We started our week with a successful set of visits on the base. We saw four families that we have missed at church for a while. We provided them treats, informed them of the time change for our meetings (9am instead of 1pm), and invited them to come to church next week. We love these young marine families and worry about them like they were our own children. We just want them to have all the blessings they can receive by coming to church. Later we had a great family home evening at The Basic School. We had a good discussion about the creation. These young people are so intelligent and thoughtful. They had amazing insight into and thoughts about the creation. We learn more from them than we teach them at every lesson. They enjoyed a delicious cheesecake prepared by Lezlie.
Late on Tuesday night we heard from the two senior sister missionaries that do visits at Walter Reed hospital. Our young marine recovering from surgery there took a turn for the worse since we saw him Sunday morning. On Monday evening and Tuesday he could not keep any food down at all. They had to insert a stomach tube to keep him from throwing up. So we changed our original plans for the day and drove to the hospital first thing this Wednesday morning. Our poor young marine. He looked miserable. It is difficult and painful for him to talk with the stomach tube down his throat, so it was hard for much communication to take place. The senior sisters were there too, and the four of us visited him for a while. There were a lot of shrugs and nods from him. We left soon, though, because our patient was getting tired. We had a short visit with the sisters and then met our marine wife that works at Walter Reed hospital. This is the young lady that is originally from Moldova. We took her to lunch in the hospital cafeteria. She is going through a lot of changes right now and is trying to figure out her path forward. She has concerns about being a marine wife and wants to have her own career. So she kind of poured out her heart to Lezlie. We really love this girl and wish we could provide more help. But she has to figure out things for herself. She is going away for a month for some Army reserve training, so we will not see her for a while. We just listen and remind her to pray and stay close to God as she is making these big decisions.
Once again our main activity of the day was to visit our marine in the hospital. However, this is not a trivial activity as it takes at least an hour to drive to the hospital and more than that if there is any traffic. As you can see from the photo here of Interstate 95, there was traffic. We were totally stopped several times on the highway. We were happy to find our patient in much better shape than yesterday. He had the stomach tube removed and talked up a storm. He said he was feeling so much better. His only complaint was that he was very hungry but was only allowed ice chips. They will start him back on liquids tomorrow. After a nice chat we gave him time to rest and left the hospital. We located a nearby Barnes and Noble so that we could buy him some hunting magazines. He is a big hunter back in southern Utah. His family owns a thousand acres outside St George so they hunt on their own land. After procuring the magazines we went to the temple. Our plan was to do a short session of temple work. However, as we pulled in we remembered that there was a young couple from our ward getting sealed (married) in the temple today. We hurried inside and managed to find them just in time to attend their ceremony. It was very nice, and they seemed pleased that we made it. It was touching to see them and their family sealed together for eternity. We then made a late afternoon visit with our young marine. He had even improved since the morning. He was quite pleased with the hunting magazines, and talked to us a lot about his work, his hunting, and his travels with the marines. If he is discharged medically from the marines he wants to live in Washington. He has a favorite aunt and uncle there. So we talked to him a lot about living in Washington State. Our visits were very good today, and we were so pleased to see him looking and feeling so much better.
Friday was our monthly zone meeting. This took up most of our morning and early afternoon because we transported 8 missionaries to and from the meeting. We always learn something from these young missionaries and we love being with them. We then had two elders over for dinner. These two elders are in our Zone Leaders and they are also in our ward. So we work with them a lot and we feel close to them. We had a good meal and visit with them. We love to get to have personal time with these great young men. It is so much fun to get to know them better. Finally we got to attend a very nice reception for the couple that was married in the temple yesterday, mentioned above. It was a wonderful gathering with many attendees. The decorations were beautiful and there were some delicious refreshments. A nice talk about temple marriage was given and then they played dance music. We danced, and I think it may have been the first time that many of them ever saw missionaries dancing. But senior missionaries can dance. We had fun!
Saturday was a great day! We had a fun senior missionary activity. After our long drive to Fort Lee, an army base that is about 120 miles away, we met at the base chapel. After some visiting and catching up we had an excellent training session. In addition to a great lesson from our mission president each of the senior couples got to stand up and talk a bit about what they are doing and how it has built their testimony. There were about 25 missionaries there, and it was fantastic to hear about all of the work they are doing and blessings they are receiving. We heard story after story about the miracles and tender mercies everyone is experiencing and the blessings they and their families are receiving. It was quite overwhelming to know that each of these senior missionaries are having real and positive impacts on many people’s lives. And to think that there are thousands of senior missionaries doing similar things all over the world! We just feel humbled and blessed to be a small part of Heavenly Father’s work in taking care of his children. After this enjoyable and uplifting meeting we ate lunch nearby and then toured two fine museums on the base. First was the Quartermaster Museum. In the army the quartermasters take care of all sorts of things, all the way from supplies to training animals (like horses and dogs), to sewing flags and driving fuel trucks. It was an interesting museum that showed how important these behind the scenes people are to the military. The Army Women’s museum was fascinating too showing how women were integrated into the army. There was an interesting story about how women in WWI were contracted by the army so did not get any veterans benefits. So after that a woman in congress spent years trying to get women directly integrated into the army so that they could get veterans benefits. She was finally successful and by WWII women were officially part of the military. Two pictures below are from the women’s museum – Lezlie as a WAC and me sitting with a WAC figure. After the museums we visited a very unusual Civil War site. Late in the war the Union army had basically surrounded Petersburg, Virginia and were trying to starve out the Confederacy. The two sides had established strong lines and were dug in about 100 yards away from each other. There was a section of the Union line that was held by a Pennsylvania regiment, mostly coal miners. Their commander was a mining engineer. They came up with a scheme to dig a tunnel underneath the confederate lines and come up behind them. They were highly successful in digging their tunnel, which was an amazing feat. It was 510 feet long with several ventilation shafts, and the confederates had no idea there was a tunnel underneath them. But their use of the tunnel was not as successful. They decided to blast their way to the surface at the end of the tunnel and wipe out some confederate artillery in the process. The explosion created a huge crater. After recovering from the initial blast the confederates lined the rim of the crater. As union soldiers would rush out into the crater from the bottleneck of the tunnel the confederates would shoot them. The union soldiers eventually had to retreat back down the tunnel after losing over a thousand soldiers. So we got to see the actual crater. We are standing in front of it in the below picture. After the crater we made the long drive home. It was a long drive but worth it. We had a great day with the other senior missionaries.
Today, Sunday, we found out that our marine in the hospital was discharged and made it safely home to his barracks. We were very happy for him. After church we delivered two meals to marine families on base that are having some illnesses. Our church time had changed to 9:00am so we are enjoying our late afternoon at home. And we still love being senior missionaries.