Sunday, February 23, 2014

Marines, Babies and Embassy Guards

Our week started with a special visit to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS).  NMCRS provides financial counseling and no-interest loans to marines having budget problems.  We volunteer there once a week.  About a month ago the NMCRS Director mentioned she was working on a PowerPoint presentation for a meeting of the community services groups on base.  Lezlie volunteered that she knew a lot about PowerPoint presentations because it was one of her responsibilities at work.  So the director asked her help, and since then PowerPoints have been one of Lezlie’s side jobs at NMCRS.  Today we went in for a short shift at NMCRS just so Lezlie could help with a new presentation.   That went well and the director was appreciative.  Having two hours before our The Basic School (TBS) family home evening we stopped at the Stafford County Library, where Lezlie found some additional genealogy information on her Virginia ancestors.  We then stumbled upon a great little café where we ate dinner.  The Honey Baked Ham Company is based in Virginia, and we found a Honey Baked Ham café.  It was small and cozy, and we were the only ones in the whole place.  We had some excellent ham sandwiches and salads for dinner.   We hope to take any visitors to this place because you can taste some outstanding Virginia ham there.  We then stopped at the Embassy School, where future embassy guards are trained, to pick up one of our young female marine friends.  She has been assigned to be a guard at the embassy in Croatia.  She has been trying to come to our FHE, but she often has classes until 8 or 9pm.  We took her to TBS for our family home evening.  As you can see from the pictures we had a good group.   Lezlie went all out on a “chips and dips” night.  We had about 3 kinds of tortilla and pita chips.  I made some sweet chips by baking cut up tortillas with butter spray, sugar and cinnamon on them.  Lezlie made about 5 kinds of dips and salsas – a tropical mango dip, blueberries & cilantro dips, corn dip, apple pie dip, and a couple more I can’t remember.  The marine group loved them.  We went with tons of chips and dips and came home with almost nothing.  We had a great discussion, led by Lezlie, about the nature of God and Jesus Christ, and talked about their characteristics that we should emulate.  It was excellent.  On the way home we talked about how fortunate we feel to be working with these young marines.  Every time we have an activity they thank us, but we feel that we should be thanking them.  It is so inspiring and humbling to work with these young people that are just getting started in their lives with career and family.  They are all trying so hard to be good marines, good family members, and faithful church members.  It is just amazing to be a part of it.  We feel blessed.  Military relations missions are the best!  Here are our TBS marines at family home evening.

We had an unusual Wednesday working separately.  Lezlie took off for Richmond at 8am with four young sister missionaries.  There was a  training meeting for all of the sister missionaries from 10am – 3pm and there was a need for transportation for some sisters.  At the same time there was a training class for volunteers at the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.  So Lezlie drove the sisters down in our van and I took one of the missionary cars to attend the NMCRS training.  It all worked out okay.  Lezlie did a good job driving and enjoyed the training meeting and association with the young sisters.  I got some chores done and enjoyed my volunteer training, which was worthwhile.  However, it was unusual for us to be apart all day.  That is the first time it has happened on our mission.  And we really missed each other!  But all went well and good training was had by all.

A cancelled District Meeting on Thursday greatly eased the business of the day.  We focused on two of our marine families in Stafford, south of the base.  First we visited a marine wife, her son and her new baby girl.  When we visit she loves to chat with Lezlie while I play with her 4 year old son.  This is fine with me as her son and I have great fun.  He has been getting a little less attention with the new baby sister so he enjoyed playing for an hour.  We were thrilled to see the healthy baby girl (and Mom) because it was a very difficult pregnancy.  This gal has had several miscarriages because she has an unusual chromosome abnormality.  So she and the baby were in our prayers a lot over the past three months, and we visited her frequently.  It was wonderful to see both mom and baby healthy, happy and doing well.  After that we went to the home of another young marine family for dinner.  We were a bit surprised when we received this invitation, because the wife has always been very busy with her children, her business and many projects.  The household always seems a bit disorganized, so we weren't sure what we might find.  But it was a wonderful dinner.  Not only was the food excellent – a delicious Virginia ham dinner – but we really enjoyed visiting and getting to know them better.  We really enjoyed our afternoon and evening visiting these excellent LDS marine families.

Our Friday found us attending the graduation for the Marine Corps Embassy Security Guard (MCESG) school.  As mentioned above we had one LDS gal in this school.  Her parents live in Portland, OR and could not come all the way here for the graduation, so she invited us.  We were the acting parents.  It was a lovely ceremony and we were quite impressed by all these young marines who marched into the hall in their dress blues uniforms.  They showed a film about the MCESG school, and it looked tough; a combination of rigorous physical training along with a lot of classroom work and tests.  We were impressed!  And it is quite selective.  If there are any blemishes on your record as a marine you cannot get into this school.  They call these American Embassy guards the front line of American policy because they are the first Americans foreigners meet when they come to the embassy.  There were some speeches and special awards, and then they called each graduate by name and presented them with a diploma.  The most impressive part about the whole graduation was this; when they called the graduate’s name they announced where they were going and then flashed a slide up on the screen behind the stage with a large map and a red arrow pointing toward the location of their assignment.  These young marines were literally assigned to all points of the globe, from Argentina to New Zealand, and from Ukraine to Uganda.  There were some “softer” assignments, like London, and some tougher ones like Syria and Sierra Leone, Africa.  Our young marine friend is going to Croatia, and is very excited about it.  After the graduation we took her to the Wash DC temple, which she really wanted to visit.  Her hectic training schedule had no allowed it until now.  We had a great temple session and spent a lot of time in the temple going through a session, doing some sealing work, and just walking around looking at the beauty in the temple.  We made it back home just at dinner time, so we stopped at the Cheesecake Factory for a graduation celebration dinner.  We had a fantastic meal, including some of their famous cheesecake.  It was fun to get to know this young lady better.  She is a great person who will make a fine marine emissary overseas.  We finally dropped her back off at the base and returned home about 8pm.  A long but enjoyable day.  This is our marine friend with her class and shortly after her graduation.

On Saturday and we had another full schedule.  At 9am I dropped Lezlie off for a Stake Women’s conference.  She said it was excellent, not only with good speakers but also with superb, practical classes.  She went to a class on using social media and got some good ideas for our single marine’s facebook page.  I picked Lezlie up at noon and we immediately drove the marine base.  We had received an invitation to an Eagle Scout court-of-honor.  We were quite surprised as this family is a less active church family and they have not seemed all that friendly when we stop by.  But we got the invitation so we attended.  It was held in the large atrium of the Marine Corps Museum, a spectacular setting for such an event.  The court-of-honor was held right next to a full scale model of a marine helicopter.  It was a fine meetimg, and we were honored when the young man and his dad both made a special effort to say hello and welcome us.  We then had a fortuitous meeting with some dog people.  A group called Veterans Moving Forward trains and places service dogs with veterans that have mental or physical disabilities or suffer from PTSD.  They were showing off some of their dogs and recruiting volunteers, so we are going to talk to them next week about volunteering.  Following the boy scout event we actually had a short break before our next event.  We then attended a sweet baptism.  There is a young husband in our ward who married a gal who was not a Mormon.  He recently decided to start coming back to church.  Shortly after that his wife got interested and she was baptized today.  This young husband’s family has been in this ward for a long time, so there was a huge turnout for the baptism.  It was nice.  Our finale for the day was to attend a party for the high priests group.  It was held in a lovely home, which we really enjoyed.  Although we have a very nice apartment, it was enjoyable to be in a big home.  It made us miss ours though.  We had some excellent food.  It was a pitch in dinner and there were all sorts of interesting dishes.  We sat with a Hispanic couple we did not know very well, and it was interesting to hear their story.  She was from Columbia and he from Guatemala.  Finally we played a group game, which was fun. It was a word game, so of course the women won.  But it was great fun. We returned home around 8:30pm after a long but very rewarding day. 

We had an excellent sacrament meeting with our solitary OCS candidate on Sunday. He is a great young person and we enjoy being a part of his journey through marine officer training.  He actually got another guy to come in for refreshments after our service was over.  The other guy was at protestant services and they got out early, so he timidly knocked on our door.  Our guy said “Hey, come on in and have some food!”   So we had a nice chat with this other young man today too.  Our Sunday meetings all went well.  One talk that was especially sweet for us was by Casey Clark, a young marine we had thought was inactive.  He gave an excellent talk today.  And he has helped the missionaries teach both of his sisters-in-law and his parents-in-law.  One of the sisters just got baptized, and the rest of them are getting baptized this week.  Wow.  And we though he was a less active member.   Afterward we had a linger longer, so we got to eat potluck dinner and visit with all of our ward friends.  Our TBS marines, and our embassy marine came to join us in our ward. Once again a busy day, but our tiredness feels good.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine Cookies for All

Most of our Monday was taken up by a trip to Richmond.  One of our dear young sister missionaries who has been here in our ward since we have been,  ended her mission today, and we transported her to the mission home.  The night before  they fly home, all the missionaries stay at the home of the mission president.  He has a large home with several bedrooms in the basement for the elders and several upstairs for the sisters.  Typically about a dozen missionaries go home every 6 weeks.  The mission president interviews them one last time, they hang out with the other missionaries going home, and spend the night there before being taken to the airport the next morning.  So, we took the sister and her companion down to Richmond.    They had been companions twice and became good friends so they wanted to spend every possible moment together.  We all went out for a late lunch at Fiesta Chicken, an excellent Mexican restaurant in Richmond.  It featured a huge wood fire oven with a large spit holding about ten chickens.  We had a wonderful barbecued chicken sandwich that was awesome.  We dropped off our Quantico sister, said some tearful goodbyes.  It was bittersweet.  We are happy to see her head home after serving a successful mission, but we will miss her a lot.  We are now to the point where there are only one or two missionaries in our zone that were here when we arrived.  Shortly we will be the longest serving missionaries in the zone, which is normal since we are never transfered.  But it makes us think about how quickly the time goes by.  In just two weeks we will be 1/3 done with our mission.  Transporting this sister on her last day made us think about how hard it will be to leave.  We have become very close to a lot of good people here, and it will be hard to say goodbye knowing we will likely never see them again.  However, the anticipation of seeing all of our family will far outweigh the sadness of saying goodbye.

We had another morning of conducting inspections of the young missionary’s apartments.  It is amazing the variety of levels of cleanliness we see.  For example, two young men that are both from rural areas of the west had obviously cleaned well.  You could tell that they kept it clean on a routine basis.  It was nearly spotless.  In another apartment the bathroom had q-tips, bits of toilet paper, and huge dust balls all over the bathroom floor.  And they knew we were coming to inspect!  So we praised the first group and strongly encouraged the second to do a little better.  We gave all of the inspectees Valentine cookies for their efforts.  The bulk of the afternoon was spent delivering multiple plates of Valentine cookies.  These short visits are almost always great fun.  It was a bitterly cold day, so it was not much fun getting in and out of the car.  But everyone we met was kind and welcoming, and it was a pleasure to get to see so many of our wonderful marine families during the day.  This evening we had an excellent family home evening with our group at The Basic School.  We had an insightful and enjoyable discussion about studying the scriptures.  These young people are so sharp with such depth to their testimonies and knowledge.  All we need to do is introduce the topic and ask a couple of thought provoking questions, and off they go.  We feel humbled to be a part of their world for this period of our lives.

After various errands, Valentine cookie deliveries, and working a shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief we finally we met with our lone OCS student from Atlanta on Wednesday and had an excellent family home evening.  The other couple we work with did the lesson and treats, so all we had to do was be there and be supportive.  We sure have come to love this young man.  We were happy to hear he had passed his obstacle course, something he had worried about last week because he had failed the preliminary test.  He made it with twenty seconds to spare.  Just as we were departing for home about 7:30pm the snow started.  It did not stop for many hours, resulting in about10 inches in this part of Virginia. The below picture is what it looked like off our back porch when we got home.

 After it snowed all night the roads were pretty bad in the morning.  So we stayed home most of the day and I tried to get the internet working on the computer.  We have had very spotty service for about a week, this after replacing the cable modem at Comcast’s suggestion.  After more calls to Comcast I decided it was the router.  So I headed out in the snow to Best Buy to buy a new router.  As I was driving I noticed two of the elders that live at our apartment trudging through the snow.  I gave them a ride home and found out that one of them used to work at Best Buy and is a computer whiz.  He recommended the router I should buy and offered to help set up everything.  I was able to set up the router without his help and we finally had solid internet connection.  But then the printer would not work off the wireless signal or even when connected by cable to the computer.  So we invited the Best Buy elder and his companion for dinner tomorrow and asked him to help with the computer problem.  Luckily he was free and said yes.

For our Valentines date we went to Potomac Mills mall and did some walking and shopping.  We both needed a few new clothes.  I have already worn out two white shirts.  We ate lunch at our favorite spot, the Crepe Ape.  They make excellent lunch and desert crepes.  We split one of chicken, spinach and cheese and another of bananas, peanut butter and nutella.  Then we went to see the movie Frozen and enjoyed it greatly.  Animation is so superb now, and the music in this movie was excellent. We were excited to see that the voice of one of the prince's was that of an Actor that Carrie had known at Richland High School. He is doing well!  We stopped by Costco, got a pizza, and soon were feeding the young elders.   It was amazing to watch our computer elder, who was excited to be allowed to play on a computer again.  He was skipping around on the computer so fast I had no idea what he was doing and I did not want to slow him down by asking.  Finally, at the last minute he got the printer working. He was so happy. He loves working on computers and said it was great fun for him.   He was not sure exactly which of his trial fixes worked.  We were very happy too, because we use the printer almost every day in our work.  Sadly he was transferred the next day and is now all the way down in Fredericksburg.  I am sure we will see him again.  He is the young man on the far right in this group of elders.  They are all Spanish speaking- there is a large Hispanic population in  this area. Actually there is a large population of many cultures around here- perhaps because of Washington DC. There is a large population from various African nations- particularly Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria- but they all speak English. There is also a large group of Mandarin Chinese (and Chinese speaking missionaries) in Fredericksburg. 

I (Dan) had an excellent haircut experience Saturday morning.  The barbershop has two big screen televisions that are always on with sports.  When I arrived the US vs Russia Olympics hockey match was on.  It was the final period with the score tied at 2 each when I got into the barber chair.  Regulation time ended and the match went into overtime.  Although each side had several shots on goal, there were no scores.  Several guys had finished their haircuts but were standing in the aisles just to watch the end of the match.  Everyone, even the barbers, was engrossed in the game.  It went into a shootout, where one member of the team tries to score on the opposite goalie.  They traded goals and misses shot for shot for several rounds.  Finally in the 8th round the Russian guy missed his goal and the US player made his. The US had won and the barber shop erupted in cheers.  And then my haircut was done.  Perfect timing.  What a great game and what a great haircut.  After a few more errands and chores Lezlie and I picked up two young elders and transported them to Fredericksburg for their transfers.  After some discussions and shifting of luggage, we headed back home with a new elder and a new sister.  WE delivered them safely to their new areas.  We were talking about what a huge change it is for these missionaries every 6 weeks. At transfer time they nearly always either move someplace new or receive a new companion.  If they move they have to pack up all of their stuff and get situated in a new home or apartment.  Plus they have to get used to a brand new companion.  Yet they do it with a smile.  We continue to be so impressed and inspired by the dedication and hard work of these outstanding young missionaries.

Our Sunday was superb.  We had a great early morning service with our lone OCS student.  We discussed war and combat, and how difficult it is for Christians to resolve the dilemma of being a part of the military that may send them to war.  It is a tricky topic, and very sobering.  But it went well and we had some good discussion about the importance of protecting freedom, country, home and family.   Lezlie made some excellent bread pudding.  I think our marine had about 4 helping, plus a banana, strawberries, blueberries, and an orange.  These OCS trainees burn up so many calories every day – they are always hungry.  After a short rest at home we went to the Garrisonville Ward, which is not our normal ward.  We attended there so that we could see a marine wife give a talk.  This is the lady we mentioned before from Moldova who joined the church during Army boot camp.  She is married to a marine that is in TBS right now, and he is friends with our LDS group.  Her talk was simply amazing.  It is unfathomable that English is not her first language.  She was so eloquent and painted beautiful word pictures.  She talked about how to increase spirituality and become closer to God.  We enjoyed being at this ward very much and heard excellent talks and lessons throughout our stay.  Shortly after church we had a wonderful Skype session.  Our older daughter Anne was visiting her younger sister Carrie to help out with Carrie’s new baby.  So we had a great visit with them and Carrie’s family Matt, Danny, Kaylee, and new baby Abby.  It is so great to be able to Skype and chat with our family members via live video.  We really enjoyed it. Lezlie has also been able to Facetime with her parents nearly daily.  Sunday had been a chilly day, and we were tired from our early morning trip to the base.  We thought we were home for the night and were about to put on our pajamas.  But I sent a message to one of our marines  on base that we had been a little worried about.  He had been getting progressively involved with dating a girl who had no interest in the church, but he was determined it would work out, even though he was not at all interested in hers.  Although I meant to text him on Saturday I just got very busy and forgot.  It turns out he needed the text I sent on Sunday.  I asked if we could do anything for him.  He wrote back that yes we could, he would really like a blessing.  It turns out that he and his girlfriend had broken up only hours before and he was feeling very sad.  Since it was a long weekend (President’s Day) a majority of the students in his barracks had left for the weekend, and he was feeling pretty lonesome too.  So Lezlie made a quick batch of cookies and we headed for the base.  Our poor young friend was so sad.  He just needed some company, a couple of hugs, and someone to talk to.  He was very sad about losing his girlfriend, but also felt breaking up may have been for the best in the long run.  So we chatted and gave him a blessing before we left, grateful that we were in the right place at the right time to visit him.  There are some things that you just can't fix- but we have found that hugs and cookies at the right time do a lot to make people feel loved when they are low.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Temple Excursions

To start off this period we attended a monthly zone meeting.  We heard a lot of nice talks and lessons from the young missionaries.  But the one that moved us most of all was a testimony by one of the first sisters we met when we arrived, Sister Allen.  She has worked in the same ward as us ever since then, so we have come to know her very well.  We love her dearly and will be sad when she lives.  She is going home in ten days, and she is pretty emotional about the approaching end of her mission.  She gave a very powerful and touching testimony that made almost everyone cry.  She said that she has come to know the power of the scriptures on her mission, and that if we act in faith we will never be disappointed.  We will miss her a lot.   She is on the left here, with her companion Sister Stowell. 
We had two excellent Saturday temple excursions for some of our marines.   On our first trip only one young man was able to attend.  We greatly enjoyed getting to know this good young father better.  He has a pregnant wife and 3 children back in Dallas, but they are all fully supporting him in his quest to be a marine officer.  He is a mechanical engineer at the Halliburton Company, so it was fun for me (Dan) to hear about his job.  He helps design oil drilling rigs. He will be a reserve officer, so once he is done with all of his marine training he will go back to his engineering job and do his reserve work on weekends and summers.  We had an excellent session at the temple, which was beautiful in the bright sunshine.  We made stops at the temple visitor’s center and the LDS bookstore, both of which were new to him.  After an excellent Mexican lunch we headed home.  For our second trip we took 3 marines, two guys and a girl (see photo below).   Of course they were right on time for our 8am pickup, and we had a smooth drive into Washington DC.  We attended an excellent temple session and all enjoyed it very much.  It was a full session and there was a young man there that was soon to leave on his mission, so it made it kind of special.  All three of our marines expressed their joy at being there.  We then had an excellent lunch at the Hong Kong Café where we enjoyed visiting with these 3 great young people and getting to know them better.  One of them is kind of a country boy (the tall guy), very laid back and easygoing.  He is going to be a marine pilot.  The girl is very outgoing and friendly, and is a tough young lady.  But she is also kind and motherly to all the male LDS marines.  The other guy is the mechanical engineer from Texas that we took last week.  It was a joy to spend time with them.  After a large lunch of cashew chicken, fried rice, beef and broccoli, and various other Chinese delights we headed back to the base.  Everyone else napped on the hour long drive.  We made a stop at the commissary so that all three of them could buy groceries.  They are so busy during the week it is almost impossible for them to get over to commissary to shop for food.  Although they do have a mess hall, they are always hungry, so they have small refrigerators and microwaves in their rooms.  They bought tons of snacks and fruit.  About 4pm we finally returned them to their barracks, tired but happy that we could take them all to the temple. We dropped them off and then went to an interesting birthday party for a wife of a TBS student in Stafford. She is from Muldova and had made some amazing Russian type food.
We had a touching experience Sunday  morning.  During our first Officer Candidate School (OCS) class last September I (Dan) developed 5 different lessons to present during our Sunday services with the OCS students.  We try to give lessons that are applicable to being a leader and officer in the marines.  As the new OCS class began a few weeks ago I looked at all the different lessons I had and was trying to decide the best order for presenting them.  I decided I should say a prayer about it, which I did.  I then placed them in the order that seemed best.  The topic of this morning’s lesson and discussion was Courage.  We talked about the types of courage – stepping outside your comfort zone, standing up for what is right, persevering in the face of adversity, facing suffering with dignity, and feeling fear yet choosing to act.  I had some videos to support these concepts of courage and the lesson went just fine.  Immediately at the end of the lesson our sole OCS student said that it was exactly the lesson he needed today.  He received his first peer evaluations this week.  That is when the other platoon members evaluate how they think the others in their platoon are doing.  One of the others wrote that “…he does not have the moral courage to correct his peers.”  These peer evaluations do not make or break a candidate, so it is not overly important.  But it really bothered him.  He kind of poured out his heart about that.  He was very sad that someone had thought that of him because as far as living church standards he felt he had strong moral courage.  He said he also realized he kind of keeps to himself and does not say things to others to correct them when they are doing something wrong.  So he was able to take bits and pieces of the lesson and think about them in relation to his own situation.  He said he realizes he needs to step out of his comfort zone a bit and push others in his platoon to do better.  He also had a couple of other setbacks this week, so we were glad to give him some encouragement. I was so pleased that the courage lesson was just what he needed and felt humbled that God had planted a seed that this was the right lesson to teach this week.  Lezlie had baked a wonderful apple crisp and our marine ate almost the whole pan.  That also may have been exactly what he needed today.   We always are a bit tired when we have to get up early for these break-of-dawn services for our OCS marines, so church seemed especially long today.  But we did have some excellent testimonies, lessons and visits with friends.  

Today Abby was blessed, and she is the first grandchild whose blessing we missed.  Becky Billings sent us several texts and photos that kept arriving during our Sunday school class.  We knew what they were so we did sneak a few peaks during class.  Abby looked beautiful in her white handmade dress made by Grandma Larue Mauger.  So today is one of those mixed feeling days where we are sad to miss Abby’s blessing but still glad we are on our mission.  We would not miss the amazing experiences, blessings and miracles as a result of being here.  We have made wonderful friends here and we love our marines.  But still, we really missed not being with family today and were sad to miss Abby’s blessing.  

On Tuesday we had an exceptional Family Home Evening with our The Basic School (TBS) group.  We arrived early to set up, but things started out poorly.  The conference room that is reserved for us was locked.  We got in touch with the duty officer who showed up with a master key, but his key did not work.  By the time the duty officer determined that he did not have any key that worked, nearly all of our folks had arrived.  Thankfully they took us to another building and gave us a nice classroom to use.  We had to wait for the duty marines to finish mopping it.  By then we had 8 folks in attendance, including our young gal friend Richland here at the FBI academy and a new young marine that we had never met before.  He had seen a sign that listed all of the various faiths’ services and decided to come to our meeting.  He is a new member of the church, having been baptized only a year ago.  So we had a good mix of our regular TBS attendees and new folks.  It was a great evening.  Lezlie’s lesson went really well and there was a lot of great discussion.  We had chocolate cupcakes and fruit.  I think everyone had about 3 cupcakes each, and the fruit was gone quickly.  Even though the start was rough, it turned out to be one of our best family home evenings yet.  We are excited to have this large group to meet with each week and hope that we can provide meaningful lessons and discussions. 
We worked out routine shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society on Wednesday.  Everything went well, and we were able to help out some young marines that had real financial crises going on.  It always feels good to be able to help them.  I was able to give a $2800 check to one young marine.  He had changed bank accounts and provided the new account numbers so his pay could be direct deposited.  But there had been an error in the number and the bank refused to accept his pay check.  He lives from payday to payday as it is, so he basically had nothing for his basics, like food and rent, for the next two weeks.  He was a nice young man and seemed to have his finances in pretty good shape.  But he just had nothing extra to get him through this pay error.  We hope his pay will get straightened out and he will repay us right away.  After our volunteer work we had our OCS FHE with our sole OCS candidate.  Lezlie gave her lesson on seeing God in nature, with her exceptional PowerPoint, musical presentation showing stunning scenes in nature.  It went well.  Even though we only have one young man this time we still enjoy our OCS meetings very much.  He is a great guy, and is always very appreciative. 

On Thursday we had no appointments or scheduled activities.  So after a few routine errands like getting the car washed and shopping a bit, we worked on Valentine cookies.  We reviewed all of our marine families and calculated about 22 sets of treats we wanted to deliver.  Lezlie baked, I cleaned up, and we both decorated.  We were happy with the result and look forward to delivering them to our great marine families.  We included the following a verse with each plate of cookies - John 13:35 " I have loved you, lone one another."   Although we do not have live television, I do keep up on the news online.  So we celebrated the Seahawks Super Bowl victory even though we did not watch it.  Here is a picture of our new granddaughter, the littlest Seahawk fan of all.   
Our Friday morning started early, marine time I guess you would say.  We had a Chaplains Briefing at 0800 on base for 240 marine Warrant Officer Students.  They are just beginning their 4 months of classwork at The Basic School so all the lay leaders and the chaplain introduced themselves.  After that we began our deliveries of Valentine treats, passing out 3 plates of cookies.  Our visits were inspired.  We got to see the family with the premature baby that has multiple health problems, and they were happy to show off their son to us.  We met with a family that has a young girl that was born with just one eye, and the little girl was happy to see us.  Her big eye surgery is in two weeks, and we got to wish her well.  And finally we stopped and saw a marine family where the dad had just had a heart episode and had to have angioplasty surgery to install a stint.  We knew nothing about it, but were able to deliver some Valentine heart cookies for him, wish him well, and promise to keep him in our prayers.  After that we drove back to Woodbridge and inspected 4 missionary apartments.  This was our first time doing this senior missionary chore, and it was easier than we thought.  In general the missionaries did a good job and were conscientious is their cleaning and tidying up.   We did have a few dirty microwaves, some dusty air vents, and some signs of mildew in a couple of showers.  But mostly the apartments were in pretty good shape.  We told them all they did a good job and gave them each a Valentine cookie.  Then we headed back to the base and delivered about five more plates of cookies.  It was great fun and we had nice, short visits with all of the families.  Finally we hosted two elders for a spaghetti dinner.  These young men both are doing a Spanish Speaking mission, and it was interesting to hear all about their adventures with the Hispanic community here.  There are many Spanish speakers here and these young elders are kept very busy.  So we had a busy, but wonderful and enjoyable day.