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 Café 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
Fountain in front of the Temple