Sunday, December 1, 2013


We have had many things to be thankful for this week. This was not only the traditional holiday, but also graduation for Officer Candidate School. As part of the OCS graduation ceremonies we attended Family Day.  We got to gather inside the auditorium and listen to the school’s commanding officer gave a short briefing about what the candidates have been through for ten weeks. Having seen them twice a week for that time we felt like we were a part of it.  Then we got to mingle with the OCS candidates and meet several family members.  It was fun to meet folks we have heard the students talk about so much.  It was fun to get to see these kids in a more relaxed setting, enjoying their families and smiling huge smiles. The following day was graduation. It was a cold, windy, rainy day, and the marine candidates voted to have it outdoors anyway (after all this shows how tough they have become) because they had practiced their parades and the marching band, nor the cannons show off as well indoors.  We bundled up in many layers and hauled blankets.  Luckily we got covered seats because we are part of the religious lay leaders.  But it was cold, wet and windy.  Things started right on time, of course, which always delights Dan.  The students marched on and stood in the drizzling rain for a long time.  There were some short but nice speeches.  The special awards were cool because one of our guys got the Gung Ho award, the peer voted award for the candidate that shows the most Marine spirit.  Finally the company did their pass in review and marched right by us.  We cheered for our guys and gals.  Finally the parade was over and we got to mingle with them again.  We had written personal notes of congratulation for each of our LDS graduates on Marine Corps notecards.  We included a Semper Fi magnet, invitation to future family home evenings, and our business card.  Semper Fi means Always Faithful, which is the marine motto.  So we got to hand out the cards to all of our students.  We hope we will see all of them at our weekly family home evenings at The Basic School.  After a quick trip home to remove some of our layers and have a quick lunch we departed for the commissioning ceremony, which luckily was held indoors at the Marine Corps Museum.  It was a joyous, happy occasion, with hundreds of family members milling around, taking pictures, and chatting with their sons and daughters.  The 159 candidates sat in chairs and most of the audience stood around the edges, or on several balconies above.  Again there were a couple of short speeches, very good ones too.  Then the graduates took the Oath of Office and all were commissioned as Second Lieutenants.  As soon as the graduates were released they found their families and had their moms, dads, girlfriends and wives pin on their new Second Lt bars.  We got to see almost our entire group to congratulate them and say hello.  We felt so proud of them, and so humble and appreciative to be a small part of their journey through this school.  Here is a picture of the rainy parade in the morning and of some of our newly commissioned LDS marine officers at the afternoon ceremony.

On Thanksgiving  we spent our first big holiday away from home.  We missed seeing the kids and grandkids, but had a nice day.  We had a delightful Skype session with the Hongs and Billings the day before in Houston , and a nice visit with Chris, Stacey and Aaron via telephone. Late Thanksgiving afternoon we met two other senior missionary couples from Washington DC for a Thanksgiving meal at Cracker Barrel.  We had an excellent meal and good conversation.  It was fun to hear what the other senior missionaries do, particularly the other Military Relations Couple who are stationed at Ft Belvoir in DC.  Afterwards we went for a drive around Quantico Marine Base, which none of them had seen before.  We are thankful for the quick and interesting friendships the Church facilitates, and how wonderful it is to feel at home wherever you are.

On Saturday afternoon we met with the a young family to talk about Dan’s blessing of their baby.  About two weeks ago they asked him if he would do the blessing since the dad is not a member of our church.  We had a lesson about Christ blessing children and about how precious children are to the Lord.  Then we talked about what would actually happen during the blessing.  Finally we just talked to them about what their hopes and dreams are for their darling little son.  It was a very nice meeting and we really feel close to this young couple.   It reminded us of all the hopes and dreams we had for our children when they were newborn babies, and how grateful we were to have 4 healthy children.  We got to attend a baptism later that day.  Two young boys, about 11 and 13, are from an inactive family where the mom and dad are divorced.  They spend weekdays with dad and weekends with mom.  But through the missionaries, friends, and other family members the boys decided they wanted to be baptized.  Many old friends from an Asian ward they had initially attended traveled some distance to attend and participate. It was a very sweet event.  Afterwards two young Elders came over for dinner, which was excellent.  These two are our Zone Leaders and are really outstanding young men.  It was nice to get to know them better.  Then we had a bell practice with them.  The two of them, Lezlie and I, and the two sisters assigned to our ward are going to do a bell choir song for the Quantico Ward Christmas party.  It was great fun practicing.  The Elders had a great time and were laughing the whole time.  We are thankful for the opportunities we have here to share our talents and enjoy the talents of others.

The highlight of church today was Dan getting to bless the baby Cooper.  The 6 week old baby was almost 100% cooperative, and the spirit was felt strongly.  The blessing felt very good.  During it the mom and dad cried.  At the very end, maybe the last 30 seconds, the baby started getting fussy and you could hear him winding up to really holler.  But the Bishop started stroking his head and he held off.  What a good baby.  It was a wonderful experience and Dan felt honored and humbled to be asked to perform such a sacred ordinance for our friends. We are thankful for the Priesthood and the opportunities we have had to serve and to bring others closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you are reading this blog, we are thankful for the influence you have been in our life, and the interest that you take in us. Thanks.  We love you and miss you.

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