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.
SOME OF THE FAMILIES WE WORK WITH