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