Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween week

We wrote about our fun Senior Missionary activity last weekend.  One of the other sisters sent us this nice picture of the group.  The man on the far right of the top photo is our mission president, President Wilson, from Minnesota. Unfortunately Sister Wilson was taking the picture.  There were about 8 senior missionaries that did not make it to this activity.

We have done a lot of baking recently.  Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal no-bakes, peanut butter, chocolate brownies.  Whew!  We did make it to the base and delivered our Halloween treats to 6 marine families.  All were happy to see us and we had some good talks with folks.  We also saw our ward friend Will to whom we are teaching the Temple Prep classes.  We had an excellent lesson with him and a good discussion.  He is a good man and seems to just soak up the things that we are discussing.  

Tuesday we attended a Navy Marine Corps Relief Society training.  We drove the other 4 attendees down to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, about 90 miles.  It was an all day training session so it was a long day.  The big event was our talent performance.  The theme of the meeting was about talents, so during the lunch break they had a mini talent show.  Ahead of time they had asked the various groups of volunteers from different bases to perform or display any talent.  Our director had remembered our bells from last Christmas.  So we dusted off the bells, and Lezlie wrote down the notes for the Marines Hymn and Anchors Aweigh.  We had a few minutes of practice in the car but that was it.  But we did pretty good considering there was essentially zero practice.  At least everyone recognized the songs.  The training was okay but a little irrelevant to Lezlie and me.  But we enjoyed visiting with new folks, getting to know the other volunteers from Quantico a little better, and supporting our director.  We also had our The Basic School family home evening and our 5 faithful attendees were all there.  We had a superb discussion based upon a recent General Conference talk, “Which Way do you Face.”  It is basically about the choice between facing God and obeying His commandments or facing man and doing what he wants you to do.  We had a wonderful discussion and the spirit was felt strongly.  Those young people are so smart and in tune.  It is a delight to spend time with them.

We experienced a busy, busy Wednesday, leaving the house at 10am and returning home at 9pm.  We first attended the Para Chapel meeting, which is a get together of all the religious service volunteers on base.  We got to hear from the head chaplain and talk about our programs.  We then had a few minutes to deliver some Halloween goodies to one family before our next meeting.  This was a family with 7 children, and the mom’s sister, who has 3, was visiting.  So we had 10 kids bunched around the front door oogling the plate of cookies.  But it was great fun.  We attended a chaplains briefing at The Basic School, which is the time when we get to introduce ourselves to the new TBS class.  But we did not have any LDS in the class.  Boo!  We next had our Officer Candidate School family home evening, and we had 30 attendees.  I know we have said over and over again how wonderful it is to be a part of this group.  We get to be one of the bright spots in their week, and it is supremely rewarding to give them encouragement, advice, and a shoulder to cry on.  It is so humbling to be with them.  We try to cheer them up and encourage them in any way we can.

Today was another day to deliver Halloween cookies and visit several families.  Our main focus today were our off-base families in Stafford, which is a bit farther away than the base for us.  We were able to visit 3 families and found that a 4th family was on vacation in Oregon.  But we had some very nice visits with some excellent marine families.  We also had an enjoyable lunch with our single female marine.  This is a young lady that works as a security guard for the president’s helicopter airfield.  She is from Southern Utah and had not eaten much seafood before.  So we took her to Tim’s Crab Shack, a very eclectic restaurant on the Potomac River near us.  We only found it through a recommendation because it is way off the beaten path.  We had a great lunch of hard shell crabs, crab cakes and clams.  She really enjoyed learning how to get the good crab meat out of the shell and she ate a dozen steamed baby clams like a veteran.  It was great fun and we had a really good visit with her.  We finished our evening with one last visit on the base as we headed back home.  There is a new family that is in kind of a sad situation.  The husband had some kind of accident and is injured.  He has to use a cane to walk.  He is undergoing a medical board, which is a long drawn out review of his situation.  The medical board is important because they decide whether or not he will can stay in and have limited duty, be retired with full or partial pay, or just discharged because the accident had nothing to do with the marines.  So he is in total limbo status right now.  And the worst thing is, they moved here from Okinawa and their furniture and stuff will not arrive for another month.  There house is almost bare except for a small kitchen table and their beds.  But they are doing their best to be optimistic about it.  We felt very blessed to live as comfortably as we do when we saw this young family struggling with medical issues and living in a bare house.  It was another long day of visits and talking with marines and marine families.  It was great.  We feel so grateful to be here.

We had a good zone meeting on Halloween day.  Lots of good training and testimonies.  The other senior missionaries and us decided the young elders and sisters needed something for Halloween.  So we made tangerine jack-o-lanterns and they made tootsie roll pop ghosts.  The elders and sisters seemed to enjoy them.  After finally getting all of our riders delivered back home we finally got back about 2:00pm.  We had many chores to do at home so we just stayed in the rest of the afternoon.  After delivering about twenty plates of Halloween cookies in a week it was good to have some down time.     

Our big activity on this Saturday was to take one of our bachelor marines out to lunch.  After a few problems finding a place for lunch, one was overcrowded and another was closed, we ended up at Ricky’s Chicken.  We had driven past the place before and decided it would either be a dive or a hidden gem because it looked a little sketchy.  It turned out to be a hidden gem.  They had Peruvian style rotisserie chicken, and it was excellent.  Our marine found a drink he liked, something like “Horchati.”  It is a Mexican rice  milk drink that has a cinnamon flavor.  He had been looking for somewhere to get it so he was pleased.  So our chicken sandwiches were excellent as was his steak and cheese sandwich.  We were so pleased to be able to chat with this young marine.  He is our guy that has had two major intestinal surgeries and has one more to go.  He has really opened up to us and was talking about all kinds of things.  He even was joking and poking fun at us, something new and enjoyable.  In the past he has been pretty quiet.   He talked about what will happen after his last surgery, which is a full medical board or evaluation.  That will determine whether or not he will be able to stay in the Marine Corps.  We greatly enjoyed our time with this marine and felt like he enjoyed it too.   In addition to our nice outing with our bachelor we were able to visit one marine family that we missed Halloween week.  Except for two families that were on vacation out of state we delivered Halloween treats to every one of our marines and families. 

We had a small but excellent sacrament meeting with our Officer Candidate School marines this Sunday morning.  We had 5 attendees, which allowed for lots of good discussion.  They are undergoing such challenging trials, mentally, physically and emotionally.  So they really have to dig deep to find strength and resources to get them through.  That makes them so open to talking about things like courage, hope, confidence, leadership, and so forth.  We had a great talk.  Also, they have only three and a half weeks left, and graduation is starting to seem real to them.  They actually are starting to believe they will make it.  One of our gals, is very worried about her academics though.  After half of the written exams she has a 72 point average, and she needs an 80 to graduate.  So we did what we could to encourage her and help her feel more confident.  We have to rush from OCS directly to our ward meetings, which were very good today.  Our lesson is the High Priests Group was especially good today.  It was based on a talk Elder Holland about pursuing happiness.  He said, “The best chance for being happy is to do the things that happy people do.  Live the way happy people live. Walk the path that happy people walk. And your chances to find joy in unexpected moments, to find peace in unexpected places, to find the help of angels when you didn’t even know they knew you existed improves exponentially.”  I thought that was pretty good advice.  We have found that this chance in our lives to spend most of our time focused on helping others has brought us great happiness. 

We mentioned before that we got to visit Shenandoah National Park and see some beautiful scenery.  Although it was wonderful there we have decided that our heavily wooded Quantico Marine Base has just as beautiful Fall colors.  Here is my favorite tree, one that we drive by almost every time we are on the base.  

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