Monday, May 19, 2014

Gettysburg and a Senior Picnic

We had an extraordinarily busy week.  Our best event of Monday was providing a family home evening for a family that has been less active at church.  We have visited several times, but our reception has been a little cool.  But on a prompting I called and asked if we could give our family home evening on obedience, and the husband said yes.  We were a little surprised.  The family seemed genuinely pleased to see us and the obedience lesson featuring pictures of our dogs went over very well.  They have two dogs so liked all the doggie pictures.  The kids behaved and were actively involved.  At the end the dad said, “We need to have a song.”  He sat down and played piano while we all sang I am a Child of God.  It was a very warm feeling, and everyone sang along.   It was good to be in their home and share a good message.  The following Sunday most of the family came to church, the first time in a long while.

Most of our TBS group was in the field, so we had a small but sweet Family Home Evening Group Tuesday.

We headed out mid-morning on Wednesday and traveled to Sterling, VA, about an hour away.  We had fun conducting a Canine Good Citizen test for the Veterans Moving Forward group.  This is an organization that trains service dogs for wounded or mentally disabled veterans.  They have had some great success stories with their dogs.  We tested a 6 month old black lab puppy and he did well.  He will make some needy veteran very happy one day.  

We next drove to the home of our friends the Wilsons in Biglerville, PA.  He and I were company mates at the Naval Academy.  It was so good to see him and his wife, whom we consider good friends.  We don’t see some of our academy friends for years, but then it is just like we live next door when we see them and get to visit.  We had a great time catching up and telling stories about our families and experiences.  Tom is a very funny guy, and he had us laughing at story after story.  He is the only one from our company that made Admiral, and he had a lot of great stories to tell about his experiences in the Navy.  It is a BIG deal to make Admiral in the Navy!  They live on a farm that belonged to her grandma.  The house is the home she remembers visiting as a child when she went to her grandma and grandpa’s house.  It is a beautiful old stone home over a hundred years old that they fully renovated inside.  We had a great time touring the house, barn, and grounds.  They own about 100 acres and they lease out a large chunk of it to a local farmer that plants crops there. 

Sue fixed us a wonderful dinner and we had a good rest for the night.  A secondary reason for visiting our friends in Biglerville was that it is right next to Gettysburg.  So after a great breakfast we headed for the Gettysburg Battlefield Park.  We had a very interesting if somewhat sobering day.  Our friends loaned us a superb audio auto tour CD.  It was really well done, with parts being read by dramatic actors rather than just park rangers. We saw the areas of all the battles, and stood on top of Little round Top hill, where Colonel Chamberlain’s Maine regiment withstood the attacking rebels to save the day.  We saw the place where General Meade had his headquarters, and the field of Pickett’s last charge.  I had recently read an excellent Civil War history book (thank you Anne and Rex).  I knew a lot about the battle of Gettysburg, so it was quite interesting to see all of it.  The visitors center was exceptional too, with a good movie summarizing the three days of battles.  We especially enjoyed the Cyclorama, and huge 360° painting of Pickett’s charge.  It was a wonderful day touring a fascinating historical site.  We finally departed Pennsylvania, and drove to Frederick, MD so Lezlie could do some family history work at the library there.  Much to our dismay, there was a torrential thunderstorm taking place as we left the library.  We were soaked just running to the car.  We had to battle the rain as well as heavy traffic in DC to get home.  We finally made it, tired but happy for our enjoyable two day trip.  Here are pictures of me with a field cannon and at the top of Little Round Top hill.
I (Lezlie) spent most of the day Friday cooking, and Saturday we held our senior missionaries picnic.  We headed for our picnic grounds first thing in the morning, and were pleased to find clear skies and a warm breeze.  We had rented a nice picnic shelter in a beautiful setting of Virginia hardwood trees.  The only problem was that it was about 100 yards down the trail from the parking lot.  So we hauled load after load of items down the rocky, dirt trail – salads, cookies, equipment for our games, ice chest full of water bottles, cleanup gear, etc.  I believe that  between 8:30am and 9:00am I (Dan) went up and down that trail about twenty times.  Then I had to run to the Subway shop and pick up our sandwiches.  When I returned Lezlie said the park ranger had stopped by and said we could drive our car down that 100 yard trail to unload!  But it was too late since everything had already been hauled by hand.  Oh well, we got some extra exercise.  About a half hour before we were to start the senior missionaries started to show up and everyone helped with final preparations.  We always love to get together with the other seniors here.  It is such a feeling of inclusion in a greater work when we see and hear about all the things the other senior missionaries are doing.  We just love these folks.  Lezlie made up an ice-breaker activity, a questionnaire relating to military and marine stuff.  Like, “Find a senior missionary that had to leave their dog behind.  Did you know that the mascot of the Marines is a Bulldog names Chesty?”  People seemed to enjoy that activity, and we really did learn a lot about each other.  After the getting-to-know-you game and final preparations we had a great lunch -  Subway sandwiches, chips, about 5 homemade salads, and plates of cookies.  Of course we had way too much food, but lots of folks took leftovers home.  (We ended up donating a bunch of sandwiches to a family in the ward with 8 children). We then introduced our games, which consisted of five activities that were loosely based on marine training.  We then correlated that training with missionary activities.  For example, the marines have to learn about logistics, or how to move a lot of gear from point to point out in the field.  As senior missionaries we are always hauling around treats, materials, or young missionaries from point A to point B.  For the logistics game they had to stack a group of about thirty odd shaped boxes within a small area in a short amount of time.  Besides the logistics we had a Target Range (rubber band shoot), Land Navigation (use the compass on your iPhone to find hidden animals), Teamwork (put together a USA map puzzle in 3 minutes), and an Obstacle Course (push balls through obstacles with yardsticks).  We were a little worried they might think the games were silly, but everyone seemed to have a great time.  They were laughing and joking and teasing each other the whole time.  It was good for everyone to unwind and relax.  Everyone hung around and visited for a bit longer and then helped us clean up and load everything back into the car.  We worked very hard on putting this together and felt rewarded that it turned out well.  We think all the senior missionaries had a good time.  After getting all of our gear back apartment we both took a short nap.  We had worked hard for a couple of days and were tired.  Finally we picked up a young marine and his wife from our Basic School group and took them out to a wonderful Greek restaurant for dinner.  She is the lady from Moldova that joined the church when she was in Army boot camp.  They are a very interesting young couple and we had a great time with them.   Besides hearing about her life as a child in Moldova, we heard about his previous enlisted service in the Marine Corps and his early life in California.  We also were able to discuss the soviet situation in the area of Ukraine and Moldova.  It was a long, full day, but great ly enjoyable one too.  Here are pics of the box stacking and rubber band shooting.


On Sunday evening we attended a unique and enjoyable activity at our ward.  For teacher appreciation week the ward held a teacher appreciation night.  Children and youth in the ward hand delivered invitations to their teachers at school.  About twenty teachers showed up.  Each was given a flower hand-made with cloth and buttons.  There was a simple program of music and talks, mostly by the youth.  The youth all told stories of teachers that had made a difference in their lives.  One adult speaker noted that education and children are both important in our church, and he thanked the teachers for taking care of our children and educating them. An LDS high school teacher had been awarded teacher of the year and he spoke and played the cello. Then there were excellent refreshments in the cultural hall.  Each teacher was given a certificate thanking them for being teachers.  It was quite a nice event and we were impressed. 

This last picture has absolutely nothing to do with our activities this past week.  I just thought it was a wonderful picture of our new granddaughter Abby Hong- she was visiting Forks WA with her Mom and adopted Aunt Becky Billings for all of the Twilight vampire tour stuff- she seems to really be into it!

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