Sunday, August 10, 2014

Officer Candidte School Graduation Week

We have found that although we had a busy, busy week, we did not write a lot in our journal and we have no pictures to share.   So we must have been too busy to write or take pictures.  Monday is preparation day (P-day) for the missionaries so I spent a good part of the morning running missionaries to the library, barber shop and grocery store.  After various chores at home we went out to dinner with our niece Cindy Stremel, her husband Jeff and their daughter Sarah.  They just returned from a 2 year Air Force deployment in Germany and Jeff just retired from the AF as a Lt Col.  They are staying with friends right here in Woodbridge waiting for Jeff’s vehicle to be shipped over from Germany.  It was wonderful to visit with them and catch up on their adventures overseas.  It is always great to see family members.  Even though we don’t see them very often we had a very enjoyable dinner and visit with Cindy, Jeff and Sarah. 

We had an excellent District Training meeting on Tuesday morning.  Our new District Training Leader is outstanding, and he organized some great lessons.  He is a little unique in that he is from Louisiana.  A great majority of the young missionaries are from the West. We were amazed to hear that he is from LA because he has absolutely no southern accent.  Quite the contrary, he has a beautiful deep and resonant speaking voice and is very eloquent as well.   We were also able to take our marine family with no car shopping at the commissary.  We were glad to be able to help them out.  Before our The Basic School (TBS) family home evening we got to visit one of our marine families in Stafford.  The TBS family home evenings are not like the past when we had 6 – 10 each week.  But we had 3 folks show up and we had a really good lesson.  We are getting to know our newTBS  marine, a recent Naval Academy grad, and we really like him.  We love meeting with our marines. 

Our only activity during the day was attending the Chaplain’s Briefing for the new TBS class.  During this meeting each of the various lay leaders gets to introduce themselves.  Then afterwards any folks of your faith can find you.  We had one LDS marine in TBS and we had already met him at our family home evening.  He is a great guy, but we were hoping to find someone else that was LDS in the 200 plus marines.  But alas, he was the only one that stopped by to say hello.  I (Dan) then helped out with a youth temple trip.  At the last minute they were short on Priesthood for the session so I drove up to the temple and worked by recording names.  It was fun to interact with some of the youth of the ward and see their dedication to serving in the temple.  We enjoy helping out the ward when we get the chance. 

Thursday was a great Officer Candidate School day.  The day before graduation they have Family Day.  At 9am the parents, family, and friends meet in an auditorium for a presentation about what the candidates have been through for the past ten weeks.  It is pretty amazing to hear and see videos about all that they have to do at OCS.  The staff members are introduced and the commanding officer answers some of the questions that parents may have.  We arrived early and stood just outside the door so that the parents of our marines could find us.  And they did!  The families of all three of our LDS marines found us and said hello.  They all expressed gratitude for the services and family home evening we had held and said that their sons had been grateful too.  It was so wonderful to meet them after exchanging multiple notes and phonecalls with them to and from their sons.  Meeting the families is one of the most fun parts of OCS.  Although they thank us, we feel like we should be thanking them for wonderful sons and daughters they have raised that teach us so much by their examples of dedication, faith and hard work.  Following OCS family day we worked a long shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.  However, it was certainly easier than last week when we were moving boxes and furniture.  We  helped 3 marines by giving them checks to help them out of their financial difficulties.  Upon returning home from NMCRS we quickly put together dinner for two of our sister missionaries.  It is always great fun to have the young missionaries over and we love getting to know them better.  We tried something new that one of the sisters told us about.  They are called Navajo Tacos.  They are similar to regular tacos, but you use a flattened, deep fat fried biscuit instead of a tortilla or taco shell.  They were delicious.  After an excellent dinner with these two young sisters I accompanied one of our ward members to the base to help him do his home teaching.  He is assigned to one of our bachelor marines but he had never been to the barracks.  So I took him in and showed him how to get signed in and everything.  We had a good visit with our marine that is undergoing the major surgeries.  We hope that this will spur the home teacher into making his own visits to the barracks to visit this young marine.  It was good to see him looking so healthy, but he is a bit worried about his next surgery coming up in 3 weeks.

Our Friday morning was spent attending the OCS class graduation parade.  The other new senior couple here, the Andersons, have never been around the military at all, so we took them to the parade and for a tour of the base.  It was a really good one because the weather was perfect.  The Chaplain gets us reserved seats under an awning, so we get to be in the shade.  It was a standard military parade – the marine band, lots of marching marines, cannons that fired to honor a general, flags, awards, and a short speech by the general.  The best part is when the platoon commanders dismiss their troops.  Within moments the precise ranks of the marines disintegrate, families go running out onto the parade deck, and hundreds of marines and their families greet each other with hugs and smiles.  It is wonderful to be a small part of the whole thing.  The Andersons seemed to enjoy it, and we had fun visiting with them throughout.  Later we made visit to a marine wife and her children.  It turned out that a another LDS mom was visiting with her two children.  So I entertained all 7 kids while Lezlie and the two moms talked.  But it was all good.  These young moms need a little break and a little advice from an experienced mom.  We went for two in a row on feeding young missionaries.  We had two other sisters over for dinner, and we did a repeat meal on our Navajo Tacos.  It was delightful to visit with them and get to know them better.  Both of these sisters have already completed some college and both are studying to be nurses.  As I have said many times before, these young people inspire us with their dedication, knowledge, and maturity.  We love to be able to associate with them. 

We had a quiet Saturday, spending time cleaning house, shopping and planning.  We thought we were having a nice little dinner of leftover spaghetti at home.  At about 4:30pm I got an email from the military relations couple at marine base Camp Lejeune North Carolina.  They wrote about a young bachelor marine that was transferring to Quantico and gave us his contact information.  So I was prompted to call him right away.  And so we found a 19 year old marine that just arrived.  I asked if we could take him out to dinner and he said he was not busy tonight.  So ten minutes later we were in the car headed to the base.  We took this young man to Applebees and found out all about him.  He went to marine boot camp in San Diego and he joined the church there just this past March.  Since graduating from boot camp he has been at a marine school in California and another school in North Carolina.  He is in the barracks, has no car, and has no roommate yet.  So he is a little lonesome.  It appears that he may have joined the marines to escape a tumultuous home life.  He said his folks were getting a divorce, and that he and his two sisters both knew this was coming several years ago.  He said his sisters are both kind of wild and are both into Wicca stuff (I think they consider themselves witches).  He said that some guys join the marines and feel all stressed.  He told us that joining the marines was a relief from the stress he felt at home.  It was kind of sad.  He also told us of a sweet experience at boot camp where he felt the presence of his favorite grandpa who is dead, expressing how proud he was of this young man for finishing boot camp.  So it was a nice evening to get to know this young man, and we hope we can help him out since he is such a new member and does not seem to know too much about church yet.

We had our last Sunday sacrament service at OCS for the summer session.  It was a little sad, because we only had one guy.  But he needed us today, so we were glad to be there.  It turns out that on Friday he failed his final PT test – he did not do enough sit-ups.   He is from Oregon and his family has already started driving to Quantico to see him graduate.  He will be a senior at U of Oregon this fall.  When we arrived he was in the room working on an essay.  They get assigned essays when they goof something up and he had to write a 300 word essay about something.  So he is feeling a lot of pressure.  So we chatted with him for a while, had our sacrament service, did a lesson about standing alone, and gave him a blessing.  Then we fed him muffins.  So he has been very much in out thoughts and prayers.  He is a great young man and we have admired his faith throughout our meetings.  We know that whatever happens things will work out well for him in the future.  After our early morning OCS service and a short missionary coordination meeting we headed back to the base to give our new young marine, that we met last night a ride to church.  He seemed to enjoy the meetings and met a lot of people.  He said he would like to come back, so we will working out rides for him to church since he has no car.  We had a Sunday School lesson that was exceptional and unique.  At the start of class the teacher, an 85 year old woman, told us all about her rock collection, and passed around several rocks for us to see.  Then with no comment about the rocks she started her lesson on charity.  The rocks were just sitting there on the table in front, and we were all wondering, what about the rocks.  After about twenty minutes she read a scripture about being charitable to all.  She noted that sometimes there are people that are just hard to love.  Then she used the rocks to describe different types of people and how we must try to love them.  For example, she had a geode that was rough outside but inside had a beautiful crystal.  The rock is like some people that are rough and crusty on the outside, but our love for them can help us to see how beautiful they are on the inside.  It was a wonderful object lesson and everyone in class was following very closely.  And now it is Sunday evening after a busy week for us.  We have a joyful tiredness.  And we are so excited that Chris and Stacey are coming to visit this week! 
Yesterday we got a wonderful gift in the mail.  Anne recently visited her sister Carrie in Seattle, so all 8 of our grandkids were together.  The moms organized the kids to make tracings of themselves that are life sized.  Then they decorated them the way they wanted.  They are very cool!  We have them posted on our kitchen wall.  Now when we come home we say hello to all of the grandkids  Thanks to all of you.  We love it.  

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