This week we got to take out two young , bachelor enlisted marines, Jordan from St George, Utah and Jimmy from a tiny town in east Texas. One works for HMX, which is the presidential helicopter group, and the other is a hospital corpsman taking care of the Officer Candidate students. They both were from active LDS families, but had joined the marines to get away from home and be out on their own. However, both of them seemed a bit lonely like they were missing home and family. It was nice to act as pseudo-parents for them and let them just talk about their life in the marines. We gave them our card with all our contact information and said "Call us if you need help." We will try to touch base with these young enlisted marines every couple of months.
On Tuesday Lezlie taught a great lesson at our TBS Family Home Evening. It was the same lesson we used at OCS last week, how seemingly small and simple things can add up to something great. We met a new TBS marine, and he was a great guy. We really enjoyed getting to know him, but he is graduating in just two weeks. We will experience saying goodbye a lot here since the longest schools are only 6 months. We also had another enjoyable District Meeting day, when all 40 of the missionaries in our zone get together for training. It is so impressive to see these young people lead themselves. The experienced 20 year old missionaries teaching the new 18 year old missionaries how to talk to people and how to teach lessons. It is inspiring to watch them in action. After hauling missionaries and attending the meeting we had a couple hours of down time to do some lesson planning. That led right into one of our favorite activities of the week, our OCS family home evening. Our co-leader Scott McGrath gave a nice lesson on leadership and the attendees all shared great comments and stories about leadership. These young men and women are special people. They are so dedicated to becoming good marine officers and leaders of other marines. We are humbled and inspired every time we see them. They were pretty excited to dig into the refreshments of chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.We also did our first day of volunteering at the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society this week. We received some basic training and orientation but did not really work with any marines that came in. We will volunteer every Wednesday afternoon for four hours. We will start out by answering phones, helping marines fill out forms, handing out information, etc. But as we get more training we will help by doing budget planning and analysis and processing emergency loans. They said that a lot of times the marines just want someone to talk to about their financial issues. It should be very interesting and we are glad to be helping these young marine families.
We had another minor emergency missionary transport. Late at night our young friend Elder Brown called and said he badly needed to go to the dentist in the morning at 8:30am. He had been having severe toothaches. So we changed all of our original plans and I drive him and his companion all the way to Burke, VA, a small town about 45 minutes away. It turns out that there is an LDS dentist there that does free dental work for missionaries. We had a pretty drive through the country to Burke, seeing some beautiful old Virginia mansions as well as bright fall colors. Although it was pretty boring for Elder Le and I to just sit and wait for an hour, we had some pretty good discussions. The dentist found that poor Elder Brown had a cracked tooth and was able to fix it. After getting the young missionaries home we headed into Washington DC to attend the temple. It is kind of a hectic drive around Wash DC to get there. We are south of DC and the temple is on the far northern side. But we eventually made it safe and sound. It is a beautiful temple and the grounds are just spectacular with fall flowers and shrubs. We had a nice temple experience, and afterwards face timed with Lezlie's folks while we walked around the gorgeous temple gardens. Our drive home was tough because we got into early rush hour traffic.
We made it home from the temple by dinner time, but we were soon out the door with 4 plates of brownies. Our assignment was to find out about 3 families that were on our ward roster, but they had not been seen for a long time. After a lot of driving and locating hard to find addresses we determined that all of them had moved away. In one poorly lit neighborhood we had a scary experience with a large man and a large barking dog, neither of whom were pleased to find two old Mormon missionaries on the porch. But the man did confirm that our guy no longer lived in that apartment, and we were quickly out of there. On the way home we realized we had 3 plates of brownies that we did not want to take home, as we would have eaten too many of them. So we called one of the sets of missionaries that live in our complex. It turned out that all 8 of the missionaries that live in our apartment complex were at the apartment business center using the computers to file their weekly reports. We told them to wait there until we got home. As we pulled in all 8 of them were standing outside the office chatting in the parking lot, and we were able to distribute all of the brownies among them. They were so happy that it was the end of a busy day for them, and that hey had brownies to eat for a bedtime snack. We had a nice chat with all of them, which ended our day on a high note. Another fun activity with the young missionaries was making dinner for two sisters. We made an excellent taco salad and had a great meal with them. Mom did pineapple ice and chocolate cookies for desert. We feel especially close to Sister Allen as she is one of the first missionaries we met here, and we have done several things with us. She gave us a lot of help and information when we first arrived. It was also fun to get to know her new companion, Sister Moon, who is from Cedar City, Utah. Mom also showed them her new presentation about finding God in nature. She will use it for her Wed FHE lesson with the OCS group. The sisters loved it.
We had a busy but wonderful Sunday. We arrived on base at 7am and hauled several loads of our teaching equipment (laptop, in-focus projector, speakers) and food (2 large pans of bread pudding, two gallons of mile, two bottles of juice) into our meeting room. Soon our outstanding young marine officer candidates came in. In just these few short weeks we have to come to know and love these young people, and feel honored to be working with them. We had a good lesson on faith, and we were able to talk a lot about how faith can help one be a successful leader and Marine officer. The candidates have become more open about sharing and contributing, and we had a lot of good interaction and shared feelings and stories. It was a rewarding and uplifting meeting. Then they dug into mom’s bread pudding, which was excellent by the way. We thought the two large pans would easily feed the group, and had visions of taking a couple of servings home for our dinner. But they ate every bit of it. After saying goodbye to our young marines we drove south 15 miles to the small town of Stafford to attend two sacrament meetings there. A majority of the The Basic School (TBS) students live south of the base and there are 4 wards down there that each have a few TBS families in them. So we met two bishops and attended back-to-back sacrament meetings. We were able to meet all the TBS families that we are aware of there. It was great to see all of them. We sat right behind a young couple with 3 young children. Towards the end of the meeting the kids started getting bored and restless. Mom had our “Go Bag.” She pulled out a colored pipe stem cleaner and started forming a dog. In seconds the two older girls, about 2 and 4, were watching with fascination. Then mom pulled out two fancy coloring pictures with markers that kept the girls busy for the rest of the meeting. The parents were grateful, and we were grateful as well. It feels good to help. After departing home at 6:30am we finally made it home at about 3pm. It was full, but it was a lovely day.