We had the experience of going to our new dentist Monday morning. After going to the same dentist for almost twenty years in Richland we were not looking forward to it. We thought it might be a hassle to go over all our dental history and fill out lots of forms. But we were pleasantly surprised that the transfer was easy. The staff and dentist were very friendly and were polite and supportive about our mission. It turned out to be a lot easier than what we thought it might be. Later we provided our obedience family home evening for a family of six children. We were a little worried that things might be chaotic as the kids ranged downward from age 8. But not so. They were so well behaved and they paid attention to the lesson. They asked good questions, were polite, and made the whole evening great fun. One thing that I have noticed from these marine families is that the children in general are very respectful to us. We hear a lot of sir and m’am, and they are not afraid to talk to adults. After the FHE we got to visit a nice young marine couple that is investigating the church. Since they are military the young missionaries made a point of introducing them to us at church. We felt some déjà vu. They are in their mid twenties, have two small children and are investigating the church, just like we were some 35 years ago. So we asked the young missionaries if it was okay if we visited them solo, and they said yes. We had a nice chat, just getting to know them and telling them a bit about ourselves. Then we just said, “Listen, 35 years ago we were in exactly the same position as you are and if there are any questions at all about church please feel free to ask us.” They asked us a few questions but nothing very deep. So we hope that they feel like they can use us as a resource. It was our first real visit all by ourselves to meet with investigators. It was fun and we think we made a nice connection to this young couple.
The Tuesday activity was largely related to interviews by the Mission President. He has a hectic schedule of interviews and things were running late, so we had to sit and wait for a while. But we got to visit with some young missionaries we did not know, so it was time well spent. Finally we went in together and had a nice chat with President Wilson. We were a bit surprised because the first thing he asked was if we were considering multiple missions. We said maybe, but that we just wanted to do well on this first mission for now. He said that he and his wife were planning on going on two or three missions and said we should think about doing the same. We feel like this is something we are not nearly ready to think about right now. We just want to do a good job on this mission and then see how we feel and what happens when we get back to Richland. He asked about how our family members were doing while we were gone and were there any concerns in that regard. He also asked us how our work was going. Then he thanked us for everything we are doing, from teaching military families to hauling missionaries around. He is a great man, very friendly, open and laid back. We think he is a great mission president. You can feel his warmth and love.At our district meeting a young sister gave a wonderful spiritual thought on Ether 12:4, “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” We do feel like our hope and faith in God provides us an anchor. And we do always hope for a better world. We had to duck out of district meeting early for our Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) volunteering. We finished all of our initial training and even answered the public phone once. We each got to sit in on separate budget counseling sessions with qualified volunteers, which was quite interesting. The poor young marine family I was with had a combination of some bad money decisions and bad luck. Their budget projection showed that they had 9 dollars clearance each month after all their bills and expenses. That is not much. It was sad, but nice to see the NMCRS helping. We now are qualified to serve as the receptionist, the person who answers the phone or greets people when they come in to ask questions. However, next week we will get the intense training that qualifies us to do actual budget counseling and make decisions about whether or not someone gets a loan. Right now it is a little scary, but we know we can get the hang of it. After our training we dashed home and put the finishing touches on a batch of Sloppy Joes. Then 4 young elders came for dinner. It is so much fun, as well as inspiring, to be around them. It is a combination of being around wholesome young people that are working hard at something they believe in as well as observing their dedication, faith and obedience. And they are so respectful and appreciative of every little thing we do. We just love being around these young missionaries. After multiple sloppy joes, Pringles, cheetos, servings of apple salad, and slices of pumpkin pie were consumed, the young elders left for their evening appointments. It was great fun. One of the Spanish speaking elders is leaving in 3 weeks, so it was especially entertaining to hear all of his stories about things that have happened to him over the past two years. Like the time he ate 4 Thanksgiving meals in less than 5 hours because he did not want to offend anyone by saying no to their invitations.
On Thursday we were especially happy we were able to offer service to our TBS officers in Stafford. We first visited a young sister that has 3 young children and her husband is at Marine Lawyer training in Rhode Island for ten weeks. He will not be finished until just before Christmas. When we arrived the kitchen and family room were pretty messy, with toys spread from one end to the other. We tag teamed by cleaning and playing with Max, her 2 year old son (the baby was napping and the 5 year old was at kindergarten). We kept Max entertained and helped her pick up and clean both rooms. Then I vacuumed with Max riding on the canister and Lezlie did some dishes. You can tell this mom is lonesome – she talked nonstop as she and Lezlie worked together. It was almost two hours of hard work, but we felt good after we finished. After an excellent lunch at Panera Bread (we’re talking really good bread and soup), we visited another sister who has a 4 year old boy and is pregnant. Because of a chromosome issue she has, it is difficult for her to carry babies full term, and she has had several miscarriages. So she has to take it very easy. Once again we tag teamed, helping her with some things and playing with Lliam. He was a nice but curious little boy. He had a fascination with washing machines. The first thing he wanted to do was show me the family’s washer and dryer. He climbed up on top of them and explained the spin cycle, heavy rinse, fabric softener drawer, etc. Then we went and played laundry where we put small towels into his toy washer and dryer. It is the first time I have met a child that is fascinated by washers and dryers, but he was a great little kid and fun to play with. It made me not miss playing with my grandkids quite so much. We were able to hang a bunch of pictures for her and Lezlie gave her advice on what pictures would look good on certain walls. While Lliam and I were playing she had a long heart-to-heart with Lezlie about her chromosome disorder. She understands things like that medically and loves to talk about health issues, so they had a good talk. This sister said it is hard to talk to folks about it because they just don’t understand medically what she is going through. Anyway, it was a good visit and we helped her a lot. Lliam was very sad when we left, so I guess he had a good time too. Finally we visited another great young marine family. They just have a baby girl, and I got to hold her for a long time and really enjoyed it. We did not have to do any work there, just visit. But they fed us dinner, and it was excellent. This young man went to the Naval Academy so it was fun to talk to him. He was a prior enlisted marine who had served in Iraq, so the Naval Academy was easier for him than some others. It was wonderful to visit with this young family that is not only faithful to the marines, but faithful to the church. We then stopped by for our TBS family home evening and once again no one showed up. It is discouraging, and we are sad when we drive so far and spend time getting a lesson and treats ready and no one attends. But we know they are busy students. Thus ended a long and wonderful day of being able to serve others.Saturday was our day to haul missionaries to Richmond. They have a meeting they call Return and Report about every 3 months. When brand new missionaries arrive they are assigned to a more senior missionary who is called their Trainer. After the brand new missionary and the trainer have been together for 3 or 4 weeks they attend this meeting to let the Mission President know how things are going with the training and with the new missionary adjusting to mission life. So we took down two Sisters and two Elders. It was great fun to be around them. As noted before, they are inspiring and humbling because they work so hard and are so dedicated and obedient. It was delightful to see them try to flirt with each other but not be too obvious about it, because that would be against mission rules. But they were 4 great kids that we enjoyed getting to know. It is about 95 miles to the building in Richmond, and everyone talked all the way down. The Sisters were from Provo, Utah and Greely, Colorado and the brothers were from Texas (can’t remember the town) and Draper, Utah. After dropping them off for their meetings we went to the Virginia Historical Society library and did some genealogy. Lezlie got some good information on a different line of hers that traces back to Virginia. It was a pleasant afternoon. And we found a Chick Fil A nearby for lunch. When we first picked up the Sisters and Elders they were all excited about the meeting and the good lunch they had. But within about 15 minutes all four of them were asleep and taking well deserved naps. We hit some nasty traffic on the way back, so it was a long slow drive. But we eventually got everyone back home and collapsed in our little apartment after driving 200 miles in traffic between 7am and 4pm.
This morning we got to sleep in a bit. We had no OCS services today because they were out in the field. They were going to hold religious services in the field so that the trainees could have that experience. The Chaplain was concerned about what to do with the Mormons. Since there are 4 returned missionaries in the group we were not concerned about them teaching each other. So we just told the Chaplain to give them a corner of the field where they could meet and they would take care of themselves. Lezlie and I gave talks at church today, and all went well. We were assigned to speak about talks from General Conference, mine a talk called “Ye Are No More Strangers” by Gerald Clausse and hers “Come Join With Us” by President Uchtdorf. Poor mom had lost one page in the middle of her talk. But she recovered nicely, and we both had some nice feedback. Other than that it was a normal Sunday, with some nice lessons and talks throughout the day. We are getting to know a lot more folks in the ward, and we feel more and more an integral part of the ward family each week. We have an interesting week ahead without too many slow spots, so it will be a busy but great week.