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Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Few of Our Favorite Things -- Part 2

Spring Comes Early in North Carolina

Can you believe the redbuds are already in bloom? I also saw an apricot tree looking like a giant bowl of popcorn ("Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree?") and daffodils -- and dandelions -- in yards around town.  Temperatures are still up and down, but mostly in the 50's and 60's with an occasional 70+.

Jacksonville receives over 54 inches of rain a year, so we have many rainy days.  Fog is also common, shrouding the mornings in a misty veil. All of this moisture has been great for my skin, but I don't look forward to the humidity come summer.

Beauty Morning and Night

Each morning I can see a view like this at sunrise from our bedroom or our kitchen window.  Love seeing the sunrise through the pines.

Sunset outside our apartment.  

I don't remember seeing purple skies at night before, at least not the deep purple we see here.  Even after full sunset the skies have a deep purple cast -- very lovely.  Makes one want to sing "When the deep purple falls......"

Learning About New Things

Bob loves watching these Marine Osprey aircraft fly overhead.  Which is fortunate, as we are living right under their flight path and we see several overhead every day (to the accompaniment of the artillery practice rounds being fired on base which reverberate over quite a wide area.) The osprey can fly in three different modes, as shown in this picture, and can take off vertically.

This is Bob's favorite mode to see them in.

Camp Lejeune is home to Montford Point where the first African-American Marines were trained during WWII.  One of the markers tells the story of the first platoon to go through training.  The recruits banded together after the first week of boot camp and pledged they would stick it out together no matter what was thrown at them.  And they did.
Medals were awarded later to that first group of Marines who broke the color barrier in the Marine Corps.

Things We Love About the South

Signs seen in the Walmart parking lot -- Reserved for Expectant Mothers and Reserved for Wounded Warriors. 

I love the big wrap around porches.  They remind me of Mother and Dad's house in Green Forest.  The kids loved to play there when it was too hot to play in the yard or when it was raining.

Screened-in back porches are wonderful in the summer.
I remember one of my colleagues who moved to 
Salt Lake from North Carolina saying she looked and 
looked for a house with a screened in porch in
Salt Lake as she felt it was a necessity, but none
could be found.

Two of my favorite birds are here in North Carolina and I have loved seeing them.  We have a cardinal flitting around our apartment complex and there is a mockingbird in the trees by the chapel.  Such a pleasure to hear and see them.

As I was going to the car the other day I heard what sounded like a red-winged blackbird, but it was coming from the top of some tall pine trees.  I had only seen these birds in marshy areas near cattails.  But the call, "Oak-a-lee" with that raspy sound definitely made me think of a red-winged blackbird.  Sure enough, not long after, the bird took flight and I could see its distinctive red shoulder patches.

Okay, funny story about this bird.  I kept seeing a lone bird like this soaring over the pines all over the place and I kept trying to figure out what kind of bird it was.  It was too large for a hawk and didn't look like an eagle.  I considered a vulture, but the vultures I knew had red or whitish heads and flew in groups of at least 2 or 3.  Turns out this is a black vulture and it has a black head and often hunts alone. Who knew?

The People Here Are Awesome

  One of the most enjoyable parts of our mission is our interaction with the young Marines at Camp Johnson.  They have finished basic training and are at Camp Johnson to receive training in their MOS (military speciality).  They are with us from 1-3 months, depending on their speciality.  The young man on the right is from Mesa and will be going into the Reserves.  He plans to leave on a mission right away.  The young man on the left is not a member of the LDS church but needed a ride to the airport, which we were happy to provide.

This is not a great picture of Sharon, the woman who takes care of the Camp Johnson chapel where we meet for Church and Family Home Evening, but I was lucky she let me take even one, as she hates to have her picture taken.  She has been very helpful to us and is entertaining to talk with.  She is Native American from Kentucky and has lots of tales to tell.  When she learned I was from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas she exclaimed, "Oh, so you're a ridge runner.  I'm a stump jumper myself."  Translated, ridge runner refers to hillbillies or people who ran illegal whiskey stills and ran the ridges to escape the law.  Stump jumpers in her case meant hill people who cleared the land but left stumps that had to be jumped.  She also introduced me to Kentucky graveyard quilts like the one above. 
Notice the graveyard in the middle with tombstones.  The quilts were a way to memorialize family members who had passed on.  Learn something new everyday.

Many of the young Marine wives are just out of their teens and are far away from family and friends.  We organized a luncheon for several who live near so they could have a chance to get to know each better.  It was a great success and we are thinking of having another one soon, maybe a picnic if the weather stays warmer.  There were several more who wanted to come but had to work.  They can be a real support to each other, especially when the husbands are deployed.  The two sister missionaries came to help out and are kneeling in front.

It is absolutely amazing to watch the growth and progress of recently baptized members.  This young man just glows and has made big changes in his life. In fact, you might not even recognize him if you had known him a few months ago.  He said the other day, "I've never been this happy." Our two awesome sister missionaries were the ones who taught him.  

The young man in the cap is a recently reactivated member.  He started coming back to church last year after several years of being totally inactive.  He set a goal to go to the temple and he was able to realize that goal just a few weeks ago.  His mother, brother and sister came to go with him to the Raleigh temple.  He is very much into his Scottish heritage (thus the beard and cap) and hopes to compete in the Highland Games in the near future.  There are a lot of people with Scottish ancestry in North Carolina and the Highland Games are a big deal here. In fact, some of my Scottish ancestors lived for a time in North Carolina. His other goal this year is to fill any empty seats in the chapel with "lost sheep" like himself.  Our ward is very involved in reaching out and fellowshipping new members and the less actives and this makes for a dynamic and vibrant congregation.  I love our ward!!

This is not exactly a picture of a person, but it does represent the wonderful people we work with in the Addiction Recovery Program.  It has been a rare privilege to be a part of this process.  We are hoping to start a separate support group for spouses in the near future as we see this as a big need.  

We are honored to work in such an outstanding zone in one of the best missions in the church.  President Bernheisel told us this past month that there were over 600 missionaries serving in the Raleigh Mission, 80,000+ worldwide.  We are in awe of these young men and women who are mature beyond their years and serve with such enthusiasm and integrity.  

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