Sunday, November 25, 2018

Week 42 (19 - 25 November)

            Monday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:30 am and I began helping setup for the “No Dough” dinner. Pam stayed in the office working for Cheryl Vandiver on the “Angel Tree” project for next month. I repaired a serving table for Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and then put out the sneeze guards for the salad and dessert tables, containers for the drink table and all the utensils and napkin dispensers. We had a good group of volunteers helping with food preparation and the kitchen was hopping. At noon Pam and I went to lunch and Joyce asked us to purchase a gift card for her daughter at Ikea, so while there we had lunch and might not do that again. Back at the USO Pam continued her work and I kept busy with odd jobs for the dinner and also sorting and shelving food donations. At 4:30 pm volunteers began arriving for the dinner and Cheryl gave them their assignments and we had a full house, so Pam and I were not needed. Joyce and Dave Ostrum went to a local Winn-Dixie store to participate in a food giveaway the store was hosting for the USO, which included a turkey. We were happy to see Tony and Nikki Head at the USO dinner and Nikki was feeling much better. Her mother had the boys, Caleb and Matthew out on the back patio and we visited with them.

            Tuesday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:30 am and Joyce Schellhorn (Director), Cheryl Vandiver and Dave Ostrum were in the office and we weren’t sure why we were needed but it soon became apparent. The three of them left and drove to Winn-Dixie and picked up turkeys, bags of potatoes and food bags leftover from the food giveaway the previous evening.  They had over 40 families that were signed up but didn’t come. We placed most of the turkeys on the pool table, bags potatoes on the free tables and bags of food and excess turkeys in the storage room and freezers. It was a big job, but we finally got them taken care of. There was so much food in the storage room. We hoped their plans for Christmas giving will take the bulk of it. The restroom contractors were also working so they were in and out throughout the day but seemed to get a lot done today. Joyce and Dave made calls to the 40 odd families that hadn’t come trying to get them to come today and while we were there about 6 came and we gave them a turkey, bag of potatoes, bag of groceries and some pie. Pam and I left about 2:30 pm and drove back to Arlington Hills and stopped at Crispers for a late lunch and then continued to our apartment and unloaded a mix-master that Pam borrowed from the Lagae’s and some food she bought at the Commissary. For the rest of the afternoon Pam made bread dough for Thursday and I made some phone calls and rested. I was trying to find out what our 3 single members were doing for Thanksgiving. Andrew Cooper was flying home to San Diego, Tyler Gneck was going backpacking in the Smoky Mountains in Southern North Carolina and we hadn’t heard from Alexis. Samantha Lagae talked with Tara Alexander about an invitation to dinner Thursday, but Wes returned home from sea yesterday and they were planning a small family dinner on Thursday. We were glad that Sam made the invitation, however, as they were still smarting from the episode when Tara came home from Texas.

            Wednesday morning, we had a lazy day. Pam got up late and came into the kitchen and “punched” down the dinner roll dough and began cooking carrots. Unfortunately the carrots were old and when cooked were very “mushy” so Pam threw them out. By noon we were dressed for the day and had lunch and then on to BJ’s and did some shopping. We bought a few items, especially more carrots and then put gas in the van and drove to the Neptune Beach. We stopped at Stephanie Jarvis’ home and picked up some chairs for the dinner and visited with her for a little while. She is not feeling well and is almost continuously plagued with morning sickness. We continued to the Naval Station and dropped off the chairs at the Lagae’s. Samantha was home with her kids and getting excited/anxious for dinner Thursday. We returned to our apartment for the rest of the day. I did a little calling and learned that Alexis was going to be spending Thanksgiving with Charles (her friend from work) and other friends from the clinic so all the singles were taken care of. We did carrots again tonight and they cooked up just fine and tomorrow morning Pam will finish the dishes and bake the dinner rolls.

            Thursday morning—Happy Thanksgiving Day! We were looking forward to this day to spend some time with our military families but were very aware of our own family back home. The four Denver families gathered at Travis and Jennifer’s home and we are happy for that. Erin and Weston were joining some of Weston’s family in St. George for the Holiday. After Pam got up, she began cooking. First the carrots. We cut them up and layered them with shredded cheese and topped with sauce. Next came the dinner rolls and she rolled out the dough and I placed them on pans to raise. Finally, we put them in the oven and they were all done by noon. We loaded up the van and headed to the Naval Station. Pam got out at the base security office and came on base with Wendy Delgado and her son Elijah and I drove to the Lagae’s and unloaded the food, chairs and a small table. I went off base again and picked up the Elder Crandall and Beal and brought them on base. Everyone else was assembled. We had the Lagae family (Jerald, Samantha, Eleanor, Fiona and Clive), Perry Family (Christian, Marisol and Anthony, plus Marisol’s mother), Jarvis family (Lance and Stephanie), Delgado family (Wendy and son Elijah), Elders Crandall and Beal, two sailors from Jerald’s ship (didn’t get their names) and Pam and I for a total of 19. Samantha had arranged several tables in a line from the kitchen into the living room and food was on another table in the living room. After a lovely prayer by Samantha everyone surrounded the food table, filled up a plate and found seats either at the tables or on the couch and we enjoyed the meal and visiting for over an hour. The food was wonderful, and Pam and I enjoyed getting to know everyone better. Sam and Jerald provided the Turkey and several side dishes and everyone else brought something, so we had plenty. The children were well behaved, and Clive zeroed in on Pam and that pleased her. After dinner we visited for another hour and then the Jarvis’ took plates of food to the gate guards, and I asked the Elders about their plans and they needed to leave so we took them back to their apartment. We returned to our apartment and spent a quiet afternoon and evening. The Alexander’s had dinner on Wes’ Ship the USS Detroit, The Blacks had dinner with friends and the Heads had dinner by themselves to celebrate Caleb’s 5th birthday and Thanksgiving. Shay Tuttle was with her parents and they had Thanksgiving together. Later that evening we heard from Travis and he sent pictures of their dinner in Denver and it looked spectacular. We didn’t hear from Erin and Weston but hoped they had a grand time also.

Friday morning, we slept in some and had a good night’s rest. It was Black Friday, but we had no concrete plans for the day. Cheryl Vandiver from the USO called and asked if we wanted a Christmas tree and we said yes, so 15 minutes later she arrived with a small lighted tree and we invited her in to see our apartment. Later in the morning we drove to the Alexander’s, but no one was home, so we drove to Neptune Beach and visited with Lance and Stephanie Jarvis and got some bedding for when Andrew and Sarah and their family arrive. We also went on base and stopped at the Head’s and Legae’s but both families were gone for the morning. We had some lunch and did some shopping at BJ’s and filled the van with gas and then returned to our apartment. In the evening we returned to the Alexanders and had a nice visit with the family. It was good to see Wes again and he was happy to be home and he looked good.

Saturday morning, we did laundry and cleaned the apartment. We also moved the furniture around and prepared for Andrew and Sarah’s family to arrive next Wednesday. By noon we were dressed for the day and left the apartment and had some lunch and did some shopping at Costco and was surprised at how few people were out at the St. John’s Center. We returned home and unloaded the van and then went to our local Wal-Mart and finished shopping before returning home. Made a few phone calls and sent out some texts checking on tomorrow.

Sunday morning, we arrived at the Jacksonville Beach Ward at 9:45 am and visited with ward members and the missionaries. Shay Tuttle was there with her parents and it was nice to meet them. They would remain until the baby comes. Tyler Gneck was also with us and he had a nice backpacking trip into the Smoky Mountains over the holiday. The Noblits were also there but none of the other families or Alexis Connelly. We later learned that the Lagae’s and Heads were both in Orlando and Rich Black was home for the weekend and they stayed home. Pam and I sat on the stand and Bishop Currie conducted the meeting and following the sacrament he read a letter from the Stake President outlining upcoming Stake Conference and made some comments about that. Pam then spoke and gave a wonderful talk on the Gathering of Israel. Following a Christmas Hymn I concluded the meeting with my talk also on the Gathering of Israel and the meeting ended. We attended the Gospel Principles class and had a nice group. Tyler, Gary and I attended the Elder’s quorum and Pam went to Relief Society. Following the meeting we visited for a while and then Pam and I returned to our apartment. Pam fixed some dinner and we enjoyed the warm meal and watched BYUTV programming throughout the afternoon.

  Alexanders enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner on the USS Detroit
 Caleb Head on his 5th Birthday
 Thanksgiving Dinner food laid out at the Lagaes
 Fiona Lagae waiting for dinner
 Pam with Clive Lagae visiting with Stephanie Jarvis
 Elder Crandall & Beal visiting with Christian Perry
 Food is on!
 Let the eating began--Elijah Delgado at the table and Lance and Stephanie Jarvis joining him
 Lance and Stephanie
 Host Jerald Lagae hard at work
 Host Samantha Lagae hard at work
 Our favorite--Clive Lagae
 Anthony Perry and Eleanor Lagae
Erin's Christmas Tree Quilt she sent to us

Monday, November 19, 2018

Week 41 (12 - 18 November)

Monday morning was a National Holiday (Veterans Day) and the USO was closed. A parade was scheduled in downtown Jacksonville and Charlie Tramazzo drove the USO truck in the parade. I spent time finishing up material for our weekly blog and studied in the BOM & D&C—started both of them anew. I also spent some time marking a new Preach My Gospel mini book that we bought at the distribution center in Orlando last week. At 9:00 am Pam and I began cleaning the house and doing laundry. I vacuumed the carpet and Pam began two loads of laundry. Finally, we went to Tara Alexander’s home around 11:30 am to see how she was doing. We had a nice visit and I told her I would buy an exterior door for her. She seemed to be doing all right, but still a little shaken by the thought her house had been burglarized. We had some lunch and shopped at Costco for water and a Thanksgiving Ham. Before coming home, we continued south to the mission office and dropped off a notice from the leasing office and then took a leisurely drive home. Samantha Lagae took dinner to the Heads tonight and we contacted Nikki in the hospital and she was having another lancing procedure scheduled for tomorrow and would be in the hospital at least until Wednesday.

Tuesday morning, we arrived at the USO at 9:00 am to help with a food delivery from the “Feeding Northeast Florida” group. Jim & Carmel were in the office as were two other volunteers from JEA, so we were in good shape with help. The food was unloaded onto the drive way to the storage room and a pallet of meat and one of cucumbers brought inside. Jim, Carmel and the 2 JEA employees went at the meat with a vengeance and within a half an hour had it all sorted and, in another hour, had 50 bags of meat filled and stored away in the freezer. I took 3 shopping carts to the outside pallets and sorted the canned food—corn, beans, peas, soup, potatoes, etc. The bin was 4-foot square and 30 inches high and full of cans. When the others finished, they joined me the sorting cans and other dry goods and by 11:30 am we had everything separated and shelved or put on tables inside for tomorrows food distribution. It was wonderful when you had a lot of help. Pam worked in the office with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Joyce kept her busy. Joyce didn’t sound too good and had practically no voice. There was also a contractor renovating the two bathrooms in the front of the USO. At 12:30 pm we said our goodbyes and left for the day. We drove to a Home Depot on Atlantic Blvd. and I found a door for Tara Alexander. We made the purchase and then had some lunch and returned to our apartment. We relaxed for a while and Pam fixed some dinner for Tony Head and his boys. At 4:30 pm we took the door to the Alexander’s and then drove to the Naval Station and delivered dinner to the Heads and the Lagaes. Tony just arrived from the NAS Jax Hospital and Nikki was still in the hospital awaiting a procedure.

Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO shortly after 9:00 am help with food distribution for the “Feeding Northeast Florida” group and when we arrived, cars and other vehicles were everywhere. A tree contractor was in the process of trimming the trees and had a branches and heavy equipment everywhere. What a day to have that happen! We checked in with Joyce Schellhorn (Director) and Dave Ostrum. There were several other volunteers from JEA and a couple of other groups, so we had plenty of help. Dave also got a call from Beams saying they had boxes of food they needed us to pick up, so he went and brought back about 20 boxes of items needing coolers and by the time patrons began arriving we were still setting out the food. Eventually we got going and patrons went through the TV lounge area and took anything they wanted and in any amount, which was a good thing as we had so much. As they exited to the patio area, they generally had a food cart full of items and we gave them a bag of meat, a bag of cucumbers and diapers if they needed any from the storage room. Pam worked in the office and I worked in the storage room with Julie and another volunteer from JEA. In the middle of the activity Joyce wanted me to go buy a new light for the patio. I drove to Home Depot and bought a system with twin flood lights and a motion sensor. When I returned another community service volunteer installed it and within 30 minutes had it up and running and it definitely improved the light on the patio. By 2:00 pm most of the patrons who were nominated for food had arrived and also most of the volunteers had left, so Pam and I finished up a couple of projects for Joyce and left ourselves. Nikki Head was still in the hospital and would be there for another day, so we went on base and had lunch and bought some dinner for Tony Head and his boys. We delivered the food and then came home ourselves. My back was killing me this afternoon. I tweaked it a couple of days ago lifting some heavy items and after sitting for a while could hardly get going again. A heating pad helped, and I was able to settle down for the night.

Thursday morning, we opened the USO at 8:00 am to allow the plumbing contractors to get to started on their day. There was also bread and pastries delivered the previous night and we tabulated the amounts and arranged them on the pool table and by 9:00 am were ready for customers. Dave Ostrum came at 9:00 am to relieve us so we could go to the airport and pickup Alexis Connelly who was flying in from Arizona where she spent a week with her family. She was happy to be home and had tomorrow and the weekend to recover from her trip. Once we dropped her off at her apartment, we returned to the USO and Joyce Schellhorn (Director) was there along with Dave and Julie and another volunteer. Pam and Julie went into the kitchen and began cooking ground beef for Monday’s Chili. I went to the storage room with Joyce and Dave and a group of ladies from the PGA Tour arrived with 100 turkey breasts and hams and also about 100 food bags filled to the top with a variety of items. They helped us unload and store the items in the freezer and shelves and took a lot of pictures of the process and were delightful. After they left, Dave and I took all the hams and turkey out of their boxes and consolidated them into one freezer. The food was given for Thanksgiving, but Joyce planned to use it for Christmas food baskets as she already had a commitment for Thanksgiving food from Win-Dixie Markets. The bags had bread in them, so we went through each bag and removed the bread because it wouldn’t keep but everything else would. I brought another donation of canned goods out to the storage room and sorted and shelved the items. A contractor worked all day tiling in the lady’s restroom, but they were a long way from finished. At 2:00 pm Pam and I decided to leave for the day as she was very tired. We finished up what we were doing and said our goodbyes and returned to our apartment. We both laid down and promptly went to sleep for at least a good hour. Tara Alexander came over at 5:00 pm and told us a story about her house invasion that wouldn’t be believed. The police called her today and reported they had record of their stolen items being pawned during the past month and they were all pawned by the good friend that was feeding the dogs and cats while Tara was in Texas. It was all a ruse. Throughout her trip he was taking things from the house and pawning them and then at the last moment broke the back-door window and called the police. She felt so bad and so mad over the whole thing. Pam and I met him the day we cleaned up the mess and would never have thought he was the culprit. But he could land in jail, especially since he took a firearm. We also learned today that Nikki Head returned home from the hospital, so were happy for her and her family.

Friday morning, we started out the day going to an imaging firm nearby for Pam to have her bone density checked. Well, the machine was still down, and they made another appointment again later in the month. While we were out, we had some breakfast at McDonald’s and then returned to our apartment. Joyce Schellhorn, (Director) called while eating and asked if we could make a pickup of some donations from a firm on the Westside. We said we would, and at 11:30 am, we drove to the address on the west side of Jacksonville and found the building (Pitney & Bowes) and Pam went in and met the lady who called. They brought out 5 boxes of items for donation. At the USO we sorted through the items and placed them in bins for use in boxes being prepared for a USO in the Middle East. Pam and I spent most of the afternoon sorting through the bins in the side closets and culling out items for the free table, items to give away at “No Dough” dinners and a large group for Christmas giving. Also, throughout the afternoon people came in from different organizations with food items and we sorted through those and made determinations whether to use for Thanksgiving and Christmas bags or be put on the free table immediately. Pam also did some work for Cheryl on Christmas lists until 4:00 pm when we left for the day. Before returning to our apartment we had dinner and then returned home. We learned of the new church initiative on missionary service and were thrilled, especially for those who were previously disqualified from proselyting missionary service. That is what I was able to do for Daniel Brady when he served at the Monroe Records Operation Center for 2 years as a Church Service Missionary. He served under the Young CSM program.

Saturday morning, we cleaned our apartment and did our weekly laundry. By noon we were done and dressed for the day. We had lunch and did some shopping at Kohl’s. On the way back to the apartment, we took a drive to Mayport and crossed the river on the newly opened ferry and it seemed to be operating just fine. We took A1A up the coastline through Amelia Island into Fernandina and then back down I-95 and to I-295 and home. We made our bed, put clothes away and settled in for the day. We made calls to about half of the names we had in our contact lists and made contact with a couple families and confirmed the transfer of others. 

Sunday morning, we attended church in the Jacksonville Beach Ward and visited with members, also met the new Elder’s—Crandall & Beal and got their address and phone number. Sacrament meeting was very good. Both main speakers were military family members, Stephanie Jarvis and Bishop Currie. Alexis thought she had Strep Throat so was not with us and Tyler Gneck was in the panhandle doing cleanup work from Hurricane Michael. He went with several others from the ward. Jennie & Olivia Black were there along with the Lagae’s. Heads were recovering from Nikki’s hospital stay and we looked forward to her being up and healthy again. We had a good Sunday school class and Jerald Lagae and I attended the priesthood class. Pam taught the lesson in Relief Society and had a lot of good responses to her subject. Following the block, we visited with the Lagae’s concerning Thanksgiving dinner, which they are sponsoring, and it’s going to be a big event. Look forward to next week, but will miss our family gatherings.

 Missionaries leaving for home this week
New Missionaries. Our new Missionary in the Jacksonville Beach Ward is Elder Beal on the far right
 Funny pictures from the parking lot at church--all the mini vans
 Jacksonville Beach Ward Chapel

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 66 (6 - 12 May)

Monday morning, Pam and I left for the USO at 9:30 am. No Dough dinner was that evening, so we were busy. Upon arrival my birthday was cele...