Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Mural is Changing.....
      ....As "Old Nauvoo" Takes a New Direction
     Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin....sometimes it's hard to picture where it is going.
In 1962, Nauvoo Restoration was born,  and the mural of  it's reconstruction began.  There have been literally thousands whose faces painted on the mural of it's history.  The reconstruction of the historic City of Joseph had begun.   Nine years later, in 1971, the Nauvoo Visitors Center was dedicated and missionaries were called to serve.  In 1975 the first musical pageant called the City of Joseph was born and ran until 2004.  Missionaries called to serve in the Visitors Center soon began serving in the sites and telling of the Saints who lived here in the beginning.  Some missionaries called to the Visitors Center were assigned to NRI where they worked to maintain and beautify Old Nauvoo and the grounds.  Somewhere around 1983 a little musical/comedy was born called Rendezvous and all missionaries called to the Nauvoo Mission, created in 2000, were enlisted to perform.   President Hinckley had deep ties to Nauvoo and under his direction this was all done.  The culminating event was the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple; Josephs Temple.  The City of Joseph, the original Nauvoo Pageant,  was followed by the Nauvoo Pageant and then the British Pageant was added. Soon a new stage was built both were performed on alternate days during the month of July.  Sunset on the Mississippi was originally performed at the end of Parley Street adjacent to the banks of the Mississippi.   A new stage was recently built near the visitors center.  Rebuilding Nauvoo has been a work in progress and will continue to be.  The work goes on.
      It has taken fifty five years of change to get to this point.  With the exception of the year we have been here in Nauvoo, we have not felt an iota of it.  It has been a painless and seamless transition.  As we find ourselves now in the middle of change we go with it...after all that's what we do.  That does not exempt us or others serving here from questioning the decisions and direction and the suspense that is thrust upon us as we seen changes unfold on a monthly, if not weekly basis.  I recall when we first arrived, the then departing group of missionaries, had deep and dark feelings that President Hall, as a new mission president, had thrust upon them.  Some did not understand....or care to understand.  Most were obedient.  Some are excited for change and embrace  it.  Others not so much.
     So we go to the picture of these "blue clad" giants standing behind the mission presidency and Sister Hall.  This is the newly created Brigham Young District.  Sister Gibson and I have been called to be their district leaders......somebody got that backwards (they should be ours).  They are the cream of the crop.  Sometimes we just don't know where we are going here in the Nauvoo Mission and not seeing the vision we question the wisdom.  These couples are now in the midst of a "big" change and are amazing.  Let me explain:
     The Corder's, Schmitt's, Jensen's, and the Archibald's were the first missionaries called to serve specifically in FM.  They would not have the opportunity to serve in the sites.  When it was made known that they wouldn't be in Rendezvous, a small uproar occurred, and they were allowed to join a cast.  The thought was that they would at least have contact with the other missionaries who had been called to the Visitors Center.  That thought ended when Rendezvous was killed.  There seems to be  thought around here, that Senior Missionaries need to have a social life and belonging to a cast was their conduit to happiness.  So when this group was told  they were going to be  assigned to serve in outbound cities such as Keokuk, Mt. Pleasant, Burlington, and Ft. Madison their alienation appeared to be complete.  There was a lot of concern expressed to us by the mission leadership indicating they wanted to know how they felt.  
       The suspense apparently overcame them and they conducted our first district meeting.  What can I was one of the best district meetings we had been a part of...and not because of (well maybe that helped) the presidency but these are special people.  They were called to serve and they were going to do it willingly.  I had often thought about serving outbound before we arrived but soon became acclimated and accustomed and gave it very little thought.  Soon I was our associations with Grill's, Sall's, The Armadillo's,  and others that I had grown so close to.  I soon found myself envying them...and their endless opportunities.
       These are the first.....there are more coming and soon we will be multiple districts and a Zone.
      There are many more changes.....there is a plan...we just don't know what it is, when it will be implemented....or even if it is totally conceived.  Stay is my opinion that there is more to be and in the future.
The Tree Rises....
       ....Along With Sister Gibson's Anxiety!!
     If the tree in the Visitor's Center Rises....... can Thanksgiving and Christmas be far behind?  It took nearly two days for the "Fearsome Foursome", Sister Jensen, Sister Archibald, Sister Gibson, and Sister Schmitt, plus a lot of others dropping by to lend advice or a hand, but the 20' tree was assembled, lit, and decorated.  It's a beautiful tree that features things that are specific to Nauvoo and the mission.  President Hall even dropped by to view the production.  Of course the highlight of the event was getting Sister Gibson on the lift to rise to the top of the tree...this, in and of itself, is a shear act of faith, bravery, and determination on her part....well, actually there was a lot of coaxing and encouragement by the other onlookers....but in the end....she did it!!
     It seems everyone wanted to be a part of decorating the tree and the prestige goes along with it. So they would pass through, act like they were helping by putting up an ornament and smile for the camera.  Most were not worthy of a picture but when Jordan, our FM director stopped by with Terry from the church historical department, Sister Gibson humored them by taking their picture.  This little read blog will now undoubtedly rise to the surface with such celebrities.
          The Visitor's Center is now ready for the Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Walk....less the 400 plus chairs that FM will bring in the day of the tree lighting and take down immediately after it.  Let the preparations begin.

One Hundred Plus Down.....
           ....Seems Like Forever to Go!!
     Sister Gibson took the stage this week for what may be a farewell ride on  the mythical buggy driven by a frenzied Elder Butt.  She hung on with Sister Butt and survived to give him her famous finger gesture (a wagging finger not a one finger salute). As for me the ride down destiny's road to the end of an era isn't all that important...though for some the final performances have taken center stage and admittedly I would like to perform the Editor during the final week.   As Rendezvous heads toward the end I have a couple of observations about the recent production.  These are observations and my thoughts....not to be taken as criticisms.
     Sister Hipple, our current coordinator, is driving me crazy.  Enough said...that's just the way it is.
Although I enjoy performing, especially my role as the editor and the Little Town finale when I can look into my wife's eyes, I am weary, and for one, of the current constant chaos and  will be glad for it to end.  I miss Sister Lowe, our first director here.  Sure, she was a true  professional, but she also seemed to have a genuineness about her that was neither boastful nor pretentious.  She treated the missionaries with respect and her corrections, which were very few,  were private.  We were senior missionaries with failing bodies and minds. She had vast experience in directing and producing for her family show in Branson and other places.   She knew we didn't "need" to be doing every part on short notice.  She knew we needed consistency.  She knew we were trying and didn't badger us to practice, practice, practice to perfection.  It was always "do your best".  She didn't need to tell us she was our biggest fan......she was..... and we all knew it and loved her dearly for it. 
     In many ways I feet like we are being directed as though we are junior high students preparing for the annual choral event.   Add to that the difficulty of following constantly changing and critical  direction when the director directs, forgets what was directed, and then corrects her direction. it sounds like criticism...that's not my intention.  So the last thing I want to say is  "Thank you Sister Hipple"...I know you are doing your best and I am supportive of your efforts.  It's just driving me (and maybe a few others nuts!)
     The next Rendezvous thought has to do with my expanding waist and shrinking belt.  While it may not be the is certainly a large contributor.  It seems to be a contest some times as to who can provide the biggest and best the spread.   It is a cycle of expansion.  It starts small and humble...quality first.  It quickly expands to quality and quantity and grows to a full table of delicious food and high caloric and sweeter than sweet treats.  Then the president hears about the feast and he quickly issues a memo to tone the celebration down.  Then the cycle begins anew.  Will I miss it?  That depends on the treats provided!!
Siding....Soffit.....Tear Out..
                             ........and  In-Laws!
    The title foretells the chaos we occasionally (often, usually, most times) incur  at the Maxwell house as temperatures keep dropping as we march into winter.  Even though we had a couple of rain days during the week we were able to get the North end siding and most of the soffit trim installed and looked to have it finished. is Nauvoo.  The needed materials didn't get ordered...seems they were lost on a note buried in a desk at FM.  Banging my head on a door in the office seemed to get the message across and instead of waiting for the next scheduled pickup in Burlington they were delivered the at the end of the day....when we had moved on to other projects at the house.  Well....there's always next week to get it done....but wait....there's more:
     One of the major tasks that needed to be completed is taking the over head power and burying it in the ground.  We did this on the Schenck house and it went smooth but it takes coordination and timing.  Three weeks ago I discussed this with Ben, the FM electrician, and tried to get it moving.  Days passed and he still hadn't shown up so I pestered him again and explained the necessity of getting it scheduled and done so we could dig massive holes on the north and east end of the house to put in larger windows in the basement and allow for egress. Another promise....another week goes by.  Adding to that on Tuesday Marcus calls me up and asks me to meet with the contractor who will cut the windows in.  No problem?.....big problem! they can't get to it for three weeks.  At least by then we can finish the necessary areas and not have to worry about working over or fall in 5' x 5' by 5' holes.
     In an effort to get Ben moving I brought this up to Marcus to help get it done..."Oh" he says..."I told him not to do it just yet" and by the way my in-laws are coming for Thanksgiving and I am planning on coming down and excavate on Thanksgiving and Friday.  That way I won't have to deal with them.  I hope the holes don't bother you too much".  Nope.......Just the one in my head!! the End

We are still doing the square dancing gig and I think we actually enjoy it.  Each week new people come and give it a try.  Elder Finlinson takes us all through the basics (because it's been a week and most need it).  Funny, after their first visit, they are usually too forgetful or busy to come back again.
But the show rolls on.  Someday I have hopes we will be able  do it in the Cultural Hall on the same floor those Saints danced on in Joseph's day.

     Our planning meetings for the Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Walk (this is an extremely long title for a one night event) was held at a home with an electric fire place in it.  Open flames are forbidden in any missionary housing unit and so we just take it for granted.  One cold winter was enough for me so I had a light flicker in my head....and lo and behold there is and electric one that fits our opening exactly and with any luck I can install it at our home....when we get back.  The fireplace is nothing, however, compared to my "Gorgeous" wife.  (There's a story there...BTW)

     Speaking of home....I have been making some of  the family favorite nachos on Sunday. Although there are still a few ingredients yet to be added....they keep getting better and better.  So for those your heart out while I enjoy. Grandma makes hers too....they are the ones on the right.


The Nauvoo burn pit at FM had a little more of a flame to it than normal.  I just couldn't pass up the picture.....and remember those pyromaniacs in our ward called Armadillo's.  They should have been here to roast (burn) a marshmallow and talk of the good old days.

     The Hotel Nauvoo announced that on November 19th it would close down for the season and re-open on March 16, 2018.  We took the opportunity to grab the MTC group and gather their for dinner on the Friday before closing.  It was a great time....the food is good and I had the best piece of prime rib I can remember.  While I wouldn't be surprised that other MTC groups feel the way we do about ours, I can tell you these people are special.  We are different...and yet the same.  We have such a raucous time I am sure we have raised a few eyebrows from the straight laced and stiff necked attendees.  We most often are among the last to leave.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A New Week......
         A New Change 
     As I returned home Tuesday, after another exhilarating day at the Maxwell House, Elder, now President Hughes pulled in right behind me.  After a little chit chat he invited himself in....for a minute to talk to us.  I've been here long enough to know that I was now standing on the train tracks in front of the tunnel and the foreboding light in the darkness was not the light at the end of the tunnel but rather a locomotive coming my way....
     The stress of organizing a heard of cats into a workable organization for the Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Walk was mounting and now this.....What's next?
We knew the new mission president was about to be announced but I was supremely confident that it wasn't me.  If he had the dreaded "Golden Ticket" he had concealed it was was  waiting for the opportune moment to spring it on us when we were least suspecting it.  The pleasantries were short.  "The President wants you two  to be   District Leaders over the newly formed Brigham Young District.  Sounded like up step up from the beginning.  After all, while Martin Harris was an eye witness to the plates of The Book of Mormon he wasn't the Prophet of God that led and organized the Saints after the Prophet Joseph Smith's martyrdom.  Certainly it would be more important and my missionary "status" was about to take a giant leap.  You and Sister Gibson will be the first district leaders in a "some day" created zone that will include only FM missionaries.  While we readily accepted the call we are waiting for someone to tell us what we are to do in our district. It doesn't appear it will be related to serving in the sites rather it will be learning and using Preach My Gospel.
     Little by little things are being revealed....For example Sister Lindeburgh was told Saturday of their impending release from outbound service in Fort Madison.  She will be replaced by an FM couple in our district.  In fact, it was explained to her, all the couples in the Brigham Young District will be assigned to outbound service.  We got that message at the same time that Sister Lindeburgh I guess it was a two-fer in getting the information out from the mission presidency.
     Things are starting to change in the Nauvoo Mission.  There is a "master plan".... (whatever that is hasn't been revealed).  What we do know is that Rendezvous will be a memory, the Handcarts are gone, and the horses are eating hay and oats in the pasture.....and all FM missionaries now called to serve in FM will be called as couples to work in FM and they will not be involved in the mission activities....will they be a part of the mission?
     What we do know is that the new mission president will be Mark Lusvardi and his wife Juliane, director of public programs for the church's missionary department.  While his name wasn't a household word here with the missionaries in Nauvoo it soon became apparent that his presence has been felt for a long time.
     As President Hall indicated, he has been heavily involved in the, yet to be revealed, master plan.  So on the surface it looks like he has been called to help implement the plan that he has been working on.  We are all looking forward to the future now....some with optimism....some with fear.....all of us with faith!

It's All Maxwell........
                            .....All The Time

     Fall is upon us and winter is creeping in.  For the first time this year we dipped into the teen's for a low and the high was 32....all this while we have been working out side putting up the sheeting in preparation for the siding and the windows.  Since the furnace in the home has been disabled pending it's imminent removal we work  bundled up. I can only hope the dreaded winter cold doesn't happen. All is not lost, however, as we plow on.  Here in Nauvoo it is sometimes difficult to get the necessary materials we need....when we need them.  I could refer to it as a "head banger".  Two weeks ago we sat down with Kyle, our purchasing guru, and gave a material list for siding, windows, and doors for the exterior.  When checking with him this week,  on the status things, we started off on a downhill roll....Siding was at least a week away.....Windows maybe around Thanksgiving....the exterior doors.....ooooooops.  They hadn't been ordered.  I calmly walked over and shut his door....proceeded to bang my head on it....and left the office.  I think that picture was worth a thousand words (or even a couple of cuss words).  Later that afternoon he called with some good news....actually the windows would be here by the end of the week, the siding...the first of next week....and best of all Marcus had found exterior doors he liked in stock in Burlington and they would be here the next day.  What can I about "where's the Advil?.....I still have the headache!!"
     Elder Archibald's hand was feeling pretty good but that all changed when he had   a bad  reaction to the antibiotics  and that quickly  put him down for a day.  He was back on track until Friday when his tooth was done in by a frozen Skittle he crunched on while working outside in the bitter cold.  Soon he was off to see "the kid" our youthful dentist, Zach Rodeffor in Hamilton.  Good ol' Zach to the rescue.   He's got to love the missionaries here...they are a goldmine for business.
    Some weeks are better than others...... the End

     Nauvoo doesn't offer much when it comes to fine cuisine or dining.  It does have, however, Grandpa Johns for breakfast or lunch and the Nauvoo Hotel for their fabulous buffet dinners.  We hadn't been to Grandpa Johns for sometime so we made a stop for lunch.  There was something on the menu that intrigued us and so we bought into "The Worlds Largest Ice Cream Cone".  What more can I say?


     As you get older you sometime forget where you are in the cosmos.  The Hughes thought it would be a fun to revive our bowling skills.  Sure....they are "kids" and a lot younger than us "old folks" but I sized him up, thought about it, and figured he was just a rookie...easy picken's so to say.  So it was off to Burlington ahead of the Beecher's and Lindeburgs who we were meeting up with later for a show and dinner.  I had my first clue when I picked up a sixteen pound ball (which I questionably used the whole time) and it felt a lot heavier than I remember.  My first ball dropped behind my feet and I knew I was in trouble.  I soon regained my old form and broke 100 once.  Elder Hughes, on the other hand was a seasoned professional and came close to 200.  Sister Gibson was so sore she could barely walk for days.  If that wasn't enough by the end of the week she had managed to pull another muscle while she tried to help someone with something.



     Now that we represent  Brigham Young.....
One of our favorite sites to serve in here has been the Brigham Young Home.  There we talk about the home, his devotion to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his role as the Great American West Colonizer.  We use a visual of some broken pottery that was found buried in his root cellar when the home was being restored and even though it was broken and scarred the pieces, in the hands of the right person, can make it whole and beautiful again.  That's when we  testify to the Savior's atonement and how, through repentance we can be made whole.

     When we go to the Council Room we are reminded and remind others of all the important decisions were made in this very room through the keys of the priesthood that rested with the Quorum of the Twelve.  Again we testify of the importance to willingly follow the prophet.
     So it is with  a little dry humor I point out that he was not always the older bearded Prophet we often see.  At one time he was an  average height red-haired freckle faced robust charismatic leader.  At least I have red hair and freckles when I was younger.

     Sister Gibson's contributions to the blog start with her continuing war on those daring rodents who continually make brazen attempts to infiltrate the Conservation stronghold.  The little guys are a tough lot and do not go down easily.  The sticky pads the sisters have been putting down have been disappearing....leaving bits and pieces of fur to show their determined struggles as they carry the pads off into the nether reaches of the building....never to be seen again.
     Enough is enough and now the sisters in Nauvoo Conservation have taken their seek and destroy mission to a new level....they nail the pads to the floor.  While one problem is solved another appears....thank heavens for Sister Schmitt who is the bravest  and is willing to pull the nail and pose for the picture of triumph.  Grimace and all!!


    For those inquiring minds wondering what happens to all those craftily carved pumpkins proudly displayed at Bootiful Nauvoo Sister Gibson found their graveyard   in the FM mulching pit.  I don't think many of us have stayed up late at night wondering what happened to all those beautiful pumpkins but for  those folks who did here is your answer.  This picture will probably bring down the wrath and ire of those kind and gentle souls that feel they should be treated more a Pumpkin Pie.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Plan....A Plan?.....
     ....Surely There is a Plan?

     It's been a little over a week now since Rendezvous was unceremoniously sentenced to death.  The execution and funeral are scheduled  for November 30th.  The weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth grinds on daily with every performance.  What has happened to all those people who bemoaned their lot in life as they had to perform for the visitors.  Those who vowed they would never perform in Rendezvous when they received their calls.   "I am  not actor....I am surely not a singer" they proclaimed.  At first it was grudgingly.  Then it became "Willingly...because they had to" and soon they were doing it "Willingly...because they wanted to"  They are now a part of the throngs who are bemoaning the demise....after all we did it for those who they could feel the same "Spirit of Nauvoo" we all have felt.
     What the plan, if any, for the future has yet to be revealed and may not, if ever, be revealed for a long time.  Rendezvous will be missed by many who have come faithfully over the years to see it.  As for the current missionaries we will miss the comraderies, the countless miscues, and the joy that came from performing.  The reviewing of each nights performance in the sites, around the lunch tables, and in the barns.  The retelling of what had just happened and the stories of guffaws in performances of past as folks remember and try to illicit even greater laughs from the gathered group.  It brightened our day and lit our nights.  Elder Jones explained it best in a prayer meeting thought.  He started out in his humble way expressing his bad day and depressive feelings.  He didn't want to go to Rendezvous and yet he went.  A miracle and change of heart over came him and as he said "it was like the burdens of the world were lifted.  That little ditty called Rendezvous does it for me every time".    
     We will certainly miss the opportunity to get together and share our experiences as we wait for our turn to perform.  We will miss the prayer meetings with spiritual thoughts and ideas presented by our fellow cast members.  We will miss the adulation of our audience who look over our imperfections and see the message of Rendezvous of the importance of the Book of Mormon and the trials and faith of the Saints.
     The one sad part about this is the rush to request and reserve roles for final performances.  In the past this was only accommodated when family came to visit  or it was the Final Performance.  Since it is everyone's final performance the rush is on.
     So without any plan for the future (that we know about) we prepare to go on.  We are now at the end of our  Parley is cold...and it is dark.  We will  cross the abyss of uncertainty....just as our pioneer forefathers did....we will do it "Willingly.......because we  have to!  All the rest is just faith.....the same faith that was felt by  those earlier Saints.
                                                "The Horses"
     Since Labor Day we have been languishing without the clomping of horses hoofs on the Old Nauvoo Pavement.  The special and uplifting stories the teamsters told on the carriage ride over the dirt roads that testified of the character and strength of the saints are silent.  Bootiful Nauvoo was a great experience until you saw the wagon load of "crazy band" missionaries being pulled by a John Deere tractor made in Russia rather than A-Rod and Chuck pulling them down Mulholland. Then again I don't recall comments from the parade goers  of "where are the horses" as we rolled down the road.   Moving forward to the Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting in December  will be pulling loads of guests around Old Nauvoo  with a tractor.  Come to think of it though....we would be thrilled to do it with the ward in Salt's what we're accustomed to.
     It was announced in our Sarah Granger prayer meeting, by one of the teamster wives, that this Fast Sunday will be dedicated to the horses.  I am sure that her prayers are petitioning the Lord to restore them to the sites.  I'm all for that but I am also adding in that it's time to make a decision and get on with things.
     I look back to earlier in the year when the Handcart Experience was eliminated.  It was a sad day to watch the Handcarts leave on a truck.  I am still of the opinion that those who made the decision should have been allowed to pull them back to Martin's Cove one at a time.  I am pretty sure that they would have thought about it a little more.  It may not be a direct part of Nauvoo...but 100 miles North is Iowa City where most Handcart parties started from.
    I am sure there might be a plan.....then again.......
                                             "The Maxwell House"
     The majority of my working career has been in construction and has relied on detailed plans to be followed with exactness.  In the event there were changes we were required to submit a detailed "Change Order" and we would wait until the architect approved it. Cost and timing were always the prime consideration.  Fast forward to Nauvoo FM.  To date I have never been exposed or used a plan on any of our jobs.  So...........................................  
     I was more than ecstatic to find that our electrician Ben has had training in Auto-Cad, the premier architectural drawing program used by most architects.  Even better, Marcus had him drawing a set of plans for the Maxwell House Remodel......until I saw the first drawing.  It was neither to scale nor did it have dimensions, some windows and drawers.  It did, however, have the placement of an over-sized grand piano in the living room....more than like it was not oversized on accident.  We then spent time going over the plan as we walked through the house.  A few days later I was handed a drawing to scale with window and door placement and we went over it again on the job (the piano was even to scale and fit in the room).  Soon tear out began and we removed windows, walls, plumbing fixtures and then out of "necessity" cabinets.  If were doing windows...why not doors.  I haven't got time or space to elaborate but nonetheless we have had several more meetings and plan revisions (that means scribbling something on the plan or wall or floor)  The good news is when we make these changes they are made "on the spot" and we don't have to worry about cost or timing.  The work rolls on.......but it would surely be nice to have a complete set of plans and specs rather than building like a rookie home remodeler.

Missionary is their Name.....

                           ....Service is their Game!!
     Not all missionaries in Nauvoo are "old farts" whose better  years are behind them.  We have this special group of young elders who, for various reasons, have found themselves called to serve in Nauvoo.  They are our service elders who do the most incredible job of doing what is asked of them.
They are our "go to guys" and they seem to get the jobs that are too menial or require superhuman strength to work under the direction of Sister Jensen, our Housing Missionary.  They do what is asked even if it may require things that are not very pleasant.  Like the day they helped our plumbers with a "stinky" sewer issue.
     We said good bye this week to Elder Kyle Johnson and we will all miss him and his quirky, bubbly, smiling, and loud nature.  But he also gave us something incredible as he said farewell.  He left us the memory of his testimony.  With his parents there to pick him up he told us his desire to serve a mission when he was in primary.  "I hope they call me on a mission" he found himself singing and hoping.  As he got older the realization soon set in that he was autistic and that issues alone wouldn't allow him to serve.  Disappointment with Elder Johnson is short lived and his happiness was restored.  Fast forward a few years and he learned about service missions.  He applied...but his Stake President said the time wasn't right. He related one day he returned home and found his mother crying on the couch.  She explained that they had again been told no.  "Let's try again" said Kyle. "I know it will happen".  Time passed....they tried again....same Stake President and a new result.  His papers were submitted and he was called.  He served faithfully and joyously here for 6 months.  His grandparents, our good friends, the Johnson2's, were here for him and he flourished.  They went home two weeks ago and Kyle's parents came to take him back home.  With the FM flag of honor he is returning to Arizona.....where he will continue to serve a service mission for the remainder of his mission.  It seems like one way or another even though we may not like the trial...we can find away to gain happiness.
  If We Used Nicknames......Elder Archibald....
                            .....Would be Called "Nails"
      There we were.....taking out the old windows in the Maxwell house.  He was on the warm inside of the house while I was on the cold outside.(LOL....there is no heat in the house).  We were rebuilding the frame to fit the new windows and he was nailing boards with our 16d compressed air driven nailer.   A couple of shots rang out....followed by a long I looked into the window he was admiring his hand with a 16d nail sticking out both sides.  He said he swore .....but I didn't hear a thing.  I just watched and admired his aggressive nature as he reached down and pulled it out with neither a grimace mumble.  It would have been a great picture....but he was too quick on the draw.  He then picked up the gun.....prepared to go at it again when I told him he needed to go to the Doc.  He didn't look too happy as I insisted but he went.....the blood in his glove would be annoying.  I ran into him and his wife later in the day at Annie's Custard where all the missionaries were gathering for free custard as she prepared to shut down the custard shop for the year.  The Archibald's were headed for Carthage to get and X-ray to make sure there wasn't bone damage.  He said it hurt but he would be back to work Monday even though he was told to take a few days off.
    The whole week was devoted to the Maxwell house....and we were able to get some help from Elder Jensen who was unable to work outside due to the weather.  He was a great help in tearing out the existing walls in the bedroom and bathroom.  Elder Corder started to tear our and replace the front brick....Marcus had decided on what he wanted.
     For the record.....I do work on this house....I just haven't got anyone to take a couple of pictures of me doing it.  My favorite would be with Marcus as we hovered together over a blank piece of paper discussing the 5th time plan revision.  It is a memory I probably won't forget.....but just in case I would like it. the End
     In the back of the mail room in Nauvoo we have a separate area dedicated to items that departing missionaries  leave for other missionaries who may have need for something.  It actually looks more like a "hoarders heaven".  What is left after a cycle is taken to the Goodwill in Keokuk.  Most things don't last that long, however.  That's the's the Story:
     It was a cold and rainy day.  Sister Hill, the Mail Room Assistant Missionary was having a bad day.  Her car would not run but with determination she rode her bike,which barely worked anyway, to the mail room.
Since it was raining she thought it best to put in inside.  So she left it in the DI.  Probably within minutes Sister Eppic made a call to Sister Wright....telling her that there was a bike in the DI.  They struggled to get in in the car....but it was worth it.......until every missionary received an e-mail instructing the person who had removed the bike from the DI to please return it.....Sister Wright took it in stride and returned it but now has to live with the aftermath of Sister Hill's guffaw......every time she sees someone they asked her what is her latest treasure from the DI.  I just call here Sister Sticky Fingers😀

     I am becoming very well acquainted with Elder Finlinson.  First he is the instigator of the "Great Square Dancing Party" held now on Thursday Night.  But more than that he has been "selected" to be on stage with me.  Problem is we have a director who thinks we are all highly accomplished singers and actors. When we get a new part....which seems to roll around weekly....we get no notice nor training.  Sometimes they really aren't difficult...for example a couple of weeks ago he was supposed to say: "nothing good from what I understand".
     As I passed the green room I reminded him to follow he had a part.  "Not Me"...."Yes You!!" repeated three times before I went up to meet up with Elder Hughes to explain that Elder Finlinson didn't think he had the part and he didn't know the part anyway.  Elder Hughes rushed down stairs...barely making it back before his appointed  entrance.  "You're right...he isn't coming.  I plan on taking the line.  We go on stage...and just as it's time to deliver he crashes through the back doors and looks at me....not knowing what to say he looks at me problem I had planned on giving the line...and I did.  Next week he is ready to go...we practice a couple of times.  He's ready...He comes out on stage with us...cue line is given.....
         Dead deer stare appears.....I give the line...he says "thanks".   So we learned one thing.....He can speak on stage.
     Next week he has a different part, no notice, no training and two lines.  I am working with him so he will learn them in time.....or we will have to improvise again.

Halloween In Old Nauvoo
Brett Allen's House in Nauvoo

Sunday, October 29, 2017

There is No Joy in Old Nauvoo......
         ....Rendezvous was Just Struck Out!!

     Monday was an unusual time for a training meeting but with President Hall being out of town for the rest of the week it was a necessary change.  It all started out with the frivolity of President Hughes being presented his "Presidential Tie" by outgoing President McCoy.  President Hall moved slowly to the podium and what happened next was a bombshell that would leave a crater the size of Texas.  He started out explaining that he had just received two letters from the missionary department.  A hush and uneasy quietness fell.  Lately, anything from the missionary department is not good news.  "One is somewhat of a hopeful nature and the other is bad news".  Forgetting "somewhat hopeful" we immediately braced for the worst...the horses would be gone and Nauvoo would never be the same.  "The hopeful message is that they are still reviewing the horses".  My mind jumped ahead and fully expected the bad news to be he had been notified of his successor to the presidency in January and his time was coming to an end.
    The news was far more stunning  than anything we had expected...Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo would be discontinued and the final performance would be November 30th.  Audible gasps and groans filled the room and stun silence followed by a mumbling that started to roar....until he spoke again.
     While there were no audible threats of lynching the missionary department (just a whimsical pun)
it has become the topic of conversation in every venue every day.  The speculation is rampant.  Truth is that since we have been here there have been so many rumors about Rendezvous and it being re-written.  It has been a part of Nauvoo for over thirty years.  But the harsh truth is that it really is time to move on.  What that means we really don't know.  When Elder Zwick was here he made a unique and significant comment that was hammered home to the missionaries.  "The performances are not the most important part here. We have far greater callings for us  to perform.  The Lord is in charge and whatever callings we are asked we will do."
       Crazily we move on as our beloved director has still kept putting us in new roles, doing new parts, and frustrating us further.  Onward we go....Willingly because we have to.  So Thursday we stood on the stage and performed the circle dance with the McLoed's with a very....very...brief review by them.  Adding to the mayhem, Sister Finlinson, our new cast manager wants to re-do all the cast pictures for the organizational board that we no longer use anyway.  Onward....ever onward!!

     He was a Plumber....He is Now a Carpenter....
        ...and He Has Always Been My Cousin!!

     Last week we received another FM couple who, after the usual FM dog and pony show, were ready to be assigned.  The Archibald's, who come from Idaho are a wonderful addition to our FM group and Sister Archibald  was assigned to work with the grounds.  Elder Archibald who had been a life long plumber and recently retired from BYU-Idaho expected to be assigned to our FM plumber, Darrell.  Instead he was assigned to work with me in carpentry even though he really doesn't have a lot of experience.  While I am sure he is a little disappointed his attitude didn't reflect it.  He has jumped right in and is willing to do anything...he has such a happy positive attitude.
     He soon began asking the standard questions and our conversations took the usual course.....until he asked if I had any relatives who were here in Nauvoo.  I told him of Joseph Stallings, my 2nd Great Grandfather...and then it got interesting.  His great grandmother Archibald had married a Stallings.  Probably not any line went through Eden.  Then I remembered Elizabeth Alice Barnes who was Joseph Stallings fourth wife.  Circumstances dictated that she live away from the rest of the family in North Ogden.  After several years, and a couple of children later, she took the older children and traveled to Lewisville, Id where she lived and died.
     So when I asked him if the family lived near Lewisville he lit up with a smile and he said that was where his grandmother was from.  The only name I could readily remember was Don Carlos Stallings.  That was his Great Grandfather and so I found a cousin from the Stallings line.  I gave him my book to read and it filled in a lot of information he did not know.  I'm sure we will swap some stories over the next few months.

 Vicenzo Di Francesco........
                 His Handwritten Testimony.....
                  .....Hidden in My Mission Memories
     It all started in 1966  but soon became tucked away in my mission photo journal.  Fast forward to 2014 when I received a phone call from Elder Semadini of the Church History Department.  He and his wife had been called to search out any information they could find prior the formation of the Italian Mission in 1967.  They were interviewing the missionaries they could find who had served in Italy as a part of the Swiss Mission.  (In May of 1965,  the Bavarian Mission where I was originally called, was dissolved. Those missionaries serving there were divided and sent to German speaking missions in Europe.  I was called to Switzerland and soon thereafter, I accepted a call to learn Italian and  serve in the Italian Zone of the Swiss Mission.
     I labored there the remainder of my mission.  The story begins in Milano where I had just been called to serve as the Zone Leader.  The work was just starting to take hold and there were very few Italian members.  I was exuberant in my call and wanting to do something special for the members I had this idea that it would be great to publish a periodical, similar to the Ensign, or at very least a newsletter that would bring the gospel to the members. I had heard the story (legend) of Vincenzo Di Francesco, who as a Protestant Minister had found a copy of the Book of Mormon in a garbage can and read it, testified to his leaders that the true gospel was contained in the book.  They strictly told him to burn it.  Eventually he was defrocked and exiled from their faith.  It intrigued me to the point that I soon found his address and wrote him a letter asking him to share his testimony for the publication.  Sometime, thereafter, I received his response in a used enveloped that had been reversed.  It was in  a beautiful calligraphy  and it was somewhat difficult to read.  I communicated my desires to my mission president to proceed with the publication.  As you can imagine that idea didn't really fly really well and I was counseled to let it wait until Salt Lake was ready to do some sort of publication when it was more practical.  I saved the letter as it was a remarkable story (at least as much as I could understand and read)  and put it in the pages of my book because of the unique story and calligraphy.  I didn't realize what I had. 
     So it sat there until 2014 when I met with the Simadeni's.  I took my writings and photo book, not knowing exactly what they were looking for.  We had a great visit and I recall it was interesting and informative to them as I related may interesting things about my mission experiences.  It was during this interview that I showed them the letter from Brother De Francesco and thought that it might be of some value to the church.  They showed some interest and I introduced me to someone in charge of the department who had me sign forms of relinquishment to the rights....I didn't think much more about it but I was glad that for whatever value it might have the church would be the one to benefit the most from it.
     Last week I received a phone message and an e-mail from the Semadini's.  They were still at their posts and they wanted to again thank me for the letter and let me know that it was on display in the Church History Library on the 1st Floor.  But wait....there's more...
     In 1989 the church had made a video for world distribution. It is called "How Rare a Possession" and highlights the impact of the Book of Mormon on the lives of Parley P. Pratt........and Vincenzo Di Francesco.  If I was aware of it, saw it, or even knew of the impact of it I can't recall.  His story had been documented in this video although much of it was through verbal remembrance rather than written word.  The letter I had filled in and added other parts of the testimony that had previously not been documented.
     Brother Di Francesco died in 1966.  It is probable that this was one of the last times  he was able to write his testimony for those generations who a letter that I had tucked away but never forgotten......How Rare a Possession!!

It was Bootiful Nauvoo......

                           ......and it Was Cold
     Every year at Halloween the community of Nauvoo puts on a big celebration and so naturally the mission gets involved to support it.  Several weeks earlier Sister Gibson and I had been asked to work on Bootiful Nauvoo, the towns big celebration for Halloween.  We had done a myriad of tasks in preparation for the big parade that would take place on Saturday night.  Being involved in FM we can help by finding the pieces of the puzzle that would be required.  Sister Gibson arranged with grounds for some seventy five corn stalks to decorate the carriage wagon that we would use to carry the "crazy band" who would be followed by the "crazy dancers" and finally the dragon which hid a dozen a so missionaries hiding underneath it as it paraded in a zig zag fashion down Mulholland.  Sisters Murch and Muldanado were in charge.  Someone inadvertently called Sister Murch the "dragon lady"  so she had a new title.
     Meanwhile our FM buildings were turned into "Pumpkin Alley" as 500 of the orange blobs were dumped into the building to be followed by "artists" that drew all sorts of drawings on them to be carved out at the end of week.  Some of these were very intricate but as for me and Sister Gibson we confined our choices to the simple and mundane.  I did venture into a more difficult design only to find the artist had made a slight drawing error and half of the face fell off......thank heavens for toothpicks.  The following day we spent the afternoon in an other FM building helping with the popping and bagging of kettle corn.  Last year we passed out 2500 bags at the parade but ran out before the event ended.  Someone got the idea that we ought to do they purchased enough sacks for 8,000 and the sisters in charge took it as a sign they should do that many. The following day they kept production up but in the end it was limited to around 3,000.    Bless those Elders who slaved over the kettle.
     Thursday night the committee gathered to light up the wagon and decorate it.  The following Saturday we decorated the tractor complete with jaws that opened and closed.  Missing and leaving an irreplaceable gloom were the horses who had been such a spectacular part of last years parade.  Sooner or later there will be a final decision but as time passes the gloom persists and in some way hope is fading.
     Saturday night was the coldest night of the year....somewhere around thirty six degrees and the twenty mile and hour wind added to the chill.  That didn't deter the visitors and they lined the streets dressed in warm costumes in preparation for the big parade.  I went with two extra layers while Sister Gibson imitated the Pillsbury Dough boy with her five layers....but she was warm.  The parade lasted some thirty minutes....we were near the end and then  headed back home to take the chill off as we bundled up on our favorite (and only)  recliners.

  The Weather is Turning Cold (brrrrrr)......
     .....It Must be Time to Work Outside
                ....It's The Nauvoo Way
It has been nearly two months since Elder Van Horn departed.  There are times I miss the added help but for the most part I was pretty content with my situation.  So in most respects I was glad to have a companion.  Elder Archibalds willingness and cheerful attitude overshadow any lack of carpentry skills.  That's the good news.  The bad news comes as the weather is turning colder now and we are starting a project that will keep us working out of doors for probably the next six weeks.  Sure...there will be days of storminess that will dictate we work indoors but the muck and mire following the storm is no joy either.  Then again the good news is we actually have a set of plans.....but things change daily and they really aren't that helpful.  It's build as we design.
     As soon as Elder Archibald arrived we moved from our indoor job at the Economou house to the exterior of the Maxwell House where we tore the exterior siding and insulation off in preparation for putting up new Hardiboard (paintable cement composite that cuts like wood), redoing the soffit and facia, and installing new windows and exterior doors.  Each day brings a new additional task but in the end will bring the really good house into a really great house.  Fortunately the roof was replaced three years it has a chance of remaining.  We also took the Masonite from the interior of the garage and we will be preparing the garage for bigger, better, and more windows.  Since the refrigerator that was purchased for the home doesn't fit it looks like we will be replacing the cabinets also.  That probably will be a better option in the sense that it will allow for the addition of a dishwasher.   And so the adventure continues......... the End
     Monday I received a phone message from our old friend Boyd Deans.  I tried several times to call him as my worst fears intensified.  I fully expected him to bear some bad news about Margaret Taylor, whom I have such a special place in my heart for.  Finally we were connected and to my relief I found out they were here in Nauvoo.  I rushed to the Visitors Center and soon Sister Gibson joined us.  Boyd and Joanne had served here in 2006 and we had talked to them before we came.  During the next two days we renewed our association and listened to them reminisce as well as tell them about our adventure here.  It was a welcome visit as we shared our time together.


One final update and Elder Wayment.  He is up and running.  The collar is gone and he is pretty much good to go.  He and his wife were there helping us with the decorations of the crazy wagon and he joined the crazy people to boot.  That wasn't enough so he showed up to help with tractor decorations.


     Part of the community effort to prepare for Bootiful Nauvoo has the few merchants than line Mulholland Drive (the main drag through town) with some decorations.  They started a new tradition this year with each business putting out a stuffed character representing their particular business.  The bank put up a masked man the Nauvoo Clinic a doctor looking character.  Not to be outdone our FM group put up their rendition of an FM Super Guy.  He stood their proudly with his puffed out chest and macho look.  A rain and wind storm required some emergency procedures and in the end he looked more in character.... like a seventy year old missionary.

We are now in the last gasps of fall.  The calendar may say it runs until December but here in Nauvoo the leaves have been changing for a few weeks and soon they will be gone leaving barren branches to take their place.  Temperatures are now below freezing for lows on a regular basis and the highs are hovering in the forties.  After suffering through the cold and wind of Bootiful Nauvoo you would think we would have had enough fun.  I guess we still need a little more fun and so  the starkly yellow leaves that fell like rain from the tree (or maybe were thrown) provided one more adventure that we just couldn't pass up.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Old Nauvoo Christmas Walk 2017....
     ....It will be Something to Remember!
     Our seemingly hectic days took a turn (for the worse) Wednesday October 21 when President Gordon, the President's 1st Counselor,  pulled us into his office and announced we have been called (assigned) to Chairmen  the 2017 Nauvoo Christmas Walk......our 1st thought.....what are you thinking?!!!  Of course that was followed by the simplified explanation that you don't have to will pick a couple of other couples to help and they will be in charge of their committees and they will do the work....(Second thought....who are you kidding?!!!)  It's going to be a lot of worry, work, and stress!  Two sites are involved...The Visitors Center and Main Street Old Nauvoo and there are at least sixteen subcommittees.  Sure...they provided us with books that were put together with information from last years Christmas Walk...the only thing I saw of it was manning the parking barricades and risking my life telling fellow missionaries...."Thou Shalt Not Pass". We quickly went to pray for guidance and inspiration which we followed by submitting names for leaders of the Sites and Visitor Center Committees...and we met Monday for approval(President Hall likes to have his hands on everything).  That night we met for the first time and decided on the heads of events.  President Hall had a busy week and it wasn't until Friday afternoon that we received approval for most of the names.....remember I said..."Most" (That's a line from Rendezvous)
    During our meeting with the Presidency we were also asked to correct some problems that occurred last year...simplify a couple of the events, use all the missionaries,  and don't let it turn into a competitive event when choosing missionaries to be on committees......As it has been noted before....Can Anyone Heard Cats? 
     After reading the provided books and meeting with Elder and Sister Johnson2 (we have 4 Johnson's and they are designated with a number), who did this last year, but they are leaving in a week, we understood exactly where and why the guidance came as they related some of the things that needed to be improved upon.
    As of has become a patience building exercise mired in frustration of unanswerable questions and a myriad of clarifications to the same questions and assignments.
                                            ......And So the Journey  Begins....

Sister Alderton Goes...Rendezvous Rolls......
          If the Curtain Gets Pulled!
     Our long time stage manager, prompter, and curtain puller, Sister Alderton, finished her service last week.  Sister Hipple gave Elder Hawkins the training....just a book with all the instructions.  Now not to be critical...but realistic....everyone knows men have no interest in following directions.....even if they are pictures.  With any parts and pieces project they simply start relying on their own manly instincts, skills, and talents....before, in frustration, reverting back to the written word.  Elder Hawkins was certainly not the exception. 
So here's what happened:
     After our opening number, Welcome, all the missionaries leave the hall and the curtain is supposed to remain open so the editor, George, and Agatha, can perform their roles on the stage.
As the editor, I enter stage right(see how I am acclimating to these show biz terms?) somewhat distracted before noticing the audience.  I do my greeting as usual, get interrupted by Agatha coming in and head up on stage....then...and only I realized the curtains have been closed.  No problem I will just push the curtain aside and tell him to pull it.....Not so fast.  To my amazement, horror, surprise....I find all of the missionaries for the next number already lined up and ready to go for the Noah vignette.  (Seems one of the elders saw the curtain pulled, and not listening to the dialogue that was going on, ushered the cast in an prepared them to scene to early).  With that I retreat off the stairs to the floor where we muddle through the scene....I only missed a couple of things.
     Things are a little jumbled during the next two scenes but in the third scene the wheels really come off and I get bedazzled and distracted finally making it to his cue line to open the curtains for the Relief Society segment.  The cue is a story I am only supposed to start telling before being interrupted by the Relief Society President (Sister Gibson) as other sisters come in to the meeting from the back.  Curtains don't open....story goes on....curtains still don't open....sisters are now filling the aisles and have no where to go as the curtain blocks the way.  Finally I end the story abruptly, turn around, cup my hands over my mouth and scream the cue line back stage....finally the curtains open.
     We had a second show and things went almost flawlessly.  The next day Elder Hawkins enters the lunch room, apologizes for the errors, explains his newness and lack of training, before proudly announcing that the second show went a lot better.....When he followed the prompters book and paid attention.    "And that's the way things are here in Nauvoo.....and most folks get along just fine"
                              ..........Another Rendezvous line!

It's a Dirty Job....
    .....And I am Doing It.......
               Willingly....Because I Want To

     When you spend the whole week doing sheetrock there really isn't much to write about.  It was a real plus that I was given Emmitt Skog to help for a couple of days as I moved onto hanging 5/8" sheetrock on a nine foot ceiling.  Emmit is the son of one of the FM employees and has just returned from a mission to Ghana.  He is a good worker and together we were able to get the sheetrock hung and I spent the rest of the week taping and mudding as he was pulled of to another job to help the painters.  I am almost getting used to working alone as I have found a new friend in Pandora.
     All that being said things changed a little on Saturday as I got a text and was told that the new elder who arrived last week, even though his skills are plumbing, would be assigned to help me  unless there was a need for him to help with the plumbers.  At this point any help is certainly appreciated.  Then again I can see that he would certainly like to find needs helping the plumbers rather than dabbling in the mud and grime of sheetrock.  The same text also directed a change to the Maxwell house.  I had torn off a section of siding to see what was was plywood.  After waiting a week  the new plan is to cover the plywood with protective wrap and wait.  Good thing I didn't get to tearing it out down to the insulation  on three sides.....we thus avoided the Nauvoo way......this time

There's Always Time For A Goodtime....

                               Old Nauvoo

     As our stress level has flown off the chart as we grasp the enormity of the Christmas Walk and all the preparations for it Sister Gibson was first in line to help with the test run of the Kettle Corn we will be brewing for Bootiful Nauvoo that takes place the end of the week.  While I was engrossed in spreading sheetrock mud on the walls and my clothes she and her cohorts took time to do the arduous job of taste testing.  Then the Hula Hoop was broken out and the games began.  The reason for all this practice is that almost all of those who were here last year and participated in Bootiful Nauvoo are gone.  Their memory lingers(sort of)....but their experience is definitely missed.  She had a great time showing off those hip movements.  Just wish she had brought some of the test popcorn home for me to sample.  At least we got to sample it the next day as the sample bags had been thrown in a garbage can and left in the break room for the rest of us to try.  We believed it was good stuff and ate it anyway.....and it was!! the End      

Sister Gibson has risen to the challenge and taken a few pictures of her world.  The great mouse hunt continues in Conservation.  Trouble is those little critters aren't going down easy.  The particular strain of Conservation Mice are Super Mouse Like and are apparently able to carry off the sticky paper they get stuck on.  Sister Schmitt has apparently overcome some of her fears, however, as he proudly displays one of the unlucky ones.



Then there is the story of the adventurous squirrel.  It wasn't too long ago that I returned from work and found Elder Lindeburg sitting in his car gazing at my truck.  He explained that there was a squirrel that ran across the patio and climbed up the tire in the truck.   He wasn't to be found but one day I saw the little critter do the same act.  I am not sure what he was probably wasn't up to any good but that ended sadly as we discovered him near the wheel....somewhat flattened.  We could  have had squirrel stew but we passed on the opportunity.
     You will notice the trend here.....Sister Gibson is taking the pictures while others of us hold the ghoulish evidence of lost lives....Then again I remember those Armadillo's and I'm sure if they ever saw this they would get a good laugh.

It is a tradition that on your birthday you are dressed up in a silly costume while the entire FM group sings a sad rendition of happy birthday.  If you are fortunate to be in the inner circle (the office staff) they take you out for your birthday.  Barrant, our fearless It man, suffered such a fate recently.  Unfortunately he left town for a week after his birthday and the office staff couldn't wait for him to return so they headed off to his favorite lunch spot without him....they did think of him, however, as they blew up a picture and set in on a chair.  Sister Smith and Sister Schmitt surrounded him and made jokes about his nose.

     Saturday was one of the last days  the fall festivals in the towns in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois are held.  There was one in Hannibal and Nauvoo on the Road was going to be there so we went to see what we might have otherwise missed out on.  Turns out this one was more like a giant street fair and the main street was crowded beyond belief.  The bright spot in the adventure was running into Mark Twain and Becky Thatcher and a charming lady who tried desperately to sell me a dulcimer even though I tried really hard to explain I had no musical talent.  That went by the boards when she pointed to numbers that provided all necessary.
   Nontheless I still don't own a dulcimer.