Monday, November 12, 2018

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 better. Her breathing was more normal, but she had a lot of abdominal pain and thought it was just muscle exertion from yesterday. I told her I wanted her to stay home today and that was a relief for her. I planned to take care of some obligations we had this morning with the USO and then come home about lunch time. First of all, I bought a Birthday Balloon for Cheryl Vandiver and then drove to the mission office, hoping to drop off a letter we received from the leasing office concerning lease renewal. The office was not open so sent the letter via text to Elder Grieve and he said he would get right on it. I made a stop at Costco and bought a dozen Roses for Cheryl and then continued to the USO. People were all over the place at the USO and I remembered today was the opening day for Steeler tickets. I checked in with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and told her about Pam and my plans for the day and then gave the Balloon and Roses to Cheryl and she seemed to be pleased. I drove to the Beach and there were people all over the USO and I remembered “Steelers” tickets went on sale today. It was also a “No Dough” dinner night so they were going to be busy. I jumped in and worked on physical preparations for dinner—washing the tables, set out the “sneeze guards” on the desert and salad tables and put out the utensils and napkin dispensers. Today’s meal was Mexican, and Cheryl had brought a number of items for the food tables—Mexican table clothes and hats. It made everything look festive. I did a few other small jobs for Joyce and then at noon left to come home. At home, Pam was in the bedroom and we visited for a few minutes and she was still not feeling very well. She was hungry, however, and I went to a local Arby’s and bought some salads and came home and we ate and then Pam tried to rest. At 4:00 pm the pain was still giving her fits and I said we needed to go to an emergency room and get her checked out. She finally agreed, and we got dressed and drove down Merrill Road with the intention of going to the Medi/Express emergency room about 2 blocks away, but decided to go to Doctor Hoffman’s office which was across the street and see if she might be able to see Pam. I talked to the receptionist and she couldn’t be seen today but could be seen tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. So, we decided to wait for that and returned home. We spent a quiet evening and Pam sat up for a while, but finally lay down and went to sleep about 8:30 pm and slept through the night.

Tuesday was National Voting Day so the USO was closed and we didn’t have any commitment there. We hoped to get to the bottom of Pam’s abdominal pain. We arrived at Dr. Hoffman’s office at 9:00 am and had a nice visit with the doctor and she examined Pam and indicated some kind of lower bowel infection. She referred us to another facility— “Crucial Care, Emergency Medical Doctors” a facility that specialized in emergency treatment. They had Board Certified Emergency Medicine Doctors with Cat Scans, their own Labs, X-rays, and treated everything from minor to major cases. We drove to the facility by President Lee’s home and were welcomed by 3 receptionists, one was Virginia Wilkes, formally of the Jacksonville Beach Ward. She was recently baptized and married the son of Greg & Alisa Wilkes and they live in the Arlington Ward. They did a little paperwork and looked at the referral from Doctor Hoffman and whisk Pam away. During the next two hours Pam had an MRI and was told she didn’t have Appendicitis, but had Diverticulitis, which caused severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a marked change in bowel habits—all which Pam had. It could also be treated with medication. We left with a hand full of prescriptions and instructions and drove to Costco where we filled the prescriptions. We arrived home about 4:00 pm and during the next hour prepared a meal for the Fort Caroline Sisters—Johnson and Wasden who arrived for dinner at 6:00 pm. Pam was tired but was feeling fair and was a gracious host to the Sisters. We had a nice meal and visited with them about their homes, families, etc. After they left, Pam got ready for bed and I cleaned up the kitchen. We called it a night about 9:30 pm.

Wednesday morning, the pundits were out discussing the election and it appeared the Democrats won the House and the Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate which was surprising. Mit Romney won in a landslide in Utah and would replace Orin Hatch in the Senate. I received a text from Tara Alexander who said her house had been robbed and wondered if we could go and take some pictures. We went over to her home and indeed the back door to the family room was broken, glass everywhere but inside the house looked amazingly clean. Wes’ gaming system was all gone but we didn’t see anything else amiss. We talked with Tara and she said the police had been there and did their forensic work when the man who was taking care of their dogs called her. We spent an hour taking the window apart and dropping all the glass onto the floor and outside on the porch, and then cleaning and vacuuming everywhere. Their friend, Clifton Martwick, also a member of the Arlington Ward had been taking care of their dogs and discovered the break in this morning and called the Police. Pam and I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of plywood and some self-taping screws and returned and covered the open window in the back door. Tara was expected back in town around midnight but was going to stay somewhere else for the night. When done we had some lunch and gassed up the van and then returned to our apartment for the rest of the day. Pam was tired and needed to lay down.

Thursday morning Pam stayed home, and I went to the Temple with 3 Elders from the Kingsland Zone who met me at the Fort Caroline Chapel. Elder Nicholas Birch, Elder Craig Jenson and Elder Jacob Kunde. Both Elder Jenson and Kunde were finishing their missions and Elder Birch was at the halfway mark. We had a word of prayer and got underway and enjoyed a good drive. I learned that Elder Birch was from Saratoga Springs, Elder Jenson from Bakersfield, California and surprise, surprise, Cloras Jenson was his grandmother. Elder Kunde was from Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Elders played some road games on the way and most interesting was a “Gospel Baseball” game and I was impressed with their knowledge of the Book of Mormon. At the Temple, we met President & Sister Lee and other missionaries as they arrived and there was a lot of back slapping and hugging going on as friends met each other again. The entire group moved to the front of the Temple for pictures. Elder & Sister Waite and Schroders were in attendance from Gainesville, but no other couples. Inside the Temple I discovered my recommend had expired and thankfully President Lee had his book and we did a quick interview and he issued me a new one for the duration of our mission plus a few months. Finally, I was in the Temple and what a relief that was. Kind of a weird feeling to be rejected! I changed and met the other missionaries in the chapel and then we were escorted into an ordinance room for the session. In the Celestial room we had about 15 minutes to contemplate and then moved to a large sealing room where President Duke, counselor in the Temple Presidency, spoke for a few minutes and then Sister Lee and President Lee gave us some excellent counsel. Finally, we changed back into street clothes and departed the Temple grounds for Café Rio and lunch! We were not disappointed as the food was excellent and they handled the large crowd easily. The missionaries chatted up all the other visitors to the restaurant and had a good time. After eating we loaded up again and head home on the last leg of the journey. I dropped them off at their car and they had an hour’s drive into southern Georgia. When I arrived home, Pam was fine and had a good day. She was feeling quite well and the pain in her abdomen was gone. We were grateful for the blessings of Heavenly Father and good medicine. I brought Pam a Steak Tostada from Café Rio and she savored it for some time. 
Friday morning, we went to the Akumin imaging facility on Fort Caroline Road for a bone density test for Pam. Unfortunately, the equipment to do the test was not working and we left with another appointment for next week. We drove on to the USO and were amazed at what was going on there. We hadn’t been to the USO for 4 days and the main room was filled with food, the storage room by the office filled with bins and boxes of candy and about a dozen boxes of candy out in the foyer—all donations for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Pam took a seat in the office and helped Cheryl with some Christmas projects and I helped out Joyce Schellhorn (Director) on getting things more organized. Initially cleaned up a pile of boxes from the food donations by Beams. It was a shame to have to break down the boxes because they looked perfect, but recycling companies won’t take boxes that have had food in them. When done I worked on two electrical issues with two lights. I solved one, but the second will have to have a more experienced person check it out. We had patrons coming in all morning, including Tony Head, to get food and meat and the pile of food on the pool table diminished quickly. At 2:00 pm Dave Ostrum needed a ride to NAS Jax to pick up a USO truck, so Pam and I finished what we were doing and provided the ride. The traffic wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be and had a nice visit with Dave. From the USO office at NAS Jax we retraced our steps across the St. John’s river and continued to our apartment. I made some calls to the Fort Caroline Elders about dinner tonight. They responded that Elder Saxton was Gluten intolerant, so the food we had prepared would not work. We ended up inviting them to meet us at a nearby Golden Corral and had a nice meal and Elder Saxton was able to choose what he wanted. Elder Smart was his companion and we had nice visits with each of them. Elder Smart was from Draper and attended Corner Canyon High School and Elder Saxton from North Ogden and attended Weber High School. After Elder Saxton gave us a spiritual thought we left and said our goodbyes and returned to our apartment. It had been a busy day and Pam was quite tired.

Saturday morning, we drove to the Naval Station for the arrival of the USS Farragut (DDG-99) representing the USO. We arrived at the Carrier Pier C-2 at 9:30 am and the Navy Exchange employees had set up a tent and were distributing candy and water families. They had so many employees helping that Pam and I were kind of redundant. When a gate was opened to the pier, we joined others looking for the Farragut as it came into view out on the eastern horizon and its progress into the channel and finally to the pier. We were entertained by a pod of dolphins out in the channel. Once pier side, the gangway was quickly set in place and the USS Farragut was officially home and the crew permitted to disembark. It was fun watching wives and children greeting their husbands and fathers and brought back a few memories of our reunions when squadrons returned home. We left at 10:30 am and while on the base drove to the Heads home, but their car was gone so didn’t stop. We continued to the Lagaes and they were home and we visited with them for about 30 minutes. On the way back to our apartment we gassed up the van and had some lunch. Checking Facebook, we noticed an entry from Nikki Head indicating she was in an Emergency room. It took a while, but we learned she was at the Baptist Medical Center emergency room and was in the process of being transferred to the Naval Hospital at NAS Jacksonville. Later we talked with Nikki on the phone to see if we could help out with her kids or transport Tony anywhere, but they were set. She had an infection that was causing pain and needed hospitalization for IV antibiotic treatment. Nikki’s mother had come north from Orlando to help out. We also had a nice visit with Tara Alexander and she was home and felt secure. She had arranged for a friend to replace her door but would have to wait a little while to purchase a new door. I let her know we could help with the door and hopefully get it installed sooner rather than later. At 9:00 pm we joined other missionaries for the Transfer Call from President Lee. Elder Vaughn conducted and after some preliminaries President went through each zone and district detailing the changes. Our zone had a number of changes and it will be enjoyable getting to know the new missionaries.

Sunday morning, we got ready for church and drove to Jacksonville Beach and attended church there. We met Tyler Gneck in the foyer and visited with him, and the Jarvis’ were in sacrament meeting, but we didn’t see any other families. During Sunday school the Lagaes joined us in the Gospel Principles class as did Gary Noblit. In the final hour we had a combined meeting and the “My Path for Self-Reliance” program was presented by a member of the stake with hopes of encouraging members to take one of 4 classes. Shay Tuttle joined us in the chapel so what we thought was a sparse showing by military families ended being 5 families represented. Alexis Connelly was in Arizona, Nikki Head was in the NAS Jax hospital, and Jennie Black was visiting Rich, so they were not expected today. We left Jacksonville Beach and drove to NAS Jax and located the hospital and visited with Nikki Head. Tony had just left with their children and Nikki’s mother was with her. She didn’t look too red hot and we hoped the antibiotics kicked in soon to cure the infection and relieve the pain. From the hospital we made our way north to our apartment and spent a quiet afternoon and evening. 

 Sister Wasden & Johnson with Pam in our apartment for dinner
 Pam getting treatment for Diverticulitis
 Repair done to Alexander's door following a home evasion

 Navy Exchange Crew for home coming of the USS Farragut
 Tugboat with fire hoses blazing for the USS Farragut arrival
 USS Farragut (DDG-99) with crew manning the rails
 Sample of families awaiting loved ones with their "welcome home" signs
 USS Farragut safely tied up at the pier with beautiful flags flying
 We were in the large crowd of families welcoming the ship
Dinner with Elder Smart and Saxton--great missionaries

Monday, November 5, 2018

Week 39 (29 October - 4 November)

Monday morning, we were at the USO by 10:00 am and the place was hopping with volunteers working on preparations for the “No Dough” dinner that evening. Pam and I joined in and she went to the kitchen to help with the food and I helped with the physical arrangements. Joyce Schellhorn, Director, also had a number of other small projects for me to do and we kept busy for the next 3 hours. At 1:00 pm Pam and I took a break and went on the Naval Station and had lunch and also went to the base clinic to see if they had the new shingles vaccine—they didn’t, maybe in November. Back at the USO we continued helping with final preparations for the dinner. At 4:00 pm volunteers from the “Ocean Side Rotary” club arrived, and they had over 20 individuals, so Joyce approached Pam and I and said we didn’t need to stay. We were tired and happy to return to our little apartment. Tonight at 9:15 pm we joined a mission-wide phone conference with President & Sister Lee. After an opening prayer, President Lee invited Sister Lee to share some thoughts about a recent Mission President’s Seminar they had attended in Charleston, South Carolina. Elder Bednar presided and Elder Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy attended along with the Presidency of the South East Area. The seminar lasted 4 days with 45 attending (17 Missions). Elder Bednar emphasized the Lord is Hastening His work and wanted us to Pray for a vision of how to carry this work forward. It was a wonderful 30 minutes with President Lee’s instruction and we took notes for future use on how we could implement this counsel in our work with military families.

            Tuesday morning, we did some studying of President Lee’s notes from the phone conference last night and then began the morning at the USO at 10:30 am. An exercise group was working out when we arrived with 4 or 5 little kids running all over the place driving Joyce Schellhorn (Director) crazy. Pam did some cleaning in the kitchen from last night’s “No Dough” dinner and I worked with Joyce going through bins of items from the office. I was surprised at how much stuff she actually threw away. By the end of the morning we had a garbage can full of items for the dumpster and two recycle bins full of paper, so that was progress. At 1:30 pm another volunteer arrived so Pam and I left for the day. We had some lunch on the Naval Station and then returned to our apartment. We watched the Missionary Department’s #Light The World video which was available through the Missionary Portal and then discussed how we could use the various options with our families. Later Pam did some sewing and I made phone calls.

            Wednesday morning was Halloween day here in Jacksonville. We drove to Bob Ross’ home south of NAS Jacksonville this morning to deliver a van load of marathon glasses from the recent USO sponsored marathon. Bob is on the executive board of the USO and had room to store the glasses for next year’s event. We drove back to the USO and arrived about 11:00 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was there along with Li Yao and Jim and Carmel, another volunteer couple. We talked with Joyce about the next few days and left for the day. We stopped at Wal-Mart on Atlantic and did some shopping and then had some lunch before returning to our apartment. I dropped off Pam and returned to a nearby Wal-Mart and had the van serviced. Following that I went to a new car wash that had just opened on Merrill Road just beyond I-295 and took advantage of a Manager’s Special—a free car wash. It was similar to the Supersonic in Provo and they gave me the works. Following a thorough vacuuming I returned to the apartment, set up the seats and returned the van to normal.  At 6:40 pm we were dressed in missionary finest and drove to the Fort Caroline Sisters home and picked up Sisters Johnson & Wasden and took them to a discussion. They couldn’t drive on Halloween night, so we provided their transportation. We met their investigator, Tasha, and had a nice visit with her. She was a 40 years old single black woman they met while tracting. She has met with Elders before, but they stopped coming according to her. Sister Johnson and Wasden basically taught a first discussion on the restoration and coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Tasha was attentive and had a lot to add to the discussion, but I felt a genuine spirit there. She accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and promised to read in it. She would like to attend church and they will make arrangements for that. After a closing prayer we returned the Sisters to their apartment and came home for the night—good day!

Thursday morning, we opened the USO and bread and pastries were waiting for us on the back patio. We brought everything inside and separated the pastries into what we would give away and what we would save for the next “No Dough” dinner. Pam and I counted the value of everything and patrons began arriving for the bread and other items on the “free” table. Pam also cleaned the kitchen and I went to the storage room and brought out 12 boxes of hats that had been delivered yesterday by Mike Brien. We will give out the hats at the next “No Dough” dinner. I sized and restacked the remaining boxes of hats in the storage room. Pam then manned the office and I worked in the back room cleaning out the office supply cabinet and re-stocking everything and finished with an orderly cabinet by the time Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 12:30 pm. There were still several other bins in the rear storage room to work through, but we are getting there. When Joyce arrived, she came with a check for $1,000, a trophy, and a large box with about a dozen sandwiches she and others from Mayport had made in a Hoagie making competition at the opening of a new Wawa Gas Station and Convenience store. We had a sandwich and visited with Joyce and outlined the next few days.

            Friday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:00 am. Dave Ostrum opened the facility and within 30 minutes Beams delivered a huge supply of dry goods and meats. Also, another individual brought about 20 bags of canned goods which we sorted outside, because of bugs in her bags. The Beams food was placed on the pool table and adjacent tables and we stored the meat into 5 coolers and there was a lot of chicken, beef and pork available. By 10:00 am Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived and Dave took pictures of the food and posted an article on Facebook and within 30 minutes patrons began arriving for food. Cheryl Vandiver also arrived with food and material for next Monday’s “No Dough” dinner and we helped unload her truck. We had a house full of volunteers and they spent the morning and early afternoon fixing salad items and making Enchiladas and cooking Taco shells and meat for the meal on Monday. I am amazed at how the same volunteers come every Friday to help and without them I don’t think they could manage the dinners. Margaret and Mike are primary volunteers at the JIA USO, but they are here for every “No Dough” dinner. They are quite the couple and Margaret tries every week to get us to come to the JIA and volunteer. She knows we will just love it! Pam worked with the volunteers on salad fixings and rolling Enchiladas and I continued working in the back room and sorting and cleaning out boxes of stuff. We made good progress and are about done. Joyce seemed pleased with everything. Pam and I finally left at 3:30 pm and were tired, but it had been a good day.

            Saturday morning, Pam got a call from the Jacksonville Beach Sisters asking if we could take one of their investigators, Charlene, to a baptism at the Dunn Avenue Chapel. We said we could, and they provided the information we needed, and we would pick the Sisters and Charlene up at her home at 12:15 pm. We got busy with our Saturday morning routine and I vacuumed the house and Pam started laundry and then we showered and dressed for the baptism service. We left for Jacksonville Beach at 11:45 am and drove to Charlene’s home where we met Charlene and the Sisters. We then retraced our steps to I-295 across the St. John’s river to the Dunn Avenue Chapel. Sisters Vai and Newman had taught these two young people, son and daughter of a member family and an older brother did the baptizing. The Bishop was there and presided and Elder Whitehead, the ward Mission Leader, conducted the service. Approximately 30 ward members were in attendance to welcome these two youngsters into the church. Both the baptism and confirmation were conducted today, and the Bishop encouraged the boy and girl to bring their parents to church the next day because he wanted to introduce them to the congregation as new members of the ward. Following the service, we had some refreshments and then loaded up and returned Charlene and the Sisters to Jacksonville Beach. On the way back to Arlington we drove to St. John’s Center and did a little shopping at JoAnn’s, had some lunch and made a pass by Costco and then back to our apartment. It had been a full day. We settled in for the night and made some phone calls to our families about Sunday. We also moved the clocks back one hour as we went off Daylight Savings time at 2:00 am Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, began early as we both had a pretty miserable night’s rest—especially for Pam. She began coughing up bile and her throat burned. She couldn’t get it to stop despite drinking lots of water and eating some bread. She slipped out of bed and went into the living room for several hours thinking she was allowing me to sleep. I knew she wasn’t feeling well and felt impotent to help. I finally got up at 6:00 am and Pam lay down in bed and I did some reading and checking my email and the news. I also showered early and began to get dressed for church. Pam got a little bit of rest and then she too showered and got ready for church and when we left the apartment at 9:30 am she seemed to be feeling much better. Tyler Gneck was in the foyer when we arrived, and we gave him a package that was delivered earlier in the week. We also saw Jennie & Olivia Black and Stephanie Jarvis. All the other families were not with us today. We later learned that Alexis developed a headache this morning, the Heads were in Orlando and the Lagae’s were getting things ready for Jerald to go to sea again. We miss them in church and someday they will realize how important those little things are to their spiritual welfare. Fast and Testimony meeting was excellent, and they had a lot of members stand and give their thanks for this and that. Not many actual testimonies borne, but the spirit of the meeting was excellent, and a good feeling was had by all who attended. In Sunday school we met in the relief society room for the gospel principles class and while waiting for the Sisters to come and get us started, Pam left the room and was gone for about 10 minutes. When she returned, she said she needed to go home! She had a pain in her lower abdomen and was having difficulty breathing. We got on the road and 20 minutes later arrived at our apartment and I found a bottle of oil and administered to her. We fixed a little dinner and hoped that would help but nothing much changed throughout the afternoon. That’s not entirely true. The pain diminished, but she still was discomforted through most of the afternoon, especially when she tried to lay down. I got information on an emergency room nearby, but she wasn’t having any of that. She got online and tried to find out what was wrong, and we had a couple of ideas, but didn’t know anything for sure. We hoped rest would help.

 Gary & Devaney Noblit
 Jennie & Olivia Black
 Olivia Black
 Tara Alexander (right) visiting friends in Texas
Legae family, Eleanor, Samantha, Fiona, Clive & Jerald

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...