Monday, January 14, 2019

Week 49 (7 - 13 January)

            Monday morning, we left for the USO at 8:45 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) opened. The business of the day was preparing the meal for the “no dough” dinner tonight. Pam went into the kitchen to check on the chicken that was cooked on Friday and it looked and tasted good. She began shredding the meat and others arrived and helped. Dave Ostrum went shopping for the odds and ends to make Nacho’s and Margaret and Mike arrived as did Julie Davis and the mother-daughter team, so we had a lot of help in the kitchen cooking hamburger and cutting veggies. I spent the morning preparing the main room—set up the chairs, washed tables, brought out the “sneeze guards” for the salad and dessert tables, set up the drink table and put out the utensil and napkins dispensers. Later in the morning I brought out desserts and let them defrost. By noon most of the heavy lifting was done and we paused for lunch. Pam and I went out and enjoyed getting away for a little while. In the afternoon the kitchen staff finished up the small stuff and I worked in the storage room cleaning and moving Christmas bins into the attic. By 4:00 pm volunteers began arriving to help with dinner and the primary sponsor was the Rotary Club of San Jose. By 5:00 pm there was plenty of help and Patrons began arriving and dinner began. Pam and I manned a table by the foyer and passed out Subway cards with $6.00 on them and also bags of caramels. The dinner was a big hit, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food. The kitchen kept up with the rush and we ended up the night with just over 200 served. For us the highlight of the night was the arrival of the Head family, Tony, Nickki and their two boys Caleb and Matty. They visited with us and the boys gave hugs. Following them came the Lagae family, Sam & Jerald with Eleanor, Fiona and Clive and we had another nice visit and more hugs, and finally, Stephanie and Lance Jarvis came, and it was good to see them also. So, it was a bonus night for us. All 3 families visited with each other and that is what we would have hoped for. Pam and I stayed for cleanup—Pam in the kitchen and I helped in the main room and by 8:00 pm everything was done with some good work by several volunteers and of course James McCullough. We drove back to our apartment and our bed looked wonderful.

Tuesday morning, we started at the USO at 9:00 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had opened and stayed for 2 hours and then left to take care of some personal items. Pam spent the morning in the kitchen cleaning and putting things away and I worked with two volunteers, Chelsey and Ann, loading boxes of items to be shipped to USO’s in the middle east. We filled them with hygiene kits, soap, lotions, dental and hair items, etc. We got a lot done and Joyce now had 60 boxes to mail. Dave arrived about 11:00 am but stayed in the office most of the time covering the phones and checking in patrons. The plumbers were back this morning for about an hour checking on many issues—leaks, toilets and showers that didn’t work, etc. Who knew when the bathroom renovation would be over? A safety inspection was held yesterday and now there were several significant issues with electricity that had to be resolved. Pam and I left about 3:00 pm and drove to the Dutton Reserve on Neptune Beach to look at the marshes and it was quite beautiful. There were several places around Neptune Beach where you could walk right out into the marshes on long wooden walkways. We then drove to the chapel and took a nap in the parking lot waiting for an hour to pass before picking up the sisters for dinner. At 5:00 pm we drove to their apartment and picked up Sister Davis and Dreiling (Sister Dreiling was on exchange’s and Sister Paulsen was with Sister Abril in Arlington). We settled on Bono’s for dinner and it was very good, and we enjoyed being with the sisters and sharing an hour. They were very devoted and hard-working sisters and we felt their spirit and enjoyed their message.

Wednesday morning, we departed for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the facility. Within 20 minutes Carmel and Jim (volunteers) arrived. They were snowbirds from New England and it was nice to see them, and they took over the office duties. Ann, one of the community service girls from yesterday came and I put her to work cleaning windows. Joyce called at 10:00 am and we asked about labeling the boxes she is shipping to the Middle East and then Ann helped me put on the address labels and customs forms. We set up in the children’s room and, Carmel joined us and then Chelsey, also from yesterday, came and so the four of us knocked out the project fairly quickly. Dave Ostrum also arrived mid-morning and we talked about the “No Dough” storage room. The main shelfing system had to be moved as it was too close to a circuit breaker box. Last evening, the shelves were emptied and all the boxes from the room moved out and the shelf system moved. A second smaller shelf system was discarded and what surprised me was Dave said they were not going to replace it and he intended to stack boxes and items on the floor. So, with that bit of knowledge I didn’t do anything in that room. At noon we were finished and left for the day. We had some lunch and then returned to our apartment and set up the guest bathroom for Janet to use. We drove to JIA at 5:00 pm and Janet’s plane arrived on time and it was wonderful to see her coming down the escalator. Pam and I welcomed her to Jacksonville. We returned to Arlington Hills and stopped at Crispers for something to eat and enjoyed a meal and visiting. She brought us up to date on happenings in Monroe and changes in our ward. It was amazing how that little town could change in such a short period of time. Finally, we arrived at our apartment and got Janet situated in the guest room and then settled in the living room and visited until about 9:30 pm when I called it a night. Pam and Janet continued for another hour.

Thursday morning, we were up early and on our way to the Hendricks Stake Center by 7:45 am for Zone Conference. We introduced Janet to President & Sister Lee and they were very gracious and welcomed her to the conference. After the missionaries assembled in the chapel, we spent the morning receiving wonderful instruction from both President & Sister Lee and the assistants to the President, Elder’s Vaughn and Boehme. President Lee concluded the morning instruction with information about the incorporation of parts of the Macon Georgia and Tallahassee Florida missions into the Jacksonville mission in June/July of this year. That would almost double the mission in size and included approximately 75 new missionaries. Also, during the morning, President Lee welcomed Janet, had her stand and introduce herself, invited her to bear her testimony. At lunch she joined the new missionaries and food preparers while missionaries sang “Called to Serve.”  She was overwhelmed by their generosity and said, “this may be the highlight of my trip.” Following lunch, we left the conference and returned to our apartment and changed clothes and went for a drive. We crossed the Dames’ Pt Bridge and took Heckscher road towards the Kingsley Plantation. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the Government shutdown. We did drive around St. George Island and showed her the beautiful trees, marshes, etc. We returned to the Ferry Landing and crossed the St. John River to Mayport. On the base we walked on the beach and saw dolphins out in the water. We toured the base and showed Janet various ships tied up at the piers. While doing that Pam received a text from Samantha Lagae asking how the visit was going and when she learned we were on the base asked if we wanted to tour Jerald’s ship today instead of tomorrow? We said “yes” and drove to their home and Janet met Jerald and Sam and the children. At 6:00 pm we drove to the boat basin and toured LCS-5 “USS Milwaukee.” It was a very interesting ship and quickly reminded me of wandering the halls of the Constellation with all the turns and passageways and endless wires and pipes protruding everywhere. A Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was a fast, surface combatant, optimized for operating in water close to shorelines countering diesel submarine, mines and surface threats, such as small surface craft attacks. When done we thanked Jerald for the tour and returned to our apartment. Pam and Janet “face timed” with Kari Lovell in Monroe, and they had a grand time together. Good Day!

Friday morning, we drove to the base and visited with Samantha Lagae for a while and then  had some lunch and returned to the apartment and visited for a few hours, talking about families in the Monroe 3rd ward we didn’t know—so many changes! At 6:00 pm we drove to the Jacksonville Beach Ward chapel for a “Baby Reveal” for Stephanie and Lance Jarvis. This was a first for us, but they gathered their good friends and family around them and it was nice. Several Navy friends from the “USS Philippine Sea” were there and we knew them all from the USO. We had a dinner first and then the “reveal” happened. Stephanie and Lance each were given bottles that had switches on the bottom and when they turned the switch colored material shot out like champagne; either pink or blue. It was Blue, a Boy! They were very happy.  

Saturday morning, Pam received a call from President Lee inviting us to join them and Elder Whitehead on a tour of Jacksonville Beach. It sounded like fun. We drove to the location of “Go-Tuk’n” and they had a fleet of extended golf carts which held 6 people and were battery powered. The tour guide first took us to the Beaches Museum, on Beach Blvd and we spent over an hour going through the various buildings of the museum and enjoying the narration of a very enthusiastic tour guide from the museum. The main building housed a collection of artifacts from Jacksonville Beach from its earliest beginnings and then we crossed a street and toured historic buildings which had served as post office, a display building housing a full-scale locomotive which ran on the tracks up and down the east coast of Florida from Miami to Mayport; part of Henry Flagler’s empire in Florida. We also went through a train station that had been moved from Mayport, a typical station masters house fully furnished with period items, and finally the original Beaches Church which had been moved from its original location but was used for weddings, special occasions and concerts. After that tour, we drove all over Jacksonville, Atlantic and Neptune beach communities along 1st and 2nd Streets looking at properties, the beach, restaurants and made one stop at the historic Casa Marina Hotel.  The weather was perfect, and the entire tour took 3 hours. We ended our day with President & Sister Lee inviting us to join them for lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack, right on the beach. The food was excellent, and we enjoyed visiting with them and Elder Whitehead. We said our goodbyes and drove back to our apartment, and Pam and Janet settled down in the living room to visit and pretty much remained that way until 10:30 pm.

Sunday morning, we left for church at 9:30 am and visited with the saints and welcomed our families as they arrived. Nikki Head was there with her boys and we weren’t expecting her as Tony left for Norfolk this morning. Jenny Black was there with Olivia and Shay Tuttle came with her baby. Chris was underway again. The Lagae’s arrived right after the opening song and it was nice to see them. Tyler Gneck was there but we missed Alexis Connelly and will have to call her. Gary Noblit was in Bahrain and Devaney and her boys were still in Idaho, and the Jarvis’ were there as usual. Sacrament meeting was excellent, and we had two good talks. Priesthood meeting and Relief Society were next, and then the block was over. We visited for a while and returned to our home for the afternoon. Pam fixed some dinner and we ate and visited. Later, Pam and Janet sat in the living room and I went into the bedroom and began calling all the households we haven’t had any contact with and actually talked with a few people and learned that 4 families had left the service or transferred to new duty stations and were doing well. Had two other responses from families that were in the local area and would welcome a visit. The rest of my calls either didn’t connect or I was able to leave messages again. Anyway, it was one of the most productive days we’ve had making phone calls and that was encouraging. In the evening Pam and Janet were still going strong and I watched Elder & Sister Renlund’s Worldwide Broadcast to YSA’s from the Cannon Center at BYU-H and it was very good and counseled the YSA’s about “Faith and Doubt.”  

 Mayport USO Volunteers
 Janet Cartwright arriving in Jacksonville
 Jacksonville East Zone
 Janet with us at Zone Conference
 Some of our Zone Sisters
 Mayport Beach
Janet & Pam looking for Sharks Teeth
We toured the USS Milwaukee
 Bridge on the USS Milwaukee
 Marshland and beautiful clouds near Mayport Naval Station
 Baby reveal for the Jarvis'; "it's a Boy!"
 Vehicle for "Go-Tukn" tour of Jacksonville Beach
 Navy display in Museum
President & Sister Lee in Post Office
 Train display
 Train Station
 Train masters home with surrounding garden
 Janet and Pam in train station ticket office
 Original Beaches Church
 Inside the Beaches Church
 Loading up again
Historic Casa Marina Hotel on the Jacksonville Beach

Monday, January 7, 2019

Week 48 (31 December 2018 - 6 January 2019)

Monday morning, the last day of 2018. Hard to believe the year is gone already. We began the day authoring our blog for the week and then began the narrative on our December 2018 report to church Military Relations headquarters. At 10:30 am we drove to the Naval Station and visited with Tony and Nikki Head for a while. They had a wonderful Christmas and we were happy they were home again. Tony was going TAD to Norfolk in mid-January and we discussed what help we could provide for Nikki and the boys. From Mayport we drove to Wal-Mart on Kernan and did some shopping for “white elephant” gifts for an upcoming USO New Year’s Staff/Volunteer party at a Jacksonville Beach restaurant. Following lunch, we returned to our apartment for the afternoon. At 4:30 pm we got ready and left for a New Year’s Eve activity at President & Sister Lee’s home with members of the Jacksonville East Zone. Pam needed an interview, so we arrived at 5:20 pm and she met with the President and I joined other missionaries (Schroeder’s & Waites and Sisters Davis & Paulsen) in the kitchen helping to get things ready for the dinner. What a wonderful evening! Tables were set up in the living room, dining room and kitchen to host the missionaries and by 6:00 pm everyone was present. Sister Lee had us assemble in the living room and she went over procedures for the Fondue dinner—probably a first for most of the missionaries. Following a prayer on the food, the dining began with the senior missionaries staying in the living room and the Sisters migrating into the dining room and Elders into the kitchen. Elder & Sister Whitehead and a daughter and son-in-law arrived about 5:30 pm and it was nice to see them again and they joined us. The Fondue was wonderful with beef, chicken and shrimp as meat dishes and bread, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli to use in a cheese dip. For the next hour we enjoyed the food and visited with Elder & Sister Schroeder, Elder & Sister Waite and Elder’s Carter and Shirtliff. It was entertaining to listen to Sister Schroeder act as match maker for the two elders. The Schroeder’s and Waites were doing interesting work in Gainesville at the University of Florida and would both be finishing their missions in May. This summer there will be a complete turnover of senior missionaries including President & Sister Lee. Following the main course was Chocolate with strawberries, bananas and pound bread to dip and it was delicious. Sister Lee had assigned cleanup duties during her instructions and the Elders and Sisters got fully engaged and within 15 minutes everything was done. We said our goodbyes to everyone and left at 8:30 pm and the mission van was right behind us filled with elders and sisters.
            Tuesday morning began the new year—2019. We were 11 months into our mission and it had been a most pleasant experience for us and we enjoyed the superb leadership of President & Sister Lee. We felt safe and protected and managed the excitement of driving in Jacksonville! Rather than detail the strife and discord in our country and the world, we want to note the invitations of our beloved Prophet and President, Russell M. Nelson, for the new year. Though a prophet for less than a year, he made an immediate impact on the church and the world. Here are some amazing invitations to help us draw closer to the Savior:

1. Manage social media time.
2. Read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover.
3. Start a revelation journal.
4. Schedule regular study time with your family.
5. Attend the temple regularly.
6. Use the full name of the Church.
7. Minister.

Today we felt it inappropriate to make visits so let our friends enjoy their day as families. We took a drive to Brunswick, Georgia to see that historic town and began about 11:30 am driving north on I-95. The freeway was fairly quiet, and we enjoyed the ride. We made a false turn and discovered we were heading back to Jacksonville but got that righted and finally crossed the Sidney Lanier Bridge into Brunswick from the south. As we later discovered the southern part of Brunswick was the “old town” and quite remarkable with beautiful streets lined with Victorian homes and a neatly restored commercial section, including an old “S.W. Kress” building. We practically had the streets to ourselves and wandered up and down taking pictures and remarking on the beautiful old Oak trees filled with Spanish Moss. We stopped at a park named “Mary Ross Waterfront Park” where was located an old waterfront lighthouse and a memorial to “Liberty Ships” of World War II. During the war 16,000 workers constructed 99 Liberty Ships; 4 per month to aid in supplying Europe during the war. Also tied up at an adjacent pier was a beautiful old sailing vessel called the “Peacemaker” and was for sale. After spending an hour or so in Brunswick we headed back towards I-95 and found the more modern part of Brunswick and it was a busy place with roads going everywhere. We eventually found the freeway and stopped for lunch and then continued south to our apartment in Arlington Hills. It had been an interesting drive. The coastline of southeastern United States was so different from the west coast—so many rivers and streams feeding estuaries, inlets, and marshlands. It was a wonder how the early pioneers had the “grit” to settle these areas as land passage was almost impossible. Also, the “critters” and insects would have been intense.

Wednesday morning, we drove to Ikea and did a little shopping and then had lunch in the St. Johns Center before returning to our Arlington Hills. At home 3 letters we had sent out to military members were returned because they were not deliverable, so that was the answer we were seeking. We also received a text message from a family in the Orange Park area confirming their status and we appreciated that. We also saw a statement from the First Presidency that discussed changes to the Temple endowment ceremony and a lot of hints from various media posts that the endowment had indeed changed. “…Over these many centuries, details associated with temple work have been adjusted periodically, including language, methods of construction, communication, and record-keeping. Prophets have taught that there will be no end to such adjustments as directed by the Lord to His servants…” We looked forward to being in the Temple to witness the changes. At 2:45 pm we drove to the airport to pick-up Tyler Gneck and a friend who were waiting for us. It was good to see them again and hear about their visits with family. On the way to the Naval Station we encountered a street full of police cars at the intersection of Mayport and Wonderwood Roads and were directed to the back gate of the Naval Station. The short of the story is that it took 90 minutes to get on and off the base due to the heavy “go home” traffic and only one small gate available. We later learned there had been an armed robbery at Lucky Charms Arcade (by the USO) at 2:00 pm and a suspect car-jacked a car from a nearby housing area and kidnapped the driver and in his escape hit a police officer at the intersection of Mayport and Wunderwood roads which caused the main gate to be closed for several hours while police processed the scene. What an afternoon! We finally made it back to our apartment safe and sound.

Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the facility and processed bread and pastries that had been donated and they were ready for patrons by 9:30 am. We cleaned up trash and recyclable items and by 10:00 am Charlie Tramazzo and also Joyce Schellhorn (Director) had arrived. We got bins and packed up Christmas items from Joyce’s desk and hutch. Pam spent time in the kitchen going through the cabinets with Joyce and disposing of things that were not used—some to the free table and some thrown away. We concluded our work at 2:00 pm and drove to the BJ’s on Atlantic and bought crackers and continued to the Mission Office. On the way Pam prepared a gift of cheese and crackers for the office staff and Sister Whitehead and Elder Grieve were working and we visited with them for a few minutes, left the gift and returned to Arlington Hills and our apartment. We learned of the change in mission boundaries as our mission was going to incorporate much of the Macon Georgia and Tallahassee Missions to the north and west. It would take place in July.

Friday morning, we left for the USO at 9:00 am. Originally, we were going to Adventure Landing to take down a Christmas tree decorated by the USO, but they weren’t open in the morning, so we got busy doing other jobs. We returned to our apartment and Pam got some ingredients to use with chicken and then went to Beams in Jacksonville Beach and picked up several hundred pounds of chicken and hamburger. At the USO we unloaded the meat and Pam began processing chicken for Monday’s “No Dough” dinner. I set up the main room for the dinner and got down roaster ovens for Pam and helped her with the chicken. The packages were frozen hard, so we had to warm them to get the packing material off the chicken. While doing that Nikki Head came to visit with Pam. After Nikki left Pam checked out what I had done and began cooking chicken in the roaster pans. We had a couple of community service workers come in the afternoon and a lady helped Pam and I worked with a man preparing boxes to ship to the middle east. Pam and I finally left for the day about 3:00 pm and had a late lunch and then home. We had a nice visit with Alex Jr. and Cynthia in the evening.

Saturday morning, we began the morning with laundry and then at 9:30 am left for a USO Volunteer and Staff Party at Whiskey Jax in Jacksonville Beach. We joined with about 30-40 others from all over Jacksonville. From Mayport there was Joyce Schellhorn, James McCullough, Charlie Tramazzo and his wife, Megan DeGance and her husband, Julie Davis and Donna and her daughter, who help on “No Dough” dinners. There were representatives from JIA and NAS Jacksonville and the executive staff of USO Jacksonville. Mike Brian welcomed everyone followed by brunch and awards. Each facility director called up its volunteers and presented them with certificates for their service and a pin. Pam and I were honored, and Joyce said some nice things about us and mentioned our service as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The final event was “white elephant” gift sharing and that took a while. Pam and I ended up with candy. We visited with several individuals following the event, mostly about our mission and Utah. We left at noon and drove back to our apartment in Arlington Hills and changed clothes, made our bed and put another load of clothes in the washer and dryer and then went nearby for some lunch. We filled up the van with gas and stopped at a Basking & Robbins and had an ice cream cone. Finally, we headed back to our apartment with one stop at Garret Gardner’s home and met him for the first time. He was a less active member of the church serving in the Navy on the USS Milwaukee; Jerald Lagae’s ship. He told us about himself and his family—he was from Louisiana and had been a member all his life but not active. His wife was a non-member and they had two children ages 8 and 10. He welcomed future contact and visits. We returned home and did a little housework and took care of more laundry and spent a quiet afternoon and evening. Pam had a nice visit with Ann Marie and it sounded like she was all set for her hip surgery next week.

Sunday morning, we left for church in Jacksonville Beach at 9:30 am. Today was the first Sunday on the new schedule outlined by President Nelson last month. The chapel was full today and we had Jenny Black & Olivia, Sam Lagae and children, Shay Tuttle, Tyler Gneck, Gary Noblit and Stephanie Jarvis with us today. Several husbands were standing duty and Gary’s wife, Devaney, was in Idaho. President & Sister Lee were also with us and it was nice to see them again. Sacrament meeting was excellent and lasted just one hour with good testimonies. Brother Hardy taught the gospel doctrine class in the chapel during the final hour and it was also very good with a lot of participation. We visited for a while and then left at noon and returned to our apartment. Pam and I studied the first lesson in the new Individual and Family curriculum book and it required a lot of pondering to process the questions. Sam Lagae called and invited us to dinner. We left at 5:00 pm and Pam took some frozen beans to contribute to the meal. Wendy Delgado and her son Elijah were also invited and by 6:00 pm we were ready to eat. The meal was excellent, and we enjoyed visiting with Wendy and Sam. The little kids were all over the place, but we enjoyed the evening.  

 Sisters Topham & Wasden home for dinner with Pam and I
 Pam and Alexis Connelly visiting at the Lagae's on Christmas Day
 Evening view from President Lee's home New Years Eve
 Missionaries loading up dishes with ingredients for Fondue Dinner-Yummy!
 Dining Room before the meal
 All the missionaries in the kitchen helping with cleanup
 The "Peacemaker" tied up in Brunswick, Georgia
 The "Peacemaker" in Brunswick Georgia
 Maritime lighthouse and gathering building at Mary Ross Park, Brunswick, Georgia
 An old S. H. Kress Building on main street in Brunswick, Georgia
 Theater still in use in downtown Brunswick, Georgia
 Government building in downtown Brunswick, Georgia
 Victorian home in Brunswick, Georgia
 Victorian home in Brunswick, Georgia
 Kyler & Tristan Alexander at church in Arlington Ward
Tara & Wes Alexander at church in Arlington Ward-great family!

Week 49 (7 - 13 January)

            Monday morning, we left for the USO at 8:45 am. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) opened. The business of the day was preparing the m...