One evening this week we both attended a Relief Society activity, Lezlie for the activity and me to provide child care in the nursery. Lezlie enjoyed the meeting where they discussed setting goals and played some games to get to know each other better. I enjoyed being in the nursery. It was not hard duty as we had only 3 children, a 2 year old boy and two girls, each about 8. We put on the movie “Tangled” and fed them some snacks, which entertained them for most of the evening. The most interesting item of the nursery shift was getting to know the other man that was helping. He works at the U.S. Patent office in Washington DC. He is one of the engineers that reviews applications, tests the actual item, and decides whether or not it gets a patent. How cool is that! He is an electronics engineer and works a lot with iPhone type technology. He told me about a patent he had approved for a large pharmaceutical company. They actually put bar codes on their pills, but they are invisible to the eye. He said that bar code readers and iPhones can read about 1000 shades of gray. So they bar code the pills with shades of gray that are not visible to humans. They use this not only for tracking inventory and sales, but also to help investigate thefts and illicit sales of prescription narcotics. It was thoroughly fascinating to talk to this man, and the 3 children could not have been better. What interesting people we are meeting here in Virginia.On Wednesday of this week we heeded a call for some temple service. The Washington DC temple is closed right now for annual maintenance, and our stake was assigned to do some cleaning. We headed out at 6am and made our way through the heavy DC rush hour traffic on Interstate 95. About 50 people were there to participate in the cleaning for the day, many of whom were full time temple missionaries. It was fun to chat with several of them about their experiences working at the temple and living in Washington DC. Lezlie and I did several different jobs throughout the morning, including moving furniture back into areas that had been cleaned, cleaning mirrors, dusting floor molding and paintings, cleaning doors, and polishing drinking fountains. We got to wander through all parts of the temple, which is a large one. There are actually 7 floors. It is a beautiful temple, and we enjoyed looking at all the excellent art while we cleaned. It was inspiring to see all of these good people working hard to clean the temple, and we enjoyed being a part of it. That evening we took dinner over to our young friends that have the new baby boy – the one I (Dan) blessed in December. She is a member who has been less active and he is not a member. But they have been trying to get involved in church. We had a great visit with them over Kentucky Fried Chicken. We had some good discussion about attending church, how the gospel helps us with families, and the blessings we receive through obedience. We really love this young family and have them in our prayers frequently. We can just see how much the gospel would help them in their young family. It was wonderful to spend time with them, especially since I got to hold the baby. We were thrilled they showed up at church Sunday!
Ft Belvoir, an Army base, is located about 15 miles north of us and we have become friends with the military relations couple that serves there. This week we met them for lunch at a Great Harvest Bread Company that is located nearby. We had a wonderful time chatting about the various activities we each do on our respective bases. They then took us on a short tour of the fort, and it was enjoyable. We were a little jealous, because this fort is much more modern than Quantico. I can’t believe the Army has more money than the Marines! Their building, roads, and surroundings were in excellent condition, far out shadowing our base. They also showed us their ward’s church building, and it was quite unique. The building is very near to Mt Vernon, George Washington’s home. The church building is built in the same style as Mt Vernon, with beautiful white columns in the style of Southern mansions. It is quite unique as far as church buildings go. But the most spectacular part is the amazing view of the Potomac River. The building sits on small rise just across the street from the river, and it is a gorgeous view. What a beautiful setting for a chapel. After a couple of enjoyable hours with our senior missionary friends we returned home to get ready for our TBS family home evening. Although we knew that our marine officers would be out in the field this evening the two wives that attended last week indicated that they would like to get together. Although it was a small group we had an excellent meeting. We gave a short lesson on good things coming out of adversity. Then we just talked to get to know each other better. The one lady is originally from Romania. She said growing up there life was pretty Godless. She came to the U.S. to go to school and later joined the Army. When she was in boot camp she found things quite difficult and decided that if there was a God she really needed His help there. She looked around all her fellow boot camp attendees, and was impressed by one young man because of his positive attitude, kindness, and friendliness. She knew he went to church, so she went with him one Sunday. It turned out to be the LDS services that were being conducted by some Senior Military Relations missionaries. A short time later she joined the church and she has never looked back. That was just 3 years ago, and here she is attending our services at Quantico. The other lady told about a calling that was both difficult and rewarding. She was called to be the Sunday School teacher in her Young Single Adult ward. She was quite nervous because she had actually never taught a church class before. She said she prayed and prayed every week that she would be able to teach what the class needed to hear. And she said that after nearly every class she had one or two folks come up to her and say, “That lesson was exactly what I needed today,” or “Your lesson was an answer to my prayers.” It was wonderful to get to know these two great young ladies. We are in awe of how well they are doing in supporting their husbands during this demanding marine training.One of our highlights this week was dinner out with Richard and Katherine Wick. Richard is the brother of my older sister’s husband, and we met before many years ago. He and his wife live only twenty minutes away from us. We had a delightful dinner with them and got to know them better. Richard and I talked about old, old memories, like the wedding of my sister and his brother fifty years ago and the time my sister and I visited his family in New York City to see the Worlds Fair. My sister and I were just teenagers but our parents put us on a bus from St Louis, Missouri to go to New York City and visit Richard and his sister Irene. Those two really showed us New York City, from riding subways to playing skee ball on Times Square, from the Empire State Building to the Worlds Fair, and from the Statue of Liberty to Central Park. It was an astounding trip for a couple of young kids from a small town in Washington State. So I had very fond memories of Richard, and it was great to get to visit with him after so many years.
What a busy day Saturday was! We began with an appointment with a young marine family that is investigating the church. Although the husband was not able to attend at the last minute because he had to work Saturday morning (the marines don’t really have weekends), we had a delightful visit with the wife and two small boys. She had learned a lot about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but she and her husband are taking their time about deciding whether to actually join. It would be a big change for them. We were able to answer some questions and suggest some activities that might help them make a decision. We got some groceries, and as we were driving away from the base we got a text message from a bachelor marine that we have been trying to reach for a couple of weeks. He was asking if we could give him a ride to church tomorrow. We said yes, and although we were on our way home we felt inspired to invite him to lunch. He said yes so we turned around and headed back to the base. was going through a sad divorce. We could tell he is still really hurting, so we just let him talk and talk. We were glad to get to know him and be of some service, and will be happy to take him to church tomorrow. We dashed home and put away the groceries – we actually had some ice cream in the car which was nearly soup by then – and then quickly headed out again for a baptism. It was for a nice young man we met at church just a few weeks ago, and it was a sweet baptism. Next we were able visit a family that had just moved into the area. They were active Army and the military relations couple at their base told us about them. We were able to find them at home, welcome them to Woodbridge, and give them the name and address of their ward here. Finally we drove back south past the marine base and met a marine for dinner. We have been helping his wife, who is undergoing a difficult pregnancy. He has been away at training a lot, so we have visited her several times to help around the house. Now she is away, staying with her sister in Connecticut where her doctor specialist is until the baby comes in a couple of weeks. She is going to be induced, so he will go up there for the birth. However, for now he is home alone and was out in the field all week sleeping in his sleeping bag on the COLD ground. So we took him out to dinner and had a nice chat with him. We felt satisfied with a good day’s missionary work. One other highlight of the day! In a previous post I mentioned a young marine to whom I gave a blessing. He had just arrived on base and had to take a difficult field test to get into the marine Infantry Officers school. It is an extremely challenging test physically and mentally, and not everyone passes. If they do not pass they are immediately dropped from the school. So this young LDS marine was nervous and wanted a blessing to calm his soul and give him confidence. We were so happy to hear that he did pass the test and is now enrolled in the school. Hooray for him! Our other IOC marine also passed and they have already met and can support each other.
Last week we reported that the new Officer Candidate School had begun but that no Church members showed up at our meeting on Sunday. We decided that we should go back to OCS this Sunday just to make sure that there had not been a miscommunication about our services. Today is the earliest Sacrament Meeting on the OCS schedule – 6:40am. So we packed up all of our treats and materials and headed for the base at 5:50am. We got set up and waited. And sure enough, at 6:39am a young marine came down the hall with his sergeant yelling, “Where is the LDS service?” We ushered the young marine into our room and away from his crusty sergeant. He is from Atlanta, served a mission in East LA, and graduated from BYU with a double major in Comparative Literature and Economics. He interned in a bank in DC already and has a job waiting for him there. But he always wanted to be a marine. So here he is. The three of us had a very nice, intimate sacrament meeting. We took chocolate chip pumpkin bread from Great Harvest Bread Company (thank you children for the gift certificate!), fresh fruit, and milk. He at half the loaf of pumpkin bread, drank about 4 glasses of milk, and ate a bunch of fruit! He was a delightful young man and we are looking forward to getting to know him better. He said he would bring friends next week.
This Sunday evening we close another week on our mission and say again that we are greatly enjoying our work here. We feel like we get to be a part of something that is so much bigger than us – families making choices that will bring them eternal benefits, single marines choosing to live the gospel under trying circumstances and being blessed for it, and young missionaries dedicating themselves every day to helping people in any way they can. We are humbled and inspired that we get to be a tiny piece of the big puzzle. We miss our family and our dogs greatly, but we know we are doing what we are supposed to be doing during this part of our life.