Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

We have been asked what happens around Nauvoo during the Christmas season. Well, I'm here to tell you that the number of events this month leading up to and including Christmas have kept us going nonstop!

On Thursday of the first week of December, we joined the missionaries in Carthage to participate in the annual Caroling festival. We, along with a few other caroling groups, walked around town singing at various stores, the courthouse, and even the museum. At the end of the evening, we gathered at one of the missionaries' home for donuts and hot chocolate.

While at the museum, we were attracted to their model train exhibit.

On Friday of that week, we presented the Christmas Walk, which began with a brief program in the Visitors' Center . . . 

. . . and the lighting of the Christmas tree.  We then shuttled guests down to visit some of the sites in Old Nauvoo in three of our wagons that were all festively decorated.

On Saturday night, many of our missionaries joined with others of the community to perform the Messiah in the St. Paul and St. Peter's Catholic Church. (This picture was taken before the choir and orchestra entered.)

On the 19th and 20th many of our missionaries and volunteers from Nauvoo and other cities as far away as Quincy, Illinois, performed the "Miracle of Christmas" concert, which consisted of a 60-person adult choir, a chamber orquestra, a bell choir, and a childrens choir. It was a major effort and very well done. About 700-800 guests came to see the concert each night. It was a wonderful missionary activity.

Today is Christmas Day, the only day that the sites are closed all year; so, Jan and I had a relaxing morning. We got up, showered, opened the presents we had under our Christmas tree, and telephoned some of our children.

We then had a wonderful Christmas dinner with the rest of the missionaries in our mission, plus the missionaries in the Temple Mission.

After the dinner, we enjoyed a program in which some of the missionaries who had served previously in a foreign mission explained how Christmas is celebrated in the countries where they served. At the conclusion of the program, the live nativity that was presented during the Christmas Walk a couple of weeks ago was performed for those of us who had other assignments that night and weren't able to see it. It reminded me a lot of the nativity programs that our children and grandchildren do each year, though maybe a bit more professionally done!!

First came Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.

Angels from on high announced the birth of the Savior.

Shepherd came.

And wise men presented their gifts to the Christ Child.

And, so, another Christmas has come and gone. It is a great privilege to be remembering and representing Him as a missionary this year. We feel especially blessed to be serving here with so many wonderful missionaries and friends. We hope everyone has felt the Spirit of the Savior in their lives this Christmas as we have experienced it here in Nauvoo. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014

Thought you'd like to see our Mission Presidency: President and Sister Gibbons are in the middle, President and Sister Jenson (1st C.) on the left and President and Sister Harwood (2nd C.) on the right. (The Harwoods were in our MTC group.)

The Warsaw Signal was infamous for publishing slanderous articles about the Mormons back in the Old Nauvoo days. It was also a major contributor to the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. We went to see what was left of the Signal Office now. 

And this is what it looks like inside! The main floor has collapsed into the basement. The printing press lies in ruins in the rubble. It's amazing that nothing has ever been done with the building.

 About every three months, our MTC group gets together for a little party. This is the gang! 

We were in charge of our Zone's Thanksgiving Dinner. We served 36 people and felt that it was a great success.

An old farmer and his cows! 
(Actually, we have to exercise our oxen at least a couple of times a week, even in the winter.) 

And, yes, it's getting cold around here. The proof is along the banks of the Mississippi.

Now that Thanksgiving is past, we are focusing on Christmas around here. You should see the Christmas tree in our Visitors' Center. It's amazing! The ornaments represent the various visitors' sites here in Old Nauvoo: the lanterns are from the Tin Shop, the rope from the Family Living Center, the slate board from the Log School, the gun from Browning Gun Shop, the gingerbread man from the Bakery, letters from the Post Office, bricks from the Brickyard, horse shoes from the Blacksmith Shop, DVDs from Land and Records, the horses from the Wagon and Carriage Rides, and the temple from--well you know!

This Christmas tree was decorated by the FM (Facilities Management) missionaries. If you look closely, you'll see that the ornaments are tools and the garland is an extension cord. How about that tree topper!

Then there's the Christmas tree we have put up in our house. 

One of our teamsters is leaving us this week, so we had a farewell party for him and his wife. After enjoying banana splits, we had a fun little program in which some of the teamsters performed. Here, decked out in wigs, are June and Johnny Cash singing one of Johnny's hits.

The temperatures have turned mighty cold around here, but thoughts of you all during the holidays warm our hearts. Thanks for being so great!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29, 2014

This is probably the most beautiful time of year here in the Midwest. It certainly is here in Nauvoo. The following pictures will hopefully give you an idea of the colors we've had here the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the leaves are now falling fast and leaving the trees bare for the winter--which I'm afraid is going to come much too fast for my liking!

One of the most popular festivities in Nauvoo is "Bootiful Nauboo." You wouldn't believe the intricate pumpkin carvings on display for the annual Pumpkin Walk down main street of Nauvoo. This is primarily a festival sponsored by the community, but our mission plays a major role in it, from passing out bags of candy and freshly popped kettle corn to having one of our carriages in the parade loaded with our "crazy band" making as much noise as we can. This year it was estimated that about 7000 visitors came into town to be a part of the festivities.

Here comes the parade!

This year there were about 500 pumpkins carved and lit along both side of main street. We missionaries tried to find a little time to help with the carving.

At about noon, the boy scouts and other volunteers put out the pumpkins.

The designs in some of the pumpkins were amazing.

All sorts of things were decorated for the evening.

On another note, one of my fellow teamsters told me of an ancient burial ground just north of Nauvoo and took me out to see the mounds. Interestingly, the burial grounds date from 300 B.C. to about 500 A.D. There are some Church scholars who believe that these mounds contain the remains of some of the Nephites who were killed in battle on the banks of the River Sidon (see Alma 2).

Aside from all the festivities of the week, the best thing that happened this past week was the Area Mission Presidents' Seminar that our mission hosted. Attending were about 30 mission presidents and their wives and five General Authorities, including Elder Perry, of the Twelve; Elder Rasband, Senior President of the Seventy; Elder Christensen, one of the Presidents of the Seventy; Elder Godoy, of the First Quorum of Seventy; and Elder Martino, of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. 

As our mission Zone Leaders, Jan and I were asked to escort Elders Godoy and Martino and their wives while they were here.  On Wednesday afternoon, these brethren flew into Burlington, Iowa, on one of Jon Huntsman's private jets, where we picked them up and drove them to Nauvoo. Then each morning and at various times of the day, they had to be taken to their meetings or other appointments. It was a wonderful opportunity and blessing to visit with Elders Godoy and Martino during the five days they were here. They are truly warm and thoughtful men. (I think Justin knows of the quality of person Elder Martino is because he was Bust's mission president for just a few weeks before he--Bust--came home.)

Elder Perry and his wife

 Elders Godoy and Martino and their wives

After visiting with these brethren and seeing all that they have to do day after day, I have gained an even greater appreciation for them. It's truly amazing to me that men the age of Elder Perry can keep up such a demanding pace. I get exhausted just thinking of what they do! But in spite of their demanding schedule, they take time to be kind and gracious with everyone.  They were a wonderful example to us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014

It's been a while since we did our last post on our blog. Sorry 'bout that. The past few weeks have kept us VERY busy. We'll try to give you a little idea in this post of what's been going on with us lately.  This past month there have been a lot of missionaries who have finished their missions and returned home. This necessitated combining three Rendezvous casts into two. 

So in order for us to get to know our new fellow cast members well, we, of course, had to hold a cast party, which was a gigantic outdoor potluck around the fire down by the Mississippi River.

Fortunately, in our new cast (the Parley Pratt Cast), we have a lot of very talented missionaries, so we had a really fun fireside program.

I was even "forced" to sing a number with several of my fellow teamsters! (Sorry the picture turned out so lousy.)

I think I mentioned in a previous post that we acquired four new horses this past summer. A couple of them are still pretty skittish around some fairly common items around here, such as a handcart. So we have to do a little "fear reduction" training until they don't present any danger to our guests.

One day I was assigned to give tours in our oxen yard. While there a former Bear River High School classmate of mine, Virgil Pugsley, showed up. He was there with his wife, Marie. It's amazing how many familiar people come to Nauvoo.

Jan's main assignment is as Site Leader of the Tickets and Tours operation. She is usually there three or four days a week.

The Tickets & Tours desk is in the Nauvoo Visitors' Center.

Each Monday, Jan (a.k.a. Sister Larson) and I are assigned to work in sites other than where we have our principal responsibilities. A week ago Monday, we were assigned to the Carthage Visitors' Center. I'm convinced the Nauvoo experience is not complete without visiting Carthage. 

Statue of Joseph and Hyrum in front of the jail

I'm holding an actual musket of the type used by the mobs from Warsaw and Carthage. (This musket is owned by a gun collector who lives in the area and was visiting the Center the day we were there. The gun doesn't belong to the Center.)

The Dungeon Cell where John Taylor was hidden inside the jail

Notice the bullet hole in the door of the Martyrdom Room. The bullet that made that hole was the one that killed Hyrum.

The window through which Joseph was shot and fell to the ground

Jan had the good fortune this past week to serve in the Brigham Young Home.

One of the rooms of particular interest inside the Brigham Young Home is the Council Room, where Brigham often met with members of the Twelve and other Church leaders.  We tell our guests that Brigham Young was commissioned to do three things:  finish building Nauvoo (many of the houses were not finished), finish building the temple, and get the Saints to the west.  Most of the planning and decisions made to accomplish this were done in this room.  It's a pretty powerful feeling to know that much of the history of the church during this period centered around this room.  Brigham Young had only 11 days of school, yet the Lord knew his abilities and used them to further His work.