Monday morning, Pam and I left for the USO at 9:30 am. No Dough dinner was that evening, so we were busy. Upon arrival my birthday was celebrated and that was a surprise. They sang “Happy Birthday” and presented me with a cake and cupcakes. It was nice. Afterwards Pam went in the kitchen and I helped Dave Ostrum finish the main room set up. Lots of volunteers and the prep work went by quickly. I drove to Publix and bought Cream of Chicken soup for a potato dish and later in the morning consolidated items in the outside storage room and eliminated another pallet so the room was wide open, and Dave could move the shelving systems back away from the walls. Shortly after noon a film crew came and set up and began filming a commercial with JEA volunteers and USO staff members, so we stayed out of the way and manned the office for an hour. When done Pam and I left for the day. We had an early dinner and returned to our apartment for the evening. We were thrilled to learn of another adjustment to church policy when we read a First Presidency announcement regarding Temple sealings: “Effective immediately, a man and a woman who have been married civilly may be sealed in the temple anytime after they receive their temple recommends for the sealing ordinance…” What a blessing in this day where over half of the countries where the church is established dictate a couple marry civilly before being sealed in the Temple. Allowance have been made for those conditions and now it is the same throughout the world.
Tuesday morning, Pam and I arrived at the USO at 9:30 am to help with a food delivery by Feeding Northeast Florida. We joined Dave Ostrum in the outside storage room as the final pallets of food was being off-loaded: 1 pallet of baby food, 1 pallet of canned goods, 1 pallet of strawberry’s and 1 pallet of meat. We sorted the meat into grocery carts and then Pam and I and Christiana and Monica (volunteers) bagged meat and placed them in a freezer. We completed 50 bags and then moved the canned goods via grocery carts into the USO main room and sorted them onto tables in the North end of the facility. Following the canned goods, we did the same with the baby food. Dave already had two refrigerators full of strawberry’s for tomorrow and we put the remaining flats on the pool table to be given out today. We had this all done by 11:00 am and then began moving remaining food products from the shelves in the storage room inside the USO. When done practically all the stored food was available for distribution tomorrow. Dave had an empty room to organize again for the future. Pam went to the Commissary and bought a couple of items to use in making pies and returned and made a Strawberry pie with the fresh strawberries and the staff members really enjoyed it. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at noon and we visited about the schedule for the rest of the week and then Pam and I left about 1:30 pm. We drove to the Arlington area and had lunch and then returned to our apartment. Shortly thereafter we received a call from John Walton (Jacksonville Beach Ward) asking for help in giving his Aunt a blessing. She was visiting his grandmother at the Fleet Landing Care Center in Mayport and was unable to give the blessing due to his schedule. I made a few calls and Lance Jarvis could go with me, so we changed clothes and headed back to Atlantic Beach and picked up Lance and continued to the Fleet Landing facility (only about two blocks from the USO). We located the room, where John’s grandmother was staying and met her, John’s mother Paula and Aunt Roma. John’s grandmother was recovering from a stroke and Paula and Roma were visiting. After a few minutes we were able to give the blessing to Roma who was having problems getting a leg to heal from an earlier operation. Afterwards we took Lance back to his home and we returned to our ours. Later we heard on the news of a school shooting in Denver. The STEM school in Highland’s Ranch. Travis called and was quite emotional because several of those involved were individuals, he knew from the Roxborough Ward. It was hard to figure out why those things happened, or what “snapped” in an individual to cause them to shoot peers, but it had become an epidemic in our country—very sad!
Wednesday morning, we arrived at the USO by 9:30 am and there were several ladies already waiting for food, but the distribution didn’t start until 10:30 am. Dave Ostrum opened, and we helped get things ready for the day. Pam worked the front desk with Margaret (volunteer) and I worked in the outside storage room with Jim and Carmel (volunteers) and we distributed meat, diapers, strawberries and cookies. There were 3 other volunteers who guided the patrons through the food items and directed them outside where we were. After an initial rush, it slowed down, but by noon we had distributed food to about 45 families. It was fun to watch the look on their faces as they received the various items and were so grateful for the boost to their budgets. At a slow point I made a bank deposit for Joyce Schellhorn, and when I returned Pam and I went over the next week schedule with her and then we left about 1:30 pm. We drove to the mission office and dropped off a letter to Elder Grieve which detailed the sale of our Apartment Complex to another company and information on billing. We continued to the Arlington area and Pam spent the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner for the Sisters. Sisters McComb and Densley arrived at 5:00 pm and it was nice to have them in our home. Sister Densley was brand new and hailed from Draper, Utah. Sister McComb was from Colorado Springs, although her family had moved to Provo and now lived in Erin and Weston’s stake. We had a great meal and enjoyed visiting with the Sisters and finding out how their work was going here in the Arlington area.
Thursday morning, we left for the USO at 8:30 am and opened the center and were pleased to see a large amount of bread and pastries waiting to be distributed to military families. It had been quite a while since we had received that amount. Pam loaded up pastry items to be saved for No Dough dinners and took them to the outside storage room freezer. It was a quiet morning with not a lot of traffic. We manned the office and I brought in strawberries from the refrigerators to those who wanted them. I also organized and moved the remaining food products from yesterday’s distribution to the front tables in the north end and then put down the chairs, preparing for tomorrow’s luncheon activity with the Coast Guard. Dave Ostrum came for a while and opened the safe, so we had access to tickets the USO were currently selling. At 1:00 pm we left and drove on base and visited with Nikki Head and her boys Caleb and Matty. She seemed happy to see us. We had some lunch on base before returning to Arlington and our apartment. Pam spent most of the afternoon sewing on a dress for Sister Johnson and a quilt for Stephanie Jarvis (binding). I did a little scrap booking this afternoon.
Friday morning, Pam and I left for Jacksonville Beach where we picked up 75 pounds of ground beef from Beam’s and delivered it to the USO for an upcoming No Dough dinner. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) opened the facility and had a community service volunteer working helping get the north and south rooms set up for a Coast Guard luncheon at noon. Pam helped in the kitchen with desserts, plates, utensils, etc. I took a load of bread to the Navy Exchange and spent most of the morning in the office answering phones and checking in patrons. At 11:30 am Coast Guard wives began arriving for the lunch with the wife of the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Charles Ray. She arrived about 12:15 pm and came right into the office and met Joyce, Charlie and both Pam and I were introduced to her. She was very much an Admirals wife and seemed like a nice person. She was escorted to the north room where the luncheon was being held and she and a Coast Guard Ombudsman for the area talked and fielded questions and ate with a dozen women invited to the activity. The Admiral was on the Naval Station conducting a similar meeting with Coast Guard leadership both men and women. By 1:30 pm it was over, and Joyce reviewed our schedule for next week and we left and drove to Stephanie Jarvis’ home and Pam dropped off the baby quilt Stephanie had sewn but ran out of steam and asked Pam if she would quilt it for her. She was very pleased with the finished product. We continued to our apartment in Arlington and did a little preparation for a Temple Preparation lesson this evening. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to babysitting issues.
Saturday morning, we began our weekend routine of cleaning and laundry. Pam stripped our bed and started that load and then as she dusted and cleaned bathrooms, I vacuumed the floors and cleaned up the kitchen. We were done by noon and dressed and ready to do something fun today. I did a little research and found another fort to discover south of St. Augustine, near Crescent Beach. It was called Fort Matanzas National Monument and consisted of a 1740 Spanish fort called Fort Matanzas, and about 100 acres of salt marsh and barrier islands along the Matanzas River. We enjoyed our time there and rode a ferry across the river to the fort and it was small but seemed very well positioned to protect the river. The gun deck had 4 cannon and the facilities hosted a small crew of men and one officer who manned the fort on 30-day rotations. Back on the visitor center side we walked a short nature trail in the preserve area, and it was beautiful, especially the oak and cedar trees. We took AIA back up the coastline to St. Augustine and continued north to Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and had a late lunch in Atlantic Beach. Finally, we made it back to our apartment in Arlington—a nice day.
Sunday morning, we attended the Jacksonville Beach ward and enjoyed wonderful meetings. We were pleased to see Jenny Black and Olivia, the Lagae, Jarvis and Noblit families. Tyler Gneck was also in attendance and he received orders to HSM-70 at NAS North Island, California. He would be leaving around the end of June. We will be sad to see him go. Before the meeting Jerald Lagae came and slipped into our pew and we visited for a moment and then he asked about the sacrament and I knew what he wanted—to pass the sacrament. I took him up front and introduced him to a young man who was in charge of the deacons, and they were happy to have him help. During the sacrament portion of the program, Jerald did a fine job and we hoped he would want to do it again and possibly bless the sacrament. The Mother’s Day program was excellent with fine talks and music from the Primary children and during that portion of the program Eleanor and Fiona Lagae went up and sang with the children as did Olivia Black. The 2nd hour was relief society and elder’s quorum meetings and we enjoyed good lessons. After the meetings we visited for a while and then returned to Arlington and our apartment. We had some lunch and settled in for the afternoon watching some enjoyable programming from BYU television. At one time or another all our children called Pam and wished her a happy Mother’s Day and I called Lynn and got an update on his condition. He was still in a rehab facility but was doing better and hoped to be released by the end of the month.
Fort Matanzas Sentry Tower
Sentry Watch Tower