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!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's a Sad Day.......
       ........But We Go On

     Here in Nauvoo we have become believers that many of our daily occurrences we commonly have here are taken has coincidence but  are really something more than that.  Monday we took a trip to Burlington and got  double barged.  That means we were stuck on the Ft. Madison Bridge while waiting for two barges to pass through the opened gates.  Normally we obey the signs and stay in the car. So in spite of all the printed warnings I stepped outside.  "What are you doing out of your car" came the call from an all to familiar voice.  Turning to the sound I saw Elder Jones approaching me.  He was the car behind us.
     He was a looking a little down but the smile was still there.  It had been five days since his heart attack and remarkable story.  As we talked it couldn't keep it to himself any longer.  He and his wife had met with President Hall and they all agreed that his mission and service were remarkable but it was time for them to go home.  Sister Gibson gave him one of her big hugs.  The following day he and Sister Jones came to our prayer meeting where he was presented his FM flag of service and appreciation.  His testimony was strong and powerful.....yet humble and sincere.  They left Wednesday....sadly without the Sarah Granger cast being able to sing Farewell Nauvoo with him for one last time.  Sister Hipple, our director,  was too busy to forward my e-mail to her telling her of Elder and Sister Jones hastened departure and my wish to her to forward it to all cast members so they could attend the ceremony and sing to him.  She was, however,  able to send it the following day after they Jones' had left.....I have no idea what she was thinking when she did it.  They were was distressing to many they had missed it.
     The week felt like a cloudy, bleak day.  We knew the Jones' were still with us.....We just couldn't see them or feel the warmth of their sunshine.
                                 Farewell Jones'......We Love You and will Miss You!!

               I will leave you to ponder a while on the I have not taking to drinking....but it certainly felt like a  possibility....though I have never had a drink.....but there were many who knew what I meant as I uttered it in mild frustration.  So let's get on with it......

      The Drama Ends........ Rendezvous Finally Fades
                               a Memory!!

     It has been several weeks now since it was announced that Rendezvous had been cancelled after some thirty five years.  I have been honored to play a role in this as  the editor....the narrator who weaves the background stories together for the vignettes. As I performed I developed a passion to tell the story in such a way that the audience would feel the spirit of the Saints who lived here.  I felt the story and hoped I could portray it to others in such a way that they too would feel it.   The sky was clear and a brilliant blue.  When clouds came they were white and billowy.  They were beautiful and impressive.
     Sometime ago I began to feel more clouds in the sky.  The sun was often obscured and the temperatures cooled.  I still had love for the Sarah Granger cast but my feelings about Rendezvous were darkening.  I was confused and mystified at the way Sister Hipple, our director functioned. I found her eighth grade school teacher behavior to be a thing of my past that I never wanted to revisit again.  Willingly........I had to.
      So when the "end" announcement came I did not find myself feeling a loss....but rather a gain.  I suddenly started to feel that there was more of a purpose to the mission than Rendezvous or the grand social structure that it had created.  There was something better for us as missionaries and it was coming our way.  Whether we embrace it....that is the question that will have to be answered by each of us as individuals.
     As we marched closer to the ending it seemed like many of the women were in hysteria as the show would be ending.  Parties sprung up with tables full of food for seemingly no reason.  Birthday celebrations were held for some who weren't born until mid-December.  Pep talks by Sister Hipple and Sister Finlinson were better, and far less inspiring, than any I had ever given to a bunch of nine year old Gremlin football players.  They talked of a new show......really?  Didn't hear that from anyone.  Sister Hipple, who had long and laboriously drilled into us the need to "stay to the script" because it was an inspired church document, gave the hostess' new lines to learn for the final show.  That was enough for me.  I hit "reply all" (the Sarah Granger cast) to that: "Once again Sister Hipple, we are in our debtThank you for your remarkable suggestions for new lines for the hostess'.  I think we all have things we want to say.  Unfortunately they are not in keeping with the "spirit of exactness" you have drilled into our hearts and minds over the months you have led us.  What the heck.  I have some other great ideas that I would love to do also....and I am sure there are others  who feel the same way....let's go find them?" (This is probably not funny to the contains many of the Rendezvous lines)
      To that she responded:  "Stick to the script with exactness and Honor"  So we did.
We attended every performance last week to support our fellow cast members.  I would guess there were only ten non-missionaries in the audience for the final performances
     And so with a wkimper and a whine we say "Farewell Rendezvous"  Bring on what's next.......
as long as it isn't another party!!

    Christmas Caroling in Carthage.........
          .....We Answer the Call of the Pole

     Thursday night after the final performance of Rendezvous we loaded up with Elder Hughes. (Since Sister Hughes was singing in the Messiah and the Catholic Church and it was dress rehearsal night),  and went to do the annual caroling around the square.  Been there.....done that again but it was fun to find the light pole we took a memorable picture at.
     Carthage is fun.....the Picture is the BEST!!!

We Finally Sing the Song and ....
        .....Light Up the Tree.....

     When we were called to Chair the Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting and Walk we felt overwhelmed....we had far more questions than direction but with the help of last years compilation of activities and the Nielsen1's who were in charge of all the Visitor Center activities and the Wadsworth's who over saw site activities things soon took shape and rolled forward. It soon became clear we have amazing people here.   They were knowledgeable yet humble.  They were willing to do their assignments willingly and while wanting to do them well there was not those who felt it was about them but rather about the community and the mission.
     We started this activity with a group meeting and gave them our all important preface statement:

 Organize, Execute, and Evaluate the 2017 Christmas Walk that involves all missionaries in the Nauvoo Mission in a way that every activity is in harmony with proclaiming the Savior's birth so all will feel of the Spirt of God's love for us as we come together as a community to celebrate.

     Friday was "Showtime" and with the  of Rendezvous  closing performances during the week, Carthage Caroling, and the dress rehearsal for the community Messiah all on the night before we awoke Friday morning with "wonderment"....I wonder how this is going to go and what, if anything we missed.  There were a couple of "minor" details that had to be worked out....and quickly.
     The FM employee in charge of the seating was new(yet experienced), and even though we explained his role in providing the 400 chairs from the Pageant Building as well as taking them down after the ceremony it seemed to have passed over his head.  Secondly, the upright piano in the theater had been remove and replace with a grand one.  It was impractical to move so an electronic keyboard was brought it.  Once we hammered out a solution for power to it, since all the lights would be off and we didn't know if that meant power to the keyboard and light during the tree lighting song.  FM scrambled to get them up....not a problem....we scramble well's like a Chinese fire drill.
     President Hall welcomed the almost filled to capacity Visitors Center and Elder Gordon stepped in and gave an opening prayer since the Catholic Father was stuck in a traffic jam (I didn't know that even happened here) in Quincy.  The Warsaw High School Jazz Band and Chorus were great. Rick McGregor, our FM friend and Pastor of the Community of Christ Parish gave a great talk about community and the season......barely mentioned Christ, his birth, or his message, however.
    It was now time for the tree lighting ceremony....the lights darkened.....the anticipation mounted (really?)  The song began and by the mid-point we were all over the place with lights flashing and the song being mumbled.....fortunately we all came together for the last line...."Light up the Tree" was lit and we were done!!!
    The rest of the evening was spent with Elder Hall and our six service missionaries picking up the 400 chairs, stacking them, carting them, putting them on two trailers (because our "Twinkie Truck Van" had been used earlier and locked up).  The Elder with the key didn't respond to numerous phone calls until we were on our way back after we had unloaded them and put them back in the Pageant Building.
     Such was the least when we got back to the Family Living Center there were still treats and glowing reports of how smooth everything went and the success of the event.  We did it right....we had great people and they did what they were asked. Hopefully we met the expectations of our preface statement.

Big Jobs....Big Toys.....Big Boys
                                ......and Big Noise
     Work at the Maxwell house is just's work.  As the week went on we continued with the siding and soffit only to be interrupted by a need to frame in the bathroom so the plumber, Darrell, and our HVAC guy Jason could see what needed to go where and begin to plan for the assault on the house.  We finally got word that Keokuk Contractors would be here Monday to start cutting the foundation for the egress windows in the basement.  That's out of my league so the big boys with the big toys were called in to start digging the place up to provide for space to work at cutting. ....Well there goes the neighborhood and it's quite tranquility.  We were planning on cutting the concrete floor in the basement when the concrete cutter wouldn't work on propane and we decided to wait until it could.  The last time the plumbers used it in a basement it was only a Nauvoo miracle that presented a catastrophe.  It did work well on the garage floor as Marcus had wanted us to replace it...why?  It's now a race against the weather with winter on the horizon......can snow be far behind?

      It's the 4th....
     I'm sorry to see Rendezvous was a great vehicle for me to share the Nauvoo story...then again....I still have my perceived sanity.  The chaos and Sister Hipple were mind boggling to me.  They are gone now  and I am relieved.  Six out of Seven nights last week we started at 5:00 a.m. and ended around 9:00 p.m.  We ain't kids anymore.....well maybe in some ways!!
       The Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting and Walk had their glitches but it was an amazing experience for Sister Gibson and myself to be such an integral part of it.  Good people make for a good event.....and we were blessed with the best.
   And the End....I Didn't Need the Fifth

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It is a Week of Thanksgiving.....
                     ......We are all Bigger 
                               ....For the Experience!!

     It's Thanksgiving Week.  It doesn't seem like it, however.,  For Most of the missionaries there is no high anxiety getting the feast ready for the family.  It's a scheduled work day here and we are expected to perform our tasks as assigned.  While we are very mindful of those absent we are  aware of and enjoy our friendships here with those we serve with.  They are wonderful people and their testimonies and stories are a strength to us.  We sing of doing hard things....Willingly.  And we do them....Willingly (sometimes grumpily....but always willingly).  Here's and example:  Tuesday we gathered the troops and took several truckloads of platforms we thought were going to be used in the Live Nativity in the visitors center.  It was hard, back braking work.  Once accomplished we went back to work....a little more tired and sore than usual.  Turns out they didn't want them.  So Wednesday I asked several of the Elders to join me in the fun and frivolity of moving them back out.
Old and young were asked.....Not a one complained or mumbled.  An hour later the platforms and the move were history.

  Here in Nauvoo we do not celebrate the week one day.  It stretches over many.  Wednesday started with the FM luncheon where all the FM employees, their families, and missionaries joined together at the Pageant building  to warm up for the big event on Thursday.  That worked out well because the Temple Missionaries hosted another gala there on Thursday night.  That worked out well and the tables were already set up from the FM luncheon.  Friday, Sister Corder, our FM secretary took to planning another feast for the FM missionaries.....with games...That was worth the price of admission.   Sunday was another feast at District Reporting meeting where we had steak and all the fixin's before we took off for the "Light the Tree" practice in the Visitors Center.
     Philosophically it kind of reminds me of Sister Gibson's isn't a special day...not even a special is a monthly celebration from beginning to end!!
     All in all it was a great week....although we do miss our family and friends back home.  We continually pray for them and their well being.

Whether a Horse....or a Tractor....
        .....The Nauvoo Carriage Ride is Special

  It wasn't the same....but it was certainly worth the ride.  The horses are still retired but our FM District was given a unique opportunity to participate in a carriage ride through the back roads of Nauvoo....behind a Deere....John Deere Tractor.  Elder Slater, the head teamster, and our former neighbor was kind enough to narrate the experience and share with stories of those early saints who played a role in the building of Joseph's City.  Their lives, stories and sacrifices are a remembrance of these stalwart and faithful members.
     As he so aptly pointed out...without the Carriage Ride who will tell these stories that testify of these people?  It is unique to Nauvoo where these stories of average every day people are told.  Their sacrifices, their struggles, as well  their accomplishments.  Elder Slater started by telling the early story of his grandfather up until his arrival in Nauvoo.  His story abruptly ended there...why?  It is quite simple.....he didn't keep a journal and the details of his later life are lost. 
     So for all of you who are my descendants take heart.   Even though I didn't keep a journal I have written a good portion of my life story.  Grandma, on the other hand has a blank page to  on...all she needs is a grandchild to provide her with a tape recorder and ask her questions.  He past is a mystery and worth unfolding.  Be sure and ask her about the apple orchard near the house....she will surely blush!!

  Nauvoo is a Place of Miracles...Again
The difference between life and death is the beat of the heart.  In Elder Jones case it was a matter of minutes.....maybe even seconds.  Wednesday at our FM luncheon Elder Jones wasn't his usual jovial self but he was there eating the meal with us at 1:00.  He knew something wasn't right but plowed stubbornly plowed on.  At three o'clock he called his wife saying he was ill.  Sensing something more she called President Hughes to go over and check on him.  As he entered the door Elder Jones was already engaged in a 911 phone call....he was having a heart attack.  This wasn't new to him as he had already been through it before and had three stints already in place.  The ambulance soon arrived and he was hurried off to Burlington.  Seconds....literally after passing through the doors he was in full arrest.  Oddly enough the cardiologist was not supposed to be there...but he was.  They rushed him into an OR....four times he went into arrest.....four times he was revived.  A stint was placed in the artery to open it.  He came home the following day.  There are medical miracles....and there are Nauvoo miracles.
      Sister Huffaker went to the first, of a newly formed exercise class, in the stake center.  Speed walking(which is probably more of a term than an actuality) around the carpeted gym(yes they still have it here) she caught a foot, fell awkwardly on here shoulder.  It was diagnosed as a full blown fracture that would require a whole new shoulder and a release from her mission to recuperate. A day and priesthood blessing was a serious fracture that could be repaired with a plate a screw and a few weeks recovery.  
     It's an amazing place here with all the "old folks" serving on the Lords errand.  He does watch over us here!!

Same Old Maxwell House......
            ......And New Friends to Help

     It's hard to remember the anticipation of a holiday but at FM it is not forgotten with the employees.  Their perspective is far different.  We just plow on with little anticipation or thought but our focus is rather on our projects.  In the case of the Maxwell house we working outside in the cold.  It wouldn't matter if we were inside, however, there is no heat nor will their be for several weeks.  Tuesday was another one of those days that started in the teens and peaked at freezing.  Then things turned to the better as it warmed.  Thanksgiving was a perfect day to work in....except many of the missionaries hadn't understood it was a work day and they had planned on other activities.  So it was the case with Elder Archibald.  Elder Pettit, our Zone Leader, quickly volunteered.  Along with Elder Coleman who had been working with us due to the illness of his FM lead we dove in and completed the back side of the house and the following day when Elder Archibald came back, apologizing all over the place for his previous day's absence, and we finished the south side.
      On Thanksgiving while we were working away the other service elders, who had nothing to do except hang out since the FM employees were off, kept calling Elder Coleman and wanted him to return to the house....seems there was a ruckus going on and they wanted Elder Coleman to come home.  He was happy, and I mean really happy, to be where he was.   Elder Pettit heard one such conversation and had an immediate solution.  He soon got the Elders to load up the van, get a trailer attached, pick up rakes and spend the rest of the day raking leaves at the Maxwell House and the next door boot.  Work solves a lot of problems. the End

Sister Gibson is so sweet it's hard to believe that she would take President Hall's piece of pie.  It all started as she was sizing up the pie table that was loaded with and incredible selection of scrumptious  pies.  After careful consideration President Hall made his selection.  Sister Gibson stepped up and mentioned to him that was the one she wanted (not really).  After a brief discussion the pie remained with President Hall.....until guilt and Sister Gibson got the best of him. 
     He soon called Sister Gibson over and she was still working him over when he finally offered her half.
That was good enough for her.  President Hall is none the worse for the encounter.....He did it willingly or else.

One of the more colorful personalities at FM is Lee Noe.  He is the "king" of printing publications, signs, and whatever at FM.  A knock to his always closed door is the familiar greeting:
       "Go Away!!"
Which really means "come in if you have too."  He took the week off to be with his family but showed up at FM luncheon with his famous Turkey Hat.  It fits him perfectly and probably should wear it everyday to brighten us further.  We really do like him and his quirky ways.


     The Nauvoo Community Christmas Tree Lighting and Walk if thankfully Friday.  It has been a great experience.  I have employed all the cat herding techniques I have learned here in Nauvoo.  The best thing I have done is let our very qualified people do their jobs...without interference.  Friday I will find out how that worked.  But for now I busy myself with the menial tasks.  One such task was setting up the manger for the live nativity.  I enlisted the help of my new found and exceptionally over qualified service missionaries Elder Cantwell and Elder Coleman.  Together with Elder Archibald they set it up in no time flat.  Soon they found the Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh and before I knew it they were auditioning for the job in the live nativity.  I sent the picture to the Beecher's for their approval.  They seemed to think Wise Men were out of the question and they best audition for "Wise Guys".  I guess it was worth a try.... 


     There I was taking pictures at the Thanksgiving Dinner with the missionaries.  Suddenly I was looking down the barrel of Elder Searle's Nikon about to be shot.  Instinctively I rose to the ready...he froze unable to get a clear shot.  We fired simultaneously.  I guess what we got was suicide by camera.

One of the last things we wanted to see in Hannibal was the Rockcliffe Mansion.  It has thirty rooms and was built by John J. Cruikshank, Jr who had made his fortune in the lumber business.  Hannibal provided both railroads and the conduit of the Mississippi River to both receive and ship lumber.  Sister Lindeburg left an ailing Elder Lindeburg to go with us.
My guess is she went more for the visit to Sam's Club than the mansion.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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


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