After a slow Monday morning we baked a couple of batches of brownies, said and prayer and decided which marine families to see. We visited a less active family that has been trying to get back into things. They were excited to talk about the visit of grandma and grandpa when their nine year old will get baptized late this month. We visited a family that just had their 7th child, a boy, on Friday and gave them a baby gift of a blue Bulldog sleeper. The Bulldog is the mascot of the marines. We stopped and saw the family with the premature baby boy that has multiple medical problems. Lezlie planted some bulbs in her garden. We visited a marine wife with 5 children under ten. Her mom died unexpectedly a month ago, then last weekend her grandma passed away. Needless to say she was grieving. She was also stressed about the kids so we chatted with her for a bit and left with a prayer and a promise to return soon. Finally we visited a brand new marine family and took them to dinner at Chik-fil-a. He is a marine lawyer and they will be here a couple of years. They have 3 children and one on the way. They were a great family and we really enjoyed visiting with them. She is a tough gal that took care of those 3 kids while he was away on a tour in Afghanistan. We finally arrived home about 8pm, once again tired but full of joy because we got to help several marine families. It is great to be a military relations missionary.
Our Tuesday morning began with an excellent District Training Meeting. Our District Leader, is a distance runner. After being asked he modestly told us that his best mile run in high school was a 4:05. Wow! He was recruited to run track at BYU. So he knows something about discipline and hard work. He organized a short but excellent set of training lessons and music that were powerful. We appreciated his efforts to be on time because we had told him we had an appointment in Stafford at 1pm. After dropping off elders following the meeting we drove to Taco Bell, picked up some tacos, and took lunch to the home of the family with the new baby girl that came after a very difficult pregnancy. Her husband is away at marine training for about two months and she is struggling with the two young children and is lonely. So we spent two hours with her, Lezlie mostly just letting her talk and me playing with her 4 year old son. It was tiring but fun as well. The visit seemed to cheer her up a bit. We left her with a prayer. We then met one of our The Basic School marine wives for a first course of dinner (salad) at Panera Bread. This is the lady from Moldova that joined the church at Army basic training. She told us of some of her challenges and struggles in her personal life. She is also facing some challenges right now. So we sat with her and just listened for an hour. Then later we met a second TBS marine wife for the main course ( soup) at Panera bread. We had originally scheduled to have dinner with both of these ladies but the first one had an interview scheduled with the Stake President. She is going to the temple for the first time in two weeks. So we just had salad with the one and soup with the other. It was pretty refreshing to visit with her because she did not have any major problems or challenges right now to deal with. She was just happy and enjoying life. She is pregnant with their first child and is excited about becoming a mom. It was delightful to visit with her. So go our days. Visits with marines and their family, efforts to cheer them up or listen to their joys and accomplishments. It doesn’t seem like much, but we know that we are helping out these folks. It feels wonderful. Being a marine wife is not easy and we are happy to help.
What a Wednesday. We worked a good shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society and helped several marines. We have come to be good friends with the Director. We always chat with her during the lulls. She seems to like to talk with us, maybe because we are the only volunteers that are about her age. She loves doing genealogy, so she and Lezlie talk about that a lot. After catching a quick dinner we went to our first Officer Candidate School family home evening with our new group. We had 7 attend the service. Only 3 of them were church members. Some of the others were 2nd year OCS students. There is one set of courses where they go for 6 weeks over two consecutive summers while they are in college. The 2nd year guys, or seniors as they are called, had attended the LDS service last summer when they were here and said they liked them. So they came back. Another guy came with his LDS friend. Another guy from Hawaii came because he had a lot of Tongan LDS friends in Hawaii and really liked them. It was great to meet and get to know them a little bit. What a great bunch of young people. Once again we feel humbled and inspired to be working with these great folks. We mostly just talked and had introductions, but the other couple that works with us gave a nice, short lesson on prayer. Then the OCS gang inhaled dozens of brownies and cookies, and drank a gallon of milk and two quarts of apple juice. And there were only 7 of them! We really look forward to getting to know them better.
For my birthday on Friday we had a wonderful adventure away from home. We traveled to Washington DC and did a short session of work at the Temple, which was enjoyable. We stopped at the LDS bookstore nearby and did some shopping there. Next we stopped at Tysons Corner mall, a huge shopping mall near the interstate that loops around DC. We did a little shopping there and had a nice Chinese lunch. A movie was next on the agenda, and mom let me chose the genre I like. So we saw the new Tom Cruise adventure movie, Edge of Tomorrow, and I liked it. The popcorn was good too. After traveling home we had a nice dinner and I got to open some fine gifts. Thanks to everyone, I really liked all of the thoughtful presents. Lastly we traveled to the base to teach a lesson to our friends whose husband was just baptized into our church. It was great to see them and we had a good discussion. They are being transferred to the Marine Air Base in Yuma, AZ. Lezlie has been working on a going away gift for them. It is a picture of their baby boy. He is sitting on the floor and their big bulldog is seated beside him. The little boy had reached up and put his hand on the dog’s back as if to say, “This is my dog.” Lezlie did a fantastic job on it (see below). So we gave them the above picture as a going away gift. They loved it, were in awe of the talent shown, and thanked Lezlie over and over again. It was delightful to be able to give that to them. We will miss them when they leave for AZ.
On this Sunday we held our first Officer Candidate School church service for our new group. We had 8 attendees and only 3 of them were LDS. The others heard about our services and knew we were a small group with treats, so they came. We had a great discussion with all of them today. It is so absolutely humbling to work with these dedicated young people. And they thank us for what we do. We feel like we should be thanking them for allowing us to be a part of their lives for this short period of time. But out whole senior mission is like that. While people thank us for various things, we feel so thankful for the amazing experiences, blessings, and miracles. We have found that as senior missionaries we receive much more than we give. Anyway, we had a wonderful early morning church service with the young marines in training. (See pics below) We then attended our ward’s ward council meeting. It was a pretty typical meeting. We have a brand new bishop and everyone is getting to know him and his style better. The meeting ended and everyone was kind of hustling out because it was a few minutes late. The bishop waded through the crowd and sought us out in the hall. He said, “I have been hearing your name a lot.” When we asked him what he meant he said, “Well I talk to a lot of folks in the ward and I keep hearing that the Couchs did this, the Couchs visited us, the Couchs gave me a ride.” He said he just wanted to thank us for our quiet, behind the scenes service that was important to many people. It was very touching and humbling. While we try to work hard here and do our best, we do not feel like we are doing anything extraordinary. We know that the small things are important and we try to do the best we can. But it was a very sweet moment, and the bishop and Lezlie and I all got a few tears in our eyes. Lezlie and I each taught a lesson today, she in Gospel Essentials class and me in High Priests. Our lessons went well and it was enjoyable for both of us. Finally we took our friend William Hatcher to visit his mom at her retirement home. He had become a good friend and he is going through some tough times. We are glad to be a part of his life right now. So at the end of a lovely Sunday we are grateful to be involved with so many different people, thankful for the opportunity to be here, and continue to love being senior missionaries.