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Monday, June 9, 2014

On a Mission, Always Expect the Unexpected

The Best Laid Plans Often Go Awry

We do our best to plan out our week, scheduling visits and preparation around recurring obligations such as conducting Sacrament Meeting and holding Family Home Evening for Marines at Camp Johnson, working with the Family History Center, leading the Addiction Recovery Program, and supporting Institute class.  Visits to families of deployed soldiers and families with new babies,  searching for the "lost sheep" in the Jacksonville area, visiting new member move-ins, and providing support to our missionaries (usually rides, meals, or help with investigators) keep us pretty busy.

Just when we have a day planned out, there is often a "monkey wrench" thrown into the works and we must replan and adjust.  For example, Monday is usually our preparation day and I had a list of things to take care of today and was looking forward to starting off the week running several errands, finishing this blog and "getting organized." Then last night after a long day of Sunday meetings and activities, plus an extra unexpected meeting after church, we received a text from one of our young Marines asking if we could pick her up from the Wilmington airport Monday morning and bring her back to base.  We left at 8:30, picked her up at 10:30 and returned to the apartment about 12:30.  Just in time to get ingredients to fix a dinner to take in to a new mother.  

Last week, Bob and Elder Abney were called to give four blessings.  This little boy was running a high fever for several days and was quite miserable.  The Navy doctor said it was just a virus, but he kept getting worse.  After the blessing, she took him back, saw a different doctor, and found out he had a double ear infection.  He is back to his usual rambunctious self.  Then right after they gave this blessing, a young couple called from the Greenville Hospital (about an hour and a half away) and asked for a blessing for their little girl (3 weeks old) who was having seizures.  The mother was from the Greenville area which is why they went there rather than here in Jacksonville.  The call for the third blessing came after we were already in bed and ready to turn out the lights.  This call was from a Marine way out in the country who was in a lot of pain and wanted a blessing of comfort.  Then Wednesday when we were at the Family History Center,  one of the ward members came and asked for a blessing as she was having a hard time shaking a bad chest cold even with antibiotics.  Bob is always honored to use his priesthood to bless others and he has had many opportunities to do so on our mission.

Then there are happy surprises, like last week we had 21 at Family Home Evening at Johnson (usually have 2or 3 on a good night.). The Young Single Adult group from the ward had arranged to come out and meet with the LDS Marines on base.  They did the whole thing -- lesson, treats, conducting.  The Chaplain's assistant told us Sunday that when she told the Chaplain how many had attended Monday night he didn't believe her (we always leave a slip with how many were in attendance so they can count this in their report).  She assured him that it was true -- she could tell from the amount of trash in the garbage can and that we were very careful to be accurate.  He laughed and said, "What did they do, bus them in?"  Which was pretty much what we did, only we brought them in cars rather than by bus.  We did have 5 of our own from Johnson which is pretty good for us.  We have a good group in training right now and so our numbers are up.  Three are cute women Marines and they reach out and invite their friends.  Funny how that has increased our count.

Going to Columbia, Medellin

Another happy surprise has been that two of the Marines we worked with at Camp Johnson have received mission calls.  They enlisted as reservists and the Marine Corps grants a two year deferment for missionaries, so when they went home they sent in their mission papers.  One is going to India, Bangladore and the other to Columbia, Medellin.

It sometimes seems as if the military does everything possible to make it difficult for Marines in training to attend any type of religious service on a consistent basis.  However, a couple of weeks ago, a sergeant brought one of the Mormon Marines under his command out to Johnson from Main Side (about a 20-30 minute drive) and stayed through Family Home Evening to take him back.  He said he knew how hard it was to attend church when he was new to the Marine Corps (he is Baptist) and he wanted to help someone who had a desire to stay active in his church.  He even volunteered to drop him off at the ward on Sundays as he drove to his own church, but we have been able to arrange rides.  What an unexpected blessing from a rough, tough sergeant.

Another wonderful surprise was discovering the Nelson family, whom we had known in Salt Lake on our Inner City Mission, were living in Jacksonville and were in our ward.  In fact, Erlene is our Relief Society President.  Her oldest daughter just graduated high school and will be attending BYU on a full ride scholarship.  It really is a small world.

We love working with the great missionaries here in Jacksonville.  They keep us amazed (and entertained).

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