The first part of our week began with escorting the mom of one of our The Basic School (TBS) marines to the temple. Our female marine’s mom is visiting from San Diego for her graduation. We picked her up first thing in the morning and took her to the Washington DC temple. We had a nice visit with her in the car and learned a lot about her daughter. We then went back to the base and met Melanie and a few of her friends that she had recruited to help her do a demo of the obstacle course. She wanted to show her mom how she could do it. So we tagged along and watched too. We were totally impressed by how athletic and fit these young marines were. It was amazing! Here are a few pictures of three of our marines running through the obstacle course. We next met all of our TBS marines for our last family home evening with this big group. We had a great meeting reviewing the lessons we have shared over the past 9 months. We asked thought provoking questions related to those lessons. For example, “How did your testimony help you get through OCS and TBS? What was the hardest thing about being LDS during your training?” We had some good discussion about these thought provoking topics and it was a wonderful last night with these marine friends. Lezlie made an exceptional cherry pudding cake that we served with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. It was enjoyed by all. We were also thrilled to have a new LDS gal show up. She is a new athletic trainer at TBS. She is just like the trainers on professional sports teams that give immediate first aid for injuries, wrap ankles and knees that are sprained, and provide therapy to help heal injuries. She said that she goes right out into the field with the marines and helps them recover from injuries. She was a great participant on her first night and it was good to have another attendee. After the graduation of our large class of LDS marines we will have some small family home evenings. We cannot say enough about this great group of young people. Of the six marines and wives we worked with, 4 are returned missionaries. We feel tremendously blessed to have known them and worked with them.
On Wednesday evening we attended the graduation ceremony of our outstanding group of marines. It was bittersweet. We were so happy for this great accomplishment and proud of each and every one of them. But we were also terribly sad to say goodbye. We got photos of most of them in their Alphas – their best dress uniform. And did they look sharp!
Friday was a Zone Training meeting day. It was our first meeting since transfer day so we got to meet all of the new missionaries that were assigned here. Great fun! As usual these great young people provided some excellent training – inspirational and informative. We visited two families on the base and had some good conversation with them. Finally we took one of our young bachelor marines out to dinner. We had an excellent chat with him and got to know him a little bit better. This young man is trying to find himself again after a sad divorce. After serving a mission he came home and married his childhood sweetheart. After 5 months she left him saying she did not want to be married. He was totally surprised and completely devastated. He is just starting to seem a little more cheerful and positive. He is a really nice young man and we hope he can recover from this sad event.
Our Saturday has been slow. Lezlie has a cold and so we wanted to take it easy today. We did a large stretch of baking. We are making 4th of July plates for about 25 marine families, so we got started early. Lezlie does most of the baking but I did mix up the sugar cookie dough and did all the clean up. We are a good team. We also have a nice 4th of July spiritual message about liberty in which we thank them for their service in the military. I will take a picture of a completed plate and add it once we make a few plates. This cookie delivery may seem like a small thing. But we have had so many wonderful conversations and so much sharing when we drop off these treats. It often leads to other things too, like the family that finally let us in to do a family home evening, then had their 9 year old daughter baptized and started coming back to church. We delivered a lot of treats to that home before any of that happened. Anyway, we love doing it even though it is a lot of work. After our baking and cleanup we cooked a ham dinner for two elders that live in our apartment complex. They were interesting young men, and we enjoyed getting to know them better. After a nice dinner they left for their appointments and we got ready for our Officer Candidate School service tomorrow morning. We are doing Little Smokie sausages in a blanket and a large fruit plate. We are now officially tired and will probably go to bed early. But we are happy tired. You know what I mean?
Our Sunday morning began poorly. After preparing the mini-sausages in a blanket late last night, we had 4 crescent rolls left. We decided to cook them up and have them for our dinner today. When I pulled the crescent rolls out they were not quite done so I stuck them back into the oven – I had already turned the oven off so I just left them inside. Early this morning I stumbled out of bed and turned the oven on to preheat it for our sausages. When I got out of the shower I knew something was wrong since I smelled burnt something. Our poor crescent rolls looked like overripe little bananas, all black, shriveled up and hard as rocks. But the oven was preheated! So I got the sausages in and thought all was well. Not having ever been schooled in proper placement of multiple cookie sheets in the oven I placed them side by side. After the prescribed time of 10 minutes they were not even close to done – but I had timed it to the last minute and it was time to leave for the base for our OCS services! Lezlie told me that my placement of the pans inhibited the circulation of air so they did not cook. We nursed the sausages along and when they were finally done we dashed out to the car knowing we were going to make it to the services just in time to set up (I was teaching today). But just as we were pulling out of the parking lot Lezlie said, “Wait, I forgot the notes.” The notes from parents and girlfriends are a big deal, so she ran in and got them. Whew, that only took 2 minutes, we still should make it. Half way to the base Lezlie said, “Did you get the fruit?” I FORGOT THE FRUIT! She had made a beautiful fruit plate of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes and fresh pineapple. The OCS gang just gobbles up any fruit we bring. But we were already just barely going to get there on time. So we devised a plan whereby we would go to the base, I would haul all of our stuff in and set up, and Lezlie would go back home to get the fruit. The other couple we work with were getting a little nervous because we are always there twenty minutes early. But we did get everything ready and started only a couple of minutes late. Just at the end of my lesson Lezlie walked in with the fruit. So in the end all was well. They loved the lesson, the sausages in a blanket, and the fruit. We next had a new experience. Our ward mission leader is a stereotypical Italian guy. He is a great guy, very friendly and outgoing. He always has tons of family and friends coming and going from his house. And food is a big deal there. We have heard stories about the famous dinners they serve the young elders and sisters but we had never been there. Today we were invited to attend a breakfast missionary correlation meeting so we went. First of all, it was a gorgeous house. At times we miss our own home, and it is very enjoyable to spend time inside a house while living in this small apartment. As we walked in we could smell bacon cooking. Bacon! We have not eaten bacon since we got here. We were invited into the kitchen as our mission leader’s wife was putting on the finishing touches. This was a classic full breakfast – bacon (lots of it), French toast, eggs, blueberry muffins, and orange juice. We had a lovely meal with him and his family as well as the two elders and two sisters that work in the ward. Then the family left and we had a good correlation meeting. We went to sacrament meeting next, but we did not stay for all of our meetings. Lezlie has a rotten cold and was sneezing and coughing, so we came home. We both rested a bit (as in naps) but got most of our 4th of July cookie plates ready. Below is an example. We will be delivering about 25 such plates in the next 3 days. It looks like another busy week, but we love it. Thanks to all of you that support us being senior missionaries. We love it. So, although our day began at 5:30am with burnt crescent rolls it is ending at 10pm with perfectly cooked joy.
We wish all of you a happy 4th of July. As you celebrate please remember the young men and women of the military that give so much to ensure our protection and freedom.