Monday, October 7, 2013

Unusual Missionary Assignment

We started our week by providing family home evening lessons for two Marine families with several small children each.  Lezlie turned our dog obedience lesson into a PowerPoint presentation.  It was the same lesson we normally teach with Joy and Freckles, but we used slides with pictures of dogs, many of them ours, to demonstrate the ideas.  We first visited a family with two little boys and a young girl.  They enjoyed the lesson and the brownies.  They were a great family, the dad a Master Sergeant in the Marines, serving for over ten years thus far.  He was a pretty cool guy.  Just before we left, the wife said to us, “I heard that you are going over to Morrises to do a family home evening.  You might want to rethink giving them the obedience lesson with the dogs because they just got rid of their dog last week because it was out of control.”  Uh oh!  We drove to the parking lot of the PX.  Lezlie whipped out the laptop and redid the Obedience PowerPoint presentation, removing all of the dog slides.  We quickly made up an obedience game for the kids using some treats we had for rewards.  (We have a “to go” box in the back of the van.  It has a bunch of our pamphlets, some videos, and a bunch of kids toys and treats.  This is our box for things we might need when we visit folks).   We quickly drove to the second family and made it just in time.  In spite of the sudden last minute changes, all went well and the family had a good time. 

On Tuesday we had to address a computer crisis.  Lezlie's computer crashed and upon multiple attempts to restart we kept getting the blue screen full of error messages.  After two visits to Best Buy the Geek Squad told us the computer needed more memory, which we had to order online.  The Geek Squad will install it once it arrives.  Later in the day we met the head chaplain of the base, and he was very cordial.  He has to approve our status as on-base lay volunteers, so we explained to him all that we do.  It was quite interesting, because he asked us how we were supported.  What he really meant was who pays for us.  We said no one, we pay for ourselves.  He seemed quite surprised. That same question came up about 3 times, and he seemed amazed that we were true volunteers.  Meanwhile we had received a call from one of the young elders.  He had injured his foot and needed to go to the doctor.  So we drove all the way back to Woodbridge, about 20 miles in heavy traffic, and got him to the doctor.  They wrapped his foot and sent him to the hospital for xrays.  We have found that transporting young missionaries is a major part of the job.  Although it takes some time and extra gas, we love being with these young missionaries and hearing the stories about their work.  After taking care of the injured missionary, we had to dash back to the base for our TBS students family home evening.  We got there with brownies and lemonade, set up our laptop, and were all ready.  Alas, no one showed up again. We heard they were probably in the field. We have decided we need to call the 5 single TBS students and personally invite them to the FHE then see what happens next. .
This week we also had an excellent meeting with Chaplain Early, the chaplain over The Basic School students.  He and his assistant greeted us at the door and gave us cold bottles of water – it was a very hot day.  They were the friendliest, most cordial, and most interested of all the chaplains we have met thus far.  They pointed to the chapel and said, “This space is yours to use anytime you want as long as it is not scheduled for something else.”  They were very knowledgeable about what we do, and had nice things to say about our predecessors.  They promised to keep us in the loop with all the information about TBS and invited us to attend the graduations.  It was a great meeting and we felt a true welcome from them.  After a few errands around the base we were able to deliver brownies to a family we had not yet met, a plant to a family that just moved into a new house on base, and dinner to a young couple that are expecting their first child.  The last family were great fun to talk with.  We had a lot in common; she was raised in Washington and is a Husky football fan, they like dogs, and had a huge English Bulldog- and she is a school teacher.  So we had a great chat with them.  We ended with a nice spiritual thought and a prayer.
Our Thursday turned out to be a quiet day at home.  Lezlie tried to doctor her cold.  We did a little shopping, caught up on a few chores at the apartment, and prepared the lesson for the OCS guys on Sunday.  Then we had three sister missionaries that live in our apartment complex come over for dinner; Sisters Allen, Rushton, and Dally.  The reason there are 3 is that Sister Allen’s companion had to return home for medical reasons.  She will get a new companion next week.  We served them salad, pizza, and hot fudge sundaes.  It was great fun, and we really enjoyed getting to know the sisters better.  Sister Allen danced in high school, Sister Rushton was in student government, and Sister Dally was on the stage crew for drama club.  Amazing girls, and so confident and diligent.  We showed them our obedience family home evening lesson and they were impressed with Lezlie's amazing PowerPoint skills. 

After a bright and early start we arrived in Annapolis by 9:30am Saturday morning, found a parking spot on the Academy grounds, and went directly to the Midshipman Store for souvenirs.  We ran into good friends and company mates Mike and Karen Simon.  So good to see them!  After spending too much money in the store we headed toward the meeting spot where a large Class of 73 photo was being taken.  There we found John and Sharlynn McHenry and John and Robyn Benjamin, two more guys in my company.  How wonderful to see them and get caught up after so many years.  After the photo we met Marvin and Debbie Eggleston and went to a memorial service with them.  It honored the 68 class of 73 members that have died, some while we were still at the academy and many after.  So many died in air crashes.  It was a nice memorial service – they did a good job keeping it positive and uplifting.  Next we drove to the condo of Dennis and Paula Vito, another company mate that resides part time in Annapolis.  More of my company were there and we got to visit, catch up, and tell more stories – Steve and Gail Sudkamp, Kent Porter and his wife, Ruth and Dave Leather, and Bruce Metrick.  A couple of hours of sharing memories later we headed for our hotel, changed into our fancy clothes, and went to the Annapolis Yacht Club for our company dinner.  There were more company mates there – Eric and Debbie Swanson, Pat and Jane Fogarty, Tom and Sue Wilson, and Joe Doswell, as well as Rick and Pam Lash.  It was simply fantastic visiting with these guys.  We went through 4 tough years together at the academy, and we all helped each other every step of the way.  So I feel real love and kinship with all of them.  They will always be friends.  We wore our missionary nametags to the dinner, of course, and that led to many interesting discussions about what we are doing.  It all seemed to go by too quickly, and soon we had to say our goodbyes and head back to our hotel.  The photo to the left is us in front of Tecumsah in his war paint, ready to do battle against Air Force in football.  (Navy won!).  The other is me in front of the submarine monument.

On Saturday we picked up several young missionaries to transport them to the Stake Center for General Conference.  After a wonderful conference session all of the missionaries, including us, were treated to a fantastic lunch.  There is a lady in one of the wards who is originally from Guatemala.  Every conference she feed all the missionaries meals of South American food in between conference sessions on Saturday and Sunday.  This is not trivial as there are about 50 missionaries there. So we had a fabulous lunch with the young missionaries.  She had tons of food – enchiladas, chicken and rice, turkey, fancy bread, potatoes, some pies, ice cream, and lots more.  Then we gathered in a circle and sang to her and her helper friends just to say thanks.  We have Spanish speaking missionaries here, and they thanked her in Spanish.  It was a wonderful experience.  After an excellent afternoon session of conference we took a batch of elders home and finally settled down to work in our home.  This is a picture of some of our zone and the ladies that served us lunch.
Sunday morning we got up and left for the base at o-dark-30 because our OCS sacrament service started at 6:40am.  Once again it was humbling and inspirational to mingle with these dedicated young men and women undergoing marine officer training.  They were more relaxed as they entered the room this time, and greeted us with hugs, smiles and warm handshakes.  We were pleased that 2 additional guests showed up, making our total eleven.  I gave a lesson on overcoming and learning from adversity, relating it to their experience in OCS school and tying it in to our visit to Liberty Jail.  It was a moving experience to hear them share about overcoming adversity in their lives.  One young man told of being sent to Afghanistan for 9 months right after he got married.  Another told how hard OCS training was for him, but he was persevering.  Mom baked 4 dozen of the raisin bran muffins (grandmother’s recipe).  The 11 students there ate all but about 5 of the muffins, accompanied by large quantities of apple butter, butter, juice and milk.  All too soon we had to tell them goodbye, but we will see them again on Wednesday for a FHE.  My phone had rung right during the middle of the service, so as soon as we got home I called back.  It was one of the young elders telling me that Elder Cullimore, of the other senior missionary couple in this area, was in the emergency room.  We threw our Sunday clothes back on and dashed over to the hospital.  He had not been feeling well and he kind of collapsed early in the morning.  So his wife took him to the ER.  They were investigating a possible heart problem or maybe blood poisoning.  We visited with them for awhile and offered as much comfort as we could.  The young elders had already gone over and administered a blessing.   He was quite sick. 

When we were in Annapolis we received a call from our Mission President.  He apologized profusely saying he had an “above and beyond”  request.  The Stake south of here had a family history booth at the Virginia State Fair.  Early on President Wilson had agreed that young missionaries could help man the booth occasionally.  The contract for setting up this booth  included that it had to be there and be open every day of the fair, which included Sunday.  Somehow the Stake folks decided that they would use some young missionaries to man the booth on Sunday.  When President Wilson heard about this he said no, the missionaries need to be watching General Conference on Sunday.  Knowing that we have internet and can watch conference later, he asked if we could possibly man the booth Sunday afternoon.  We said sure, we would be glad to help out.  It was an hour drive down to the fair site, and we met up with our coworker who was from the Richmond area.  It was actually pretty small for a state fair, but it was pretty typical – lots of people and animals, a good size carnival, and tons of food booths, mostly with fried everything.  Although things started out slowly, the number of visitors picked up and we were busy almost the whole time.  We helped lots of folks create a basic pedigree chart and found many previously unknown ancestors.  Although we were tired at the end of our 6 hour shift, it was really fun to do something totally different.  This may have been the most unusual missionary assignment we will get for our entire mission.  We did not arrive home until 10pm, and immediately collapsed into bed.  A tiring but wonderful missionary week.

1 comment:

  1. How cool that you got to help out at the state fair. I've actually never been to the fair in Richmond--mostly to the county fairs (which don't seem to be quite the big deal that they are in the West). Thanks for sharing!