Tuesday is usually District Training Meeting day, and we had a pretty good one today. Our current district leader is an exceptional young man and he organizes good training meetings. We had some good lessons and discussions. Lezlie’s big contribution was that she played piano! She picked out two hymns about a week ago and practiced them several times, playing with just the upper hand. They came out well, and everyone enjoyed the hymns. Much better than struggling through them with no piano! Following the meeting we stopped off at Taco Bell where we picked up a bunch of tacos and then headed to the home of a marine family that is just moving in. Their shipment arrived today so we took them lunch and helped out with the move in. Lezlie checked off inventory numbers while I assembled beds and a table. We think we helped out a lot and were happy to be of service. And I loved the chance to work with some tools for a couple of hours.
Thursday was a flower day. We bought some inexpensive vases at Goodwill and filled them with fresh yellow daisies. We delivered them to several marine families and they were well received. We always love seeing one of the moms. She has 7 children, having just had a new baby about 6 weeks ago. The oldest child is about 10. Every time we visit the kids are clean and well dressed, are polite and respectful to us, and responsive to their mom’s requests. Not everyone we visit is like this. She and her family are fully committed to and active in the gospel. It seems to make all the difference. We admire her and her husband so much. Next we visited our marine family that has the new baby girl. This is the mom that had the difficult pregnancy. We had a great visit there and entertained the kids while she got some work done. This is me feeding the baby. Below is Lezlie playing with the little boy and a picture of Lezlie with the mom and the kids. This will be the last time we see them, and it was sad to say goodbye. We visited her through the last 3 months of her pregnancy, got to experience her miracle little girl baby, and got to participate in blessing the baby. We have really come to love this family and are so in awe of how they have handled much adversity. They are another active church family that has been abundantly blessed by the Lord. Our final activity was a family home evening with a new company of Officer Candidate School students. We had 11 attend our service, 3 church members and 8 visitors, and it was fantastic. It was great to meet and get to know these young marine trainees. We had an excellent discussion about overcoming adversity and learning from your trials. They are only in their second week, so are still a little shell shocked. But they had no trouble inhaling a large serving of strawberry & blueberry shortcake. I watched them putting mountains of Redi-Whip on top, which was fun to watch. We do so love being around these outstanding and dedicated young marines in training. They would be an inspiration to anyone.
Friday was a special birthday for one of the single members of our ward, so we took him out for a birthday lunch. The young missionary sisters in our ward have befriended him so they came to lunch too. We had a wonderful time visiting and eating good food. We had a good experience at the restaurant that began in a bad way. The hostess that seated us seemed a little cross. We had asked for a large booth for 5 and she took us into the bar. We asked not to sit in the bar, and she took us to another booth but seemed upset that we had changed her plans, kind of slamming the menus down on the table. But then later she stopped by our table and asked what church we represented – she had seen our nametags. We answered The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She asked if we just met to talk about Jesus. We told her that today we were just celebrating our friend’s birthday, but that we did teach about Jesus. She said she had a good friend that was LDS and she would like to learn more about the church. So the sisters got her name and phone number and made a tentative appointment to go visit her and teach her. It was pretty interesting and rewarding. We guessed that maybe she wasn’t cross but was just nervous around a bunch of people with nametags. It is amazing to wear the missionary nametag that has the name Jesus Christ in large, bold letters. It causes many people to stare at us and occasionally to stop and ask questions. We were happy that this young girl that had seemed in a bad mood at first stopped ant talked to us. After a great lunch we stopped at our friend’s apartment and picked up his dog Rocko, a Jack Russell Terrier. We then took him to the nursing home where his mom lives so that he could have a visit. He currently does not drive. It turns out that Rocko is a star at this nursing home, and they all love it when he comes to visit. We left him there for a bit while we dashed home to prepare for dinner with two other sisters. I finally picked him up and drove him home, but was taken aback by the traffic mess on the only road to his home south of here. It took us an hour to make a twenty minute drive. But we finally made it, and all was well. I got back home in time to help with the finishing touches for dinner and we had a good meal with the young sister missionaries. They are great young ladies and it was fun to visit with them and get to know them better. They provided an excellent spiritual thought. The basic lesson was that living the gospel brings us not only spiritual blessings, but also temporal blessings. We related to them that since we joined the church some 36 years ago we have always tried to live the gospel to the best of our ability. And we know that we have received many temporal blessings from this. We have always had comfortable homes to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear, and interesting jobs. We (and our family) have always had good health and enjoyed interesting activities. We know that our blessings are not just chance, but reflect the way we live, which is by the tenants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a nice dinner and visit with the sisters we had time to rest and recover after a busy day.
We had an unusual assignment today, Saturday. The Mission is planning on sending two new Spanish speaking sisters to our area and they will need an apartment. So we got to go apartment hunting. We found 3 sets of apartments in the general area where sisters are to live, and we visited all of them this morning. One was kind of dumpy, with a lot of overgrown weeds and trash in the parking lot. We decided that one was a no go. The second one said they did not do corporate leases. Since the church leases these apartments as a corporation the second place was also a no go. The 3rd place was acceptable, so we forwarded the information to the Mission office. Hopefully the new sisters will be there in a couple of weeks. We took our young bachelor marine that had the major surgery in May out to lunch. Through the recommendation of another church member we went to Tim’s Rivershore Crabhouse, and it was excellent. It is located on the Potomac River in a very remote area and was hard to find. If you were randomly driving around the area you would never imagine there was a restaurant nearby. But it is a superb location, right on a sandy beach on the river. There are several docks nearby where several beautiful boats were moored. Although the décor was pretty eclectic, it was fun. We saw tacky plastic palm trees and parrots, but also interesting photos of the sea and glass balls, anchors, and fishing nets. The tables were close and a bit sticky, but the place was crowded with enthusiastic customers and sold delicious food. We had an excellent view of the river and got to watch people and boats come and go. Lezlie and I had tasty crabcake sandwiches. We also saw lots of folks eating hard shell crabs, which we may try on our next visit. We had a great chat with our marine, and when we invited him to come to church tomorrow he said yes. We were very happy. There are so many good people at the ward that will welcome him and help him, especially since he has two more major surgeries before he is done with his medical issues. We thought that we were ready to leave the base after we dropped our marine off. But we have developed the habit of double checking our phones for messages before leaving the base. And sure enough, we had received a message from a marine wife that needed help. She wanted to attend an event where they were giving away groceries and diapers for needy marine families at a church next to the base. And they are a needy family. He is a very junior marine and does not make much. And they do not have a car. So we took them to the event and they were thrilled to get not only some groceries and diapers, but some kids clothes as well. On the spur of the moment we took them out to dinner at Chik-fil-a. They were happy and so were we. Their two little girls did well and enjoyed the dinner and the playground. We eventually made it home about 4 hours later than we had planned. But we were very happy to be of use to somebody, and content that we did our best to help others this day.
Our Sunday service with our Officer Candidate School students was great this morning. We had 13 show up, a mixture of two different classes. They enjoyed sharing stories with each other about the trials of OCS. The other couple gave a lesson on Gordon B. Hinkley’s book Standing for Something, which covered integrity, character and leadership. It went very well. They loved the treats of muffins and yogurt. We received the nicest tender mercy this morning by one of our students telling us about what he and his visiting wife did last weekend. As background, there is one young marine family we have been visiting since we arrived. They had a significantly premature baby who has multiple health problems, which has really isolated this young couple for some time. They have just started getting out a little bit. We have gotten close to them and just took them out to dinner last week. The husband is a marine lawyer. Two weeks ago one of our OCS guys, who is a law student, asked me if I had any ideas where he and his wife could spend some time on base. His wife was visiting for the weekend, but he was restricted to the base because he had done poorly on some test. They just wanted someplace to hang out and talk on base. I immediately thought of the family with the premature son that lives on base. So I asked the family on base if they would mind if the OCS guy and his wife stopped by just to have someplace to hang out for a bit and to ask them questions about being a marine lawyer. They said yes, so I gave our OCS guy their name and phone number. The marine lawyer couple hosted them last weekend, and went above and beyond the call of hospitality. They fed them dinner, let them stay overnight, gave them breakfast, and answered all of their questions about being a marine lawyer. The thing that made me know that this event was arranged by Heavenly Father and not me was the fact that the OCS marine’s wife is a nurse that specializes in premature babies. She was able to give them all kinds of information and advice about their son and give them some hope about his development. We were so happy that both of these young couples could help each other out and feel extremely fortunate that we were in the right place at the right time to help it happen. After our excellent OCS sacrament meeting we had a transportation assignment from our Zone Leaders. We picked up 6 young people to take them to sacrament meeting. It was kind of crazy, 6 kids between 8 and 16 crammed into the van. But the elders had invited them to church and they said they wanted to come. We had a nice sacrament meeting at which our friend that we took out for his birthday spoke. It was his first time speaking at church, and he gave an excellent talk. He compared following the straight and narrow path while holding onto the iron rod with maneuvering through the congested traffic in this area. Everyone related to that, so it was a great talk. And our marine that we took out to lunch yesterday did show up. We were so happy to see him there, and several ward members greeted him warmly. Now on Sunday evening we are relaxing a little while winding down from the week. We feel so blessed to be able to serve this mission.