Sunday, October 27, 2013

Marine Corps Museum

We got to take some young missionaries to the Marine Corps Museum this week for their Preparation-day (P-day or day off).  We only had an hour available ourselves, so just got a quick peek at the museum.  In that short time we were able to tell it is a fantastic spot and hope to go back for a more thorough visit.  Here is Lezlie with Elders Wray and Brown, Sisters Dally and Rushton, and Elders Berg and Brooks in front of the museum. Wray is from Blackfoot, Idaho, both he and Brown are great musicians. Brown is from CA and both girls are from Utah. Berg is from Wisconsin and Brooks is from Jamaica. We are taking Wray and Brooks to a Jamaican restaurant near here Tue. 
One day this week we had a sad experience followed by a wonderful high.  First we went to the chaplains briefing for a new TBS class.  All of the lay leaders for various faiths walked into a classroom filled with about 250 young marine officers.  The briefings were quite different than what we were led to believe.  We thought they were going to be just quick introductions of ourselves and a short description of what we offer.  However, from the Catholic Priest to the Fellowship of Christian Officers, and from the Navigators Bible Study to the Jewish Rabbi, they all gave mini-sermons.  They were preaching about the need for God to prevent suicides, and that you needed God or Christ in your life to deal with death in battle, and that all good Marines were Go With God Marines.  We were quite surprised and were not at all prepared for this type of talk.  So we stood up, introduced ourselves, and basically said we knew they could be better leaders if they were close to God.  Then we asked any LDS marines to meet us at the side after the meeting.  We were sad, sad, sad….. not one marine showed up.  Either there were no Mormons out there or nobody wanted to admit it.  So we were feeling a little down and out when we left, and we had to kill a couple of hours before our next appointment on base.  After some mundane tasks like washing the car and doing a little shopping, we headed for the home of the Hayes family for a Family Home Evening.  We had a wonderful experience there.  This Marine Captain and his wife have a girl 12, a boy 8, and a boy 5.  They were so well behaved and loving as a family.  They also have a 5 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback, not an easy dog to train.  But they had been working hard with it, and their training was evident.  So we had great fun talking to the kids, getting to know the adults, playing with the dog, and having a delicious meal.  Then we gave our obedience FHE and it could not have gone better.  There was such a warm and welcoming feeling there that we felt loved and appreciated.  It was an exceptional evening with a great family, and we felt blessed to have spent two hours in their home.  It totally brought us out of our funk from the sad chaplains briefing at the TBS school.

Another new experience this week was attending early morning seminary, the religion class for high school kids.  We volunteered to be occasional substitute teachers for seminary – the teacher is a marine wife with 2 children under 2, and we wanted to help her out - usually her husband watches the kids before work, but occasionally he has some sort of duty so she has to take the kids to seminary which starts at 5:45 we visited just to see how seminary runs.  We arrived at the bishop’s home at 5:30am; seminary is held in his basement every morning- he has dedicated one of the rooms of the house to it- they have a white board, tables, chairs, etc.  The class starts at 5:45am, and about 5:43am 13 sleepy but upright high school kids came stumbling down into the basement.  They immediately spotted the juice and donuts we had stashed in the back and got very excited.  We just observed the whole process and met most of the kids.  They were a great group and mostly cooperated, participated and interacted with each other and us. But how impressive for this group to be up and in seminary class by 5:45am and be studying the gospel.  We were inspired by them.  And they loved the donuts.  Later during our district meeting we detected one companionship that seemed a little down and out.  Several things were said by them that seemed to indicate they were having a bad week. One of them particularly is usually very upbeat and inspirational to everyone else, and he just seemed really bummed out.   It just so happened that they were the last two that we had to take home, so we spontaneously invited them out to lunch.  They accepted and we had an excellent discussion with them.  It turns out that one of them is brand new, and the other is his trainer.  The trainer was feeling that he was not competent as a trainer and was frustrated about not finding anyone to teach with his new companion.  So we talked about that and about things in general.  The conversation, or at least the excellent Mexican food, seemed to make them feel better.  We felt good about the outcome, and were happy that we followed an impression to help out these two young men.  That night a young lady, Krystal Watts, took us out for dinner.  Krystal was a young woman in our ward and Lezlie was her teacher at church and at WSU.  Krystal is an intern at the FBI Academy, which is on the Quantico Base.  Her grandma, who is a long time friend in our ward, gave us her phone number.  When we called she was glad to hear from us, and said she wanted to take us out to dinner.  We told her we were planning on taking her out, but she said no, this was on her. So we went to an excellent Italian restaurant, had a great meal, and enjoyed catching up on her life.  She is in the training program to be an FBI fingerprint analyst.  Once she qualifies she will work on all kinds of cases all over the US, and potentially in other countries, collecting and the analyzing fingerprints for federal cases.  It all sounded very glamorous and almost like a movie plot, but it is a real job and an important one.  We were stuffed and happy at the end of the evening.  What a great day.
For our OCS family home evening we had 13 attendees as you can see from the picture.  What an outstanding group of young people!  Lezlie gave an exceptional lesson about finding God’s love and principles in nature.  She had a superb slide show of all kinds of nature photos, some with Marines, set to some excellent classical music.  The lesson taught that when you are out in the field far away from a church building, possibly the only LDS church member around, and with no time to sit and read your scriptures, you can always look to God’s beautiful and amazing creations to remember his love.  It was well received!  Then they quickly dove into the autumn leaf  cookies, candy, peanuts, apple juice, and milk, like a bunch of bears eating honey after hibernation.  As you can see by their smiling faces they had a good time.  And we had a good time as well.  Oh, I almost forgot.  Lezlie really wanted us to sing the hymn “All Creatures of our God and King.”  We typically use the LDS Music program on our laptop for the accompaniment to our songs.  But this specific song is copyrighted so is not on LDS Music.  So we borrowed a guitar and she played it while we all sang.  It was beautiful, Lezlie did a great job, and everybody enjoyed it very much.  We love being missionaries here and enjoy serving these young marines and their families so much.
 We had a touching first visit with a marine wife that is home alone for ten weeks while her husband goes to Marine lawyer school in Rhode Island.  She had a newborn girl, a 3 year old boy, and a 5 year old autistic boy who also has ADHD. He has been in Kindergarten for 2 months and has been sent home 3 times and suspended for 3 days for biting a teacher who tried to restrain him.   She has her hands full!  We stayed for an hour.  I walked the floor with the fussy baby while she and Lezlie picked up the family room, which had been covered end to end with toys.  The 5 year old was at kindergarten.  We hope that we can help this young sister who has a long ten weeks ahead.  We felt like one hour of conversation with adults and someone else holding her fussy baby really helped.  On that day we next delivered ghosts and invitations to the ward Halloween party to eight families on base.  We thought we might only get to 3 or 4, so we were pleased at the results.  When we do these late afternoon visits and then have an evening commitment on the base we just eat dinner down there, as it is too far to run home, eat dinner, and run back.  So after some discussion about where to go for dinner we finally decided upon Bob Evans.  We almost did not go there because we have eaten there 3 times already.  But it is quiet and quick, with good food every time.  So we went.  Our waiter came up and said, “Hi, I’m John, your waiter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”  It turns out that John is a local 19 year old church member who has been working since high school graduation to save money for his mission.  He spotted our nametags so asked the boss to be our waiter.  He had just received his call to serve a mission in Kobe Japan beginning in December.  So we had a great meal and chat with him.  He was great fun to talk to and he loved hearing about the MTC and about Anne’s mission in Japan. We felt his enthusiasm as well as his nervousness about his mission. He went the extra mile and made a smiley face on our salad with cucumbers tomatoes and croutons. We left him a large tip and told him to add it to his mission account.  It was a very enjoyable experience and the food was delicious as always.  Finally we went to our TBS family home evening.  We were not sure anyone would show up.  But a few minutes before 7pm in walks our Ian Dickinson in his full dress uniform.  I do not know if you have ever seen a full dress marine uniform, but it is pretty spectacular.  Ian has been one of our FHE attendees and he will be graduating next week.  It was the night of their big pre-graduation party and he just stopped in to say hello, and let us know that he greatly appreciated having the military relations missionaries available, an thanked us for our service. It was really humbling.  What an outstanding young man.  He is going to be a great marine officer.  Shortly after our other regular attendee, Tanner Washburn showed up.  We had an excellent discussion about the Word of Wisdom and about the special challenges military men sometimes have.  He is another outstanding young man, and we feel honored to know him.  He will be around for several more months in his training, so we hope to see him a lot.  After a late drive home we are about ready to collapse into bed.

We took a day off today and went into downtown Washington DC for the first time.  Most of the day was spent inside the Library of Congress, which was pretty cool.  We lucked out and found a 4 hour parking meter real near the library, which is actually 3 buildings.   It took a while to find the registration desk, get a library research card, find the tunnel under the street to the building with the genealogy library, and find the actual library.  But we finally did sit down and get to look up some family history data.  Mom was sad and frustrated by one unfortunate result.  The transcribed bible that placed James Conaway in Virginia was in some family history books of the Sparks family.  The reference mom originally found on said that the bible transcript was on page 888 of the Sparks family history.  It took the librarians about 4 hours to find the book, and when mom opened it pages 886 – 890 were missing,  Ugh!  The librarians said that it must have been misprinted.  Mom did find that there is supposed to be a copy in a library if Frederick, MD which is about an hour away from us.  So next we will try to go there.   After several hours of interesting research and lunch in a little cafeteria in the library, we toured the buildings a bit.  We walked through the giant reading room that is the icon of the library of congress.  It is the huge room with circular research desks all around the main floor.  I have seen it in movies before.  We also saw an original Gutenberg Bible and some beautiful statues in the building.  We finally departed for the National Harbor, which is a built up waterfront area in Oxon Hill, MD, a suburb of Wash DC.  After an excellent Thai dinner we saw a fantastic horse show there called Cavalia Odysseo.  It turns out that one of the founders of Cirque do Sole is a horse lover. After much success with the original Cirque, he broke off and formed his own company and developed this show.  It is performed in a huge circus type tent, but much fancier and with better seating than an old fashioned circus. It was huge.  The semicircular stage area was all dirt, flat in front with a large hill in the back.  Behind the hill was a gigantic screen where Imax type video was shown to enhance the performances.   It is hard to describe the show – a mix of acrobatics, dancing, tumbling, and superlative horse work.  It began with about 20 horses just wandering all by themselves around the arena with a wooded backdrop.  Gradually the riders wandered in one by one and petted some of the horses.  Then all of a sudden they had the horses running in a giant circle around the edge.  Then the riders would run up and mount a running horse totally bareback.  Very impressive.  Other memorable parts of the show – a female trainer with 8 horses.  With just her voice, hands, and a small crop she would have the 8 horses circle one way, reverse their circle, do spins, and run up to her and stop.  Very cool.  There were also several routines where the riders would be standing on the backs of two horses.  Kind of as an interlude (it really did not fit with the horses, but was cool anyway) there were some amazing gymnastics and tumbling by 8 guys from New Guinea.  Besides tumbling they did 8 man human pyramids, dancing, singing, and playing drums, all very good.  After an outstanding show we made our way back to Woodbridge.   Although we got home late and very tired, we felt like we had experienced a real day off and were refreshed and ready to get back to work.

On this day we did a ton of morning cooking, planning and errands before we headed out for the ward Halloween party.  At the last minute Lezlie got inspired that we should invite Tanner Washburn, a single marine at TBS, to a family party we had been invited to.  So at the last minute we invited Tanner, and to our surprise he said yes!  The Ward Halloween party was great with many activities taking place before dinner – hay rides in the parking lot, face painting, a cake walk, bean bag toss, etc.  We got our pictures taken with the Halloween backdrop, which was pretty impressive as you can see.  Oh, I forgot to mention mom did come up with a costume.  She put ears and antennae on an old nylon stocking (reminiscent of our Zirobian Road show costumes many years ago...)  We also made fake nametags that said Martian Relations on them. So we were dressed as missionaries from outer space.  It was fun, and the costumes were a big hit.   We were pleased to see one less active family there to whom we had hand delivered an invitation to the party. 
 After all of the games there was a dinner.  Even though we brought soup we did not stay and eat.  Instead we drove to the base to meet our marine Tanner Washburn.  He followed us to the Halloween party at the home of some other TBS marines that we know.  Our whole purpose was to hook Tanner up with some of the other LDS marines that are at the same school. Tanner is kind of waiting for his specialty class to start in January so he has been a bit lonesome.  When we got there only the couple hosting the party was there, and they were worried no one else would show.  But then two other LDS marines showed up, and Tanner had a great time chatting with them.  One of the other guys is a bachelor too, and he and Tanner hit it off.  That was our whole reason for inviting him to the party, to help him find some LDS friends at the school, so we were very happy.  We had to stop the grocery for refreshments for early morning Sacrament  Meeting because the couple that was to do it this week are ill.  We got home way too late for senior missionaries – the party was about 40 minutes away.  But we were happy with the successes of the day, especially getting Tanner hooked up with some other LDS marines.
Sunday - We had a much smaller crowd at our OCS early morning sacrament meeting today.  Illness and liberty drew some away and we only had four.  However, we had a great meeting with a lot of candid and personal discussion.  Mom and I supplied some excellent treats if I may say so myself.  We did little smoky link sausages wrapped in crescent rolls, two large fruit plates, juice, and milk.  We were up at 5am to get all of this prepared. The gang loved it.  A group of Protestants, friends of our group, has taken to stopping in our room on their way out to scavenge any leftovers.  They ate almost every last drop of the fruit.  We really love this OCS gang and are so proud of them for making it half way through their difficult training.  Following OCS sacrament meeting we scurried home for Phase 2 of the day.  We began preparing a meal for a young couple that just had their first baby and had had some minor problems.  After getting pork roast and vegetables into the crock pot and frozen bread out to rise we headed for Phase 3, ward council meeting.  All went well there and our report on visits to military families was well received.  Next we attended our church meetings, which we called Phase 4.  It was the Primary Program, and it was excellent and most enjoyable. After that was the first Quantico "Linger Longer" for several years, so we had refreshments for that too.  Finally, Phase 5a, dashing home and boxing up the dinner for the young, new parents.  And 5b, driving to the base to deliver it.  We had a short visit and peek at their new baby boy, dropped off the dinner, and came home for our own dinner.  Such days are exhilarating when we get to participate in so much service for others.  However, they are tiring too, so we are pretty exhausted tonight.  But we are very contented too, and very much at peace with our work.  We love being here and serving these good people.  Thanks to so many of you for supporting us.

1 comment:

  1. I so love reading the details of your week. It makes me exhausted just thinking about all you are doing, but I can tell it is exhilarating work to be serving so many. We are so proud of you!