators, named Sergio. We had a wonderful evening visiting, eating and the Sisters showed a wonderful video of President Nelson’s testimony of the Savior.

Friday morning, we returned to the USO for a few hours. It was very quiet, and Dave Ostrum had opened the facility. Shortly after noon we left and drove to a dental appointment and I met with an associate who looked at the extraction and pulled out a small piece of stitch and said everything looked good. She gave me an estimate for the next phase—Implant. With their prices I thought we would wait until we’re back in Utah. Somehow, we got to talking about our call as missionaries and that we were from Utah and she mentioned her grandparents, Bruce Marston and his wife were LDS. I asked if he was from Maine and she said yes, and I told her of our relationship with Bruce through our years in Maine. He was the Branch President in Topsham just before we arrived, in the Stake Presidency after the Portland Maine Stake was organized and had been our home teacher throughout my first deployment. A wonderful man and couple. She was not a member because her mother had kind of gone off the rails, as she put it, and was not active at all while this lady was growing up, but she lived in Brunswick, Maine and was familiar with Topsham and the Naval Air Station, etc. She came out to the foyer with me and I introduced her to Pam and we had a nice visit.

Saturday morning, we noted that Tropical Storm Florence was racing across the Atlantic and expected to increase in intensity to a Cat 3 or 4 Hurricane by the time it reached the East Coast, possibly in North Carolina. It was our first storm that we might have to contend with and at least will feel the influence of the storm with increased wind, rain and storm surge. There were two other depressions brewing off the coast of Africa, so the outlook was for a possibility of 3 simultaneous Atlantic Hurricanes. The Hurricane season is upon us! In the morning I got my hair cut and then Pam and I cleaned the apartment and did some laundry. In the afternoon we did some shopping and preparation for the weekend and next week. We were thrilled to note that our granddaughter, Beth Colton, was baptized today in Provo, Utah by her father Weston and confirmed a member of the church. We are proud grandparents.

Sunday morning, we left for church in the Jacksonville Beach Ward and were disappointed as we didn’t see any of our base families at church today. Tyler Gneck was there along with the Jarvis family. I texted Alexis and she was having a migraine again and not feeling well. Blake Harris texted Tyler that he had to be on the ship as they were doing hurricane preparations. Sacrament meeting was excellent with good talks and a sweet spirit present. Sister Davis gave one of the talks and did a fine job. We attended the Gospel Principles class and priesthood and relief society and enjoyed the instruction. Following the block, we left the beach and returned to our apartment. At 8:00 pm we watched the Face to Face event with Elder Cook. It originated from the hill in front of the Nauvoo Temple and was wonderful. Elder Cook and two Historians from the Church History Department fielded the questions, mainly about the restoration period up to Nauvoo. Been a good, busy week! 

 Zone Conference
 Lunch at Zone Conference
 Zone Conference, Pam with Elder & Sister Gilland
 Zone Conference Missionaries
 Chapel at Stake Center--not it is just like the Monroe Stake Center
 Guess who?
 Sister Davis & Knudsen who serve in Jacksonville Beach Ward
 Elders Carter & Vaughn, Assistants to the President
Jacksonville East Zone with President & Sister Lee

Monday, September 3, 2018

Week 30 (27 August - 2 September)

Pam and I began our week at the USO and were surprised at the number of cars in the parking lot. Dave Ostrum and Cheryl Vandiver had opened, and volunteers were working on “no dough” dinner preparations in the kitchen and on adjacent tables. Pam worked in the kitchen and I spent the morning setting up the main rooms—salad, condiments, dessert and drink tables. By noon all the preparation was done, and volunteers began to leave. Cheryl said they had chief selectees coming in the evening for the dinner and we didn’t need to stay. We shopped for the week and then returned to our apartment and did some laundry.

            Tuesday morning was Primary Elections in Florida and the USO was a designated polling location, so they closed it for normal operations. Dave Ostrum opened the facility and stayed throughout the day, so we didn’t go in at all. We cleaned our apartment and then drove across the river to the Dunn Avenue section of town to find a Beauty Supply store where Pam bought a permanent and some needed supplies to do a permanent at home. On the way back, we drove along the north side of the river and took the Ferry across the St. John river and continued to the Naval Station to see Samantha LaGae. She was home with two of her three kids and we had a nice visit. Jerald was at sea for a couple of weeks. After the visit we returned to our area and had some lunch and then returned to our apartment where Pam finished Alice’s Baptism dress and it was beautiful.

            Wednesday morning, we drove directly to the Beach Church on Jacksonville Beach and picked up a dozen boxes of fruit and vegetables and then continued to the USO. A fitness class was in process and all the tables and chairs were out of the main rooms because of the voting yesterday. We unloaded the food onto the pool table and got it sorted, displayed and pictures taken and posted on a Military wives Facebook page. Pam drove to the Naval Station and took care of Fiona and Clive while Samantha LaGae organized her office. She was beginning an online college course and couldn’t get anything done with the kids underfoot. After the fitness class left I swept the floor and together with Dave and a volunteer set out tables and chairs and got the facility back to normal. Once Facebook got wind of the food we had a steady stream of military wives and husbands coming in to see what was available and by noon most of the food was gone. Pam returned at 1:00 pm and we visited with Dave for a while and confirmed schedules and left. We had some lunch and did some shopping. While at Wal-Mart I had the van serviced and new wiper blades installed. Here in Jacksonville, the wipers get a workout. Later on we drove to the chapel in Jacksonville Beach to meet the Sisters (Knudsen & Davis) and when they arrived, took them to dinner. We enjoyed the meal and visiting with them for an hour. Both are Sister Training Leaders and super missionaries.

Thursday, we opened the USO at 9:00 am and laid out the bread and pastries that arrived the previous evening. By 10:00 am patrons began arriving to check out the bread and goodies and also Cheryl Vandiver arrived for her shift. We spent a quiet morning answering phones, checking in patrons and a few other sundry jobs. At noon we left and had lunch and then went to a dental appointment later in the afternoon. I had a molar removed that had been giving me issues as the root had split and was infected. Doctor Jeffrey had babied it for years, but now it needed to come out. The whole process took about a half an hour and once the tooth was out the doctor filled the root socket with bone graft material, sealed it up and I was done. The next step was either do nothing or have an implant put in ($$$). We made a stop at Wendy’s on the way to our apartment and got a large Frosty—Yum!!

Friday morning, we awoke normally, and I had a good night’s rest and my mouth felt fine, so we went to the USO and spent the morning. Cheryl Vandiver was working with one community service volunteer. It was a pretty quiet morning and Pam and I worked in the office taking care of donations and doing a little housework. At noon we drove to the LaGae home on the Naval Station and visited with Samantha for a few minutes. Following lunch we returned to our apartment and Pam gave herself a permanent and did a beautiful job.

Saturday morning, I texted Tara Alexander about coming to mow her lawns, but she replied the Elder’s had come by the previous Thursday and did the job. We asked if we could take her and kids to lunch and she said she and Samantha LaGae and kids were meeting at Costco and would we like to join them, so we did. It’s been wonderful to witness this friendship that has developed. Even though they live 10 miles apart they do a lot of things together and support each other. When they arrived, we got in line and bought a lot of hotdogs for the kids. It was good to see them all and received hugs from Eleanor, Fiona, Clive, Tristin and Kyler. They were very good and ate their food. After visiting for a while, we said our goodbyes and Pam and I did a little shopping and returned to our apartment.

Sunday morning, we drove to the Jacksonville Beach Ward and greeted the saints and other missionaries. Tyler Gneck was there along with Shay Tuttle and Jennie and Rich Black and their daughter Oliva. It was the first time we had met Rich. Sacrament meeting was excellent and following the sacrament we enjoyed many testimonies. I bore my testimony after having had a dream about it this morning. Felt it was a prompting. Following sacrament meeting we attended the gospel principles class and enjoyed Brother Novak’s lesson on Tithing. The Sisters had two men they were teaching, and they were both interesting and challenging individuals. Following the block, I visited with Rich in the foyer, but he was very shy. We hope to be a positive influence on that family. I texted Alexis Connelly before we left the Beach, but she didn’t answer so we returned to our apartment. Alexis went to her brothers Boot Camp graduation in the Army during the week and on the way back to Jacksonville was involved in a car accident. Don’t know all the details but hope we can help her if needed. Emailed our monthly report to Salt Lake and also to the mission president and President Lee called and we had a nice visit with him regarding our work. Appreciate their support. 

 Sister Knudsen & Davis are on the right and work at the "Beach Ward"
 Elder Brooksby & Hibbert with president Lee at MLC Training
 Pres & Sister Lee, Whiteheads & Manns at MLC luncheon
MLC Training, ZL, DL and STL

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...