Monday, January 15, 2018

   It's Freez'n Rain...
                  .....and Ice Cleat Season!
    This is our second winter here and it sure isn't like the first.....well, actually in some ways it has.
It's been colder, longer, and there has been more snow on the ground than there ever was last year.  
We have experienced three ice storm warnings (two materialized) and every one of them has been
on a Sunday.   This one was special as it started just as we left the Stake House and headed home.  We had only held Sacrament Meeting as the storm was approaching.  As soon as hit the windshield
we had ice drops.  We made it home fine but it was home confinement (mission directive) for Sunday and eventually most of the day Monday.  Sites were closed and only the brave FM paid employees worked.  I guess it was a silver lining as we had more time to work (and stress) over next Sundays lessons.
     ......and then it turned warmer and warmer eventually hit a high 54 on Thursday around noon.  Where we once walked on ground we figured would be frozen until the Fourth of July our feet sunk in muck and mire.  In another quizzical twist of Midwest  weather the temperatures dropped rapidl,y sites were closed and missionaries sent home......we were  in for another freezing rain.    Thursday night we were notified to stay inside until they issued and "all clear".  That turned out to be a little "over reaction" as we returned to work by 8:00 a.m. and it was business as usual.
     The 5 day weather outlook is again for the fridgid below 0 lows and the low teens for highs.
All I can say is BBBBBrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
God's Compelling Witness.......
                             ........Compels us to Teach
   The thrill(?) of the Golden Ticket was soon replaced by "What's next".  Remembering back to when  I was sitting in comfort of my recliner on the afternoon session in last October's General Conference  listening to Elder Tad Callister's talk on the Book of Mormon I had no idea I would be teaching it in Priesthood Meeting in Nauvoo....and further from that thought is that Sister Gibson would be teaching Relief Society. 
     I am sure Elder Hughes was laughing all the way home knowing we had taken the tickets (like there was an option?)  This isn't what we do.  We teach Primary, Young Men, and Young Women.  Who would want to teach adult people? 
Especially well seasoned with vast experience as church leaders.  Kids are fun!  Adults aren't! So the answer is; Not us.  Not Now.  Not ever.  So if you are my Bishop or future Bishop don't ask....!!!                                        
                                             We will make good primary workers.  We Promise!
           Two weeks have passed.  We have spent hours on end languishing over how to approach teaching the concepts and ideas presented in the top without putting every one to sleep or letting the anxiety lead us to the hospital.  We have read countless articles and printed as many pages.  The length and breadth of our knowledge has expanded.....and we are grateful for the experience (not that grateful that we would want to do it ever again). Sunday morning....a final pass at the text and message....and another rewrite.
     The message of the talk is that in order for Joseph Smith to have written the Book of Mormon he  would have to have been a prodigious reader with a photographic memory who could create and write a 531 page book without benefit of written notes or re-writes.  It was a one time shot.   I can't even get through  day (for two weeks) without re-writing or re-thinking a 40 minute lesson that encompases a few pages.
     The good news is we survived with two many glitches.  I inadvertanly pressed a computer button that sent my lesson screen blank and adding hurt to misery I dropped my i-Pad and shattered the screen.  Sister  Gibson did great and is looking forward to another opportunity in fifty years....not any sooner!!  
      A Tale of Two Mudders.........

     Elder Coleman is an outstanding and dedicated Service Missionary here.  He works hard to accomplish whatever he  is asked to do.  Sometimes it's not the most pleasant of opportunities.  I have been after his boss, Ben, our fearless FM electrician for many...many weeks now to get the new underground wire laid and into the house so we could finish the exterior where the current power comes into the house from the overhead lines.  That time has now passed for that.   Finally, several weeks ago, he shows Elder Coleman how to run the trencher and it looks like progress....I said "looks like progress".  Weeks have passed, the trench has been filling up with leaves. mud, and water as the weather got colder and more miserable. It's now about as  miserable as it can be but we are going  to get the power into the house.  The date is scheduled.  On a particularly dark and dreary day Elder Coleman was assigned to clean out the trench.  His efforts to clean it with a shovel and keep himself clean just weren't working.  Without hesitation he grabbed  a leaf blower and blew it clean......and himself dirty.

     He's my kind of guy.  Get in.....Get it done.....and get on with what's next!!

          Elder Reynolds has been with us for a while and was a big hit with me when he walked in with his Olympus High basketball sweatshirt.  Can't go wrong with and Olympus alum.  He was recently assigned to the FM carpenters who in turn were assigned to do some sheet rock work in the Maxwell house garage.  After putting up some insulation and sheet rock the crew moved on to the mudding.
    When I do mudding it appears as though I get more on me than on the wall.  So I am a little more than  dirty.
Elder Reynolds, being a first timer, is more concerned about how to do it well and keep himself clean at the same time.
After all he does have to do his own laundry.  He isn't a mama's boy.  On the other hand keeping clean never crossed my mind. (Sister Gibson takes care of me)  Watching him dab just didn't cut if for me but it did keep him clean.  Since no one else in the garage would.... Slowly and meticulously he followed by instruction....until I left and he went back to dabbing and splashing.
     Bottom line.....he will keep clean but it will take him a lot more time to do it. 
                         He's a he's my kind of guy too!

Conservation Cuts Up.....
         .....Spruces Up....and Patches Up!
   Wilford Woodruff's home was do for some sprucing up and the Sisters in Conservation were called to the task.  In a effort to make a few of the requested changes a lot of the artifacts had to be removed so the carpets below them could be removed and the floors worked on.  Dealing with artifacts requires  gifted hands and talents to accomplish this task.  In preparation of temporarily storing these unique large pieces of material and rags were used to wrap each piece as it was removed.  They were then carefully put away until the cleaning is done.
     One might look at Sister Gibson and wonder if full winter gear is required for such a delicate task.  In this case.....yes.  If you have ever stripped stained wood with a caustic paint remover you are well aware of the pungent odor it puts in the air.  Keeping these fumes down on the day they worked required that all the doors and windows be left open to ventilate.
  Today's Riddle: 
How Many Projects Must a
        Missionary  Have Under Way
            Before He's allowed to Complete One?

             Obviously There is No Answer in Nauvoo
     It's a question than cannot be answered at this time since we are asked to start on other projects that are more important until something else that is more important is comes up.  Back in September when Elder Van Horn left we were just completing the barn.  As that wound down I was instructed to start on the Economou House.  Just as it was moving along I was asked to move on to the McConkie redo the kitchen and bath.  Just as the demo was complete, and while awaiting some answers on how to proceed and I was asked to turn my attention to the Maxwell House as it was now the most pressing.  There was time later to return to the Economou and McConkie.  Elder Archibald was assigned and work started progressing.  Soon Elder Archibald was asked to help with the plumbing and Elder Pollack was assigned to help.  Elder Pollack is now a painter and I have been fortunate enough to have Elder Jensen and Elder Corder to work with.  Things have been going great.
Like any good infomercial would say: "But wait....there's more".  The teamsters have been pressing Jordan, our FM director, to enclose the open side of the lean-to we built last year.  So why now do it now....after all it's below zero to low teens.  I'm sure Elder Gibson is up to the task....and away we go off to the barn for a day to get started...after all we haven't exactly planned on this so there is no metal siding available for a week or more.  Cue the Infomercial Guy:  "But wait...there's still more".
      With President and Sister Hall leaving next week it will be a perfect opportunity to update their home before President  and Sister Lusvardi can move in.  Sketchy info...and all we are going full in the end of next week.
     And so we have a fulfillment of scripture right here in Nauvoo (who would have thunk it?)
The First shall be last........and the Last shall be first
(until there is a new first and the old first shall be last)
     It is also a wondrous and marvelous time in Nauvoo as there are many miracles taking place.  I happened to have been fortunate to catch one in a photograph:  There are many reports that no one has ever seen an FM tradesman clean anything up until they are totally sure they have to.  So when Ben, our great electrician, without being asked, picked up a broom and began cleaning his mess up it was indeed a wondrous moment. Elder Coleman was so stunned he could only watch and marvel. Way to go're the best!!

     A Sunday at the Post Office

Sister Gibson Delivers the Goods at Merriwether Drygoods

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter's Cold is Deepened
                                   By Yet Another Loss
     We are now going on two weeks that the temperatures have been bitter cold.  Most nights have been in single digits with many dropping down into the negative numbers.  Highs have been below fifteen degrees  and most often are in the single digits.  To say the least, it's been everything we were told it would be before we came here.  Last years mild dry winter is a distant memory.  The Mississippi River is now completely frozen over and the eagles have left to find open water where they can nab their unsuspecting meal as it swims by.
     The New Years Eve Social was marked by the absence of our six single sisters.  Illness had struck some of them and the others stayed with them to care for them.  It was later learned that Sister Shumway had been transported to Ft. Madison as her symptoms were particularly worrisome.  By Monday she had been evaluated and it was determined that she should go up to Iowa City for further evaluation.  The preliminary diagnosis wasn't good but needed to be verified.
     It was Thursday afternoon as I pulled in the Visitor Center's parking lot.  Surrounding the car were several sisters and Elder Wayment.   There were hugs and tears...and  in the middle of it all was Sister  Shumway....with a smile big enough to  melt the ice and snow she was standing on. Her tear stained face told the story.  "I want to stay and finish my mission" she exclaimed.   The diagnosis of a well progressed cancer had been confirmed and it was decided in consultation with her family, President Hall, and her doctors that it was best to return home where she could get the treatment she would need, be comfortable and surrounded by family.
Sister McNiel and Friend
    She and Sister McNiel (her real sister) were soon to be off to St. Louis for her morning flight.  I remembered the accidental hug she had given me months ago...we continually joked about it.  Hugs in Nauvoo are a no-no for Elders and Sisters...Elders can hug Elders, Sisters can hug Sisters....but....I am sure you get the picture.  I was sad that the moment was such that Sister Gibson couldn't be there.  She would have watered the ground with her tears.  I am sure I got the biggest hug and that no one was gasping at the sight.  Her one wish she uttered to me.."I hope this will help bring my children back to a testimony of the gospel of our Savior."   "Me too"....."You Deserve the Best"
     Sister Gibson and I will miss you.  You are special to us...and many others.  God be with you.          

The Golden Ticket Returns....
     We never doubted that it wasn't coming back.  More evidence that God doesn't answer all prayers.  So we'll go with the notion that this is for our own good.  I have Priesthood meeting and Sister Gibson will instruct the Relief Society.  This time we're preparing to discuss Elder Tad Callister's talk at last Octobers General Conference; God's Compelling Witness:The Book of Mormon.  My over riding thought was this is dismal....everyone heard it 4 months ago and probably read it in the Ensign.  Then I was jolted back to reality; this is Nauvoo....whatever they heard or read has been forgotten by's pretty much the way it is.
     It started out looking pretty daunting.....but little by little....precept by precept (doesn't that sound like scripture) things became a little clearer.
    My first thought and option  I called the Borum Forum:   I'll just rattle on in a low monotone voice reading Elder Callister's talk.  I'll have half of them asleep before 10-15 minutes.  I'll pause....say Amen and start to shuffle papers like I'm done.  Those that have been asleep will wake up startled and assume it's all over and start to get up and leave.  Those who weren't asleep will already have been bored to tears and their minds will have rambled off the happier thoughts...see the others arising...and say  "Well, he said must be over.  It sounds like a good idea....then again heaven will intervene everyone will have had morning caffeine.
Then I realize what started out as  "where do I start" suddenly has turned into "where do I end"     
     Diligent study and searching has led me to  a boatload of material that I can unleash on the brethren.  I can just keep throwing out thoughts, facts, and questions and sooner or later I will hit on one that will turn their collective lights on  and keep brethren alert.  They are a pretty bright group for a bunch of old guys.  I've always enjoyed teaching so I am looking forward to it....unless my weakness' are uncovered and I have to start stammering like a befuddled nincompoop. God does answer prayers....I hope he answers mine on this occasion.  Regardless there is a silver lining.....President Hall will be leaving and will probably not concern himself with it......President Lusvardi, on the other hand,  will be too buried with the details of taking over the mission to even know it ever happened.
A Ladder....A Drain....
                   ....It Causes Me Pain!

     I have been staring at the monitor for many minutes now.  I wrote the lead in....but do I want to explain......or just complain?  Is it just my opinion that things are a miss......or maybe it all should be a boatload of bliss?  Time isn't wasted as we work along in haste trying to do what's necessary to totally revamp and remodel one of the better missionary houses in Nauvoo.  Maybe it's the bitter cold outside that has made me cranky.  Maybe it's trying to figure out why we took out a perfectly good concrete floor in the garage replaced it with one that has a drain in the middle of the floor that flows outside and empties into a drainage ditch in the front of the house. What are we putting in here? A car wash?  A pet groomer?
    I've seen a few pull down ladders...where the attic height at worst allows one to walk crouched over and at best stand up full height.  The floor is covered with plywood so as to avoid falling through the sheet rock below.  The one that was just installed in this house leads one to a 4/12 pitch roof which leaves you with about 40" at it's tallest point.  The batt insulation was thrown in after the sheet rock(haven't seen it done that way since about 1970) was installed and no plywood or such for a walk are was provided.  Why use a forethought when we have the luxury of an after thought...right?
While the list is long and laborious by work here is satisfying and I enjoy it.  I probably won't print this.....I really don't feel any better about writing it.  At least not now....
     We are now fully engaged in taping and mudding the upper floor.  With it has come a revolving door of Elders working with me.  Elder Pollock is still gone and Elder Corder stepped in to help.  Elder Jensen returned after being gone close to two weeks,  just as Elder Corder got sick toward the end of the week.  Then Elder Jensen was gone Friday to visit his doctor here.  He has had some health issues in the past that require he be monitored here.
     The mudding is down to a final sand and on Friday Jared, our painter, came and started texturing the ceiling.....yes...a textured ceiling in Nauvoo.  Marcus has either lost his mind, repented, or is in a hurry to move in. appears to be a Nauvoo miracle.  Jared will be gone a couple of days and has strongly hinted it would be helpful if we finished the texturing.  During all of this I have started the insulation on the walls downstairs in spite of the fact that we are still waiting for Jason to get the furnace least it got delivered.  He's now been working on the duct work for three days and we haven't seen any of it.  Hope springs eternal, however.

It's Just A Light Bulb.....
       ....How Difficult Can it Be?

     When things happen in our Nauvoo housing we are instructed to turn in a service order so the FM department can handle it.  They are usually pretty timely so what's to worry?  Then again, most of us and seasoned home owners and we have learned to take care of a lot of replacing a light bulb.  Sounds simple enough but want to be diligent and professional we turned in a work order to replace the bulbs in our fluorescent light fixture that had gone dark.  Promptly and expeditiously our FM electrical crew were "Johnny on the spot".
     Sister Gibson was home when the arrived.  Their first question was "when does Elder Gibson get home....We want to be done and gone before he arrives".  She told them it would probably be an hour or so. " problem then".  So the real question then became "How long does it take to change fix a light bulb that isn't really burned out.  Not even the internet had an answer for this perplexing problem.  So in this case it will be at least three days because of the week end.
     Elder Coleman "felt the love" and left us a kind note on the message board.  I hope he knows we feel the same way about him....even when we say the same thing to the other service Elders.  They are all great young men...and yes we do have a special place in our heart for him.
     As they left the call of the wild struck Ben and they returned later to seek and destroy Bambi's Daddy that has been roaming our back woods for months now.  The cold aside it appears Ben must suffer the embarrassment of a missed shot again and the five point runs free.  Elder Coleman will probably go again.....after all he has a heated jacket to fend of the cold.  Ben will probably bribe him to go....someone has to go and retrieve the arrows from all those missed shots.

The Sled Makes and Appearance....
                                      .....and So Do We!!
Hidden away in the back reaches of the horse barn is a horse drawn sleigh.  It comes out on very rare and special when it snows enough (which has been a rare day here in Nauvoo recently).  It also requires a presidential decree.  The horses are still in hiatus but they are just like old fat missionaries.....they need exercise.  So the teamsters have been taking them out regularly pulling the wagons.  They travel the back roads and are not seen by the visitors.
     The recent snows have put enough on the ground that the teamsters are "forced" to use the sled as an exercise tool since the winter roads to now accommodate the horses and wagons.  The other day they put in a request to put siding on the infamous lean-to we built late last summer.  Apparently there wasn't enough money in the budget to do it then.  They would just have to "shoe" the horses in whatever weather was present.  That is until it gets so cold that the Ferrier won't come unless something is done to break the wind.  The makeshift tarp they made lasted briefly before being destroyed by the wind.  All of a sudden there is now money and cold or not we are going to put the siding up.  The teamsters know this is not going to be a lot of fun in the Nauvoo winter.  We love them and they love us.
     So while I was up measuring the job the horse driven sleigh approached.  They could see the longing in my eyes for a ride but they were firm in their conviction and stood valiantly by the rules.       The next day Sister Gibson and I lurking in the truck for the opportune moment when they drove by.  We sprang from the truck and ran toward them.  Thinking we were armed and dangerous they were easily overpowered by Sister Gibson's smile as we hijacked them and the sleigh and forced them (with love and smiles) to drive us around the field.  Unfortunately, before we could get the horses underway Sister Wayment showed up.  She was terrified and jumped on board to make sure nothing happened to her husband.  As they drove us briefly around the fields we could see that those sharp teamster minds were working feverishly to concoct a plan to overpower us.  When we got close to the truck we made the mistake of asking them to stop for a moment...We thought they would wait as we hurried to the truck for some warmth.  Foolish us.    They immediately took the  reins into their own hands and  rode off.  It was good we got away so clean because just as we hid in the truck President Gordon arrived and started chasing down the sleigh.  Undoubtedly to make sure everything was all right.  The grateful teamsters stopped long enough to let him board.  They are such kind and thoughtful men they didn't want him to have to walk back to his vehicle.
     That's our story........and were sticking to it!!

Winter in Nauvoo

Monday, January 1, 2018

   A White Christmas....A Bitter Cold Week.....
        ....the Warmth of a Family Visit!!

     We awoke Christmas morning to what had been sung about (but not dreamed of) for weeks.... a White Christmas......How romantic.  That was the good news.  Since then it has turned into what we had been told for by everyone before we came....."the winters are very cold".  Almost everyday was in the teen's or single digits and the nights often carried a -sign in front of them.  Christmas day was pretty dull by Gibson Christmas standards but our hearts were full that we were able to be here and serve the Lord during our "Mission to Nauvoo".  Our tree reflected our love for the family as we put up ornaments remembering each of our children and grandchildren.  The silver ornaments reflecting the Saviors many rolls in our lives (from Isaiah)  helped us focus on His birth.  Atop the tree was the big "G" that told us that our Gibson family is "The Tops".  We proudly wore our Christmas socks and aprons from the Gibson's.  
     We got together with our MTC group and celebrated with them at the Lundeberg's with a delicious Christmas Ham and all the trimmings.  While "Face Timing" was special it couldn't be overlooked that we all looked forward to being together with our families in person next year.


      The rest of the week we got a taste of the "real deal" as The Texas Gibson's made a visit to Nauvoo.  Originally we had planned on a "sandwich" visit as they were headed to Chicago and were going to catch us coming and going.  They changed plans and decided to spend most of their family trip with Grandma and Grandpa in Nauvoo.  We had a great time for three days and four nights...even though we had to fulfill our duties during the days we had great times doing things together in the late afternoons and evenings.  The highlight was just being together with them....even if it included a shopping trip to Shopko to watch them spend their gift cards we had given them for Christmas.  Eric got a mouthful of suds when he mistakenly bit into a bar of decorative Nauvoo soap disguised as a piece of white chocolate.  Eden's creative use of Post-it notes to create a new family game which we all played.  It had something to do with numbers, frowny and smiley faces and passing them around as Eden directed.  In the end there was an eventual usual it just wasn't me.
     Kimball was enthralled with Grandma's dancing/singing snowman that he played with on the hearth of our make believe fireplace.  The highlight was when it fell off and he would scream for glee. We took in a movie after dinner at the Pizza Ranch in Burlington.  The Greatest Showman was a musical about the life of Circus king P.T. Barnum.  Kimball never could quite get into it and about thirty minutes into the movie was pretty much done.  At the end of a particularly upbeat number he loudly exclaimed as things quieted....."'s over!!"  Only the promise of a ride on a car in front of the theater kept him somewhat happy.  
     Krishelle and Emeri had a really, really cool idea (actually a very cold idea).  They wanted to go down to the Mississippi and take pictures.  Along the way we passed the temple and we couldn't miss a temple shot for Kreshelle.  Once at the river Emeri jumped for joy recreating a picture we had taken during the summer.  We would take pictures for five minutes.....thaw for ten....and repeat the procedure until we were all too cold to do it any more.
     Time passed quickly and soon it was Friday.  They left for St. Louis after stopping by FM to say goodbye to Grandma.  I had primed Eric so when he was introduced to Marcus he got a wry smile, looked at the family and said "Marcus....hmmm....This is the guy Grandpa talks about allllll the time"
Marcus was quick to respond that "he wasn't as bad as I portrayed him".  I don't think they gave those words a thought.....

It may have been really cold
But they warmed my heart!!

This Kid's a Bundle of Joy..
and so is his mother!!

The Value of a Paid Employee...
                               .....And a New Hall

     Some of you may remember that Mom got an FM Supervisor a while back.  Someone who actually gets paid to work in Nauvoo FM.  Jennifer Franklin is living in Nauvoo and was hired by FM to work with  supervise   the missionaries in Conservation.  She is now riding herd over three Sisters but when it comes to age and experience she doesn't stand a chance.  With Sister Gibson leading the charge they are teaching her the ropes of Conservation. If there is a dirty or difficult job she is there and willing to take it on.  Not a lot of  sympathy from  the Sisters.  
     Conservation was assigned to take a picture of tile samples sent by the Salt Lake decorator to redo the floor in the mission presidents bathroom.  After the Hall's leave and before President Lusvardi moves in, FM is going to do some work in the Presidential Manor.  Sister Gibson took the lead and convinced Jennifer  that the best possible picture was to empty our the vanity cabinet and have Jennifer climb in to take the picture.  So she did...... It's probably best we're gone by April 1st....Jennifer could be in for a real surprise.  (April Fools Day)
     The Conservation group grew by one last week as Sister Hall2 was added to the group.  She is a Canadian and, with her husband, they have worked a ranch there for their entire married lives.  Sister Gibson reports she is a real go-getter and they have lots  of fun together....Isn't that a surprise!  She works hard at cheering us all up....It's -50 in Canada where she is from!!

Sheetrock is so Fun.....
     .....I Can Only Wish we were Done!!

     Meanwhile, back at the Maxwell house we just keep plugging along.  Elder Pollock has been gone all week dealing with the death of his son and so without much help I kept the project rolling along.  Each day last week got colder and colder and those Elders who had outside projects came scurrying in like mice from the snow.  Most didn't stay too long.....sheetrock is not an enjoyable task and most have done more than they every wanted to do so any alternative is always a better option.  Elder's Hall and Hawkins made brief visits and even picked up a sander and mudding tools.  I sent them back to the Economou House to work on it.  Ninety minutes later they were back with dirty tools heading off to somewhere in the hinterlands to do something.  Midweek, however, Elder Corder, our brick mason, dropped in for the long haul and we got the rest of the rock hung and the first floor mostly mudded.  He's a lot better with brick but he is so willing and such a hard worker.   If anyone finds out we're so much alike we might be separated quickly.

Out With the Old.....
                    .....Let's Get on With the New!!
         New Years Eve came early to our world and so we celebrated on Saturday the 30th at the Pageant Center.  We did it in style with dancing, games, and plenty of food. The big balloon drop went off flawlessly at midnight as planned.  Yup...right at midnight somewhere like Brazil and only a day early.  Here in Nauvoo it was ten and most of us could hardly keep awake.  We had a little entertainment thrown in....Elder Spencer and his Cowboy Poetry,the highlight was a segment on his first experience neutering male calves.  Elder Nielsen2 played the guitar and sang Gene Autry Songs.  My dear friend Sister Hipple  emceed  Name That Tune  the same way she directed Rendezvous (no surprise there)....she saw what she wanted to see and made up the rules as she went.  Now in all fairness I also want to throw in that she talked Sunday morning in Sacrament meeting and gave a great talk about embracing  change.....something we have all become accustomed to here in Nauvoo. 
     The real Balloon drop for the rest of the world will be Sunday night.  Don't think I will see that one either.  All in all 2018 will soon be upon us.  For the Gibson's it will mark the 3rd year we have been in the mission field.  Now doesn't that sound impressive?    We are happy to be here as it has added to our personal growth and I am sure we will look back with memories that will bring smiles to our faces. So from us to you............


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Week Ends on a High.....
                     .....and Drops to A Low
     I have written in the past about how special the six single missionary sisters are to us.  They light up our lives and feel their presence when we are near them.  A couple of weeks ago Sister Wright, with her sweet Texas drawl, told me she had been called to do the entertainment at the Christmas Dinner.  "That's exciting" I said.(knowing full well it was leading to something)
"Anything I can do to help?".  "Of course" she exclaimed.  (I had taken the bait willingly and was now hooked).  "I would like you to read a little story".  That was fine and good until........"It's called Silent's a World War I story that Walter Cronkite narrated for one of the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Specials"  I knew what it had always moved me as I watched it.  There was an inherent trap it well and be known as Elder Cronkite for a time or don't do it for fear of disappointing  one of my favorite people.  I chose the former.
     As we discussed the presentation I was reminded of one of my all time favorite experiences when the youth in our ward presented a very, very, special number in a Sacrament meeting.  The interlude number on the program was one of our young ladies playing I Know That My Redeemer Lives.  After captivating the congregation with the first verse and starting into the second we were all stunned when a young Priest, in the rear, stood and started singing a solo, moments later a Laurel stood a distance off and joined him.  They were bearing their testimonies of Christ through song.  One by one the youth of our ward joined their voices in and soon they were all the fourth verse  the entire congregation was added.  It was so powerful.       The story I was to read is a true story during the early part of World War I that has enemies facing off against each other in battle, separated by 60 yards of barbed wire and  frozen corpses  just days before Christmas.  Their story ends with them playing, praying, and burying their dead together and on Christmas night joining a lonely voice that blossoms into a choir singing Silent Night.  

     There is no shortage of  talented people here and so it was easy to organize in a short time with no practice (it's the Rendezvous way....will it ever die?  I hope not).  The stage was set with an overstuffed chair from the foyer, a table, and lamp...(needed that and my glasses to see the story).
     Sister Wright played background music as I read the story.  Sister Gibson and the rest of those at our table directly in front of me managed to keep the  silence but could hardly contain themselves as a mouse ran back and forth in front of them...  as I read.  Fortunately, I didn't notice.   As I reached the end of the story and allowed a pause.... the silence was broken by Elder Bramwell as he stood up and began singing Silent Night...soon followed by Elder Butt...then Elder Finlinson and others.  It took a little coaxing to get the audience to stand and join singing that special carol.  It had set the tone as we prepared to depart.  It was a very special moment for me....and yes I am known Cronkite (for a short time, I hope).  

     President Hall then took the microphone, for which we all presumed was closing remarks. The pleasantries of gifts for the missionaries from the Temple missionaries and Elder Daines, Bee Boxes, he announced that Elder and Sister Pollock were on their way home.  They had only been here a few weeks.  Their son had died.  It was a suicide.  A returned missionary that was now burdened by alcoholism.  I cannot even comprehend nor feel the depths they have found themselves thrust into.
I have worked with him for a short time and we are both so quiet (yes I am) and we have never delved into our families or past very much.  I hope I can find some way when he returns to comfort him...or maybe we will just work along quietly as he endures the healing process.

Twas the Week Before Christmas....
            ....So Much was Stirring.....
                         ...Remember the  Mouse?!
    In our other world, the week before Christmas has always been a week full of chaos...the unplanned, the unexpected, the remembrance of things forgotten, and of course, all those things we have put off.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised but it's been pretty much the same here.  It started Monday with an unplanned District Leaders meeting where we discussed ways we could find people to teach.  Now that's a least for most of our mission.  We are certainly committed to seeking out and  finding  those who are ready to hear the message of the restored gospel.  The  practicality of teaching in our mission is but a far off hope.  Our mission is that of a Visitors Center.  We are designed to refer those interested to full time missionaries where these people live.
     That is, unless you are  blessed to be able to serve outbound in the various branches of the Nauvoo Stake.  While we do not have the opportunity, those in our district do.  We are blessed to be called as district leaders with our FM missionaries who are called outbound.  As we listen to their experiences and the way they are able to be a part of others  lives we are touched and exhilarated.  What seemed to them initially as a banishment to outer darkness  has now turned into a beautiful Nauvoo sunrise as they influence those in their branches.  Archibald's drove to Missouri last Saturday night just to share a home evening with two young girls who are living with their aging great aunts.  Corder's are continually  in contact with Terri, a middle aged non-member, who is away from her children, and often suffers from depression.  The Schmitt's, who serve in Ft. Madison are actively involved in that branch and were supporting the branch in  serving  a dinner to those in need  at St. Johns Evangelist Church on Wednesday.  But the rest of the  story:
      The End of the Month Meal  is a non-denominational meal that is provided  on a rotating basis by the different church's in Ft. Madison.  During the holidays it is held almost nightly.  Along with the meal there are tables full of donated items for those who need them.     We were invited by (actually she rarely asks)  Sister Lindeburg to help the Ft. Madison Branch with that dinner.  They had volunteered to help and even though they no longer serve as outbound missionaries.  Their continued support for those Ft. Madison saints is amazing.  They continue to be a force  to support and influence their lives.  The branch provided  food for what was expected to be around 70-80 guests.  We took Sister Gibson's world renowned Frog Eye salad and other missionaries who were invited brought their favorites.  In the end there were some ninety people in attendance.  Right in the middle of it were the Lindeburgs.   Their example of serving and commitment is amazing.  We are blessed to call them friends.
     We Learn About Nauvoo....
           ....from  a Community of Christ Apostle

     Wednesday, before the dinner in Ft. Madison, Elder and Sister Corder had made arrangements with Lach McKay, of the Community of Christ , to take us on a "special tour" of their sites.  We had looked forward to it for a few weeks.  Along with the Brigham Young District, our newest missionaries, the Pollocks and  the Hall's2 and one of the service missionaries, Elder Kelson and his parents who were visiting here attended.   So What makes this a special tour?  Lach McKay is an apostle in the Community of Christ.  He is also the resident historian and in charge of the sites that the Community of Christ  still has.  While there was nothing earth shattering revealed we did get some information that we haven't heard about the early days of the church in Nauvoo.  The tour was much the same as we had experienced during our other visits but with a little more detail into the trials that Joseph Smith was subjected to while he was here.
    The picture is at the gravesites of Joseph, Hyrum, and Emma Smith.  In the background you can see the reconstruction of the Red Brick Store that played such a prominent role in early church history.  What Apostle McKay said was interesting......what he didn't say was much more so.  Never mentioned were the first vision, the Book of Mormon, restoration of the priesthood, all of the Prophet's revelations or even  a personal testimony.  Their seems to me to be a loss of identity.  It reminds me of a tree without roots....
   The Cowboy Poet from Eden...
          ...Ropes in the Temple Missionaries
     While we were walking down Hyde Street on Sunday (taking a break from sitting while serving in the Lucy Mack Smith home), a temple missionary couple we have become acquainted with, stopped and asked us if we wanted to go to their social on Thursday Evening...sure why not....what's one more social.  Actually, this social featured Elder Spencer who is from Eden, Utah.  During our first meeting he wanted to make sure I knew he was the" best teamster in Nauvoo".  Problem was he wasn't even called to be one and it is questionable he ever will be one.  But then again, who knows.  What I do know now that he is a "Cowboy Poet Extraordinaire"
     As he explained it, he looked at his journal one day and found it quite boring.  So he took to telling some of the most interesting stories in his "cowboy life" and put them into poetry that can only be told the way a humble cowboy would tell them.  He said he had to omit some of the words as they were a little "indelicate" for the temple missionaries.  We were all rewarded with a rare talent....that wasn't overstated!

It's Friday by Golly...
     ......It's Time for more Folly!!
     One of fun things that we are really enjoying is the service missionaries.  Sister Gibson and I have had the opportunity to work with several of them.  Elder Kelson is one of the more pensive ones and is often quiet.  He has, however, found the joy of Sister Gibson's chocolate and treat jar.  So he is often  found passing through.  His parents and sister paid him a visit this week and suggested that they have a little open house for the service missionaries.  He thought that was a great idea and then asked if the FM missionaries he has become acquainted with could join in also.  Elder Kelson made a cute little personalized  plaque he gave to us
    Open House denotes open the door, say hello, smile, grab a treat at the table...and split.  My bad...this was a full blown party with "guess who you are" games, dinner, a huge table of deserts, and unwrap the gift with multi-layer wrapping while wearing a Santa hat and baking mittens all the while someone is trying to stop you by trying to roll doubles.  As you can see...Sister Gibson is pretty good with the mittens on (or the person ahead of her had it opened (almost) when she threw doubles and collected the bounty.  Then we took M & M's and depending on what color you got to tell your favorite Christmas memory, song, gift, or whatever.  That was followed by Christmas Pictionary.
Three hours later  we beat a hasty exit.....Ok it was a great time and a lot of fun. But........
I have my Bah....Humbug image to protect!!

Pictures That Hide a Thousand Words....
  .....or the Week of Work Without Review
           ...or Mention that we Started SheetRock

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Not so Unexpected Arrives.......
     This is a touchy subject that must be approached with the utmost tact and caution.  Too much enthusiasm and someone....somewhere....sometime will read it and say "Well!! doesn't sound like they enjoyed it very much".  On the other hand  if we downplay our excitement and jubilation someone....somewhere....sometime will read it and say "Well!! doesn't sound like they enjoyed it very much".  So let's cut to chase....make the big announcement........

President Hall sent us a letter (actually it was stuffed in our mission mailbox with very little pomp or ceremony)and was  from the mission secretary.  The message was quick and to the point:.....It's time to plan on going home....
like in 

               92 Days...    


     The reality of returning to the real world does conjure up some interesting thoughts....For me it will be "What will I do?"  I have never really been that's an odd word.....does it mean doing nothing but "fun stuff"?  Loafing around all day?(That's not going to happen) Or do I go back and find another job using my keen intellect(who's kidding who?), sharp mind (like the push side of a thumbtack), and strong physical body(when I flex a bicep it is bigger on the bottom than the top..where the muscle is supposed to be)  So that thought is pretty doubtful.   How about another mission? (Wife is not keen on that one) Highly Improbable.  What ever it is I probably haven't done it before...or maybe I have...I'll just have to relearn it.....every day I do it.
     Sister Gibson, on the other hand, gets tears in her eyes whenever the word "home" is mentioned.  She has always been a home body and loves her life as a grandmother.  It will be a return to the world where she is most comfortable and happy.  It will be a chance for her to hug those grandkids and be a part of their lives again(and so it will also be for me).  Face time is an over-rated reality that doesn't replace the warm hugs and smiles....but it is the best we've got to work with. 
      She is the  light in my life here and has done so many  amazing things.  I cannot thank her enough for "pushing the button" and allowing us to come to this unique place.  It will be forever in our memories.
     We have made many friends here....some we will leave....most have left us (we have their memories but they are now busy with their lives)  So here's the plan:
     We are going to continue to work as we have in the past.  Do the best we can...for as long as we can and then........
      When it's time to leave, and it's coming soon....we will shed a tear,  and move on.

It's Christmas Time....We Know it...... but.....  
     It looks like Christmas....but it sure doesn't feel like it.  Streets and houses are decorated...there's even Christmas music. We even have a small, humble, and gloriously decorated Christmas Tree filled with ornaments that have been sent to us by Mindy and also ones we have made to remind us of our family.    Still doesn't feel like it. 
     This will be our second Christmas here.  Like most other things I really can't even remember much about our first one.  I really don't have to.  We will probably be doing the same thing we did last open house visit with President and Sister Hall and about a third of the missionaries We used to do it by casts in Rendezvous but then gone on those days.  Then on the Twenty Third we will have the mission dinner for all the missionaries.  The Twenty Fourth will be special(?).  At least our  teaching assignment was postponed (we couldn't swing cancelled) until sometime in January.  We will have Sacrament Meeting and then spend four hours serving in the Lucy Mack Home. sure sounds exciting.

A Christmas Without Trees.......

     While the grandkids are back home expanding their knowledge and experience on how to bake our traditional Christmas Tree offering for friends and family we carry on here.  Doggedly we press on.  It's a little less that optimal as we only have one oven and it is always a highly questionable activity trying to bake something and finding the necessary stuff to do it.  The good news is we have....even found a cinnamon/sugar shaker.  We couldn't find one last year but good ol' Amazon came to our rescue this year.  So we are now off and running!
     We jumped in Saturday and popped out ten for the Brigham Young District and our MTC group.  The big trick is getting them much to little time....and to think someone is concerned we don't have anything to do.  We got four Saturday night and followed up with six on Sunday.  That's it for this year.....
     Merry Christmas to all....and to all a good night!!


The Maxwell.......We're Still Tear'n it up
      ....and Even Starting to Put it
             ......Back Together!

      The window wells are dug....they are here....and someday we will get them put in.  Then we can get on with getting the permanent underground power installed to the house so we can finish the soffit on the back side of the house.....My worst fear(nightmare) was we would be working outside in January.  Well that has now become a reality.  Ben the electrician leaves next week and won't be able to get it connected until after the first of the year.  That's known as a Nauvoo Snafu!  We will get the garage and patio poured next week do to the hard work of Elder Jensen.  He has done a masterful job in laying it out and getting it ready for cement.   Question of the day why drain in a residential garage?  Really?  Who knows why....Ok Marcus does, but for everyone else it's a mystery of the ages why there has to be a drain in a residential missionary type house.....let alone a covered cement patio on the back.  Ok...mine is not to question  or even reason why....I'm just a soldier in Pickett's cavalry...we charge on... do and cry.
     Enough of that.  We have pretty much finished the framing on the basement and the electrical is almost finished on the upstairs.  Once the plumbing is done up there we can move forward and start reworking the floors, sheetrock, and numerous patches in the walls.  Now that will be progress. Elder Pollock is a great and humble guy to work with.  
     Outside things were going well until  the porch was being removed and that loosened two sections of brick fascia that will now have to be mostly replaced.  Seems Elder Corder suggested early on in the restoration process that all this brick should be removed and replaced anyway.  A Nauvoo miracle and he got his wish...sort of.  Now he just needs to tear off the old, clean it up, and re-use it.  I don't think that was exactly what he had in mind with his suggestion. the End
"Without Rendezvous....there will be nothing to do"  They screamed and cried.  All the while I'm fit to be tied
       Without even trying we had a District Meeting, an impromptu dinner with the MTC group, Square Dancing and a trip to Land and Records to research folks we could walk for on the Exodus Walk in February....
  Life in Nauvoo can seem like a Zoo....Believe me folks..... there's plenty to do!!


They said it couldn't be one in years has done it.  So Elder Coleman took the Dr. Getwells Bar and Grill challenge to heart and waist  and in twenty minutes woofed down  1 1/2 pound burger, 1/2 pound of pulled pork, fries, and a drink....all for the sake of a free lunch.  There is no up side to this but the accomplishment of the feat.
     At least he didn't have to eat again for twenty four hours.  You have to admire youthful exuberance...I know I do.

     The alarm systems are disabled on the sites at 7:00 a.m. every day or so that's what Sisters Gibson, Schmitt, and the new FM recruit, Jennifer were told as they were hoping to get a early start. They entered a Sarah Granger at 7:19  and shortly thereafter the sirens blared.  Deafened by the noise Sister Gibson made a quick "What do I do" phone call to the FM director, Jordan.  "Sit tight....the ambulance, fire department, and police will be there soon....I will meet you at the jail to get you released".  It was a good story until he laughed.  Soon the siren stopped
and Ben came by to reset it. Turns out even the FM
director can't keep it all straight.....not even his face!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Rendezvous is Gone.....
   The Social Life Goes On..and On...and On!
    The demise of Rendezvous brought on a new hysteria.  The cry went out...."What are we going to do? We will be lonely and desolate....We will not see each other any more.....Our cast is our family and we will never see them again"  It isn't's just the loud voices crying in the wilderness of their despair.  I never envisioned our experiences on a mission as a social experience.  I had hoped to be able to serve in building things in FM and I knew I would sing and dance.  I even expected to have some great spiritual experiences and an occasional opportunity to share the joy I have received from the gospel with members and non members.  Never....Ever....did I think about parties and social events.  We are not lonely here.  We do have friends and neighbors.  They are for the most part the hundred or so missionaries that serve during the winter.    We see them all around Nauvoo, in church, shopping, and on the sites and in FM.  We love each other for the most part. Again I speak as an observer....not a complainer.......I'm just not that lonely.  I have work enough to do 'ere the sun goes down.
     There is hope on the horizon for those disconsolate souls.  It was announced in our mission training meeting this week that there will be a Zone or Mission social weekly and districts are to have at least one a week (that doesn't include a twice a month district training meeting and a once a month dinner reporting meeting).  The one thing I really enjoy is getting together with our MTC group once or twice a month for dinner.  Let the good times roll.........
     I know....I know....I appear to be a lone wolf howling at a full moon....but believe me when I say I there are others who feel the same way.....we just have to find them!! (that's an old Rendezvous line)

He Who Was a Plumber......
      .....Is Once again a Plumber

     It was a sad day last week when Elder Jones left.  It was a happy day this week when Elder Archibald was told that he would once again be a plumber and take over Elder Jones spot working with Darrell, our FM plumber.  It didn't do much for his venue, however.  He just changed hats and worked in the same place.  He went from a hammer to a jackhammer in one day as they removed a huge hunk of floor from the Maxwell house to expose the existing lines.  They have now run the new lines to accommodate the additional bathroom that will be added....Good Luck Elder Archibald I will miss you....

He is a Rancher and a Teacher....
 ....Now he is Learning to be a Carpenter!!
     Elder and Sister Pollock arrived this week.  They were called to serve in FM as a couple for a year. Things didn't get off well for them as Richard, the head grounds keeper, who was conducting prayer meeting  welcomed them as the Pole Locks (people from Poland).  It didn't get much better for them. They had been of the opinion that they would serve in   the grounds department.  Not much goes on in grounds during the winter so they were temporarily assigned to other areas that could use some help.  Sister Pollock became a painter and Elder Pollock replaced Elder Archibald and is working with me.  The hope is that they will go into the grounds department when spring arrives.  Speaking of the grounds department....the last of the temporary employees will be laid off the end of next week.
     The Pollocks are from Tropic, Utah, a very small town on the edge of Bryce Canyon,  where the ranched and he taught 6th grade.  They seem to be quieter than most but they are willing to do whatever is necessary.  I am sure we will do well together. 

Windows, Walls, and Chaos.....
    ...The Maxwell House Rolls On

 It started Monday Morning when Keokuk Contractors arrived and began cutting out the egress windows in the basement.    By Wednesday we had reached utter chaos. We were putting the windows in, starting to frame the walls, the existing duct work and furnace were being torn out, the plumbers were cutting the floor and jackhammering away, Elder Pollock looked like a deer standing on the highway stunned and bewildered as to which way to go.  The electricians started to work on the upstairs modifications and the heavy equipment operators tore our the garage floor on Thursday.  Ear protection became mandatory but  on already hearing impaired  people it makes for some great communication.....or lack thereof.   Friday we were told we needed to remove the Live Nativity from the Visitors Center and set up at the Stake House for the Nauvoo Wards Christmas celebration.  What we found at the Stake Center was the most amazing decorations I have ever seen for a ward function.
    The  wards started back in October preparing for the Christmas Dinner.  Now it doesn't hurt to have Brett Allen, the "Wizard of Nauvoo", when it comes to house lighting, work all through Thursday night to put in the lights using the FM scissor lift.  The snowflakes, however, were earned.
Whenever a person reported a good deed performed for them they honored that person by making a snowflake for them that would be hung at the dinner.  As you can see there were a lot of good deeds.

A Rug with a Bug....
     .....A Feather in no Bonnet ...or inkwell for that matter!
     The title is going to need a little explanation....but first a big hurrah that  Sister Gibson actually provided a couple of pictures that help explain her life in Nauvoo.  So..... there is no "bug in the rug" but there are a couple of loose ends that could have tripped some of the sisters or guests in the Pendleton Log Home.  Send over the conservation sisters.  Why not....after all they have had practice with hammer and nail tacking down the sticky papers to make  sure the trapped mice don't escape their fate and head for a hidden recluse to soon die and stink.
      One of the last performances in Rendezvous raised a question by a Native American visitor(like about 5% NA) as to why we were using the highly honored eagle feather in the ink well on the desk.  For thirty five years no one has said a word.....the last week   Rendezvous says good bye it's an issue?  Hard to believe someone couldn't explain the show was over and it would be this week Sister Gibson removed it and put in never, never land where it will be kept and no one will ever see it.  Go Figure!!  Chalk one up for being politically correct.  That's one down and a bazillion to go.

     Sister Lindeburg, for all of her nuances and quirks, is probably one of the most focused and dedicated missionaries we have here.  Rather than spend time bemoaning all of the things that weren't mentioned before we got in their van and headed to Qunicy,  I'd like to focus on one......yes...only one!
    First thing out of her mouth (not are you....are you ready) was "we're going to a nursing home in Carthage"  We weren't even going to Carthage.  My first hope was she was signing on to live there....Nope, she had Elder Lindeburg fabricate a small Christmas Tree and as part of the 25 Days of Christmas Campaign and she was going to give it one of the residents.  That went by the wayside when we couldn't find the one in Carthage so it was off to Quincy.  It took two stops to ask where the one was in Quincy and get directions.  Elder Lindeburg and hung out at the T-Mobile store while he bought a new phone and the sisters headed to the nursing home.  Should have now it wouldn't be a quick trip....Ninety minutes later they are back with a story and a picture.  They finally found the home, a resident without a tree, and a laugh for the ages.  Albert Beck, has to be close to ninety and he was glad to have the tree...and someone to talk to.  He had been a professor, wrote thirty books, and fought in the Korean War.  Sister Lindeburg handed him the tree, a pass along card, and asked if she could have a picture with him.  "Sure" he said...."but.....I want my picture taken with the other lady...the one you introduced as Marilyn Monroe"  So here's the picture and the story.....and I am sticking by it.  Sister Lindeburg's jaw was not injured when it flapped open so hard.

     When President Hughes comes to visit alone anymore we have   come to realize it is not a good thing.  In fact, he has now taken to sneaking up behind us so we can't see him coming.  With his sneak attack on Sister Gibson Monday, he delivered a Golden Opportunity that was received  with a giant thud.  Teaching Relief Society on the 24th was not the way we planned to spend Christmas Eve.  Even though I had texted him to not bother with me I soon became the proud recipient of the Golden Opportunity.       We appear to be in the rainy season of our mission because when it rains (opportunities) it pours down more responsibility (stress).
     We had the last laugh, sorta, however, when the 1st Presidency announced only Sacrament Meeting would be held on the 24th.  We spent Sunday trying to convince President Hughes that the opportunity was a one time shot and we were now off the radar.  Doubt that worked...but we tried!!