We began our week by presenting our new family home evening lesson on teamwork to a family with seven children. The marine dad is gone for the week so we took dinner as well as doing the FHE. It was very successful. Although seven children under the age of 10 is pretty chaotic, the kids were well behaved, respectful, and responsive. They helped get things ready for dinner and then did the clearing and cleanup. They asked us many questions and participated well in the lesson. They were not grabbing and whining for more when it came time to prepare and hand out the treats. So we were quite pleased at how well things went. We believe the mom was grateful too, especially for the dinner. We used all paper goods so there would be no dishes to wash too. We felt humbled and happy that we could help her out a bit.
Our Wednesday Officer Candidate School family home evening was amazing! We had 29 students crammed into our little conference room that is sized for about 15. Thankfully we had made plenty of treats. Lezlie gave a good lesson on “ and out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” Of those 29 only 3 were LDS, and all the rest came because the LDS trio invited them. Those three are such outstanding people. You can tell that they are leaders among the group. It was just so rewarding to see all of them chatting with each other and boosting their spirits. They loved the refreshments and thanked us over and over again. I got to chat with one young lady from Seattle who was a huge Seahawks fan. Her dad has held season tickets for many years and she said she was missing going to games with him right now. Two girls told me they had been going to another service but were kind of sad it was so unstructured. They were glad that we had a song, a prayer and a real lesson. Once again mingling with these outstanding young people has lifted our spirits. We are so grateful to be working with them and giving them a little spiritual and physical nourishment to help them through this difficult training. We are also grateful to them for be willing to become Marine Officers and to serve our country.
After working an excellent Thursday shift at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society we pointed the car north and began to drive. We drove to the Wilson’s home, dear old Naval Academy friends of ours. Tom and I were in the same company all four years. They live near Gettysburg and we stayed with them when we toured the battlefield last spring. Lezlie completed a painting for them, a view of their historic home. We drove up to present the painting to them and for a short visit. We arrived just before dinner and Lezlie got to give them the painting, which they really liked. She was able to make a last minute correction with her “paint first aid kit.” We had a lovely and relaxing evening, not to mention an excellent dinner, and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the Wilsons. Their country home is warm, comfortable and relaxing. We felt like we were in a cozy bed and breakfast. It was wonderful to retell old Naval Academy stories from out time there. Of course we both loved playing with their dog Bailey.
After a great breakfast with the Wilsons we headed to Hershey, Pennsylvania, about an hour away. We visited Hershey’s Chocolate World, which is right next door to the large amusement park. It was a fun stop. They have a mock factory tour, which is like an amusement park ride. It told the interesting story of how their chocolate is made, from beans to wrapped candy bar. I thought the tote board was cool. It provided an update on how many candy bars of each type had been made on that day, and it was thousands. On the recommendation of the Wilsons we had a dark chocolate hot fudge sundae, and it was delicious. The gift shop had every imaginable type of Hershey’s chocolate for sale. Did you know that chocolate kisses come in about ten flavors? I almost bought a 5 pound Hershey bar, but came to my senses before purchasing it. For me one of the most interesting parts of the day was hearing all about Milton Hershey, who was a great philanthropist besides being such a successful businessman. He built the Hershey School for boys in the early 1900s. In his will he set up a large trust fund so that the school would be funded for the foreseeable future. It is now a private school for needy boys and girls and runs grades K – 12. The trust fund still finances it, and those in need pay no tuition. It was a long drive home in the rain, but our visit to the Wilsons and stop at Hershey were both greatly enjoyable. We arrived home early enough for one more activity. Meet the Mormons was playing in Woodbridge, so we invited several different bachelor marines. Only one took us up on it, so we drove to base, took our marine to the late movie, and then drove him home. It made for a long day, but he was thrilled to see it. This young man is a fairly recent convert and it was good for him to see the breadth of the LDS Church.
Our Friday began two days of attending the Fitzhugh reunion. This is one of the main Virginia families that Lezlie is part of. William Fitzhugh immigrated to Virginia for opportunity and land in the mid 1600s. He did well, and after a generation the Fitzhughs were very wealthy and owned a ton of land here. We first toured a beautiful mansion built by one of the Fitzhughs, Chatham. Although we had visited it before, we got a superb personal tour this time. The tour guide was very funny and also very knowledgeable about both the house and the Fitzhughs. It was thoroughly enjoyable. He told story after story about things that had happened at the house. It appears that everything about the house was designed to show wealth and power, and it certainly did that. After his we got to take a luncheon riverboat cruise on the Rappahannock River, another highly enjoyable adventure. By now we were getting to know some of the Fitzhugh cousins, so we had a nice time chatting with them and hearing their stories. One very interesting couple were from England. The man was actually from Texas originally, but he had gone to England to go to grad school and he ended up staying there. He was an avid Fitzhugh historian, and he gave a wonderful talk after dinner. I always love boats, so the cruise was great fun too. I enjoyed watching how the paddle wheels worked. The headquarters for the reunion was a nice Marriott in downtown Fredericksburg. After the boat cruise we had several hours to just hang around, so we spent a lot of time in the lobby area talking to cousins and resting. I found a small cubby that had a television, so I got to watch a good portion of the Oregon – UCLA football game. I loved it, because I do not have live tv and have really missed watching college football. Finally we attended the dinner, which was excellent. The Fitzhugh lecture was very interesting. We learned about how the Fitzhughs had lost their great wealth and large land holdings in England, which was why William came to America. Mom had drawn an excellent pen-and-ink sketch of Chatham for the silent auction, which was to raise money for future reunions. It sold for $55! The dinner and lecture lasted well into the night so we got home way too late for senior missionaries. But we did enjoy the day with the Fitzhughs. Our night was not done though. We had to put together 40 butterscotch rolls, a fruit plate, and a lesson for our Sunday morning OCS service. But we got it all done. Below are photos of all the Fitzhugh cousins at Chatham and of us in front of the riverboat.
Our Sunday morning began early with our OCS service. We did a lesson on courage that we have presented before, and it was well received. They absolutely loved the hot butterscotch rolls and almost licked the pan clean. We had some great chats with our beloved marines. An LDS candidate and I gave one young female marine a blessing. It was all good. By 9am we were on the road to Fredericksburg for part 2 of the Fitzhugh reunion. We attended 10:00am worship services at the St Paul’s Episcopal church in King George, Virginia. The church's land and silver communion set were donated by the Fitzhugh family in the early 1700s. The church was 300 years old but still had a large and active congregation. They had a reception for the Fitzhughs afterwards with delicious goodies- we felt very welcome. We got to wander around the church and adjacent cemetery after the services. We saw many Fitzhugh gravesites. Our final reunion activity was to have an outdoor luncheon at Eagles Nest, a historical home of one of the Fitzhughs. The current owners bought the home about forty years ago and have done wonders to restore it and keep the property up. They are very generous in letting the Fitzhugh reunions hold a luncheon there. They actually live in the Eagles Nest home, but they opened the ground floor and just let us wander through it at our leisure. The picture does not do this beautiful home and wooded property justice. It was spectacular. There was a family cemetery on this property, also, where the original William and his wife are buried. All too soon we had to say goodbye to our new friends and long lost cousins. It was a good bunch of people, friendly and down to earth. We wore our name tags throughout the reunion activities, so we had many good discussions with folks about our church and what we are doing in serving the marines in Virginia. We are now home trying to catch up on things we neglected while taking these excursions. It was all tiring but oh such great fun. We are grateful that we are able to have occasional time to explore Virginia and have wonderful adventures here. We will always have a love for Virginia in after this experience. Below are St Paul's Church and Eagles Nest.