Unfortunately our last ten days have been dominated by the flu, which is why we did not add a blog post last week. We got sick on a Thursday and by Friday morning both of us were chilled, feverish, achy and coughing. Luckily we have established a good relationship with a nearby family doctor, and she got us in right away. She gave us some good medications to help us with the symptoms and coughing and told us to stay home for at least 3 days, which we did. We were able to do a few activities the days after that, but mostly we stayed home and napped a lot. This Virginia flu was nasty and really knocked us out for longer than we expected. But now, after 10 days, we are almost back to 100%. We are grateful for good doctors, effective medicine, yuja cha (Korean orange tea), a warm and cozy apartment, and understanding folks that expressed concern and support.
The day before we started feeling sick we worked a good shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. I (Dan) worked two interesting cases. We had one young marine that had a very sad situation. His finances were a mess and there was no way he was going to be able to pay NMCRS back if he got a loan. But in some special cases the director is able to approve a grant where we give the marine the money with no payback required. I suggested this to the director in this particular case, and she agreed to a $1900 grant. I got to present the check to this young man and he was almost in tears, something unusual for a hardened marine. He was so thankful and relieved that he had a way out of his difficult financial crisis. I also got to give a retired female marine colonel a check for $4100 so that she could get an emergency root canal done. It is the biggest check I have seen yet. She was quite happy and could not wait to get her tooth fixed. After our volunteer work we walked into Quantico Town for dinner at an Asian restaurant. Quantico town is the small town that is surrounded by the Marine base. It is about two blocks from where we do our volunteer work. We were planning on attending the start of the TBS graduation, which took place in the same building where we volunteer, so did not want to lose our good parking place. When they have major events at the auditorium the parking lot fills up quickly. We had to go to our Office Candidate School family home evening that night, so we were not able to stay for the actual graduation ceremonies. But we were able to see our two TBS graduates and their families. Here is a picture of one of the 2nd Lieutenants and his son with us.
We did have a couple of fun dog activities during the tail end of our flu recovery period. We have started working with a dog group called Veterans Moving Forward. This is a non-profit group that trains dogs and places them with veterans that have mental or physical disabilities. We are going to try to volunteer a bit with this group. On two different days we drove to Fairfax, Virginia to do Canine Good Citizen tests for six month old puppies, both Golden Retrievers. The puppies were delightful and both passed the test. The VMF people were pleased with us and the way we conducted the test. It was fun. We hope to do a bit more volunteer work with this group. They are fairly young and have only about a dozen puppies in their pipeline right now. But they seem to have their act together and have a dedicated group of volunteers. They have been able to get enough donations up to this point, but they are thrilled to get us as free Canine Good Citizen evaluators. This is one of the puppies we evaluated.
We got to participate in a lesson for a young Navy family on base. This is a part member family where she is a member and he is not. But she had been less active until she got pregnant. That made her reconsider and she wanted to start going to church again. And he has been taking lessons from the sister missionaries. This is the young couple for whom I blessed the baby boy and with whom we have become close friends. We had a great meeting with them and talked about how important and useful it was for them to pray as a couple. It really touched their hearts, we could tell. We love this young family and hope that one day he will join the church.
We got to attend both Family Day and the Commissioning Ceremony held as part of the Officer Candidate School graduation. We got to meet the family of our sole LDS guy in the school. They were great. It was fantastic to meet his mom and dad and his two younger brothers. They thanked us for helping their son and gave us a gift of some Georgia honey (they are from Atlanta). Our young marine was so happy that the school was over and he had made it. The marines really know how to do ceremonies and this Commissioning was no exception. The band plays, the Chaplain gives a long prayer, patriotic speeches are made, and then the candidates are officially sworn in as 2nd Lieutenants in the Marines Corps. At the end the Marine Corps Hymn is always sung - you know “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli…” The way they do this is that the band starts the song but only plays about 3 measures before dropping out. Then the 100 or so candidates sing the song loudly and with much gusto. Some of them really get into it, and they are almost screaming the song. They sing all 3 verses. Then the crowd cheers wildly at the end. It is a pretty moving way to end the ceremony. Here is a picture of the whole group and also a picture of our guy. Sister McGrath, of the couple that works with us at OCS, is also in the picture. The commissioning ceremony is held in the large atrium of the Marine Corps Museum. So those are real tanks and airplanes in the background.
We ended up our week by attending Stake Conference. Although we are not 100% recovered from the flu and still have scratchy throats, we joined the missionary choir and sang lightly at the Saturday evening meeting. It was a very good experience. All of the young elders and sisters from the Woodbridge Zone sang, about 40 of us. And we made a good choir. What we lacked in talent was made up for by the enthusiasm and the spirit of these young missionaries. They were wonderful, and it was a joy to be a part of it. We sang “Called to Serve,” and a “Sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman” medley. It was an excellent meeting, and all of the talks were devoted to missionary work. One of our young sisters gave an excellent talk and her enthusiasm and love of the work was contagious. The Sunday session of conference was excellent as well, and we got to list to Elder L Tom Perry from Salt Lake. It was a good conference and a good start getting out and about after our battle with the flu. We are ready to get busy again this week!