Monday, August 21, 2017

The Are Gone....

                              ......But Not Forgotten

     Tuesday morning marked the departure for our YPM's.  What they brought and what they left speaks volumes for their impact on the lives of many who visited here during the summer season.  Their breakneck schedule of multiple daily performances in various venues were viewed and appreciated by all.  They awed us with their talents and abilities....but it was their strength and testimonies that we will also remember.  Never once did I ever here them complain about the heat, weather, or the exhaustion that would show on their faces from time to time.  They thrilled us with their cohesive voices and instruments as they would perform their Sunday Concerts or as they played in the venues along the streets and on the wagon.    They testified to us on the Trail of Hope of the sacrifices and hardships of the saints as they left Nauvoo.  Most shed a tear as the serenaded us at their departure sociable.  Sister Gibson will miss Elder's Cook and Chen stopping by regularly for a piece of chocolate and a brief respite on her nearby couch in her office.
     Sister Gibson was called down bright an early (6:15am) on Tuesday morning to help the young sisters load their baggage on the bus.  They loaded their bags, said their goodbyes, and the bus headed to St. Louis where all the missionaries would catch flights to their home cities.  Two of the Elders will be entering the mission home to start serving their full time missions.  One will arrive home on Tuesday and head to the MTC on Wednesday.  Elder Cook lives in DesMoines, IA  opted to pass the three hour bus ride to home and instead  ride on the bus to St. Louis (3hour trip) to take the last flight with a missionary on it at 5:00 pm and fly to DesMoines (One hour flight).......just to continue the experience as long as he could.
     So they are gone....their memories linger and Nauvoo goes on.  The streets are now quieter.  Their is no longer a brass band playing up and down the street during the day nor are there the vignettes that so inspired and entertained.  The summer season is winding down.  With their departure the summer crowds are dwindling and the missionaries are taking deep breaths and relaxing a little more as you can often see them on the benches outside the sites waiting for their next opportunity to present a tour.  All in all it's a bittersweet time for all. 
     Some sixty missionaries are now looking forward to the end of their service.  The annual fall exodus of the missionaries has already begun with the early departure of a few and the larger ones begin  starting on Labor Day weekend.  Between then and November our ranks will deplete substantially and at this point there are few replacements on the horizon. The numbers will return to the time that we arrived.  In our innocence we  did not understand the numbers that had been here and were now gone.  At that time you could even find a spot to stand on the stage for Rendezvous.  I think I am looking forward to that.
    The YPM departure of Jimmy and Marie also ushered in some changes for Rendezvous.  Apparently there were a few who questioned the couple of allusions to Jimmy and Marie in the winter script.  The change that affects the editor is where to place him and how he starts the show.  The first two revisions brought more chaos and clarification.  Starting the show from the Editors seat in the front row and saying "OH it that time already" after the opening number has been performed just didn't seem like the best approach.....but it is for now and the show goes on.

Chicken at Basco......or......

                                   ........Prime Rib in Burlington?

     It's no secret that our lives are happier when we make good decisions. Sometimes it's "either..or" and we have to make a choice.  Take for example Wednesday night.  Elder Moench had put together a Sarah Granger trek to Basco to their famous Wednesday night "all you can eat chicken" fest.  Well, we had been there...done that....didn't care to do it again.  But it was our cast and we felt obligated to go and endure.  Out of the blue Van Horn's and Johnson's invited us to go to Uncle Ronnies in Burlington  for their famous prime rib.  We thought about it for a millisecond before we accepted....after all Ronnies is a much better atmosphere for us....although the Basco atmosphere and wait time was not the best.  We chose wisely as the wait in Basco was almost an hour.
     Sister Van Horn, who is a seamstress extraordinaire who also owns a great computer operated sewing machine made us and the Johnson's a wonderful plaque to remember our time in Nauvoo.  It is very special and appreciated.  We laughed as we entered the door to Ronnies as their special was "all you can eat chicken".   Turns out prime rib is only served on the weekends but our alternate choices off the menu were great anyway.
     As for the Basco group the only thing I overheard was the long wait to get food.  No one seemed to rave about "all you can eat chicken".   My life was much happier for choosing Ronnies!!!!  

It's off to Florida.......

                                   .....Maybe We'll Stop in Louisiana?

     The title get's your attention....the reality is a little less exciting.  In searching for a Saturday visit someone suggested going to Mark Twain's birthplace in Florida.....It's near Louisiana  Are you kidding?  That's a little bit out of the three hour zone allowed to us as missionaries.....I'm for adventure but.....
      Turns out that Florida is the name of the city in Missouri where he was born and it is a little bit north of a town called Louisiana, MO.  And so mission rules aside we made the two hour trip to see the sites and the Mark Twain Lake and Park.  The trip turned out to be great and I enjoyed it as much or even more  as the Mark Twain exhibits in Hannibal.  Samuel Langhorn Clements (Mark Twain) was born in a very small two room cabin in Florida, MO. and lived there for several years before his father re-located the family over to Hannibal.  That small house was donated to Missouri back in the fifties and they decided to do something different and special....they built the visitors center around and over it.  that's quite a construction project and it is pretty impressive.  Also housed in the building are original manuscripts and his furniture from his mansion where he live in the later years of his life...and of course there is the legendary pipe he was never without.
     Informational Tidbit:  The  pen name Mark Twain comes from Sam Clement's days as a riverboat pilot.  They would  set a seaman on the bow of the boat and it was his job to throw a rope and anchor to verify the depth.  "Mark Twain" meant it was two fathoms deep and safe.
       Since we went with the Lindeburg's there was the unmentioned but included shopping stop at Sam's Club in Quincy and non-stop conversation the whole way.  I did suggest to Elder Lindeburg that we could have some fun with this let one of our "rumor did fly" elders here him over hear a candid conversation that know one should hear know....the Gibson's went to Florida and Louisiana over the weekend......
    That could find me in the Presidents office this week.......looking forward to that!!!

Bathrooms to Barns.......

           ..... It's Up/Down and On/Off/on at FM

    Starting from where we ended last week....Jordan and the family got back from their trip.  Not sure how the chaos was received...maybe he laid a groundwork so it wasn't too bad.  Anyway we went right to work and nothing was said.  The family left around 11:00 and we didn't see them the rest of the day.
     Week's end had me pretty well worn outWe were to a point that the bathroom and basement  were pretty much a part time job with us doing work as needed.  We moved the vanity top in and Elder Jones, our happy-go-lucky missionary plumber jumped in and set the toilet and sink.   Sooner or later the cap for the shower wall will arrive and we can put it in and then the glass for the shower can be set.     We also worked on the finishing of the sheetrock in the basement which I took on while Elder Van Horn finished the grouting in the shower.
     Monday we got a new project....building an addition to shoe the horses under onto an already existing horse barn.  Elder Van Horn met with Marcus and got all the particulars.  (I was too busy to join the committee meetings.)  So we went up and scoped it out, put a material list together and ordered it, and arranged with the heavy equipment missionaries to meet us and go over the project.  They showed up ready to go to work Tuesday morning so..... we let them dig out the excess soil and compact new gravel in so we could pour a cement pad.....and then...the teamsters chimed in exclaiming this is not what they were supposed to wouldn't work.
That night Elder Van Horn got a call from Marcus.....project was now going to be just a slab...forget the rest.....cancel the materials.
Thursday Marcus left town and the teamsters met with Jordan.  Don't know what happened in the meeting...I did hear one of the teamsters any rate.....
Friday we were told to follow a new design engineered by Elder Van Horn that would meet the teamsters needs (for the time being), re-order the materials, and get it built.
Onward.....ever Onward!!!! the End

It is not hard to feel overwhelmed with excitement when I see those young men that I love so much continue on without me and are thriving in the process.....I would expect nothing less from these guys or their current leaders.....they are special.
     The long awaited Demolition Derby took place....Levi's thoughts say it all:
"They say we took last place......
   We were really the winners as our brotherhood  was strengthened."
     Truly a "Band of Brothers"
in the Lord!!

     The last lingering item on the Trail of Hope fence was replacing the old gate.  So when Marcus left town for ten days we took first opportunity to complete it.  It was just another one of those amazing things that happen get finished!!
     The old gate didn't fit all that well and we were concerned that we couldn't make the materials we had work....but with a little luck and a lot of ingenuity we were able to create a gate that looked like it was planned for the space...another Nauvoo Miracle you say?...or just dumb luck?

We made another  trip through the Mark Twain when we visited his birthplace site.  It is about 30 minutes away and since Lindeburg's had made it there we dropped off for another visit.  Just seemed like the right thing to do....after all the marriage corner did bring a lot of memories back.  This one is a little different but there are some parallels:

We are Rock Solid

We have found our way by following the Light of Christ

Life is a cave that can be very dark.
There are lights placed along the way to
help see what is important
We should always hold on to the Iron Rod
regardless of the terrain.
The Lights could go out any time but our
firm grip will guide us to safety

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dancing in the Rain.....
                      ....Cancels the Final Sunset Performance
     Even though is was long awaited,  the final performance of Sunset on the Mississippi was to be our "last hurrah" with the cast taking pictures and reminiscing about the season.   It never happened as the 30 percent chance of rain turned into a torrential downpour that drenched the outdoor stage and wreaked havoc on Nauvoo.  It all broke loose as we parked the car on our relegated perch above the stage.  We marveled at the ferocity of the storm and how it virtually obliterated everything in the distance from our view.  Soon there was thunder and lightning and an e-mail cancelling the performance.  And then almost obliterated from our view we noticed shadow figures on the stage.  In between waves of rain we soon could make out four of the YPM girls dancing their hearts out in the rain.  I love youth and their gives ups life.....excitement....and wonder.
    Yet in all of the disappointment we remembered a story that needed to be told.  Elder Shultz, our beloved leader of Nauvoo Productions.  A week earlier he had taken an expected helicopter trip to Iowa City having fallen victim to a stroke.  His daughter had found him unable to move in the shower and summoned the necessary help.  Fast forward a week to Thursday night....there he is driving his trusty golf cart down to the Sunset Stage to see for himself if there could possibly be a show.  The eventful week had seen him go from left side paralysis and it's associated side effects to eating cheese burgers and telling his numerous and continual jokes.  It was rumored that this was really the cause of his remarkable recovery and release....the doctors and nurses just couldn't take it any more.
     Yet we all know....don't we?  Here in Nauvoo we come to expect these sort of things.  We don't take them lightly....we do our work.....we fast and exercise our faith and prayers.   We don't know the outcome....we just put it into God's hands and trust in his outcome.  Elder Shultz has worked so hard I am sure God had a hand in it so he could be here at the end and say good-by to those wonderful and obedient YPM's that have brought us such joy and buoyed us up.  
     We also said a fond farewell to the Brown's who left this week.  He has been the editor, along with me, in the Sarah Granger cast since last November.  His strong voice will be missed.  
     Last, but not least, we have this bull who shows up nightly for "Stomped on my Heart" and the USA medley where our teamsters take shots at roping it....they seldom miss (from two feet).  Each night the bull gets a different name...Big Mac, Sir Loin, T-Bone....but there are two of the sweetest YPM sisters that make this character come to life.  They never get any personal recognition.  So I have attached the best I could find.  Thank you, are the best!!

If a Tree Falls in Nauvoo.....
                 ....It's Best You are Not Under It!!
     The same storm that caused Sunset t be cancelled also changed the landscape of Old Nauvoo and scattered trees and limbs all over the place.  The Friday FM prayer meeting soon became a mustering of the troops to scour the town and pick up all the tree limbs that were all over the city.  It would take a lot of time and manpower to clean up not only those limbs that had been blown off trees but also those that were hanging on or still stuck in the trees.
      The most spectacular was the two large trees that had been destroyed and fallen. A large massive tree next to the print shop came crashing down blocking the roads in all directions.  The grounds employees were called out that night to clear it but the destruction was impressive and complete.
     The Witbeck's were in the back of their house when their house lost power.  The Johnson's who lived in the upper apartment did.  The massive tree in the front of the house came crashing down and literally crushed Elder Witbecks FM truck and grazed the Johnson's car.  It was an impressive sight...not necessarily to see the destruction but rather to see how a large and seemingly stable tree was destroyed.  There is a strong analogy as this tree had been rotting and decaying from the inside for years....yet seemingly was as the other large trees nearby.  This is often the way apostasy works inside of those who let small and seemingly insignificant things work on the spirit from the inside. Eventually the destruction is so severe that the wind of trial can destroy us.  Sometimes it isn't the big things that destroy us but rather the small things that are left to grow and fester until the bring to pass our utter destruction and loss of testimony.
                                                          ....The Show Goes On!!
      The Browns departure this week also brought on Elder Hughes as the new editor.  I can vividly remember the stress of preparing for my "debut" so I have a lot of empathy for those chosen to fill this role.  We had two full shows Friday so the missionaries weren't allowed to come up and watch.  I would have like to seen it....but I did get to hear parts of his performance through the small speakers provided back stage.  He and Sister Hughes did very well and will be marvelous in their roles.  I hope they continue to perform their roles as Peter and Abagail in the nights they are not the editor and Relief Society president.
     This was the last week the YPM's would be performing.  With that comes the end of Jimmy and Marie.  Our Tuesday night performance was limited to one show as the YPM's were given the cultural hall so all three of the Jimmy and Marie (and Pa) teams could perform for the other YPM's who hadn't seen them..  I was editor and extremely grateful for that.  The days have been long and arduous lately and by the time the second show gets going I am extremely fatigued and find it difficult to concentrate.  My elation for one show soon ended when I was asked to stay on and do my role as editor.  It was a fantastic experience as well as a tender mercy.  I did it willingly because I wanted to....really wanted to.  These young people are so special, talented, and enthusiastic.  They brought the house down as they watched these performances.  What a treat.
     I wouldn't call this a "senior moment" although maybe I should.  Elder Norman was doing his usual gruff Jed role.  He is outstanding.  There was Elder Hughes, first time editor, telling Jed that the Saints weren't being forced out...they were going willingly.  After that we go into our "Willingly" song.  Except this time Elder Norman audibly says "BULL"....thinking only the editor can hear.
Hearing for seniors is deceptive....I don't think more than half of the packed house heard.....and we had another one of those moments when most couldn't keep it in and laughter broke out.  I kept a straight face.  It was worse than trying to hold a sneeze back.
     Elder and Sister Norman will be returning home at the first of September.....I think it's time.

     It's the Bottom of the Ninth....
          .......We are Going to Extra Innings
     Three weeks ago our FM director sent his pregnant wife and three kids back to Salt Lake for a summer visit with the family.  He joined them ten days ago. Then he set out to remodel the bathroom and paint the house,   I have heard rumors that the bathroom remodel was supposed to be a surprise.  Well, they are returning this way or another it will be a surprise.  The bathroom masterpiece has been a typical "Nauvoo Challenge" and with the numerous stairs to climb and the number of trips required it has certainly taken it's toll on the time and the physical stamina of all of us.  Elder Van Horn is not one to do anything half heartedly and we have built this with some of the projects being done for the first time.  It may not be the way the pros due it but we created our own support system for holding up the ceiling tiles which for the most part stuck....or struck Elder Van Horn or broke on the floor as they fell.  They are now up and in place.  We only need to finish the grouting....and install the cap on the wall and threshold so the glass can be measured to be put in.  For two weeks now we thought this was ordered.....seems it's not.... so who knows when we can finish.  Good news is the glass will be installed three weeks after the cap.  At least there will be a toilet and sink.
    Thursday and Friday Sister Gibson and Van Horn came in a started a massive clean up to get the mess that construction had brought.  Some of the sheet rock dust was so thick you could write a masterpiece on it.  The carpets will be cleaned Saturday.
     So after traveling for two days in the car with a pregnant wife and  three kids the family will arrive back way or another it's going to be a surprise!!  We will spend a couple of days next week working around them to complete what we started and also do a couple of more additional projects that have been assigned.  All this...and not to mention, they are serving dinner to his boss who will be in Nauvoo for the first days of the week.....might I suggest eating out?

Ft Madison....
                    1812 Experience

     Nine miles North of Nauvoo on the western side of the Mississippi across the dreaded toll bridge
lies Ft. Madison, Iowa.  We have been there countless times and passed the rebuilt fort but have never taken the time to stop in.  Saturday became the day.  We first visited the museum and were treated to a guided tour through four separate buildings that contain a lot of memorabilia from the towns history.  The flag that flies over it is the 1812 version with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes.  The next flag reverted back to the thirteen stripes as it became apparent that there could be a really wide flag in the future...or something that looked like pinstripes.
     One of the displays was a miniature version of an ice cutting operation that took place there in the early days.  It explained how ice was farmed on the river.  First the snow cleared off then it was scored about three inches deep so the cutters could cut the symmetrical ice blocks that were of a size that could be placed in the original ice boxes.  One figure that was thrown out I found rather astounding was the depth of the ice could reach 24" to 30".   We surely haven't seen anything like that around here for years.   It seemed like a pretty risky operation standing on the ice cutting the blocks.  One unintended  cut or crack or a slip and it was river city and probably the cemetery when your body was found.  We did find a typical ice box in the museum and Sister Gibson pointed out that it was a "Gibson".  Who knew?
     The fort was a re-construction of one built in 1805-1813.  It was intended more as a trading post with the Indians in the area and manned by many who were recruited by rather devious means to a life of difficult labor and circumstances.  Turns out that most of the soldiers there were alcoholics who relied on whiskey to make it through the day.  One of the most severe punishments administered was withholding the daily allowance.  Withdrawal was severe and there were a couple of reported cases of deaths.
     It was pretty much a government program designed to keep peace with the Indians and relied on government contractors to supply the fort with the necessary food and supplies to trade with the Indians.  It was involved in on battle during the War of 1812 and soon thereafter was burned to the ground as the last soldiers left after being supplied spoiled and rotten meat for their rations.  It was never rebuilt....until the current restoration.

             Odds....At the End

     Elder Bass took a moment out from Sunset to enjoy his bubbles.  It would be good for all of us to grab a bottle of bubbles....

     We received a text from the Pettit's with this picture.  We couldn't quite figure out what it was all about.  A phone call later we discovered that these were some of Christi's friends visiting.  They had been visiting the sites when the stumbled on the Pettit's who were serving in the Brigham Young Home.  The next night they came by Sunset and watched the performance.
       Christie was invited but she couldn't make it due to some prior commitments.  She did surprised us when she told us she had an opportunity to come for the weekend.  She was looking forward to seeing us perform in Sunset and Rendezvous.  Timing is everything so the idea was scrapped as we weren't doing the Editor when she would be here and she wouldn't get here until after Sunset...which was rained out anyway.
     We are still hopeful and excited that she will be able to come at a later date.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What Goes Around.....
                                        ..........Comes Around!!
     Most often when it comes time to put together the weeks activities and my thoughts I ask Sister Gibson for some pictures .....and the response is "Oh, I didn't take any....I guess I should have".  Well, last week was a banner week.  I found two pictures on her phone.  Proof that she does know how and can take them.  One of them, however, was not so flattering, but in all fairness I earlier posted a particularly poignant picture of her collapsed on her favorite chair after a hard day's work.  So when I found her picture of me snoozing.... I should certainly get my due reward...and yes...she does look a lot better "crashed" than I do.
Her second offering came from our day at the John Taylor home as we served there a week ago.  As we were giving multiple tours I didn't see here for sometime but I certainly noticed the parade of antique cars that streamed down Main Street.  She had been outside talking and hoped for an opportunity to  get a picture of her sitting in the car.  Didn't happen but she did manage to get a picture and a video of one of the cars along with a the sound of the old horn honking as they left Nauvoo.  Kudo's to her...I am sure there will be more in the least I hope so.

The Pageant Comes to a Close.....

     Three weeks ago on July 11 the first Pageant performance began.  Since that time the streets and venues have been inundated with people.....both visitors and those who come on a weekly basis to perform in it.  It has been amazing to see the bus loads who come...some in tours and some as youth groups from the surrounding states.  50,000+ people attended this year.   We attended four performances and appeared in the British Pageant twice as singing missionaries....which was a powerful experience.  
     Our friends and fellow missionaries, the Beecher's, were in charge of organizing and staffing the casts who come from all over the country.  It was a busy time for them and soon they will relax, take a breather, return to missionary life here as Thomas and Elizabeth in Rendezvous and begin the process all over for next year.
     The Pageant still maintains a handcart experience as part of the Country Fair that goes on before each performance.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity we grabbed one for a photo op and pulled it the 100 yards allowed.  There was a family standing by to go and they offered one of their children up for the ride....gotta luv it!!
     Watching the Pageant come to town and set up was amazing....but even more so was them leaving.  By midnight all of the chairs had been taken down, a lot of the venues and parts of the stage had disappeared, and it almost looked like nothing had happened.  Where the audience sat, however, and where those pesky chiggers found morsels on those who were unprotected, was a matted down, dry and discolored patch of lawn.  I am told it will return quickly once it receives some needed moisture....from the skies.  There is no irrigation or sprinkling in most of Nauvoo. least....the Protestors.  Seems there are eight to ten protestors floating around the outskirts of the pageant as they are not allowed on the grounds...but they can be on the fringe where the streets run....These two spend every night on the North entrance yelling and screaming and antagonizing just about any and all who pass.  Their message is hate, dissention,  and deceit.  Those who stop to talk to them are the victim of their unruly and overbearing attacks on them.  The goal is apparently to embarrass, discredit, and humiliate the unsuspecting and then post the exchange on the internet.  They pass out a flyer that is of the same layout and nature of the Pageant brochure.  The low light of their rants and antics was taking a pair of sacred garments and flaunt them before throwing them on the ground and stepping and spitting on them....and for what?  Certainly this is not intended to turn someone from their chosen spiritual path but rather incite feelings of hate and anger.  They picked the wrong group for this tactic...."We have endured many things....we have yet to endure many things and we hope to endure all things"  
     We know what we stand for......What do they stand for?

Rendezvous Moments....Cherished Memories...

       I have had many a good laugh at Rendezvous and yet there are great memories.  Several months ago the Wayments arrived and received the "opportunity" to play the George and Agatha vignette.  Sister Gibson and I spent several evenings and afternoons with them rehearsing.  It was pretty slow going and  I would often sneak attack Elder Wayment with "you know Jimmy's a fine young man"
After startling the daylights out of him several times he soon responded with his  "you'll get no  argument from me" line...and the scene was off and running.  It didn't hurt either that he got his hearing aids he could really hear.  Sadly, when it came time for them to perform they were not in the rotation to do it with me.  We were both disappointed.  This week that all changed and we had  that opportunity.  What a great experience.
     Elder Hughes and I seem to be somewhat partners in off beat humor which when done to loud does get us noticed.  For the most part we share those moments privately, however.  Somehow we ended up with this selfie while standing outside after the "Willingly" segue at the end of the show.  He is a comedic bright spot that brightens my day (or night)!  Next week is his debut as Editor as Elder and Sister Brown say farewell to Nauvoo this week and return to their home in Lake Arrowhead, Ca. after attending two weddings for their grandchildren.

     Twenty Steps to the Top.....
          .....Twenty Steps to the Bottom

      The bathroom remodel in "The Big House" is more than a is also an exercise program.  Counting steps or time on the Stairmaster has no equal to the dual tasking opportunities presented by the upstairs location of this project.  There opportunity is enhanced by the weight of the materials and debris that we carry with us.  Physical fitness and service....just doesn't get any better than this!!
     Two  people working in the same small space provides for some creative solutions.  Fortunately it all works fine for Elder Van Horn and myself.  I was still hanging sheetrock as he launched into setting the first of the tile.    Last week was the structure...this week will be the glitz as we put up the tile and put the bathroom back together.  We have been instructed to tile the ceiling in the shower...a task neither one of us has attempted.....look out below!!  
     We had the welding shop build us a pair of brackets for the bench....then we had them cut them down so they would fit.....Elder Duvall was a great help on both ends of this project.  We are pretty much a self contained unit and as an FM group we can just about handle any long as we are kept on it and can get the materials ordered and here.
     In keeping with the spirit of FM the pile of wood we created from the Trail of Hope Fence was dismantled by Elder Hill and the majority of it relegated to mere obscurity in the burn pile.  We had suggested this in the beginning but told to stack it in a pile near the river.  The pile soon became a challenge as I could see a very large bonfire...hotdogs and marshmallows  could then be cooked with twenty to thirty foot sticks.   It could have been a blazing beacon on the Mississippi....and probably burned a few trees next to it on the way.   Sometimes.....I just want a little more excitement! 

Threshers and Tractors.....

                  ....Western Illinois Thresher Festival
     This is farming country.  It's corn and soybeans or soybeans and corn.  Some even refer to driving down the roads as corn tunnels.  That's all you see here as we travel Illinois and Iowa.  So it's not hard to imagine that the big events around here revolve around farming.  We had heard from the beginning and planned on attending the Thresher's festival in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  Then we heard of a smaller version just a little south of Nauvoo in Hamilton.  If this is the small version....the Mt. Pleasant one will be gi-hugious!! (Giant and Huge).
      There were rows and rows of tractors from the beginning of tractors to the present.  I saw one with a 600 number so I am pretty confident there were at least that many.  Then there were tractor games and pulls.  Who ever thought the winner in the tractor contest would be the one who never crossed the finish line...or how about pushing a barrel with a tractor around two markers to the finish line.  Be calm my beating heart!!
     There were junk sales, tons of food vendors, and a guy selling a really slick vegetable peeler.  Sister Gibson bought two.  Nauvoo on the Road was there so we stopped in and said hi to the group. 
     What was the most fascinating to me was the old time threshing machine powered by horses and the sawmill that was set up and powered by a tractor.  In both cases, while I could see the benefits of those machines while the risks and dangers of the operation were astronomical.  The men encouraging the horses to keep moving as well as the horses themselves were required to step over the power take off (PTO in farmer language) that turns the thresher as they went around and around and around.  It was a physical endurance contest for sure.  One mis-step or trip and you would be trampled before it could be stopped.  My guess is, based on the time we watched, that these men and horses would be going at a pretty good walking pace for over and hour to complete the load of wheat.  And then there was the doting mother was patiently explained to her child that this is the way they turned straw into hay....and I thought it was to get the wheat separated.
     Watching the sawmill in action was like a horror movie.....something's going to get lopped just don't know what or when.  After watching a worker pull boards away from the saw and get within an inch or two of the 36" blade I couldn't stand the suspense....and away I went.  It was interesting and informative.....and scary. the End

OMG(osh) another Moench connection.

     Chad Kartchner was never little....even when he moved into our Wasatch Ward when he was ten.  He had watched our Rendezvous on Tuesday night and then ran into Sister Gibson down by the Mississippi on the Trail of Hope.  Turns out he had married one of the Moench girls.  We had a great time talking to him and his family as they also attended Sunset on Friday.

     It's my assumption that these guys wanted to be here...
but who knows?  I just couldn't pass up the picture.

    So it has never been a secret that I want to lead the Children's parade at Sunset.  There are only two performances left and I certainly enjoy my part in carrying the Army flag during the opening military it isn't going to happen.  The two foam hats we are wearing are YPM stuff used in "Stomped on my Heart" segment.  They are not to be touched or used by anyone is forbidden per Elder Schultz (director of all musical and stage the king of all)
     Then again where there is a will...there is a way.  The Grand Baton (power duster) that leads the children's parade need a minor repair.  When Elder Rober asked me to repair it I was glad to oblige...with a condition.....that we get to wear the hats for a picture.  Baton fixed....Hats worn!!
Not necessarily a Nauvoo miracle...more a tender mercy.
     We also experienced  some sadness and concern this week as the Director of all the Nauvoo Stage Productions, Elder Shultz,  was struck by a stroke.  Rumors did fly as ambulances were seen early in the morning Friday at his residence.  It didn't take long to realize that he was seriously ill and he was transported to Ft. Madison and quickly put on a chopper to Iowa City.  The exact severity and nature hasn't been disclosed but it appears to be of great concern at present.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Trail of Hope Ends....
     As the saying goes....all good things must come to an end.  So it is with the Trail of Hope project.
As I took the liberty of throwing the last post from the old fence it is also fun to fascinate about the pile we have created in the FM yard of all the pieces that were in the old fence.  Some were in reasonably good shape but for the most part the fence had served long an was just time to get some fresh lumber in in to straighten it out and improve the look.  It did not necessarily go easily as many times we had to dig out posts that had rotted on the bottom and had broken off as we removed them.  The fence saved it's best treat for last as we were digging the last post hole.  Elder Van Horn had struggled with breaking through a rather difficult layer and was elated as the drill broke through and was again going down.  That joy was temporary as soon it stopped cold and sheared the safety pin.  There sat the drill embedded to it's hub and no easy way to get it back out.  
     Fortunately we have Elder Hunsaker and his trusty back hoe.  He was the Elder who dug the infamous 3X4 hole at the gate...trying to find the edge of the bedrock (thinking it was a footing).  Like ever project here it requires spectators and a committee to find a solution.  Elder Van Horn was convinced he could pull it our by reversing it with a large pipe wrench....I doubted but with a little help digging around the embedded drill by Elder Hunsaker Elder Van Horn provided the muscle and the drill was extracted.

  Last but not least I leaned on the last post at the sign board at the end of Parley Street.  It was a great project as not only did we get to accomplish a worthwhile goal that beautified Nauvoo but we also were able to meet and talk to many people who made the trek.
     Take a group of youth from Florida, for example.
They stopped to talk when I asked them if they could show me the correct use of the hand held post hole diggers I was using.  Before I knew it they were grabbing poles and setting them in the holes.  It reminded me of Tom Sawyer and white washing the fence in Hannibal.
     Soon their leader tracked them down and they were led away.  Seems they wanted to do something more than just visit the sites.

    .............And So Does the Legend
                                of the Prairie  Diamond
     One of the things we are learning here is that change is inevitable and sometimes comes with
great questioning and audible gasps of "Really?......Why?" Such is the demise of The Legend of the Prairie Diamond that is a beloved story told in the Blacksmith Shop.
     The short version of the story is as follows:
"A young man on the pioneer trail westward is drawn to a young woman.  Over the journey they begin to spend more and more time together and soon they are wishing to be married.  The girls father has always been protective of her and brushed away suitors as they appeared.  Looking for a quick exit for the young man he asks him  about his ability to care for his daughter.  He is the son of a blacksmith and accomplished in the trade and he can read and right. So the father 
moves on to a second question.  How does he feel about the gospel and his church worthiness.  He is doing all the right things.  Now it has become a perplexing issue as he is a doting and protective father.  With his last query he is sure he can delay the inevitable...and maybe put an end to it.  "All right", he says.  You can marry her as soon as you can give her a diamond.  Disheartened the boy returns to his home and despondently tells his father of his dilemma.  Long story short..the father takes a horseshoe nail (manufactured by Diamond) forms it into a ring.  Son presents a "diamond" ring and father is bound by his word and the boy and his sweetheart are married on the trail.
    Apparently the Church History Department can find no documentation as to the participants, where and when it happened and so it can no longer be used.  What are they thinking?  It's a story, a legend, a myth, I have never heard it explained any other way.  It's's funny.  It tells us that sometimes we have to rely on ingenuity and creativeness...and sometimes...where this is a "will" there is certainly a "way".
     What's not funny is giving folks a ring made from a horseshoe nail without the story.  That's my story.....and I'm sticking to it.

     The Oxen Get a Visit.....and Name Tags
     It's a tough job...but somebody's got to do it....and with that Sisters Van Horn and Gibson made the drive down to the Oxen site to deliver new name tags to a couple of the boys.  Dan and Ike toil daily carrying visitors around the oxen yard for a pioneer experience in wagon travel.  They now have new name tags that identify them.

Lincoln's New Salem....

                          ......The Road Trip with a Twist
     Our Saturday trip (or adventure) took us to Lincoln's New a round about way.  Seems Sister Van Horn had told Sister Lindeburg that the lifetime National Park Service pass for Seniors was having a price increase....from $10 to $80 that needed to be done by Saturday.  Now saving money....regardless of the cost (or even need)  to save right up Sister Lindeburg's alley.  It was imperative we drive to Springfield, even though it took us out of our way 30 miles.  I figured it was no big deal if we didn't get to Lincoln's New Salem that day....there were other opportunities ahead.  We got the NPS office......and they were out of forms....and besides that we could do it on line....and last but not didn't need to be done for a month.
     And with that we headed to our original destination.  Thirty miles or so North of Springfield is Lincoln's New Salem.  It is a replica of and 1830's town built around the exploits of Abraham Lincoln before he moved to Springfield.  To me it was similar to Nauvoo as it had a few people scattered in the site that would explain life there.  The real difference was the theme was Lincoln...rather than Christ.  It was quite interesting and we spent a couple of hours touring and eating in the bistro.   The visitors center was closed due to an air conditioning failure.  We did pick the best day of the month to visit as the weather was spectacular and the temperature only got into the eighties with very little humidity.

    One particularly interesting thing we noticed was the main statute of Lincoln that greeted visitors was donated by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers in 1954.  It was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks but I yet to ascertain the connection between Lincoln and the Sons of the Utah Pioneers.  It should be a story worth researching. the End

The Yates Come to Visit

One of those great times happened this week as we received a visit from our bishop and his family.     They had come to Nauvoo along with twenty one members of family to visit and enjoy the Pageant and other sites.  It was so great of them to take time from their busy schedules to spend a little time with us as we gathered near the Trail of Hope Fence I had been working on.  It's truly been a great pleasure to have him serve as our bishop and we have certainly enjoyed his spirit and testimony.  The Yates are very special in our ward.

What Makes You Think I'm a

    Elder DeWitt made the blog last week with a remarkable story about the power of prayer.  This week he arrived and Rendezvous and I immediately commented on his dress attire for the night.  While not necessarily offended he did question my you be the judge.....

                         Is this not a Leprechaun?

He runs, jumps, has a twinkle in his eye and is charming!!

And of course he is dressed in Irish Green!!

A Gift from Friends

     Sunday found us in John Taylor....telling of his house and was of course the Nauvoo version which is told in ten minutes (mission rules).  The group consisted of a family with older children.  As I finished up with a short piece from the last editorial in the Nauvoo Neighbor the lovely young lady stepped forward and told me she had a gift for Sister Gibson...turns out it was Carolyn Steven's grand daughter with a pair of walking shoes from her grandmother and her walking buddy Emmalyn.....the message here....those who walk together....stay together.  And then to top it off Judy Njord called from her mission in Hawaii.   Soon Sister Gibson was on the phone to Carolyn having one of those good old conversations....All in all it was a banner day for Sister Gibson...and as you know....if she's happy (which is most all the time) I'm happy!!

It's Not a Road....It's a Path

     Some roads look like roads.......Some don't.  Let me explain:
On the return trip from Lincoln's New Salem our trusty Google Map started taking us the quickest way back to Nauvoo.  Well, we all know that is sometimes not the case.  When we hit a road closure on the route we were re-routed counter clockwise about a mile each direction.  The last turn through us for a little was not necessarily a road but more of a gravel path through cornfields on the left and soy beans on the right with a few mud puddles in the middle to make it fun.  But there was a sign post big as life indicating this was a "road".
     It must have been a road.....after all it re-routed us back to our path home.  Sister Lindeburg was a little worse for the wear....but then after all, she was the director that took us the long way to Lincoln's New Salem in search of the NPS pass.
      I think is was karma and a payback....but then that's probably another story.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Jimmie and the Knee......
                      .....The Power of Prayer

     Rendezvous changes it's character in the summer months with the addition of the YPM's.  During the other months there are  vague references to a Jimmie and Marie who are neither seen nor heard. When the  YPM's arrive they take on these roles and  are added to the cast  as vibrant young Jimmie and Marie; Jimmie a young overly energetic Mormon boy with a belief in the restored gospel who also works for the Nauvoo Neighbor editor and Marie, the daughter of George and Agatha Skillingstead who are non-members and a very odd couple who weave in and out throughout the show.
     There are two sets of Jimmies and Maries.  Both Jimmies are very accomplished, energetic and talented beyond imagination.  So this is the story of Elder DeWitt.....his appearances are marked by  sprints up the aisle at full speed, leaps over a chair, and crashes through the rear stage doors while leaping the down stairs to a small landing.  And then one day for no recognizable reason his knee turns tender and he his relegated to crutches.  There was no noticeable just happened.  Two weeks have now passed, his insurance won't cover an MRI, and it now looks like his time here in Nauvoo will end early.  We have a retired physical therapist who has  given him exercises and stretches that could help...maybe....but time passes and there is no change.  The other Jimmie (Elder Sykes)  performs with the two Maries.  YPM Elder Walker is asked on Sunday to learn the Jimmie role and remarkably by Monday he has learned it and performs it almost flawlessly...these young people are so amazing.  Thursday Elder Van Horn and I are driving toward the Cultural Hall and ahead of us, on a bicycle, racing along at breakneck speed, is Elder DeWitt.  We assume this is therapy but question the obvious zeal and sanity of pushing a rehab stint to those levels.....and now the rest of the story....
     That night, at our Sunset performance prayer meeting, Sister Rober asks Elder DeWitt to share his experience:
     Wednesday night as the YPM's were preparing for the roles in Pageant things were looking pretty bleak for Elder DeWitt as he knee was not showing improvement and there appears to be little hope for a medical solution and it is beginning to look as though his days  YPM were waning and he would soon be asked to return home.
     As they gathered around awaiting their time to go on stage someone suggested that a prayer of healing be offered and a voice was chosen. At the conclusion of the prayer another stepped forth and shared thoughts as to the power of prayer and it's ability to heal exhorting those present to have the faith necessary to have God  heal Elder DeWitt.  After offering a prayer another stepped forth and offered a powerful prayer...this exercise in faith continued and would  have gone on longer but it was time to perform in the Pageant and so the cast left.  Elder DeWitt said that even before the prayers concluded,  as he sat there, he could feel something changing in his knee....the discomfort was subsiding and there was a change.  As the others left he slowly stood pain....he took a pain...the knee felt as if nothing was wrong.  He walked around and felt fine....and then in a youthful act of either stupidity or faith he did a deep knee was totally without pain.  A quick sprint and he was sure he had been miraculously healed.
     Saturday night he performed as Jimmie , and in spite of my prudent advice, he ran up the aisle, jumped the chair, crashed through the doors, and was the Jimmie of old.....
      A Nauvoo miracle?.........there is no question!!  Why?.....I don't know the answer to that...I will continue to believe that the Lord has a reason that some receive miracles and yet others are left to endure trials.
It's Hot.....It's Humid....It's Summer in Illinois!!
     There are just some things that are going to matter what you do.  During the cold winter months when it is dark, cold, and we are often confined to the inside of our homes seeking warmth we yearn for the bright happy days of summer.  Well...those days are here...and for me it's great.  For others....not so fact not at all.  This will be our first and presumably only summer in Nauvoo.  We have been told the horror stories since we got here.  We believed and we have not been disappointed.  The expected is here.  You walk out the door at 6:00 in the morning and you start to sweat.  As long as you our out doors it continues...then you go inside to  air conditioned comfort and you freeze because of  your wet clothing.  I drink more water than I ever imagined.  It is unbelievable to feel the sweat roll down my body or drop large droplets on the ground as I work.
     This week is has been a thermal nightmare....the heat and the humidity combine to push the heat index to levels that for animals and humans are possibly dangerous.  The "heat index" is similar to the "wind chill" factor we, in Utah, are accustomed to.
     By presidential decree (President Hall) if the heat index is 105 or above at the time we are to perform Sunset...the show is cancelled.  The animals that pull the wagons are taken back to the barns and fields to rest...even if it is mid ride.  This disappoints those who have come to see the show and brings relief to those missionaries who would be performing.....sweating oldies is neither a pretty sight nor does it feel all that exhilarating!  So this week the Thursday and Friday shows were cancelled...Saturday was our night and you could feel many of the missionaries praying for's possible there were prayers just wasn't the missionaries and the show went on....Yippee!!

   Adding to all on Saturday was a heavy rain shower that woke us up to thunder and lightning.  And 5:30 pm another one passed by drenching the Sunset stage and seats.  When we arrived at 6:00  we found visitors already arriving.  As we jumped in to dry the seats they eagerly joined in to help.  Thanking them for their help I was so appreciative that I told them they would receive a refund and also get to pick their seats......they didn't seem to get it....after all admission is free and they had already found their seats.
     It was still drizzling as we arrived...Sister Gibson brought out her trusty umbrella that the Talbot's had given her on our departure...She sure has a way of making things look good......especially me!!

Fiddlesticks, Drums.....
        The Nauvoo Country Band Rocks
                                                     at Pageant
     The Country Fair portion of the pageant is a colorful array of different venues portraying activities that were associated with pioneer life.  None is more colorful and exciting than watching the Nauvoo Country Band perform.  It is composed of participants from every possible source here at the Pageant.  Some are support people, Pageant participants, Nauvoo residents, and then there is our FM representatives.....Ben and Lon.  Ben is the resident electrician who came to Nauvoo when he was seventeen and has lived here since.  Lon is the wood working master of the cabinet shop.  Together they make a great addition and contribution to the gala event.  Lon beats his drum that can be heard all over the flats and plays a mean harmonica.  Ben and the fiddle are so fun to watch....but Ben and a fiddle?.....Who knew?

One Project Ends....Another Begins!!

When the church rents or leases a home in Nauvoo it agrees to maintain it as well as keep it in good repair.  It is also stipulated that it will not be held vacant for any length of time.  Sister Hacking's brother, in trying to do a good deed, damaged the vinyl in the kitchen months back while trying to clean behind the fridge.  With Hackings departure Sister Van Horn was all over FM to get the flooring replaced so she could put missionaries in it.  The home owner paid the difference and tile was installed instead of vinyl.  So we removed the appliances, baseboard and trim, and cabinets and tore out the existing vinyl.  Four days later we completed the installation and put everything back togetherOur wives showed up before we completed it to start the cleaning.....such is life here in Nauvoo.

It's been a bad week for heat and we were preparing for the worst as we now would be starting back on the Trail of Hope Fence....but then.....there is something new and more pressing....a bathroom remodel in the FM Directors new "old" home.  Seems his pregnant wife and three kids are visiting and vacationing in Utah for three's the perfect time!
    So, like any good project in Nauvoo there is always the tear out that precedes the building. Our usual committee of whoever is present meets and the first round of decisions are made.  They won't be the last...unless a miracle occurs.    
     It is not going to be an easy project as not only do we have many challenges but also stairs.  It is a two story home that is raised four feet above the ground.  So many many trips.
      I must have made one hundred trips during the tear out... My legs are sore and crampy but this too will pass.


Rock Me Baby.....and the Barn of Miniatures!
     Saturday we took to the road with the Duvall's, our neighbors in the village.  He is a welder  in FM. We asked them if they wanted to go north with us to Amana as   Sister Gibson had a request to see the giant rocking chair in Amana West....and so it was.  There is no "photo-shopping" is one big chair...the only disappointment is that is doesn't really has been stabilized so old folks can get in and out.  It would take a major effort to rock it.
     We also came across the Mini America  Barn full of hand made creations from the hand of a retired farmer, Henry Moore.  It is amazing when you consider that everything was done by hand and over a 15 year period.  I guess you can say he was a man with a vision and determination....and a strict devotion to his task at hand.  It's just one of those things you have to see to get a full appreciation of.
     Satisfying the Duvall's hankering for ice cream, we stopped at Grandpa's Ice Cream in Burlington...that's another story for another day! the End

     As we were talking to visitors at the end of Sunset two little guys wanted to get up on the stage.  I asked them if they wanted to dance on it....and so I found them a couple of lovely volunteers (Sisters Hughes and Gibson) and they danced around the stage....who knows....maybe they will be back as YPM's in years to come.  Sister Hughes might be back in coming years but I am pretty sure this is Sister Gibson's last hurrah.
     While Elder Van Horn and I were working feverishly to finish the last of the Hacking home our dear wives showed up and started to clean the place there I was nailing on molding while dodging Sister Gibson's cleaning wand above me.  Sad......but true!!
     Some folks get an assignment and they are relentless in their pursuit.  Christi's stake president, with whom she works closely with on her stake assignment,  was given the assignment by Christi to get a picture with us while he was here with his family and youth from the Irving Stake.  So the first thing folks need to know before getting to Nauvoo.....any other phone service besides Verizon is virtually useless here.  Verizon isn't all that hot either but it does work best.  President Graves does not have Verizon and so begins the saga.....
      His first attempt...a phone call was garbled and lasted a brief time....then came the texts, many texts....we were on our way to Burlington but we would get with him before we left....we just need to know where and when.  "We are at the Brickyard starting a tour"....great we were there in five minutes and waited twenty five for the last ten minute tour to end....(Brother Mortensen was again boring people to death).  As the group came stake president.  Then another text...."We are on the corner watching the YPMs sing"  We're there in two sight of them.  The texts were taking 30 minutes to get to us.  As we got back from Burlington we got a call from the Andrus' who were at Sunset and  said there was some guy who wanted to get a picture of us...they didn't realize we were that famous.
We rushed right over, saw the end of Sunset, and he got his picture.....What a relief for all!!
     There is something about a Nauvoo I took this picture early one morning from Hacking's house.  It's a beautiful place here.