We have had several excellent family home evenings and sacrament meetings for our sole Officer Candidate School student. Lezlie gave a good lesson on the church video called “Flecks of Gold.” It is about the philosophy that small things done faithfully and consistently can add up to something that is great. We also had lessons about “Remember Who You Are” and about “Courage.” We had excellent discussions on all of these topics. Our marine is doing well in this difficult training. After one of the lessons our guy asked if Sister Couch could help him with a little sewing job. He had a hole in his uniform and had no clue how to sew it up. The marines had given him a nice little sewing kit, but he did not know how to use it. So Lezlie got him started and showed him how to thread a needle, sew up the hole, and tie a knot. It was fun to watch that interaction (see picture).
Our most recent Navy Marine Corps Relief Society shift was a bit unique. For a large part of the shift we were there alone. The Director was out sick and only one other person came in for part of the day. We were able to help out two marines with loans for basic necessities like rent and food. It was a long day but we were very happy to help out a couple of marine families. We were also very proud that the Director trusted us to take care of the office by ourselves and that we handled it well. We gave out about $2000 on our own!
Our busy Friday began with a zone meeting. The young elders and sisters are always so impressive. They give good training and handle their responsibilities with a maturity beyond their years. We feel fortunate that we get to interact with them so much. It is one of the great blessings of our mission. It was a bittersweet meeting because it will be our last zone meeting. We went from the meeting directly to the base to pick up one of our bachelor marines for lunch. He is a great young man and we have enjoyed getting to know him. He is actively attending one of the Young Single Adult wards and seems to be enjoying it. He shyly told us that he had a date tonight with one of the girls from the ward. He seemed to be looking forward to it. After returning home from an excellent lunch with our marine we began preparing a nice dinner for two sister missionaries. We really enjoyed them a lot. They were both very personable and down to earth, and were so easy to talk to. They live in our apartment complex but this is the first time we have been able to have them over for dinner. Before they left they gave us a great spiritual thought about using the Book of Mormon to find answers to some of life’s great questions. It was excellent. They will come back tomorrow for a family history lesson with Lezlie, and she is looking forward to that. So it was a full, busy day. But as always on our mission it was a rewarding and enjoyable day too.
Our one big activity we were looking forward to today (Saturday) fell through. We were going to take a bachelor marine to the temple. He called about twenty minutes before we were leaving. He had to cancel because the Marine Corps decided the platoon needed to work until 5:30pm on Saturday. He was very apologetic, but we just laughed it off. This has happened multiple times. We know that the Marine Corps owns them right now, and the Corps doesn’t really care if their personal lives are inconvenienced. Things like this are the main reason that they only send ex-military folks on military relations missions. We have lived it so we understand. Instead we were able to spend some time with the young sisters in our apt and show them how to use some new programs to do genealogical research so they can help other people. It was a lot of fun, as they found pictures of ancestors on line they had never seen.
Our Sunday began with an early morning service for our lone OCS marine. Later at our ward Lezlie bore her testimony and accidentally said, “This will be out last sacrament meeting.” She meant to say this was our last testimony meeting. Because of her slip we had numerous ward members come up and say nice things and wish us well, and we had to tell them we will be here 3 more weeks. It was kind of funny and kind of nice. After our own services we went to the FBI Academy, which is on Quantico Base. Last night a student there called us. He is attending FBI agent school for 5 months and left his wife, 2 children, and car behind in Utah. We took him to the ward nearest his barracks on base. Everything worked as we hoped. We introduced him to the bishop and several ward members that promised they would make sure he got a ride to church every week. After getting him plugged in at the ward we came home. We were tired after 3 sacrament meetings.
Last Monday was one of many “lasts” we will have. We attended the chaplains briefing for the new The Basic School class. This is the meeting where all the various lay leaders get to introduce themselves and tell what type of services they hold. We have done this about a dozen times now so we have come to know the other lay leaders pretty well. We had to say goodbye to them and to the chaplain. It was sad. And there were no LDS students in the new class. We have enjoyed our association with the TBS lay leaders and chaplain and will miss that part of our mission a lot.
On Tuesday we had a delightful trip to Wash DC. We went up to the temple. Although we were not able to go to a session we did some shopping at the distribution center. We also had a chance to browse and shop at the LDS bookstore. We finally decided we needed to leave right away because we were spending too much money. There are so many nice things to buy there. We then had lunch with our dear friends the Colsons, who used to live next to us in Richland. They are on a mission in Washington DC. We had a great time remembering old friends from our ward in Richland. They told us all about the amazing mission they had in Jordan. They got to mingle with Jordanian royalty. In distributing wheelchairs and hygiene kits they enlisted the Jordanians to help them and thus taught them about service. Proselyting is not allowed in Jordan, so theirs was purely a humanitarian service mission. We had a great lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. After returning home we prepared for our TBS family home evening. We had only one attendee, which made me kind of sad. Nevertheless, we had a good lesson about ordinances and covenants. We have enjoyed so many excellent lessons with our TBS students, and we only have two left! We will be sad to give that last one in two weeks.
We had a surprise call from the mission president. They invited us to their home in Richmond (the Mission Home) for dinner our last night in Virginia. Not only that, they also invited us to stay overnight there. They were aware we are driving south so they knew it would give us a couple hour head start on our drive the next morning. We said yes of course! The Mission Home is a huge, beautiful house. All missionaries spend the first and last night of their mission there. In the basement there are enough beds for about sixteen elders and on the second floor for about a dozen sisters. So there is plenty of room. It will be a wonderful send off to spend that last night in the Mission Home. We love our mission president and his wife and will miss them a lot.