Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Veterans Day

Besides a good checkup at the dentist this Monday we had a wonderful family home evening with a marine family.  We developed a new Power Point lesson on Teamwork.  It went very well and the children behaved nicely.  They enjoyed it too.  For a teamwork activity we took our bells and had the family play several songs, which they greatly enjoyed.  For a teamwork snack we gave each family member a small paper bag of some sort of trail mix food.  Then each of them dumped their bag into a large bowl, we shook it up, and then we had trail mix.  That was great fun too.  This was a very active church family and it was such a nice time being welcomed into the home, the family participating fully, and having such a warm and peaceful setting for our lesson.  Being with this family made us realize how long we have been here.  We recall one of our first visits with them and she was pregnant.  Now their little boy is over one and is almost a toddler rather than a baby.  He was a joy to watch. So we had a wonderful time and felt like the family home evening was successful.
Our Tuesday morning was filled with zone training.  Half of our zone, about twenty elders and sisters, got together for some small group training with the Mission President and his wife.  It went well and there were some good training lessons.  After taking some elders to lunch we dashed down to the base.  We had developed a short spiritual message appropriate for Veterans Day.  We decided no treats this time since we just did Halloween treats and will soon do Thanksgiving ones.  So we just taped our message on the front door of each of our marine families.  We stopped at twenty front doors.  That was fun.  In between times we also texted about a dozen of our past marines that are all over the country now.   Finally we visited the home of a less active marine family and provided our teamwork family home evening.  It went very well, even beyond what we had hoped for.  They loved playing the bells and kept asking to do just one more song.  They really enjoyed making the trail mix and eating it.  As we were getting ready to leave their five year old girl said, “When are you going to come back?”  We just laughed, but the dad said we have to come back again next month for another FHE.  We were so pleased about how well this visit went.  We just love this family and want them to experience all of the blessings available to them if they just get back into coming to church. 

We spent much of Wed morning day baking.  Lezlie made several dozen of her no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies and I baked a double batch of snicker doodles.  We are glad we did extra baking because we had 29 at our Officer Candidate School family home evening.  There were widely varying emotions tonight.  About half of the students were elated and smiling because they have 12 days left and they know they will make it.  Many other were very concerned because they have to appear before a review board because of poor academics or leadership.  At the board the OCS Commanding Officer will decide whether they stay or are dropped.  If they are dropped they get them out of there very quickly and within hours they are headed home.  So we tried to offer a lot of encouragement and good wishes.  We had an excellent lesson by Lezlie on obedience and it went very well.  In this lesson she uses pictures of the candidates that she gets off of the OCS website.  The Marines always love to see themselves up on the screen.  As we have said before we have only 2 church members that attend our mid-week family home evenings.  Tonight I had about ten of the non-members thank us for our services.  They said things like "we love coming here on Wednesday nights”, “thank you for your lessons that were very helpful to us”, “we appreciate all of the wonderful food you provided”, “thanks for your encouragement,"  and so on.   It is overwhelming to us that we can be a part of this pivotal period in their lives.  We do not feel like we are doing anything extraordinary.  We are just trying to look after these young people like we would want our own children looked after in a similar situation.  We learned a lesson about turning things over to Heavenly Father tonight.  We checked the traffic conditions online as usual, and the map said it would take us 30 minutes to get to the base.  We added some margin and left 45 minutes early.  The traffic was terrible and it took us an hour and 5 minutes to get there.  We thought that the group would all be there waiting for us and we were worried about getting everything set up quickly.  But it turns out they were about 5 minutes late so we had plenty of time to get our computer and projector set up and get all the refreshments ready.  This is the first time they have not been there early.  God knew we had made our best effort to get there on time and took care of the rest.  We need to have faith that when we make our best effort God will make sure everything works out.

Yesterday, Veterans Day, we sent messages and emails to many or our marines that have moved on from Quantico.  We wished them all a Happy Veterans Day and sent our best regards. We received some humbling responses that brought us great joy.  We are including some of these notes below.  We share them not to claim any credit, but just to let you know how wonderful it is to be a Senior Missionary and to be an important part of these young lives for a short period of time.  Here are a couple of the best notes.
Elder and Sister Couch,
I got your text today and just wanted to wish you a happy Veteran's day and thank you for your service in the military also. It's always inspiring for those of use who are currently serving to see the example of people like you who provide examples of both faithful gospel living and military service. 

I also realized I never thanked you for your gift at graduation, I've been using the book during my personal study and am enjoying it.  I also wanted to thank you for everything you did during my time at OCS and TBS, it was a huge support to me.  I don't know that you realize how much I appreciated seeing you that first time at OCS, knowing that I would have a connection to the Church was a huge support to me and I always looked forward to Church and FHE to break up the challenges of training and provide perspective as I was going through OCS.  I will always be grateful for the rest of my life that you two chose to serve a mission so that me and the other Marines like me would have that support during the challenging adjustment to life in the Marines.
I hope you're doing well and that the Marines at TBS and the candidates at OCS are doing well.  I've been good, I'm currently in Salt Lake City, working with the Officer Selection Team.  My MOS school starts in January in Camp Pendleton, so I'll be headed down there then.
Happy Veterans Day to you as well Brother Couch.  You and Sister Couch were our saviors on Mount Zion throughout USMC training.  Thank You. 

During our six hour Thursday shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society today Lezlie gave out $2000 to marines.  She was busy.  A lot of marines were happy when they left our office. 
We were able to take a marine wife out to lunch on Friday.  We took out our gal from Moldova out.  She has been struggling lately with decisions about her career, both civilian and in the Army Reserve.  So we had a long talk with her about making sure she stays close to God, prays about these issues, and seeks answers in the scriptures and in the Temple.  We just love this young lady and want her to find happiness in her situation, but there is not much we can do but be there for her and pray for her.  We also got to take out one of our bachelor marines for dinner.  This young man is the one that married his high school sweetheart and she divorced him 3 months later.  He was heartbroken and year ago when he told us about this.  But today he even made a joke about it, so he is healing.  He is an outstanding young man and we had a great time visiting with him.  Much to our surprise he bought dinner for us.  He just slipped his credit card up to the cashier when he rang up the bill and insisted on buying us dinner.  We were surprised and very grateful.  He said he appreciated our support and wanted to buy us a meal this time.  It was great fun to be with him. 

Another of our young bachelor marines has been struggling a bit lately.  He is a fairly new member of the church and is a great young man.  When he first moved here a senior marine sergeant took him under his wing and gave him a ride to church every week.  But then the sergeant moved away and our young man kind of got lost.  He had not been answering our calls or texts.  We stopped by his barracks on Veterans Day and left him a card thanking him for his service.  He contacted us and thanked us for the card so we invited him out to lunch.  He seemed happy to see us and talked about all sorts of things.  He also ate a large lunch that he really enjoyed.  We invited him to come to church with us and he said yes!  So we were very happy that we got to spend some time with this young man.  We also had another great experience.  We were able to visit our young bachelor marine that is having major surgery at the end of the week.  We also invited another young bachelor marine as well as his hometeacher.  We all met at  his barracks and we gave him a blessing.   He seemed to appreciate everyone stopping by and has a good attitude about getting through this last surgery.  It was a sweet visit and we were so glad everyone we invited showed up.  Finally we got to take two young Elders out to dinner.  They said they had been dreaming of some Mexican food so we took them to a nearby place and had an excellent dinner.  As usual it was very enjoyable to spend a little time with the Elders and get to know them a little better. 

Sunday was bitter sweet- most of our  candidates that thought they would be going home did get dropped. We really become attached to these fine young men and women, and they put so much into being here it is really heartbreaking to see them get hurt, and disappointed. We were excited to have 2 bachelor marines coming to church with us, but the active one got called into work, and the inactive one, just said he couldn't make it at the last minute. However, church was good, and there were some folks there we hadn't seen for a while, so all ended well. 

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