Tuesday morning, we returned to the USO and Feeding Northeast Florida had already delivered food for tomorrow’s giveaway. Flooring contractors were moving furniture from the office and computer room and other contractors installing new ovens in the kitchen. How had they scheduled all this on the same morning? Last night James McCullough set up a temporary office in the foyer area. Pam and I waited in the TV area until the dust settled, and we could get busy with the food. Finally, we had 7 volunteers waiting to work, so permission was given, and we went to the storage room and began. Within 2 hours we had 50 bags of meat in the freezer, 50 bags of corn on the cob, and 50 bags of spaghetti, spaghetti sauce and cans of corn and beans. We were done, and it was pretty simple. A large bin of dry goods that was delivered was about 50% out of date, so Pam and I and Carmel and Jim went through each item and sorted the good from the bad. We were done by noon and Pam and I returned to our apartment and changed clothes and left again for a dental appointment for me. It was a cleaning appointment and took about an hour and my teeth looked good. Back at our apartment I did some work on the front door (bugs) and Pam began cutting material for a new quilt.
Wednesday morning, we were at the USO again early for the food giveaway. We had a number of volunteers and in the first hour got tables loaded with dry goods inside the USO and out in the storage room got things set up to distribute the bags of food. Feeding Northeast Florida made another delivery of two pallets of bags that had dry goods to distribute. They should have been delivered yesterday but was forgotten. In the middle of all this the floor contractors had put self-leveling concrete on the office and computer room floors and when dry they started installing the laminate flooring in the office. It looked very nice and went down quickly. At 10:00 am the first military families began arriving for food and Pam helped Cheryl Vandiver check them in and Carmel and Jim and I worked in the storage room and gave out 4 bags of items to each family, which included meat, fresh corn and 2 bags of dry and canned goods. Before coming outside, they ran the gauntlet of other items where they could take what they needed and in the next hour we went through a lot of food. I think after an hour we replenished the tables inside continuously. We had 40 military families come for food and Dave took 8 portions to an Army base south of NAS Jax. We had 3 men who wheeled grocery carts full of food to each patrons’ cars and that was convenient. At noon we were basically through and most of the volunteers left, but Pam and I stayed at the request of Joyce Schellhorn (Director). She and Cheryl were running the make-do office and we took care of stragglers. They bought us some lunch from the Olympia Café and it was very good. We finally left at 2:00 pm and returned to our apartment, tired but happy with the way things proceeded.
Thursday morning, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my Commissioning in the United States Navy. This happened in Pensacola, Florida. That afternoon I flew to Cincinnati, Ohio and met Pam and Johanna who drove from Mount Pleasant, Michigan and we were reunited again after AOCS. This morning we were going to Zone Conference and arrived at the Hendricks Chapel at 8:30 am. This conference was for the missionaries in Kingsland, Lake City, Mandarin and Jacksonville East Zones. We greeted the single missionaries in the cultural hall and enjoyed the hugs and shakes. President & Sister Lee were also there greeting the missionaries and then we proceeded to the chapel and reverently took our seats and listened to prelude music until time to commence the meeting. President and Sister Lee each said a few words of welcome and then turned the time over to Elder Vaughn (AP) who conducted the meeting. After an opening hymn and prayer, we heard from President Lee, Sister Lee and then President Lee again. They both taught important principles of missionary work and were very inspiring. Elder Vaughn & Carter conducted training concerning online teaching methods using Facebook and Messenger and it was interesting. At the conclusion of the morning session, they invited four missionaries who were attending their last zone conference to come forward and bear their testimonies and then the congregation sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.” Following a closing prayer we moved to the cultural hall for lunch and met a new Senior Couple, Elder & Sister Alexander, who replaced the Youngberg’s who left for their home last Monday. Sister Alexander was the mission nurse and Elder Alexander would probably be the Branch President of the Crescent City Branch. After lunch, visiting and zone pictures were taken, Pam and I departed.
Friday morning, we left for the USO at 9:00 am. Cheryl Vandiver had opened and flooring contractors were busy working when we arrived. Almost immediately we got a delivery from Publix of bread and pastries. They didn’t have one yesterday and the store more than made up for it today, because we got a lot of bread and pastries. After we laid it out and began to tabulate it, another delivery from Beams showed up and it was almost as much as Publix and included meat and chips. By 10:00 am we had it all costed out and patrons were allowed to take what they wanted and fortunately Cheryl and Dave Ostrum, who had also arrived, determined they could take whatever they wanted. We had 5 coolers filled with meats (chicken, pork, beef) and with leftover corn and the bread and pastries, we had a lot of variety for patrons. Samantha Lagae came by and got some food and also took Pam with her to watch her kids while she did a project. I stayed at the USO and worked here and there. The contractors finished the computer room and it looked very nice. When I left they were almost done with the office, only baseboard and transitions to finish. The floor contractors were also going to put furniture back, so they had a lot of work left to do. Cheryl also received boxes of kitchen pots and pans for her new stove. Wondered where she would put things? I picked up Pam at the Lagae’s and we returned to our apartment and spent a quiet afternoon. Pam finished up some food items for tonight’s dinner and we texted the Sisters about dinner and made plans to pick them up. We also texted Tyler and Alexis and got a reply from Alexis saying she couldn’t make it. She was so excited about it the last time we talked. We left for Jacksonville Beach at 4:30 am and picked up the Sisters and drove to the Lagae home on the Naval Base. Jerald had a grill going and Nikki Head was just leaving. She had dropped off her food, but her family couldn’t come because of a sick child so we were sad about that. They sure battled with illness since coming to Jacksonville. However, in the next half an hour Jenny Black and Oliva, Stephanie and Lance Jarvis, Gary and Devaney Noblit and there 2 boys arrived. So, with the Lagae’s, Sisters and Pam and I we had 16 in attendance. They decided to set up tables outside so the food was all laid out and after a prayer by Samantha we began eating and visiting. The food was excellent—tacos with carne asada and all the toppings, black beans, corn and rice. Everything was very tasty, and we had plenty. At 6:30 pm I texted Alexis and Tyler and told them we had just started so if they were finished with their assignments to please come. Pam and I had to leave shortly after 7:00 pm to get the Sisters to another appointment, and shortly after we left Tyler came and we were pleased. All in all, it was a wonderful evening, just a few pesty bugs, but we managed with some spray.
Saturday morning, we did housework and laundry throughout the morning and at noon drove to a Hobby Lobby on Old St. Augustine road. Pam bought a little more fabric for a quilt she was making. We continued across the St. John’s river and located a different Costco off I-295. We did some shopping and filled up with gas. We returned to our apartment but approaching Atlantic Blvd, traffic came to a stop. An accident up ahead around Monument Road kept us at a crawl for about 45 minutes. It involved a tanker truck which appeared to have side-swiped a small sedan or ran it down on the drivers’ side because the car was crushed. Finally, we made it to our apartment and took the groceries inside and had a late lunch. We received a text from Tara Alexander indicating she had arrived in Orlando safely. She was visiting Wes’ family there and then continuing on to San Antonio, Texas for the next 3 weeks. She had a friend who joined her in Orlando to make the drive with her.
Sunday morning, we attended church in the Jacksonville Beach Ward. It was the annual Primary program and there were a lot of additional people attending. Tyler Gneck, Shay Tuttle, Noblit’, Jarvis’ and Lagae’s were attending today. As it turned out Alexis Connelly was in St. Augustine, and the Black’s and Head’s had sick children. Following the sacrament, children moved to the podium and the program began and was excellent, both music and spoken words. Eleanor Lagae took part and did a good job herself and made her parents proud. We attended the Gospel Principles class and it was huge today with at least an additional 6-10 people attending who we hadn’t seen before. It made for some lively discussions especially on the subject of eternal families. During priesthood, I led the discussion and spent about 40 minutes talking about “Wisdom.” Brother Dill & Smith seemed okay with the end result and at 1:00 pm we concluded. I talked with Tyler about his flying sorties this past week and he enjoyed being in the air very much. We came home, and Pam fixed lunch and watched KBYU programming throughout the afternoon and settled in for the night. I called or texted the Heads, Blacks, and Alexis and learned how they were all doing.
That's us getting ready for lunch at Zone Conference