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.