Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30, 2014

April 30, 2014

The crowds on the weekend this week were a little heavier than previous weekend, but things are fairly slow during the week now that spring breaks are finished. We are gearing up the for summer, however, so we are putting as many teams into the rotation as we have teamsters to drive them. When summer is in full swing, we'll be running three wagons, three carriages, and the bandwagon. The teamsters will meet at 6:30 in the morning get the horses grained, cleaned and harnessed ready for the first rides at 8:00 a.m.

Mick and Ben 

Kids love to pet the horses after their ride.

Jan served a day in the Family Living Center.  She loved it!

Getting ready to bake bread in the "bustle"oven.
Is it hot enough?  

Aunt Peg would love to watch them make rugs on the loom,
but here it's a man's job.

We attended a temple session on a cold and windy April day . . . 

. . . but the tulips reminded us that it really is spring.

I've never seen double tulips like these.  Beautiful!

The view of the river from the temple steps.

The temple grounds are so beautifully landscaped that it
almost makes you forget the cold day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23, 2014

April 23, 2014

Believe it or not, there are evidences that spring is really going to makes its debut. For example, check out this Magnolia tree in full bloom! There are various trees and flowers around Nauvoo that are now beginning to show signs of life.

Aside from the signs of spring emerging, about the only other BIG news for us teamsters is the arrival of a couple of new horses. The horses, black Percherons named Nip and Tuck--at least for now--were purchased from one our former teamsters, Elder Nunn, from Canada. He brought them down for us, arriving last Friday.

After fitting new harnesses to them, we tried them out on one of our wagons. They seemed to do just fine.

On Easter Sunday, Jan (a.k.a. Sister Larson) and I were assigned to give tours in the Brickyard. Check us out!  Don't we look like a couple of authentic pioneer brick masons? 

We quite enjoyed the three tours we were a part of. It was interesting to learn how the saints made the brick for their homes and other structures back in the 1840s. I learned that it took several weeks from start to finish to mold, cleanup, and fire the bricks. To brick a "normal" sized house back then, about 40,000 bricks were required--and it took about 60 cords of wood to fire that many bricks. There were seven brickyards in Nauvoo, and among them they were able produce about 4,000,000 bricks in a single season. I'm sure your really interested to know the recipe for making bricks--and even if you're not--so here it is:
  • Four parts clay containing iron oxide to one part sand (from the Mississippi bank)
  • Mold mixture (called "pug") into brick shape
  • "Hack" (turn over) the bricks daily until dry
  • Stack dried bricks into a clamp (or stove kiln)
  • "Wet smoke" (or dry) the bricks for up to one week to remove additional moisture
  • Fire the bricks (heat them) at as high a temperature as possible for up to two additional weeks
  • Cool the bricks for another week
Then build your house of bricks so the big bad wolf won't be able to blow your house down!

On Easter Sunday evening, all of the teamsters and the wagon narrators and their spouses had a dinner together. Each couple brought an assigned dish. We had a great time getting to know one another a little better. 

After we were finished eating, a couple of our musically-inclined teamsters entertained us. 

Elder Broadhead--a professional musician from Canada--performed some good ol' country music . . . 

and then Elder Ballard (from Arizona) joined in on his harmonica. On a couple of songs, we all joined in. It was a lot of fun.

I guess that's about it for this week. Have a great week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16, 2014

April 16, 2014

Well, we had a couple of days of nice spring weather this past week, and then it turned VERY cold, indeed. It was back to the coats and gloves! During the couple of days when the weather was good, Jan and I took a little stroll down the "Trail of Hope," which is the road from the center of Nauvoo, down Parley Street, and to the Mississippi. 

Can you imagine having to take ONLY what you could fit into a wagon like this (approximately 3 feet wide and 11 feet long). That certainly was one of their challenges.

As the Saints made their way down this road for the last time, they looked over their shoulder to see the temple that they had sacrificed so much to complete so that they could receive their temple blessings before heading into the unknown west. The picture below might capture some of what they saw.

When the river was not frozen, the Saints would load their wagons and carts on barges similar to this one to cross to the Iowa side of the river.

First thing in the morning, I meet in prayer meeting with the other teamsters on duty that day, and then we good to the corrals to let the horses into the barn for their morning feeding of grain and cleaning. Then we harness those that will be used during the day and turn the others back out into the corral or pasture. (Sorry 'bout the finger in the first picture. Nobody's perfect.)

After the horses are harnessed, we drive them down to the loading depot to pick the visitors who are waiting for a tour of town or of the area north of Nauvoo in the countryside.

Four nights a week, Jan and I have to perform in one of two programs(Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo or Sunset by the Mississippi) put on for our visitors. Below is the "old-Nauvoo-style apparel we wear for the Rendezvous program.

Today was our Prep Day, so we decided to go down to Quincy to see the town that is so revered by our church. Back when the saints were driven out of Missouri, they crossed the Mississippi River into Quincy, tired, hungry, and destitute. The good people of Quincy opened their hearts and their homes to the saints, giving them food, shelter, and even jobs in some cases. Some of you might have heard the account of President Hinckley, back in 2002, presenting the Mayor of Quincy with a sizable check as a token of appreciation to the good people of Quincy. 

In one of the parks in Quincy, you will see this placard which tells of this charitable offering.

There is also a small stone monument indicating where the saints came into Quincy back in 1838-39.

I'm guessing the saints could  have used this beautiful bridge back when they needed to get across the river!

While in Quincy, we took the opportunity to drive around and look at some of the beautiful, older homes like these.

We were also interested to learn that the original keys to the first Nauvoo temple are kept in this Mayor's Mansion. This mansion house was also used at one time for the headquarters of President Lincoln's election campaign. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014

Well, we're another week into our mission experience, and things seem to be getting a little more familiar--at least they're not as intimidating, let's say.

On Friday morning of last week, all of us missionaries gathered together to have a breakfast to say farewell to three sets of missionaries who are departing this month. (One of those couples is our "fill-in" mission president, Elder Chynoweth, and his wife.) Each couple was assigned a dish to bring to the breakfast, so there was LOTS of food!
 Sorry the picture's so fuzzy, but I think you get the idea.

This past week I had my first opportunity to work with two of our oxen, Abe (short for Abraham) and Ike (short for Issac). They're still pretty young, but they are learning to obey nicely.

As you will notice in the picture below, the weather has been pretty chilly around here. Those brave enough to take a carriage ride with us out north of Nauvoo are all bundled up in blanks--which we mercifully provide for them!

Another first for us this past week (on Sunday afternoon), was the opportunity to teach some of the demonstrations in the Family Living Center. Below are some of the stations where demonstrations are given:
Making Bread--pioneer style

Weaving Rugs

Spinning Yarn

Making Rope

Jan demonstrating how to make a candle

Behold, the final product!

Monday evening, a special, annual event was held--burning of the prairie grass.This is done each spring to show how the early saints cleared some of the land in preparation for planting. (Unfortunately, sometimes this method of clearing prairie grass was done unintentionally by lightening.) The grass often grows to be 5-7 feet tall, and when it burns, it goes like gasoline. It is said that in the wind it will burn at about 70 miles an hour. It would be impossible to outrun, or escape on horseback, one of these fires coming towards you.
Before the burn began, we had a great, big hotdog roast. Perdy simple fixin's, however, just a hotdog, a bun, a little ketchup and/or mustard, a fistful of tater chips, and a drink of water. Oh, yes, and a little sack of pioneer-style caramel corn, cooked in an enormous cast iron pot over a flame. Right tasty stuff, too, I might add.

Gathering for the hotdog picnic.

In line for a delicious hotdog!

Getting ready to cook the corn.

Sacking up the corn.
Cleaning the pot for another round.

Prairie grass before the burn.

Elder and Sister Larson about to witness the burn.

Igniting the grass.

Prairie grass begins to burn.

In three to four minutes the entire field of grass is consumed!

Notice the Nauvoo Temple in the background, safe on the hill--a beautiful sight.

Just before we arrive in Nauvoo, the missionaries did a reinactment of the organization of the Relief Society, which took place in the Red Brick Store, just a couple of blocks from our little apartment. This morning during our weekly mission training meeting, those who performed that reenactment program reenacted the reenactment for us! It was very interesting.

Well, that's all for now folks. I hope this little edition of our blog has given you an idea of what we're experiencing here in Nauvoo. The weather is starting to temper a bit now so that we can stand to be outside to enjoy the sights and sounds of Nauvoo. Hopefully, some of you will get a chance to come and take in the sights as well this summer. 

'til next time.


Mom and Dad (a.k.a. Elder and Sister Larson)