This winter in Nauvoo has been extremely mild, compared to last winter when the temperatures through the months of January and February were near zero and below! But you won't find us complaining, no siree. The downside, however, is that we haven't had enough snow to go sledding behind our horses--at least not until this past week. We had about eight to ten inches in many areas around Nauvoo, so we pulled the sled out of mothballs and hitched it up to Chad and Mick for a good ol' trip through the backcountry where "the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh!" It was great fun--though a little chilly--taking various missionaries for sleigh rides.
As you may recall, February 4, 1846, is when the Saints began their exodus from Old Nauvoo. It was a bitterly cold day. Though the temperature was chilly this year, it didn't compare with that day 169 years ago. Each year the missionaries serving here in Nauvoo reenact the Exodus in memory of those faithful Saints.
Before trekking down Parley Street, missionaries and visitors gathered in the Family Living Center for a small breakfast of juice and hot chocolate.
We then lined up the wagons behind the Nauvoo Legionaires.
Several missionaries carried flags representing the country of their ancestors who joined the Church.
The first carriage waits for President Gibbons, our Mission President. (Each of us teamsters and our wives were assigned to drive the various horse-drawn carriages and wagons in the procession.)
Jan and I were assigned to drive the freight wagon.
So, down Parley Street we went to the shore of the Mississippi, where the Saints began to cross the icy waters heading west.
At the end of Parley Street is the Exodus Memorial, whose walls have inscribed the names of the thousands who lost their lives crossing the plains.
At the Memorial, a brief program was held honoring the Saints who followed the prophet and set out to find a place where they could "plow their fields as [they] saw fit, worship as [they] wanted, and live life as [they] had a mind to."
On Sunday evening, we closed out the Exodus week with a special program in which the stories of several Saints who had lived in Old Nauvoo were recounted. It was a wonderful conclusion to a week of remembering the faith and sacrifices of our forefathers who willingly gave so much so that we could have the gospel today.
I actually found three of my ancestors--whom I didn't know about before--who lived here in Nauvoo and went west with the rest of the Saints. I was able to "represent" them on the Exodus by carrying a card for each one with some interesting tidbits of information about each one. Jan walked for her fourth great grandmother, who died in Winter Quarters. We shall be forever grateful to them for their courage, unselfishness, and faith.