Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Merry Christmas?

As I write this blog, we are quite literally sitting in the shadow of the temple. We try to make Tuesdays our temple day, whether we are manning the information booth or inside for dinner in the cafeteria and a session. For being such a huge temple, in a destination spot, it is not very well attended. It is such a beautiful, peaceful place to spend the afternoon.

Yesterday, we had an MRM lunch/meeting. We sure have grown to love our friends. We laugh and gripe and share stories with each other. Oh! That reminds me of something cool that happened. Mike's brother Neal went to Spain recently with his wife, Shirley. While they were there they went to church and met a couple who had served a military relations mission in San Diego. The Wiggins came here to visit their daughter and we met them for dinner. It was interesting to learn how some things have changed since they were here, and some things are the same.

 A sad thing happened a few weeks ago. One of the recruits was up at Edson range for his final stage of training. He was on his second to last day on the Crucible. (This is the most challenging part of all of their weeks of training. No sleep, very little food, hiking and climbing carrying a lot of gear, ending with a very steep hill called "The Reaper") As he was climbing over an obstacle he didn't compensate for the extra load he had. He fell onto his head and broke his neck. He has had surgery and is not paralyzed, but is far from 100%. He is being transferred to Palo Alto for rehab. He is hoping to return to the Corps, but time will tell. These guys are doing tough stuff from day one.

We had a great Fourth of July. Seth and Manina and their family were here staying at a friend's home in La Jolla. We saw them for at least a little while each day. Eli was here, too. That was a fun surprise. The kids gave Mike Padre tickets for Father's day. (Get it? Father--Padre?) We went to the game with Seth and family. And who should show up but Eli!! He stayed for the weekend and we all went to the Big Bay Boom fireworks at the harbor and then to SeaWorld the next day. Fun Times!


Some friends of ours, the VanDenBerghes, from Riverton Park Ward came to San Diego for their family vacation. We met up with them for a quick visit at the Midway, and them we ran into them again at the Mormon Battalion where we we going to FHE. They are great people!

Last week, brave Jana drove down with Ava, Little Eli, and her son Christian. They were here for a day, and David flew in for a few hours before they headed to Disneyland. We went to the Midway (this seems to be our stand by attraction)and on a harbor cruise. It was so good to spend a short time with them. And with that visit, all of our kids and lots of our grandkids have come to visit. We hardly have time go get lonely, but I always feel so blue the day they leave.

Christmas in July! A member who works with us at MCRD invited us to a party at his house with his home ward and some neighbors. It was fun to meet folks who live as far south as you can get in the USA. They were great people who have stereotyped "Utah Mormons" as very strict and by the book. I think the latter belief is a good thing-otherwise the church could get very interesting in the mission field. Hopefully, we changed their idea about uptight Utahns as we got a little competitive during the white elephant gift exchange. Imagine that!

We are staying busy working on the two bases, a YSA ward, the MCRD branch, the brig and volunteering at the USO. We occasionally get an assignment for something else. Days with nothing to do are long, so we try to fill those with something fun. It's tough!

Two roads diverged in a yellowed wood...I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I'll have to paint my porch ceiling!
We have had a calendar filled few weeks with many different experiences. One of my favorite activities was taking our favorite female Marine to Old Town. We  went to the miniature train museum, out for some not so great Mexican food, to the Mormon Battalion and walked through the village of victorian houses. I loved the architecture and so did she. She taught me something new. Under the porch roofs or the eaves of every entrance to the homes the ceiling is painted light blue. I didn't know that that was done to match the sky and to keep evil spirits from entering there.

Volunteering at the USO was good and not so good. We would love to be able to go to the airport on Tuesdays when the Marines are returning from their 10 day leave. But, it seems to be the favorite day of other volunteers, and they are very territorial. Also, our name tags must make someone there nervous, and we were asked to remove them. (I don't know what's so scary about that!) We went to another facility, the USO office at Liberty Station. Mike manned the desk and I helped serve ice cream. We liked it there better.

Sister Sayer and I have been teaching lessons to recruits who are coming to church for the first time in years. We have our class in the back of the auditorium after Sacrament Meeting. There is a lot going on at the same time in the same room: EQ lesson, interviews, blessings, four different missionary discussions, new member recruit orientation. It is quite the hub-bub of activity--the Gospel in Action!

We will be covering for Elder and Sister Sayer at the end of the month. They are the MRM's whose assignment is MCRD. They take care of all the business there. Anyway, we went to a Marine Graduation. We got to sit in the grandstand with all of the big wigs. My favorite part of it all was the Marine Band. It is very cool to watch the Marines march on the parade deck in their platoons.

We were lucky to hear the Maine Band again at a Flag Day Celebration. This was held at the Mormon Battalion Museum. Mike was asked to speak at the ceremony that saluted the flag and honored four other veterans. He did a really great job and was inducted as an "honorary member of the Mormon Battalion, US Army of the West." I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the audience while he was sweating it out on the stage. In fact, I was so comfortable that I forgot to record his speech or take any pictures.

A funny thing that happened a while ago: We were walking/biking and a cute little 82 year old Jewish lady came over to visit. She was a comedienne, literally. Her name was SueAnn, but she insisted we call her Sue. She told us a few jokes (some she edited after she saw our tags) and asked Mike if the government gave him any money when he got hurt. He told her, "$378.00." After a few expletives she pulled out her checkbook (which she showed me had a balance of $128,000.00ish) and was going to give him some money! We politely turned down her offer...

Yes, I'm wearing ear warmers
June Gloom is a real thing. We haven't seen the sun but maybe three days this entire month. It's caused by a marine layer or something like that. After all of the rain January-March we are seriously wondering about this whole Sunny San Diego theme. We manned the temple booth for a few afternoons and stayed wrapped up in blankets between visitors. We'll see what July and August bring!

We miss our family and friends, our home ward and sense of community. But, we know we are where we should be right now in our lives. The Stone rolls forth! How lucky we are to be a part such a great movement!

Monday, June 3, 2019

MAY have been a rough month

May started and ended with hospital visits.

The first week, the wife of a Marine had miscarried and was going to Balboa Hospital for a procedure. She needed a ride home, so the Military Relation Missionaries were called. Being that it was a woman thing, I went to sit with her and take her home. The tender mercy was in being able to drive there, park, and find her building and room. Usually we can sneak right into a parking spot for the disabled. However, I refuse to do that when I’m not with Elder Johnson. I drove in circles for a while and was frustrated to the point of tears. So, I prayed for help. Seconds later, a car pulled out of a parking spot on the main level (which made it that we could walk back easily). Then I asked a fellow in medical attire where in the heck the building was that I needed to get to. He was going to the exact same place I was! Blessings come for small favors as well as large.

Last week we found ourselves in the emergency room with a suicidal Marine. He had stabbed himself with a survival knife as a cry for help. As is custom in emergency rooms, it was a long wait before the doctors came and evaluated him. Because we had built a good friendship with him, Elder Johnson was able to keep him quiet and helped calm his troubled mind for several hours. Mike never seemed to tire or lose patience. It was a blessing to see him in action, ministering in the Savior’s way.

There is this sickness that spreads like wildfire through the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. It comes in every Sunday with the guys that have been in training for about three weeks. They are sniffling and sneezing and blowing their noses all over the place. And they have no voices. They have been yelling "sir, yes, sir" for the better part of a month, under great physical and emotional stress and their bodies just can't fight the bug. I call it the Recruit Crud. And even though we have tissues and hand sanitizers and garbage cans all over the auditorium where church is held, the "bug" metastasizes, and we got it. I don't know how, though. It's a huge room with no heat and all of the doors wide open. How a germ could grow in the sub Arctic temperature is amazing to me!

Mike spent the first week of the month sick and I followed suit. We had a few days of doctor visits and just hanging around trying to feel better. We are on the mend and up and doing again.

Well enough to have some wonderful time with visitors! My sister, Catherine, came for a few days.  It was a welcome visit. There isn't a whole lot of "girl time" here. And there is nothing like having one of my sisters. The highlight of May was Alice!! And Jesse and Mikaela. They were here Memorial Day weekend, so we did a bunch of patriotic things. The Midway, Rosecrans National Cemetery, and of course the beach and Cabrillo National Park. We love to go to each of these places and our visitors give us a great reason to go again and again.

I love watching the recruits. I walked out of church the other day and there was a platoon of brand spanking new ones that the drill sergeant had lined up right next to the wall--with their noses turned to it. I tried not to giggle as I passed them. I don't know how long he had them standing like that!  It is wonderful to see "our" church member recruits change in their thirteen weeks of training. They come in wondering what they have gotten themselves into, and leave as confident, upright, polite, and I must say handsome Marines. (especially in their dress uniforms, Charlies) In the final Sacrament Meeting before they graduate they stand and bear witness of the power of prayer and how they have felt the Savior strengthen them in their training. This week we said goodbye to the first group that we met back in February. I am so proud of them and just want to cry when I see them walk off with their families after our Cake Cutting Ceremony.

We love our mission more and more as time goes by. We love the people that we get to work with. We love being close enough for our family to visit. We love our great country and our flag and what is stands for. We love our servicemen and women.  We love our missionaries. We love serving the Lord.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

April showers bring girls and babies!

What a great April Surprise!
Has it been a month since I posted? That just goes to show you, April was a busy month.  It started out with an interesting opportunity. We were asked to speak, along with 3 elders, to a group of Chaplains. They wanted to know about our beliefs and how our missionaries could help patients in their hospital. We got to tell them about the experiences that we had had with chaplains. They were such kind people. Thank goodness there are caring folks like them to help others through difficult times.

The Poway California Stake held an amazing presentation for anyone and everyone. Moses' Tabernacle was a life-sized replica that was open to the community to visit. On the evening that we chose to go, there was a multi-denominational panel discussion as to the pertinence of the tabernacle to their religion. There were many Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and Latter-day Saints in the congregation. We heard our first "Call to Prayer" It was cool, but I don't think i could listen to it five times a day! It was so sad to hear, only a few weeks later of the shooting in the synagogue in Poway. The community was heartbroken.

We passed our background check! No skeletons in our closets. Now we can go to the consolidated brig for Wednesday nights' Bible study. This is where they send military men from all branches of service for "jail time." The Religious Programs' specialist said that most were in there for sexual assault. There were only two church members in our group, both good guys. I will admit that it was a little freaky when we left. We had to walk through the gym where a lot of big, tall, muscle bound prisoners were playing b-ball. I didn't know whether to smile at them or keep my eyes focused on the ground. The few guys sitting on the sidelines were friendly. No worries!

We've learned to be flexible. Some of our days have regularly scheduled things, but, often we get phone calls for help with newly transferred marines or sailors, or hospital visits, or other assignments. We've manned the visitors' booth at the temple, given rides, taken guys on outings and we even got to send off one of our marines to his 8 month deployment in the China seas. (We hope we get to see him again when he comes back.)

Sundays are exhausting. We start with an early morning Sacrament meeting at MCRD, then pick-up a guy a Balboa Hospital and drive north to a YSA ward that starts at noon. (The nice thing about that is that they always have a meet and eat afterwards!) THEN we drive back down to take him home and get back to our apartment at around four o'clock. What do you think we do then?
                        A) Study "Come Follow Me"
                        B) Make a nice Sunday dinner
                        C) Take a nap
                        D) Veg out and Facetime our kids

The BEST part of the month was my birthday! My cute gals and two grand babies came to visit. Abby and Manina were here for a few alternate days, Rachel and Mikaela and Harry and Alice stayed for all the fun. We ate a lot, went to the beach and the harbor, visited the Carlsbad Flower Fields and just enjoyed being together.

Can't wait to see what May brings!

We love our mission and are so thankful to be in beautiful surroundings working with wonderful military, missionaries, and members. What a blessing the gospel is in our lives!!

(by the way, D)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cream of the Crop

On April Fool's Day, we had a fun FHE with the Sr. Missionaries. We played the old standby--two truths and a lie. Mike told them that we had started a wild fire, I said that we survived a head-on collision, and we said that we had survived 5 volcanic eruptions. Totally faked everyone out!! Do YOU know which one is the lie?

An interesting opportunity that we had was to go to one of the hospitals to talk to a class of chaplains. They wanted to know about our beliefs and how the elders could help with their patients.
We had three young elders's with us and they did a wonderful job explaining the Plan of Happiness, modern day revelation, and the restoration of the priesthood. We shared a little bit about our lives and some experiences we had had with hospitals and chaplains ministering to us. They had a lot of questions and we had a good discussion. It was a great experience for us all.

Naval Base San Diego chapel
One of the other MRM elders, Elder Arvonen, arranged for a Navy guy to take us out on the docks where the big ships are in port. It was awesome to see the amphibious ships, scout ships, and carriers up close. Very impressive! While waiting for our rendezvous, we parked by the base chapel which had the most beautiful stained glass windows. Some were of biblical stories, and some had a lot of symbolism that I didn't have a clue about. We could only see them from the outside because, and this is just our luck, the chapel was closed that day for carpet cleaning. I want to go back and see it with the sunlight coming through. Hopefully, I can get some photos to share.

There were some great families at the MCRD cake cutting this week. They are always grateful to know that their sons are being watched over by members of the church. (The mother's are especially thankful.) It is so cool to see the difference in these young men as they grow from baby recruits to Marines. We love it!

Our conference weekend was mostly normal, but partly different. Saturday, we watched the sessions on our little computer screen in our apartment. Sunday morning we went to MCRD for Sacrament Meeting and then watched talks from Elders Oaks, and Holland and President Nelson again with the recruits. It was interesting to listen the talks the second time from the perspective of the boys who have dedicated years of their lives to serving our country.

We hurried home to watch the afternoon session and see our little blurb on KSL. That was fun--to see so many of the senior missionaries that we love and serve with (and ourselves!) Then we hurried off to pick up our Wounded Warrior. He is a gentle guy who has some mental issues, but we like him more and more each time we're with him. We took him for a ride out to Point Loma. While we were walking around the lighthouse, we met the best family! The Creamers. They saw our name tags and so the gabbing began. Brother Creamer was so kind to visit one on one with our Marine friend while we talked with the ladies about how great General Conference had been. It was such an uplifting and fun meeting. Wonderful people!!

The Creamers, David, and us at Point Loma
It's been nice to have beautiful weather. We try to go to Lake Murray a few times a week. It's not far from where we live and it has a paved walking/bike path. I walk, Mike rides. We have met some unique people there. One of these days I am going to get a picture of the frizzy haired lady that rides a bike with a "Wicked Witch of the West" basket on the front (kinda like my old Schwinn). In said basket is her little chihuahua wearing goggles! I think it's hilarious.

A familiar face at Lake Murray

We are trying to do good things. We love being missionaries, and are so thankful to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

This is the church, this is the steeple

I know, that's a weird title for a blog post, but that is what it was when we went to the Peñasquitos  Stake building to meet with the stake president. I love the variety of chapels here. They aren't all cookie cutters like they are in Utah.
The church building
On the corner of the parking lot, the steeple

We're staying busy between bases. MCRD and MCAS. Marine Corps Recruit Depot and Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar. MCRD is very cool because of it's history. The old buildings are great and Mike, Matt and Joe all went to basic training there. By the way, both Joe and Matt came to visit a few days ago. It was great to hear "the boys" tell about their experiences at the Depot.

Miramar is nothing to look at. It is pretty much just flat blacktop with a few palm trees and patches of grass here and there. But, the aircraft flying is the great part. Point Loma is by far the prettiest, and the Navy bases are inspiring because of the ships at port. We imagined the installations all being far apart, but they are quite close and we can go on and off base as we please. We are learning which ones have the best commissaries and exchanges, so that's where we do much of our shopping, except Costco always and forever for milk!

Talk about inspiring, we visited Mount Soledad. It is a veterans' monument that sits at the top of a hill where you can see 360 degrees of San Diego. It has plaques of veterans from WWI-now that spiral up to a cross.

We added a new MRM couple, the Dale's, this past week. As we were "training" them, and I use that term loosely, we could see that we really do know and understand A LOT more than we did 2 1/2 months ago. We are proud of the fact that there are a few places we can get to without using GPS and/or getting into a spat. There seems to be more and more to do each week. We get unexpected phone calls and assignments and are learning better how to juggle and communicate. (that last one needs A LOT of work) After 43 years of marriage our minds are still on two very different wave lengths. We keep plugging away!

Attended a YSA ward today and met the cutest Marine. SHE is about 5'11" and beautiful. She is a helicopter mechanic. She grew up in Utah, went through all of her marine training, and while in North Carolina, joined the church just four weeks ago. We look forward to spending time with her.

Best part fo the week...testimony meeting with the Recruits. Those men can testify of the power of prayer! They have wonderful stories to tell about how they have had their prayers answered as they struggle with basic training, decisions and life. Speaking of marines and prayers...please keep our military and missionaries in yours. (Especially us old ones!)
Hazy day view of the temple from Mt. Soledad

Monday, March 18, 2019


I'll just bet that you can't guess who we saw, what we did, or where we've been lately. You'll never understand why we're here like we did this past week. And I'll betcha that you've never experienced a church meeting like we got to. But, you can bet that I'm going to tell you all about it!

We met with a few more Chaplains. One at Miramar, one at the Brig. Interestingly enough, the timing was perfect. We caught Chaplain Biadog as he was just showing up to his office. (we got our directions all messed up on the way there and arrived later than we had intended to) and go figure, if we had been there earlier, we would have missed him. He's a wonderful Catholic man and has invited us to Easter Morning Mass and breakfast. We would love to go...might have scheduling problem, though. Chaplain Klender just happened to be in the lobby counseling someone and had just a few moments to give us to introduce ourselves. Funny how those things work.

Tried our best to keep them here...
Our baby, Abby turned thirty on March 8. She and Matt decided to drive the California Coast to celebrate. They ended up in San Diego, so we got to spend a day with them. We did something I would never even think to do. We went to a CAT Cafe! The food was lousy, but the cats were cute. We also went to the Midway Museum and went out for a nice birthday dinner. It was one of the first warm days we've had, so it was lovely walking around the harbor.
He's a pretty cool cat!
Last week we went to Naval Base Coronado to see what ships were at harbor. We drove to the end of the Silver Strand and could see Tijuana. With binoculars were could see the border and the temple.
Can you find the Tijuana Temple?

This past Saturday, the skies were beautifully blue, so we decided to drive out to the Naval Air Facility el Centro. That made it an official MRM trip. It just so happened that the Blue Angels were flying in an air show that day. Wow! These pilots and crews are incredible!

This is a cheater photo taken off the internet. No pics allowed!
Today, Mike was set apart as the 1st Counselor in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Military Branch. We knew, we just knew, that somehow, someway we'd be involved with young Marines. (actually they are recruits, training to become Marines. The chaplain took us around to some "unaccessible to visitors" areas, to find an accessible restroom (called "heads" in Marine lingo). We got to see some brand new recruits trying to march drill. Poor guys! Their drill instructors were pretty much in their faces. The chaplain is an officer, so should be saluted; but, here he was with a guy in a wheelchair and a woman...they weren't sure what to do. It was pretty cute.

The yellow footprints are what the new guys stand on as soon as they are off of the bus. This is where Mike's military experience started many years ago.
What an amazing experience to attend Sacrament Meeting with the recruits. There we were with young men all dressed in their fatigues, rolled up pants, shirts buttoned to the collars, and noggins freshly shaven. Some as young as seventeen, some returned missionaries, some husbands, some fathers--all willing to serve our country. They are in some intense training, and coming to church is a reprieve for them. Watching them bless and pass the sacrament so reverently and respectfully was very touching. Mike bore his testimony beautifully, then had interviews with the newest recruits. I visited with boys who just needed a listening ear. That's why we're here!! We will continue to work with and support the other wards and stakes, we will still visit families at Miramar, we will do whatever we are asked to do, but, this is where we can REALLY help. We are so grateful to know that HE knows better than we think WE know.

Betcha can't watch these clips and not love them like we do! Semper Fi!