Sabbath Service and Blessings for Elder and Sister McGrath

By Scott and Angelina McGrath, members of the Quantico Ward and serving as Church Service Military Relations Missionaries at the Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico

McGrath

We are so blessed by the opportunity we have, twice every week, to visit with young men and women determined to offer their time, talent, and strength, their all, to the United States Marine Corp in support of their Country and the freedoms and values it espouses.
We are blessed by the opportunity we have to bring a little bit of the Gospel and a little bit of Christ’s light and love into their lives; to supply them with a small amount of much needed physical recharge, mental break, emotional support, and spiritual uplift; to deliver to them a little food from home, delivered with tender loving care; to offer them the restorative power of Priesthood blessings; to allow them to partake of the Sacrament; and to provide them a measure of relief from the storms, the pressures, the ceaseless demands of the most rigorous Officer School in the country.
We are blessed by the opportunity to make a difference in their lives; to watch the dramatic changes in their demeanor from the time they walk into our room, beaten down, to the time they walk out, a spring in their step; and to see energy return to aching bodies and smiles return to exhausted faces.
We are blessed by the opportunity to serve: to serve these Marine Corps Officer Candidates, to serve these committed and dedicated young men and women, to serve these choice sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

We are the McGraths.

We are blessed…indeed.

 

Advertisements

Meet the Simon Family

Simon Family

We are the Simon Family – Marty and Allison – of  the Woodbridge 1st Ward.  We were called by President Price to serve a Church Service Military Relations Mission at the Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico.  We have been serving since the end of May along with the McGraths and Elder and Sister Hammond and previously Elder and Sister Riding.

Officer Candidates School has classes in three cycles – Summer, Fall, and Winter/Spring.  The summer classes consist of three groups.  Group 1 consists of college sophomores and juniors who attend for six weeks.  Group 2 consists of college seniors and college graduates who attend for ten weeks.  Group 3 consists of college juniors and seniors who are attending for a second six-week session (they have completed the Group 1 session in a prior year).  The six-week groups have some overlap with the ten week group, so the summer sessions run for twelve weeks.  This summer we had 42 meetings over the thirteen-week period, as not all of the groups meet with us at the same time.  The fall and winter/spring classes are for the full ten-week program.  The candidates are organized into squads, platoons, and companies, similar to Marine Corps infantry units.  Each company has about 250 candidates, with one or two platoons of women per company. We are at the midpoint of the fall cycle now.

26 July 2017 OCS (2)

Over the summer, the 10-week group started with over 900 candidates, and the 5-week groups each had about 500 candidates.  The current fall group has about 500 candidates.  On average, about one percent of the candidates are members of the Church.  Members of the Church make up only about 10% of those who attend our meetings.  At our first meeting with the second 6-week group this summer, we had 4 attend, and none of them were members of the Church.  By the end of week three, our little group had grown to 36 attending, with only one being a member of the Church.  Our largest meeting over the summer had 62 candidates attending from multiple groups.  It was standing room only! We were grateful to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to be able to share so much with so many candidates.

Our interaction with the candidates is on Sundays and one day during the week (usually Wednesday or Thursday).  We conduct a Sacrament Service on Sundays and a Family Home Evening for our mid-week meeting.  The Officer Candidates School program is very stressful, and our services provide them with a much needed break in their training routine.  Our goal, in addition to providing faith-promoting gospel messages, is to provide a friendly environment where the candidates feel welcome, feel the Spirit, and renew themselves for the challenges that lie ahead.  We are not permitted to proselyte, but we can answer any questions we are asked.  We also offer Priesthood blessings to all who desire one, including those who are not members of the Church.  We also offer refreshments at the end of every meeting along with an opportunity to write home.  We send some of the messages for them by e-mail to help speed the communication flow (candidates are not permitted to have their phones for the first three weeks and Monday-Saturday for the remainder of their training).  Their family members send responses to us, and we give the responses to the candidates at our next meeting.  We not only get to know the candidates, but also their family members as we serve as go-betweens for their e-mails.

Simon highlight

Three quick examples of the impact missionary service can have on the candidates.  One of the candidates in our summer group who had been attending from the very first day told us that he had never been to a church service in his life before he came to our service at Officer Candidates School and how happy he felt in our meetings.  Unfortunately, he was unable to complete the full program, but after he got home we received an e-mail from his father, who told us that the next Sunday, he would be attending the LDS Church that was around the corner from his house.

Another candidate was excelling at Officer Candidates School, but was unsure if she wanted to accept a commission as a Marine Corps Officer.  We told her that the best thing that she could do would be to ask her Father in Heaven.  She was not a member of the Church, and asked how she would know when she was receiving an answer to her prayer.  We explained to her how she could know and she told us she would pray about it and let us know how things turned out.  The next time we saw her she was beaming and we knew before she told us that she had received an answer.  She was going to accept her commission and become a Marine Corps Officer and thanked us for helping her on her journey.

A third candidate who was a member of the Church gave a note to us and the McGraths at the end of the last meeting we held before summer graduation.  She wrote, “Brothers and Sisters, OCS has been very challenging.  There have been many times that I have doubted myself.  I knew that I had a strong support group at home, but I didn’t realize the amazing support group I had here at OCS: the LDS Church.  I have appreciated all the lessons, prayers, and food that has been made available to me.  Your kindness and support helped me push through the negative aspects of OCS.  Words can’t describe the thankfulness I feel for you all.  People like you remind me that the world is good at heart and that people can really make a difference in your life.”

India Graduation

Moments like these make all the driving to Quantico, all the lesson preparation, all the baking, and all the e-mailing worthwhile.  We have been very blessed to get to know so many of the candidates over the past five months and look forward to continuing to serve the Officer Candidates for as long as the Lord needs us.

Meet the Bissue Family

Bissue family on Sunday

The Bissue Family lives in the Dale City Ward of the Woodbridge Virginia Stake.  Francis and Angela Bissue, their two sons and one daughter are originally from Ghana.

Bissue family

Angela shared what the Sabbath day means to their family.  “Keeping the sabbath day holy as a family is joy. We go to church to renew our covenant with the Lord. After church we have dinner together and watch a devotional on the BYU Channel . Sometimes our boys will fall asleep on the carpet watching this. Since there is no homework there is less stress and we have a relaxed environment. Most of the time we go to bed early to prepare us for the upcoming week. There is always a sense of calm when we keep the Sabbath day holy, and enjoy and plan to continue practicing it.”

Francis and Angela Bissue

 

Meet a Mom of the Year

Miriam Storey

 

Meet Miriam Storey, from the Bristow Ward of the Woodbridge Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She was honored as one of twelve Moms of the Year in the May issue of Washington Family magazine.

From her perspective as a mother and grandmother she gives this advice to new moms, “There are two things you give your children: One is roots, the other is wings. Instill a love of God and for all mankind in their hearts and respect in their actions.”

Her husband, Craig, says “She is rather modest about it, but I like to brag on her.”  Check out her story in the Washington Family magazine.

A Story of a Journey

By Camille Kerr

“What started as a chat on the doorstep with the two sweet Sister Missionaries became our story,” remembers Christina Leasure Ferrell, a member of the Quantico Ward, in the Woodbridge Stake.

“My fiancé came home after a long, hard day while I was chatting with the Sisters,” explained Christina, but that initial contact with the missionaries must be seen through her then fiancés eyes.

Curtis Ferrell told his side of the story.  “I was tired and had just stopped by the grocery store and was really in no mood to talk to anyone, especially missionaries. After I parked in the driveway, I took in part of the groceries through the garage and then came back out through the front door. The sister missionaries picked up very quickly that I did not want them there, so they prepared to leave, but as I went back out to the truck one of the sisters asked me, “Can we help you with your groceries?” I was astonished and could not believe what I’d heard – especially after the day I had just had… My demeanor immediately changed and I said to her, ‘No thank you, but that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day.’  We then spoke for a few minutes and they asked if they could come back sometime. I said of course. ”

“This began our journey to being married and baptized all in a weekend!”  said Christina.  The sister missionaries, Sister Natalie Seegmiller and Sister Macee Armstrong and later Sister Kaitlyn Johns, began visiting them regularly and teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of the restoration and the commandments and ordinances of the gospel.

Christina said, “My testimony is more of a journey than a single event. Through many specific prayers asking Heavenly Father to let me know if the Book of Mormon was true, if Joseph Smith really was a Prophet of God, and if this Church was the right thing for me, I just started to feel like what I was doing was what I should be doing and where I should be focusing my life – on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”

Curtis recalls, “The more we read The Book of Mormon, the more we came to know this church is true. A few months later we were married on a Friday (after being engaged for several years), then baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. I’m so very grateful for our missionaries and all of the peace and joy they have brought into my life.” On that life changing weekend of February 6, 2015 they stepped onto the path of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ferrells wedding day

Curtis and Christina Ferrell at their wedding on February 6, 2015

Ferrells wedding

Curtis and Christina Ferrell with Sisters Seegmiller, Johns and Armstrong

Ferrells baptism with sisters

The Ferrell’s baptism on February 7, 2015 with Sisters Seegmiller, Johns and Armstrong

They were immediately put to work in callings which helped them learn and grow in the gospel.  Christina served on the committee for the midweek Relief Society meetings and then as the secretary for the Primary, the young children’s program.  Curtis served first as the Assistant Ward Mission Leader and then later he was called to be the Ward Mission Leader.  Christina said, “We help each other with our callings. We often join the missionaries in lessons with people learning about the church. We love to have the missionaries over for dinner as it brings such a wonderful spirit into our home!”

A year later on February 11, 2016 Natalie Seegmiller and Kaitlyn Johns were blessed to be able to come back and be a part of the Ferrell’s journey again as Curtis and Christina went to the Washington, D.C. temple to receive their endowments.  Two days later on a frigid Saturday, February 13, 2016 they were sealed for time and all eternity in the temple, adding even more joy and lengthening their journey together.

DSC_0029

February 13, 2016 at the Washington, D.C. temple

DSC_0037

Kaitlyn Johns and Natalie Seegmiller sharing in the joy of the temple with Curtis and Christina Ferrell