Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ausgust 23, 2015

It's embarrassing how long it's been since we did our last blog post. Things here in Nauvoo have been "wild 'n' crazy" since the beginning of July. Each week we had two pageants in full swing plus two nights of Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo--with two shows each night--and two nights of Sunset by the Mississippi. Also, the sites opened earlier in the morning (9:00 a.m.) and stayed open until later (6:00 p.m.), which left only half an hour to go from our assigned site, eat a mouthful of whatever, change into our performance clothes, and get to the performance by 6:30! (Frankly, it makes me tired just thinking about it.) Fortunately, things have begun to slow down, now that most schools are back in session and families are winding down their vacations.

Following are a few pictures to let you know the some of the things we have been doing this summer.

On June 27th the Martrdom Commemoration was held in Carthage.   

The Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant were preformed on alternate nights from July 7th until August 1st.  Approximately 2500-3000 guests showed up each night to see one of the pageants; it gave us missionaries a chance to visit with them and answer questions they have about the Gospel and the Church. It's amazing how many non-members come and leave with a new perspective and interest in the Lord's plan for them. A great missionary tool!

Prior to each pageant performance a country fair was held on the grounds just west of the pageant stage. The fair began at 7:00 and was in session until the pageant started at 8:30. Activities going on in the fair included a host of activities from crafts and pioneer games to . . . 

sack races . . .   

stick pulling . . .  

1840s' dancing and a host of other events. 

The location of the pageant stage is such that Nauvoo Temple can be seen in the background. It is a beautiful setting.

Unfortunately, this past July was a particularly rainy month, which discouraged some people from coming to see the pageants. For example, one afternoon it rained so much that a pond formed just outside of the area where the country fair is held. But the show went on!

 Now that our Sunset by the Mississippi show is over for the summer, we have a little more time to rest in the evening, but we do miss the performances of the young performing missionaries and our fellow senior missionaries and the children's parade before each show.

And surely our guests are going to miss seeing Sister Larson "kick up her heels" . . . 

 or listening to Elder Larson sing "Act Naturally" along with the other elders.

Because we no longer have Sunset shows twice a week, we are able to travel on our preparation day to a few places of interest in the Nauvoo area. This past week we drove up to Moline, Illinois, to tour the John Deere Harvester manufacturing plant. We were able to see, step by step, how they created monster machines like this combine. Truly amazing!

We also took the opportunity to visit a little town in Iowa called Bentonsport. The main attraction there is a pottery and iron works shop called "Iron and Lace." The motif, or design, of all the pottery is a flower that grows wild in this area called Queen Anne's Lace.

The iron works produced by the blacksmith there are world-famous, though I was a little surprised at how small his shop is.

We also took another quick trip down to Quincy, Illinois, to visit their new Historical Museum and see some of the devastation from a recent tornado that ripped through an area of the city. The strength of the wind is amazing, as can be seen by this tree that it uprooted.

While in Quincy we stopped by Washington Park to view the placard there that honors the wonderful residents of Quincy in 1839 who harbored the refugee saints when they were driven out of Missouri into Illinois.

Closer to "home" here in Nauvoo, we often see deer like this little fawn sampling the leaves of a tree in our back yard . . .

or this red Cardinal who came to pay us a visit on our back porch.

Undoubtedly, we're going to miss this place, even though we're excited to be going back to family and friends in just a couple of weeks. For sure, the words that I utter at the end of each of my editor performances in Rendezvous will ring true: ". . . forever, forever, we'll look back and remember Nauvoo."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 24, 2015

Since our last blog post, we have had a lot of special visitors here in Nauvoo. First, Greg and Rachelle Hymas and their children came on May 26th and spent a few days with us. It had been so long since we had seen them that they had had two new additions to their family that we hadn't met before, Max and Isaiah. We very much enjoyed getting re-acquainted with them.

Soon after Greg and Rachelle left, Julie came on June 11th with some of her family: Marisa and Jud, Jen and Michael, and Marci and Marc.

Just as Julie and her family were leaving, our kids and grandkids came. And after our kids left, LeVae and Kip Heiner came and spent a couple of days visiting Old Nauvoo. While they were here, we had a chance to take them to an old-style Amish dinner served in an Amish wood-working shop. The food was great and the atmosphere was authentic!

Our kids began coming on June 13th. First, Jill and her gang and Jami and hers arrived. The next day Jeff, Jodi, and Jason showed up. It was such great fun having so many of them (30!) with us for several days. 

On Monday Jan and I had our "Prep Day" and were able to visit several of the sites with everyone. First, we went to Carthage and enjoyed the spirit there. Being where the Prophet Joseph was martyred was a meaningful experience for all of us.

On our way home from Carthage, we stopped at the Hamilton Family Cafe and more than doubled their clientele that afternoon!

Having family around us just wouldn't be the same without a little "fun 'n' games"! So Monday night we participated in the Bingo Championship of the World, thanks to Jill's planning and preparing.

During the next couple of days, everyone visited historic sites and attended Old Nauvoo programs, including watching Grandma and Grandpa perform in Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo and Sunset by the Mississippi. In fact, Austin and Dylan even got to dance with Grandma on the Sunset stage.

Dylan marched with the other children and the Nauvoo Brass Band in the Children's Parade.

Going on carriage and wagon rides with Grandpa as the teamster also seemed to be a hit.

Meet Abe and Ike . . . 

. . . and Duke and Dan, our two new oxen.

No visit to Old Nauvoo would be complete without a stop at the Family Living Center. Here everyone learned how to make barrels, rope, pottery, candles, and even brick-oven bread!

I'm quite sure that the favorite site for the grandkids was Pioneer Pasttimes.  Bailey remembered this place from last year and couldn't wait to dress up and play "pioneer mommy" again!

Mitchell enjoyed making the bear climb the ropes.

Of course, all the kids--and some of the grown-ups--had to show that they could walk on stilts.

And the girls had to show off their latest bonnet fashions!

But I think the highlight of our family's visit was just being together again, eating dinner, and enjoying one another's company. 

Heavenly Father really knew what He was doing when He created families. There's no more enjoyable place to be than with our family. Thanks to all of you for coming and making our mission even more special. We love you!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24, 2015

It's truly unbelievable how fast the time flies by. I thought our last blog post was only a couple of weeks ago, but it's been a month ago! Sorry for not keeping up.

On one of our prep-days this past month, we decided to go down to Hannibal to check on Mark Twain. (You do know that he lived only an hour and a half from Nauvoo.) Besides making sure that he was still sitting in his chair, . . . 

we also went over to visit the house of Tom Sawyer's girl friend, Becky Thatcher, and check out the fence that Tom persuaded his friends pay him to whitewashed.

While we were in Hannibal, we decided to take a little trip down the Mississippi on a steamboat.

While floating leisurely along, we enjoyed the view along the banks of the River . . . 

and came across one of the famous Mississippi River barges . . .

and even passed by one of the tug boats that push various barges and other water craft up and down the river. 

(Unfortunately, we didn't see one of the gigantic barge-tows that carry huge amounts of grain, coal, or other exported products down the River to ports in the Gulf of Mexico. These barge-tows carry the equivalent of what it would take 870 semi-truck trailers to transport!)

Back here in Nauvoo, spring has been popping out all over. One of the beautiful sights right now are the peonies that are in full bloom.

During the past couple of months we have welcomed to our mission several new missionaries, including the Young Performing and Brass Band Missionaries. Yesterday I was driving the Nauvoo Brass Band wagon around Old Nauvoo, and we stopped to let the band members off the wagon at the Pioneer Pastimes site to march around with the little guests who were playing pioneer in their pioneer dress-up clothes.

This little video might give you a better idea of what went on.

We teamsters have also added to our ranks; we have been joined by 14 new teamsters, so we had an early morning breakfast in the equipment shed to welcome them. We also had a little "shindig" this evening (a potluck dinner and program) to invite them and their wives into our little "gang."

And in keeping with mission tradition, we also had a Mission Breakfast, when we welcomed 90 new senior missionaries, 20 young sister missionaries, 20 young performing stage missionaries, and 16 young performing band missionaries.

The mission is divided into three separate performing casts. Each cast performs Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo two nights a week and Sunset by the Mississippi another two nights during the week. Because we had a lot of new missionaries come into our cast, the Emma Hale cast, we held a hot dog roast down by the Mississippi on one of our two free nights. It was great to get to know our new cast members a little better.

During the month of May, we have had a gazillion school groups come and visit. (Jan is in charge of organizing these tours, and it has kept her VERY busy. She's even organizing tours in her sleep!) The other day I was assigned to drive the "school wagon," which took several loads of children around the center of Old Nauvoo so they could get an "historical" view of what Old Nauvoo was like. These tours have to be strictly historical in nature; we can't give any religious messages or even refer to the residents of Old Nauvoo as "saints." We have to call them "pioneers." I believe that the major benefit of these school tours is that the children really want to come back with their parents--then we can give them the "real" message.

It's incredible how fast the time is going by--and the busiest season is just starting tomorrow with Memorial Day. The next two months and half of August will be crazy busy. But we're looking forward to meeting and sharing the gospel with the thousands of visitors who will soon be here.