Sunday, February 18, 2018

What is This Thing Called Winter?...
             When Will it End?
     Way back in the sweltering heat of summer it was noted that the Farmer's Almanac had predicted a colder and wetter winter than normal.  It didn't seem like to bad of a thought as we sweated and toiled with heat index's and temperatures that transformed into a drought for the Midwest.   It seemed so far off.  Well, winter arrived, was not welcomed, and has managed to stay around much longer than a visit from your least favorite relative who can not stop talking about their latest Hawaiian vacation and insists on showing you every picture of them and their saggy  aged bodies on the beach in a swimsuit.
    Sunday brought the biggest snowstorm we have had since we arrived in Nauvoo.  The constant below freezing temperatures have tried us for weeks and added to it was a 6" accumulation of snow.  The snows we have previously received require a little brooming to  clear a path.  This one needed a shovel.  The sites were closed, we missed an opportunity to serve in the Seventies Hall, and then the sun came out.  With that we had a winter wonderland in Nauvoo and along with the Lindeburg's we drove around Old Nauvoo, tramped through the pristine snow and took pictures of the sites.  It was a great day, cold as it was, and it gave us some lasting memories of Nauvoo in the winter.
     That being said it may still be winter but it's lasting too long.  Looking at the pictures, however, we will have many a lasting memory of this special place and our time together.

The Bucket List.....
      The Beginning of the End
  There is now a natural phenomenon occurring that is a conundrum of the complexities of life.
We were called to serve here in Nauvoo for eighteen months.  We looked forward to the grand adventure with enthusiasm, excitement, and some trepidation as to what we had gotten ourselves into.
     We have now enjoyed, endured, and are close to ending this adventure.  Every day and almost every encounter is a (dare I say, annoying) reminder from someone that we will be leaving soon.  They seemingly want us to stay.....encouraging us to extend.....telling us how much they will miss us.  Here's the rub.  We will miss them and they will miss us.  It will only be a fleeting moment.  It will quickly pass and soon we will all be caught up in our day to day lives and the burning fires of remembrance will dim into embers that will only smolder and cool.  
     So for those who keep us looking forward to our future by reminding us of our short time here I have tried to put it into my perspective: "We ARE looking forward to going home with as much enthusiasm (I really mean a lot more enthusiasm) as we came with.  We are not leaving our family....we are going home to them!!  Those left behind in Nauvoo will someday, God permitting, follow our path.    Those who we knew and left before us may or may not have a reunion with us but we will still have those photos and memories for as long as they can hold on to them. We will cherish them all.
     As to the bucket list....there are some things we would like to do before we get home.  The race is now on to do a couple of things that have seemingly eluded our experience and we (mainly me) would like to do.  It's pretty's pretty much what's left (even though more may arise)  of most of the things we wanted to and see, visit, and do.   So we are down to three or four in Nauvoo, visit some church history sites, looks like will visit the Texans, and sooner or later we'll get home.
    So let's scratch off the first item on the list.  The view from the temple tower.  I'm sure we're not the first...nor will we be the last.  It is something that doesn't happen very often.  It might happen if you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, however.  There is a reason it is not public accessible.....that's all that needs to be said.  It is in the interior of the temple.  The top is reached by ascending a long, very long, steel staircase with a small handrail and it is an open stairway. You might say it's like climbing a very, very tall ladder with a handrail.   The bell rings on the hour and 1/2 hour....don't be in the tower when it goes off.  There are apparently predatory birds who nest there as their sounds are often heard....fortunately that keeps the pigeons away.  The view is spectacular...but it is really just the experience that makes it.

     Elder Jensen Heads into The Sunset.....
                                       As a New Teamster!!

     I have on rare occasions  complained mentioned that things in Nauvoo move in somewhat slow and convoluted ways and are hard to understand.  Last week we had another unexpected Nauvoo miracle.  Since the onset of the bitter cold of winter I have been fortunate to work with Elders Jensen and Corder.  Elder Corder is a skilled brick mason with a uniqueness that is, in some ways, a mirror to mine.  We have each often commented that together we are a dangerous pair and might be better off separated.  Elder Jensen is a skilled craftsman and for years has worked in the pre-hung and garage door industries.  Together the three of us have often been named "Curley, Moe, and Larry" by some "clowns".  We have been a great team working together and it has been a fantastic experience.
    The ride for Elder Corder and myself will continue.  Elder Jensen, on the other hand, had his long standing desire for Nauvoo fulfilled, as he was called to fill a seat with the teamsters where he will get to drive the horses and tell the stories. He was originally called as a teamster but when the wagon rides went into "wait and wait mode" his call was changed to FM.   His wife was put in charge of missionary housing replacing Sister Van Horn.  Together they have become stalwarts and great examples as they served with us in FM and the Brigham Young District.  All that ended on Friday as they received new assignments and will be in another district.
   It was only fitting that as we exited the temple on Friday evening there was a beautiful sunset.  It was the end of our time together.  It rose Saturday and was covered by the clouds.  In late afternoon it was shining brightly again.  So it is with us and them.  We will miss them, we will feel their presence, and when we see them we will be brightened by their presence.
     Elder and Sister Jensen; we love you, don't ever forget that....we won't!

Valentines Day, Vicenzo De Francesco,
      and a Pot Luck Dinner....
    We have often discussed the absence of feeling when it comes to holidays.  They just aren't the same.   Since we are expected to serve on most holidays it feels like an ordinary day even though we give it the "old college try" to make it special.  A big hug and a kiss....wooooopppeeeee! So there's the silver lining of our Valentines Day.  The mission scheduled two events for us...or should I say there were two mission events...  One we planned; our Brigham Young District we helped with; the mission "pot luck" dinner.

Since I had told the story of Vincenzo De Francesco to the Sarah Granger cast, Sister Corder had wanted me to tell again as it had touched her heart.  Our district meeting was scheduled for Valentines Day and so I planned on presenting the story for our district.  Sister Nielsen2 had overheard us talking about it and asked if their district could join us.  The more the merrier!  
    We scheduled it for the FM conference room to accommodate us and along with the districts we had most of the FM leadership attending also.  There was a special feeling there as I told the story and then afterward we watched the "How Rare a Possession" video that tells the story of this remarkable man.
     Fortunately "the great cinnamon roll caper" didn't get much attention.  Those who shall not be named, volunteered to make cinnamon rolls as a treat.  They decided to cook  them in the oven at FM.  The first batch went smooth and came out of the oven a golden brown.  Unfortunately they were scattered on the ground when the person removing them from the oven got bumped.  Panic ensued but a quick solution was reached and it was off to Casey's to get donuts while the other tray would bake.  The first batch was pretty well damaged from the fall and were just thrown on the tray to wait disposal.
     More chaos ensued when the  second tray got over-cooked(burnt) when the timer went off and wasn't noticed.  Ok...donuts are on the way.  It wasn't until a helpful hand saw the cinnamon rolls sitting forlorn on the table and wanting to be helpful... iced them all.  Before you could say "there's treats"  they were put on the refreshment table and scarfed up like hungry wolves over a large carcass.
Like I say; "All's well that ends well"
     The pot luck dinner was another gathering of the missionaries.  Games were played.  A good time was had by all.....or maybe "all were had by a good time?"

Barns, Mansions, and a Palace?
                            The Work Rolls On
It was another typical week.  That's not true.  There are no typical weeks in FM and maybe that's what makes it so fun to write about. Like it or not it's always full of surprises and adventure...or just plain hard work.  Sometimes there is a little disrespect  and the jobs are given an "unofficial" title by which they soon become known.  For example the Maxwell house took on the moniker of the "mansion".  Someone once called it "The Lord's House" when Marcus called it that. I am sure he meant that it belonged to the church and was not his....even though to some it appeared to be just that.       The remodeling of the President's Mission Home was without name until it was discovered that the tile that was to used on the floors in the bathrooms was chosen by a decorator who had seen the massive 24"x24" tiles in one of the temples. The initial plans have now evolved to adding the laundry room and kitchen. Such ornate decorations require a much more regal title and hence the home has been dubbed "The Presidential Palace".
     The barn addition seems to be driven by an Amish Ferrier, Raymond, who has done such outstanding work for the teamsters  that they are willing to work with him. The wind seems to be a distraction to him and so he has begged, pleaded, and probably threatened to get the north end sheeted.  If that wasn't enough we are now doing the east end. Apparently he is an important person to the teamsters....they have a team of horses named Ray and Richie after him and his son.  So without a moniker the barn is simple "The Barn".  Although we could call it the "Kings Barn".
  Somehow the Economou Home has kept it's original name.  More than likely because no one has a personal interest, nothing is extravagant, and we are in the finishing stages.   The missionaries have been able to keep to the original plans.  No changes.
     We appear to be  a rolling caravan.  Never stopping to long at any one place .....just enough to get one part of the project finished or started....all for various and sundry reasons.  We hung the cabinets at the Economou, put up the east side metal on the barn, prepped the sheet rock for the ornate Palace bathtub/shower.  Back at the Mansion we prepped the floor and started laying the Luxury Vinyl Tile as well as completed the sheet rock and started mudding and taping it.
     All in all it was a lot of work and sore muscles...or whatever is there that used to be muscle.

On The Road Again.....
     It started out as a trip north to the Mormon Handtrek Park in Iowa City, IA that honored those 3000 Mormon Saints who  had made their way across the plains of America pushing and pulling "handcarts" in order to live in Zion.  There is nothing like a little pre-planning to insure that you don't end up in some inclement weather like a snowstorm.  Not a problem said the usually reliable National Weather Service.  30% chance of snow before 9:00 a.m.  We hit the park at 12:05 p.m. and the snowstorm that went with it.  We plodded our way over caked ice and new snow until we reached the monuments.  A couple of quick pictures and were on to Costco to pick up some of those great muffins before we head back toward Nauvoo with a stop in Kalona for some of those yummy pull aparts.  After my Google Maps GPS went on the fritz, and even after Rick, the wonder child tried to fix it in Costco we appeared to be stranded and lost in the blizzard.  Then I remembered I had GPS in the truck and "wallaa" we were headed home.  No Kalona pull-a-parts this trip.  By the time we got to  Swedesburg  the falling snow was a memory and the road was clear so we made a stop at their Swedish American Museum.
     The stop turned out to be a delight.  The small museum was manned(womanned) by an elderly pair of  Swedish descendants who were determined to keep the spirit of the past alive.  This wasn't your ordinary tour of "here it is...take a look...and enjoy".  It was let's walk together and I will tell you all about everything you see, what it does, and why it is here.  On our way back to the "freezer" (the part of the museum that was unheated). our guide stopped and told us of their efforts to catalog stories and pictures of the early residents of Swedesberg.  What a treasure trove of stories and pictures they have collected  that sit in binders on the shelves and in large drawers.  I explained to them that they had some priceless memories that could be of great value to the many descendant's of this hearty group.  Soon I was into genealogy and how it led me to write a book of my own ancestors.  Try as I might I am pretty sure her brain stopped functioning when I used the words "digitized and internet".  I thought back to Dennis and Laurie Bird who had served a  mission photographing records in an office that used to be a  jail.  There's an opportunity here....and many other places to bring the past out of the drawers and off the shelves.

     I must have heard "it's not a's a goat" enough in Swedesberg to know that that I wanted a remembrance of the straw figure that sat off the highway as you entered the quaint little town. So I said to myself, since Sister Gibson didn't want to leave the truck; "what a great place for a selfie".  It was...I did...and the rest is history.    I'm the one on the left...the goat is in the background on the right.
(I've been called an "old goat" often enough and been gone long enough that I feel clarification is necessary.)

Odds at the End
    We had a great time when the Nielsen2's invited us to dinner.  It was a delightful evening and we learned so much about them.  They are such hard working people and serve with us in FM.  They have been most blessed to take care of the Carthage Jail during the summer months and have had many great life experiences.  Not to mention he is responsible for the creation of the Heber Creeper and drove the rails for many years.
     Best of all Sister Nielsen2 is a blog follower (so I have to be careful what I say) and she was the one who steered us to Swedesberg!
Thank you!!

The Nauvoo Orchestra held a fund raiser on the night before Valentines.  Our favorite FM electrician, (I mean the one that gets paid), Ben plays smooth violin in the orchestra.  He's no second fiddle(except in the Country Band during the pageant) to anyone, as he works hard at whatever he does.  He enlisted some service missionaries to dish up the grub (Italian cuisine) while he cleaned tables and smiled.  Gotta love Elder Coleman(our favorite unpaid electrician), Elder Hales, and Elder Cantwell for their willingness to help.  These guys are the greatest!!


Monday, February 12, 2018

It's February 5th.....
     Let the Parties Begin!!
     One of the least looked forward opportunities in Nauvoo FM is to have a birthday.  It's pretty much the top of the "don't look forward to that" list.  Clearly ahead of attending a meeting with all the FM employees when you are the only missionary there.  Then there's giving the prayer thought in the early morning FM prayer meeting.  Let's not forget asking Paul how he is feeling,   How about   11:00 Monday staff meeting for Sister Gibson where the comedy duo of Barrant and Lee drag the meeting into oblivion.    Ok..that's enough about that.  Now back to why an FM birthday is not looked forward to.
   Even though Sister Gibson has long been one to look forward to most birthday celebrations as they bring on a bevy of parties, cards, and well wishes   In fact, I have often called February 5th the beginning of birthday "month".  There are so many friends and family parties that it takes a who month to get them in.  It's such a wonderful time for her.  This birthday not so much.
    So the first big celebration for her birthday happens to fall to the FM group at the early morning prayer meeting.  FM has their own particular brand of other words the more they can embarrass you the better their day.  It comes complete with a hat,  boa, funny bottle bottomed glasses and a big red nose and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday!  At least the Sisters in conservation made her day with plenty of cupcakes and well wishes.  Sooner or later there will be a lunch to celebrate it again.
     Things looked a lot brighter for the next celebration as it was with the MTC group.  They wanted to do something special so she got to pick the restaurant for the evening meal.  The Hawkeye in Keokuk was a great was near Wal-Mart and she had some shopping to do.  That went by the wayside when a major snow storm popped up earlier in the day and it was eventually decided to hang out in Nauvoo and have Casey's Pizza.  It may not sound exciting but getting together with our group is always a great time.  We did miss the Beecher's, however.  We didn't have a cake but thought a candle in a brownie bite would help keep the smoke alarm in the Lindebrug's apartment from firing up.   After pizza it was on to an exciting game of Scategories.....and yes, I did play....Willingly because I had to.  That's just the way it was.

We Watch in Amazement.....
    President Lusvardi  Pulls A Rabbit?
        No.... A Piano from His Hat

     Our weekly mission training meeting has a new flavor....It's called President Lusvardi.  Although it's available most days the majority of us don't get an opportunity to savor it except for rare occasions.  It's most often available on Wednesday.    It's a unique blend that brings smiles to our faces, inspiration to our hearts, and is rarely the same.  We have learned to never expect the same flavor twice, although it certainly can happen at any given moment.  More than once  just wouldn't have the "wow" factor.
     So let me explain.   We got our first taste when we met him for a welcoming dinner.  In the middle talking about his past role in the missionary department he casually interjected "Oh, by the way, the horses will be back....just in time for the exodus."  A week ago he tantalized us with the future.  "Some of you might have noticed on the blog that there aren't very many senior couples coming this year"  "We will have more young sister missionaries"  "This is because the Church has an urgent need for more Senior couples that can be used in other capacities"  Hmmmmmm, all that speculation about "the killing of the beloved Rendezvous" is starting to make a little more sense(Still don't miss it, by the way).  Maybe there is a master plan somewhere out there.  Old folks are really a curious bunch and they just want to know everything.  We don't relish  surprises.....
    So this week the training meeting starts out with President Lusvardi's friendly, folksy remarks deciding on what he might want to talk about.  "I've been thinking sometime we might have a "Question and Answer" meeting.  I am getting the feeling there are a few of you with some questions."  You would have thought it was a deodorant convention the way all the hands that shot up!  First Question: "Is there a master plan?  When will it be implemented?"
    Response:  "You know I had an inkling this question might come up so I did a little preparation". Pulling a large paper shopping bag from behind the podium he pulling out one large bound manual after another.  Each explaining different areas and time frames.  Yes.....there is a master plan and the implementation began a while ago and will continue on until who knows when.  And there is a dialogue revision for the sites...up to date, accurate, and going to be implemented before the summer.      Did he reveal all those juicy details we so longed for to hear......nope....just enough to savor our curiosity!
    So for those who have patiently been waiting for the title explanation..........As the meeting was drawing to a close President Lusvardi reviewed a key point from our past trainings....we are missionaries and we must seek for ways to love in a way that visitors here, as well as all those we come in contact with, feel our love for them.  Continuing on....."You know", he started out innocently enough, "for the closing song I would like us to sing "We'll Bring the Lord His Truth".  The pianist gasped..."we don't have a Children's Song Book!"   I guess he's thinking we will do it a Capella, I thought.  With that he casually saunters  over to the piano, sits down, and plays a rousing prelude; and before you could say "He plays pretty good" we are all standing singing loudly as he tickled the ivories like a master.
Who Knew?

     I am discovering this isn't a job for sissies....and there certainly aren't any here.  What we have here is a bunch of aging Elders who do their best to help each other in spite of the many infirmities.  Sheet rocking a basement used to be a it feels like a hurricane.  Fifty pound pails of mud now feel like a hundred.  A box of tile feels like two....and since they are tied together in pairs and I'm too lazy to break the band and carry them separately it now weighs a "ton".  This is not is stating a fact.  It is what it is!
     With Elder Jensen plagued by a bad tooth that eventually would cost $1350 for a root canal that only costs $850 in Utah and missing a couple of days to get it taken care of, Elder Corder and myself moved over to the Economou to do the tile work in the kitchen, bath, laundry.  We have this brand new super duper tile saw that will cut the twenty four inch tile for the Presidents house and I got to break it in.  We had laid out  the floor with plans to finish it the following day (or so I was led to believe).   Over achiever Elder Corder,  waited until I had left, and dove in and laid the kitchen, except for the cut tile.  That was left for me as I assumed my new official role as "tile cutter". He's eight years younger and still feeling pretty good about his old body (his day is coming).  The next day we finished the rest of the laying and the following day we grouted it.  That was a personal mistake. I tried to keep up with Elder Corder wanting to show the young whipper snapper that us old folks still had it.  I didn't realize that he wasn't about to let the old geezer show him up.  The end result was a job quickly and well done and me barely able to move my arms for a day.  Lesson learned.

       Odds at the End

     One of the fall outs from my priesthood lesson a few weeks ago was literally my I-Pad.  My clumsy hands lost their secure grip and "Walla" the screen fractured when it hit the ground at the Visitors Center parking lot..  It thus became very annoying to work with.  I was slowly but sure grinding the ends of my finger off as I continued to use it.  Why didn't I get it replaced quickly?  It wasn't that I didn't's just the only place I could find to replace it was in Quincy and the only time I could get it replaced was when the tech was working on Saturday...oh did I mention she only worked on every fifth Saturday.


     So the appointed day finally arrived and it was off to Quincy. Since it would take at least two hours to fix we took a little jaunt further down the road to Hannibal where we went back to the Mark Twain Museum for a ride(?) on a Mississippi River  raft.  It was broken when we were there earlier.  We pushed the button, expecting the raft to "rock and roll" as you looked at a screen that one thought would be ride down the river.  Wrong!!  It was clips of an old "Adventures of Tom Sawyer movie.  It wasn't all that bad...just wasn't what we expected.  It did accomplish the purpose.  The I-Pad got fixed.  My fingers will soon heal.



Monday, February 5, 2018

When We are Here.....
                                 They are Here!

     One hundred and seventy years ago on February 4th, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began their exodus from Nauvoo.  On February 3rd, under the leadership of the missionaries serving in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission we gave it our best shot at remembering their exodus and paying tribute to their lives, their sacrifices, and their memories.They left willingly because they had to.  They left all that they had worked and sacrificed for.    They took only that which would help them survive their rigorous journey and  they took with them their strong beliefs, convictions, and testimonies.
     It was a far cry from what the missionaries and others portrayed as they commemorated this event with a walk from the Cultural Hall to the end of Parley Street where the waters of the Mississippi roll up to the street. Today we woke up in our warm comfortable homes, ate well, and overly dressed with ultra warm clothing so we wouldn't have to suffer to long as we would be outside for almost an hour.  Not to mention that we assembled in the Family Living Center where we were treated to cinnamon roles and hot chocolate before being thrust out into the cold.  It was probably all of thirty two degrees.  Well, truth be told, the wind made it feel a little colder....or maybe a lot colder.  There was a short program inside the Family Living Center and after that we all exited to the street where we were lined up to march to the exodus point (maybe a half mile or so     

     I was accorded the honor of leading the march, proudly carrying the American Flag.  I was proud to do it and grateful no one else had asked....although I was prepared to duel with water pistols if they had.  Behind me was a local member, Neal, who played the drum and kept the cadence.  Next came the Nauvoo Legion, a hastily assembled group of the best Nauvoo had to offer. Led by Elder McCloed, an ex-marine with an iron will  who fought insurmountable odds as he taught the group how to march, turn, and muster their wooden fire arms.  He soon had the group marching together although not necessarily in a military manner.  Their hearts were doing their best, however.
    Following behind the "Legion" was a bunch of flag wavers.  They proudly carried the flags of their ancestry and waved them wildly......until, as I can attest, the Mississippi winds rose and it became a major project just to keep a grip on the poles. The parade has become a spectacle to behold.
    After that came the masses who had come to march and pay tribute.  Most of those who walk displayed the names of those ancestors who were here in Nauvoo during the exodus.  Old and young they marched.  Interspersed in the middle and end were the happiest of all those present....The Teamsters.  While I am sure it has  been part of the plan to bring the horses back for the Exodus it was kept as a big secret.  They teamsters prayed and the horses did practice rides afar in the hinterlands.  When it was announced they were coming back many   a teamster  took it as an answer to the many, many prayers they had offered.  One way or another their faith was rewarded.
     At the end of the the memorial on Parley Street the Nauvoo Legion raised the flag.  The flags of many nations stood nearby...lest we forget what brought us together as a nation.
   We proudly sang the Star Spangled Banner and repeated the Pledge of Allegiance.  We then sang with voices full of emotion and remembrance; Come, Come, Ye Saints.  We all stood proud!!
     Today we remembered them......and we were proud and honored to do it.  
     Did those who were here in the past really march with us today?.......ABSOLUTELY!!

Sister Gibson Makes Church News......
               and Finds a Cousin in Nauvoo!!
     We were astonished and proud when it was announced  on Tuesday that the Exodus Social had been recognized in the Church News.  The article, written by Don Searle, told of the program that was held to honor the ancestors of those missionaries serving here.  Elder Searle, who is a former Editor of the Ensign, and has made many remarkable contributions to the missionaries by his countless excellent pictures.  It was so thoughtful of him to take the time to write the article and submit it with pictures to the Deseret News who included it in the Church News.
     Word of publication of the article spread quickly through the mission.  When it got to me I was completely caught off guard.  There was Sister Gibson front and center telling her story on the stage created for the sociable.  I hope our family knows how "Grandma" has grown during the last months.  She is doing things I am sure she never imagined....and as typical for her she is doing the well. 
     The stage that was created for the sociable was done by Elder and Sister Schmitt and it was a work of art and creativity.  In fact it was so impressive President Lusvardi wants to put it in the visitors center as a permanent fixture so our visitors will be able to see it and add to the spirit of Nauvoo.
     Another unique experience occurred when Ruthann Smith, wife of one of the Temple Presidency counselors approached Sister Gibson and introduced herself.  She too is a direct descendent of Lindsey Anderson Brady and wanted a copy of the story.  I seized the moment as a bartering chip to satisfy a not so hidden goal to climb the stairs to the top of the temple bell tower. For safety, or whatever reasons, it is no longer available except maybe by the granting of a special request.  I told her that I would barter the story copy for a trip to the top.  She got the story and I got the bad news that only the temple president can grant such a request.  Hope springs eternal, however!!

You Want us To Do What?........
                Sure!!  Willingly!!
                        Because we Have(?)  Want To!!

     It's been a long time since I have had the "opportunity" to work with a designer/decorator.  Don't miss that one bit.  Be that as it may working with one in the President's house has been "not a joy" should I say.  Designers live in the world of creativity....of their perceived "vision" of the end result.  Rarely do they see the efforts that it takes to bring to fruition their glorious perception.  Generally speaking their "tastes" are not mine"  So when it's time for a little spruce up of the mission home and a designer is employed you can understand my great and unfathomable joy.....yipppppeeeeeee!
    So it comes as no surprise that the three of us are standing around looking at the floor in the "bigger than a Nauvoo house" living room and trying to understand why we have to put a floor outlet six feet from an existing one to accommodate a "new furniture" layout.  It was glued and screwed down to the point it took two of us an hour to pull, cut, pound, scrape, moan and groan to get it open.
That was nothing to the day the three of us spent scraping, steaming, and pulling down small pieces of wallpaper in the master bath that were installed without wall sizing on new sheet rock.  After all of that we ended up putting in new sheetrock anyway.  At least the hall bath came down easier.
     The "Mansion" as it is now officially called moved on.  Elder's Hall and Hawkins were busy on the downstairs mudding and we spent a day laying the underlayment so Elder Daynes could begin his finish carpentry work.
     Also this week I officially became a prophet (of sorts).  Back in November Marcus told me he wanted to occupy the "Mansion" by February.  I told him it wouldn't happen because our FM HVAC guy, based on past experience, wouldn't even be through with the heating system so how could we even sheet rock.  Guess who hasn't done a complete job so we can complete the sheetrock and move on?
Brigham Young District.....
     Ya Gotta Love These Guys!!

     It had been quite a week for the Brigham Young District.  Struck by the flu, our numbers were decreased to the point we had to bring President and Sister Lusvardi and Doctor and Sister Oldroyd just to hold a district reporting meeting.  Fortunately they didn't eat everything and there were plenty of leftovers to take to the Jensen's and Archibald's.  They recovered by week's end and were standing tall, marching in the exodus.
    We had a new FM couple who arrived this week and were assigned to our district.  Elder and Sister Nelson arrived from Farmington, UT and it was our good fortune (maybe not theirs) to have them assigned to the district.  He told every one that asked that he was a cabinet maker even though he just retired as an air traffic controller.  In his introduction to the mission he included in his resume the fact that he had just been released from jail in order to serve as a missionry.  He will fit in well with Elder Corder (and me).  We pretty much act like reprobates  some days.
     We all were able to participate in the exodus and before the day was over we ended up at the Visitors Center, Lunch, and a Carriage ride.  In a twist of luck we found they were using a "real" carriage. It was being used on this special occasion as a result of the exodus.  Missionaries encourage the mission president to ride but both President Hall and Lusvardi and their wives walked.  
     At the Visitors Center we took pictures using the backdrop of the exodus social.  The carriage ride, always inspirational, was a very special treat.  Elders Butt and Wadsworth were the teamsters.  We had arrived in time for the last ride by a family came running up ahead of us.  Without any hesitation the teamsters told us to wait and they would take us on a "special extra ride".  It was Elder Wadsworth's P-Day and he had been called into duty and yet he was willing to go the "extra mile".

Odds at the End

     There are now five service missionaries serving in Nauvoo FM.  They come to us with big hearts and a willingness to serve.  Serving is a learning experience...not only for them but also us.  It comes in different ways and at different times.  So when Elder's Coleman and Cantwell joined the Nauvoo Legion to march in the exodus it was a high moment for me.  They had caught the vision and purpose of the commemorative march.  Not only that they are learning about missionary work as a service Elder but also a trade and skill.  Elder Cantwell works in the automotive shop and is preparing for a life in auto mechanics.  Elder Coleman is working with Ben in the electrical department and is doing a outstanding job.  He listens, observes, and does.  Looking to the future Elder Corder and I took the opportunity to encourage him to start planning now for an electrical apprenticeship when he returns in May.  He not only listened....he did! He is exploring those possibilities now so he will be ready when the future arrives.  Now if he can only learn to patch his sheet rock guffaws...then he will be complete.

     It's fair to say at this point Sister Gibson and myself are past  being astounded when a Nauvoo miracle takes place.  We are grateful and in awe of the blessings that our loving Heavenly Father bestows on the missionaries serving here.  So when it was announced this week that Sister Shumway had returned from Arizona to continue serving her mission we were amazed.  Her leaving weeks ago was with the pronouncement that she had cancer and maybe only two months to live.  She went home to get the care she needed.  Weeks of further testing revealed no       When we ran across her serving in the Visitors Center and were treated to  a remarkable visit.  Her story..."I knew I was coming back.....I know I am going to die someday.....and I am ready for what comes next".  What a remarkable person....She is a rock!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

President Lusvardi Leaps the Rail...
                                  And Into our Hearts!! 
     Last week we were introduced to President and Sister Lusvardi at the Pot Luck dinner and overwhelmed with his announcement that the horses were back.  Wednesday marked the first of what will undoubtably be many training meetings.  It wasn't hard to figure out we had a whole new personality  for a president.  After the traditional welcome from President Hughes, and just before the opening song was to start, President Lusvardi  stepped up the podium and announced; "This is the Illinois Nauvoo Mission and in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission we sing.  If you don't sing loud enough we will sing the song again"  We sang loud!  
      Using a microphone that attached inconspicuously on his jacket and instead of stepping forward to the podium for his training he started strolling around the stage like a motivational speaker you would pay a hundred dollars a head to see.  First behind the rostrum, then on the stage, and before we knew it he was in the audience asking questions, listening to the comments presented, and then asking more questions.  Side to side, up and down, climbing over vacant chairs.  When he had to go from one side to another he didn't was a sprint.  The highlight came when he leaped over the four foot wall the separates the floor from the audience....made a two point landing....and astounded everyone.
     It wasn't so much the presentation that inspired.  It was the message!   His vast missionary experience and love of the gospel soon transformed the anxiety of some into an immediate love and respect for him and Sister Lusvardi.    He taught us from Preach My Gospel as we all sat there mesmerized.  I could feel in his message a change...maybe to the way Old Nauvoo will be presented but more of a change in the way missionaries presented it and the message of the Church.   President Hall was an inspired leader preparing the way for the changes.  The missionaries who resisted  his changes are gone.  The new missionaries here are fresh and unburdened by the past attitudes and social structure.  they are capable and looking forward to the future to whatever may happen because they are prepared to accept the future of missionary work here in Nauvoo.  
     So here we are and soon we will go but as I walked out conversing with President Gordon I did make a comment about the meeting.  I felt inspired, rejuvenated, excited.  I felt like Agrippa who had heard Paul's stirring message about Christianity and was "almost" converted.  "President Lusvardi "almost" converted me to be an extender.  The future is bright and those who embrace it will be blessed.

    Brigham Young and the Oxen.....

     We have been so busy visiting places over the time we have been here we have missed the oxen ride.  Seems like every time the family came they either did it while we were serving or the weather or desire prevented them so we just have pushed it into another day category.  We seem to be running out of those "other day" opportunities so we have patiently been waiting for a nice day, in the middle of winter, to do it.  Thursday became that day with the temperature rising to fifty.  Soon our district heard about it and were all in and so we made it an activity.
     Elder's Butt and Wayment were there and it was just like old home week.  We had all put on our Nauvoo attire for the event although we really didn't look much like the hearty souls that traveled the plains in the wagons.  The oxen were used out of sheer necessity.  Most couldn't afford horses or a decent wagon.  As they were forced out the oxen soon became a sheer necessity as the outcast Mormons made their way across the mud and muck of the Iowa Plains in 1846.  It was slow going as the oxen  struggled to pull heavily laden wagons.  They were yoked together...held together with a heavy piece of lumber.  That yoke kept them together and working together to pull the burden of the wagon.
     This is the Savior's message.  Walk with him...Yoke ourselves with him.  In our obedience we will find peace through his atonement (Matt. 11:29-30).  He will make our burdens lighter....not go away...but lighter.
     So on an Oxen ride in Nauvoo we find a message of hope....behind a pair of oxen.  Not to mention we had a lot of good times in that hour with our district members and fun loving and accommodating teamsters.
     Elder Cornwell, one of our teamster missionaries made us a small yoke to remember the ride and our friendship.  It is a fitting remembrance for us, the ride, and our time in Nauvoo!

A Message for the Ages....
       Sister Gibson Tells The Story of
                             Lindsay Anderson Brady
     Sunday begins a week of celebration and remembrance as we honor those beleaguered  Saints who, after months of persecution, willingly began their exodus from Nauvoo across the Mississippi River on a journey that would ultimately lead them to a safe haven in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was on a cold winter's morning on February 4, 1846 that the first eleven wagons would slowly cross the river on a ferry.  The process would continue until the river froze solid and allowed larger groups to cross on the frozen ice.  The Saints continued to leave Nauvoo during the year as their circumstances permitted.  In late summer the only ones who remained were those who simply could not afford to go,  were not willing to follow Brigham Young, or those who simply gave up their beliefs to avoid the persecution.  Starting in August the final cowardly push to expel those remaining began.  It started with harassment, escalated to whippings and forms of torture, and culminated with a final edict to get out or be killed.  On September 10, 1846 approximately 1,000 armed mobsters began an assault on those remaining.  150 armed men withstood them until September 14 when church leaders were wise enough to know that the battle was not worth the loss of life.  Those remaining were forced across the river with many finding refuge on the islands in the Mississippi.  It was at this time that the miracle of the quails occurred and saved the lives of the starving exiles.
     That's the background.  Here is the personal part of this story.   The week of remembrance and celebration starts with a "sociable" the Sunday night before the Saturday re-enactment.   The missionaries who are serving here are asked to research their ancestry and submit stories of any who might have been here.  They are submitted to a committee who evaluate them and pick the nine best to be related at the sociable.  Last year with submitted Joseph Stallings, my 3rd great grandfather.  While the story was monumental to me it was received less enthusiastically by the committee and not selected.
     Sometime after that we discovered that Sister Gibson had Nauvoo roots and her 3rd Great Grandparents, Lindsay Anderson Brady and Elizabeth Hendricksen lived here and were part of the exodus.  His story was well documented and much more colorful.  We submitted it this year and it was one of the nine selected.  The story had to be synthesized to around three minutes and that became very difficult.  Sister Gibson stressed and stressed about the time and ultimately got it to four minutes.  I told her to wait and see at the rehearsal before making changes.  One story was three and one half minutes and the rest went from there to seven minutes.  She stayed with her story.
     A lavishly decorated stage was assembled for the production.  Sister Gibson had practiced it a hundred times, reading it over and over.  On Sunday she stood tall, as the last presenter, in her pioneer dress, and read her story.  All prejudice aside she and the story were the best!! I'd hike across the plains with her any day.   So that's my story and I'm sticking to it and here is Lindsey Andereson Brady's for you to read:
Lindsay Anderson Brady
3rd Great Grandfather
Marilyn Kay Nance Gibson

     My name is Lindsey Anderson Brady. I was born in Lincoln County Kentucky on June 11, 1811. I married Elizabeth Hendrickson on Oct 18, 1831.
     In the Fall of 1835 two Yankee preachers came to our town telling about some crazy new religion with Angels and a "Golden Bible". If there is anything worse than Yankees it would be Yankee preachers and I wanted nothing to do with them. Elizabeth and her mother seemed interested and wanted to go to a meeting to hear what those two polecats had to say. I became angry, stomped my foot and refused to go with them. If those foolish women were so determined to go they could just go alone. I wanted nothing to do with such rubbish.
     To cool down my anger and to get some honest work done, I went out into the woods where I could be all alone. As I was chopping wood I heard a distinct voice say: "Drop that axe and go to the meeting!" Some people say I told them I heard the voice twice but once was enough to scare me plenty. I looked around and I was alone. The only people who knew where I was had gone to the meeting! I dared not disobey so I dropped that axe and hurried to the meeting.
     The two preachers were Wilford Woodruff and Warren Parrish. They spoke of strange things but it all rang true to me. Our families had never professed any religion but I felt something that told me I should be baptized and join this strange church. A few days later Wilford Woodruff took me into the waters of baptism and performed that sacred ordinance. Elizabeth soon joined me in this new faith but our families wanted nothing to do with it. Later, Wilford Woodruff ordained me a Deacon thus conferring on me the Priesthood of God.
     After our conversion we were disowned by our families, so in April 1837 we traveled to Far West Missouri to be with the Saints. Persecution and hostility were intense. Once I was chased into a cornfield at gunpoint and hid in a large shock of corn. My attackers were so close that I could see "the whites of their eyes" as they parted the corn stalks but did not discover me and l escaped.
     We fled across Missouri and crossed the Mississippi where the good people of Quincy, Illinois gave us refuge. We eventually settled in Nauvoo, Illinois. There I worked many days on the Temple with the Prophet Joseph Smith. We were in Nauvoo when the Carthage carnage occurred. We saw the bodies of those two holy men as they lay in state. We attended their funerals and later attended the meeting where Brigham young sounded and appeared as Joseph and we knew that Brigham was our new leader. I was made a Seventy in the Seventies Hall and Elizabeth and I were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple on January 1, 1846.
     We crossed the great river in early February 1846 on the ice and made our way across the frozen and then muddy plains of Iowa with starved oxen. One died and I had to yoke a cow to help pull our wagon. I stayed near Winter Quarters for 3 years where I cleared land and grew crops for those fortunate enough to go to the valley. In June 1850 it was our turn and we arrived in Salt Lake September 19, 1850.
     Eventually we were some of the first settlers in a small town named Fairview in Sanpete County. There a new couple, the Nielsens moved in and needed help. I gave them a cow, as they were such good people. I hope it sustains them and that they have a righteous posterity. I know this Gospel is true and I thank the Lord every day that he sent his Holy Spirit to speak to me when all alone in the Kentucky woods so many years ago and start me on my journey towards Eternal Life.

Once Again....Before Re-Construction....
                          ....There Must be Destruction
     Monday marked the beginning of the church mandated remodel of the presidents home.  Things started off with the direction for the missionaries to remove the plumbing fixtures and totally re-do the two bathrooms on the upstairs level.  Meanwhile, downstairs, the FM  carpenters did pretty much the same.  Tearing out the tile soon revealed another layer of vinyl flooring that we removed.  Then, in typical Nauvoo fashion the job expanded...why not do the kitchen and laundry room?  How about removing all the wall paper?  
     Things went well until I asked about a steamer to remove the ancient wall paper.  "We don't have one" was the reply.  They do now.....enough said.  The one thing I can say is that by the end of the week and removing tile, vinyl flooring, and putting down cement board I am officially very, very, sore.  

Odd's at the End
     With Elder Beecher's hurried departure to Salt Lake,  Sister Beecher was left with the chore of packing and cleaning the Samuel Williams House.   Our MTC group quickly organized a plan that would help make this as easy as possible for her and her ward in Utah quickly help make sure that both of their cars would get back to Utah.  She packed and put the things she wanted to take in the cars and on Thursday morning the Lindeburgs each drove a car and followed her to the airport in Des Moines where  she caught a plane home.  Their packed cars were left in long term parking at the airport and two ward members, at their own expense, flew from Utah and picked them up and drove them back.
     I can't say we hadn't been warned.....Sister Beecher told us he was a "big" pack rat.  We laughed it off until we went downstairs to a basement full of everything....but nothing.  It took three fully packed vehicles to empty it.  It is gone now....most to Good Will in Keokuk, some to Conservation, and some we won't talk about.

     It's the beginning Nauvoo Crud season and missionaries are starting to fall like Mayflies in June.
We had our monthly Brigham Young District Meeting on Sunday but over 50% of the district had fallen to the "crud" during the week and couldn't attend.  So we looked around and found replacements.....President and Sister Lusvardi and Elder and Sister                 Oldroyd (the mission doctor).
Elder Corder pulled out the Traeger smoker/barbequer and grilled up three racks of ribs and a bunch of chicken we brought.  It wasn't much of a district meeting but we all had a good time.
     Elder Corder and I put on our best faces but I couldn't resist taking a picture of President Lusvardi taking one of our group....Smile, you're on Candid Camera!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Week Numbers are Getting Larger....
            Our Weeks are getting Shorter
                                  and We're Number 1!!
     Monday night, Jan. 15, 2018,  marked the beginning of a remarkable week here in Nauvoo.
A reception was held to honor President and Sister Hall as they will leave this week and return to their home in Idaho.  Under their leadership we have seen some remarkable changes and there will undoubtedly be more to come under the leadership of President and Sister Lusvardi.  His final message to us was simple:  "What I have learned and what I will miss".  Gone was the fanfare that was so prevalent in the past from departing missionaries.  It was a simple meeting honoring the Halls and allowing them time to share their testimonies.  It was a privilege for us to be there but as I sat there I also remembered those missionaries who have faithfully served here and were not present.  They too were influenced, affected, and learned from them during their time here.  Gone was the raucous celebrations we first experienced in the departing missionaries when we arrived.  There was no "Farewell Nauvoo" but rather "God be with you till we meet again".  What a change....what a blessing. We are so grateful to have been here and support President Hall as his inspirations and changes have taken the mission to a new and higher level.

God be with you President and Sister have been amazing!

     We usually  don't give much thought to our leaving yet as there are so many projects going on and things for us to do that thinking about, let alone planning for March,  really isn't a priority yet.  It must be for everyone else as they keep reminding us of the ticking clock.     That being said this will add a little fuel to the fire.  The mission publishes a  chronological list of all the missionaries;  the future ones coming and the older ones going. It is updated as new ones come and the old ones go.   Guess who's now #1 on the leaving list?

Our New Mission President Arrives....
    He Teaches of Prophetic Succession &
     "Oh, and Yes...The Horses are Coming Back!
     With President and Sister Hall on their way back to Idaho, the next big calendar event was the potluck dinner on Thursday night to meet and greet President and Sister Lusvardi.  There were those who were overly anxious for the event.  After all change always brings a little anxiety to the "old folks" here and the rumors are always abundant. Sister Lusvardi spoke first and talked about their family, his career that allowed him to "temporarily" retire at forty one, and all of their travels related to his church assignments and of course her testimony of the blessings the gospel brings.
     In his opening remarks President Lusvardi talked about the thrill of visiting the sites on Thursday.  They just wanted to do it without fanfare or announcement...just to feel again the spirit of  Nauvoo before they really got into their assignments.  After the first visit it became apparent that the surprise was over as the word had spread in rapid succession that the Lusvardi's were "on the prowl" and be prepared.  "The text is quicker than the word"  
    President and Sister Lusvardi bring with them a vast amount of knowledge through their church service.  He spoke of the remarkable week we had just experienced and reviewed some amazing experiences he had serving with President Hinckley and  President Nelson.  He reviewed with us the way prophetic succession works and how the Lord prepares the prophet as well as we discussed some of the highlights of the press conference where President Nelson fielded unique questions from the press core....ya gotta love the press...always looking for new angle or story.  So of course the age old question of age came up.."How can a bunch of old men be in touch with the youth of today?"  I think it's important to remember, as has been pointed out, there is a seasoning and maturity with age and grandpa's are the smartest people on earth according to grandkids. Parents don't know a thing until they get grandparents.
     He went on....Our message is not based on popular trends or ideas.  It is an eternal message, brought to earth by the Son of God and transcends time.  So the message from our Prophet is the same as it has been.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he leads and guides this church through revelation.  He has such a sweet spirit and gentleness about him that seems to draw us closer to what we should be doing.
    We were all enthralled as President Lusvardi addressed us and were thoroughly enjoying his remarks when he subtly threw  in "and Oh yes...the horses are coming back".  A brief pause...and the room went crazy with cheers....and tears.  With that one statement he had become the hero of every missionary in the Nauvoo Mission!  The horses were ready to roll and hitched to the wagons the next day.  Let the rides begin again!!

Picture by Sister D. Eppich


President Monson Passes On...
    It wasn't a big surprise  a couple of weeks ago when I awoke to the news that President Thomas S. Monson had passed away.  He had been in failing health for some time.  In a way it was a sweet gift for someone that had done so much for so many so long to be able to return to the place where it all began and where he could be reunited with his wife and other family members.  That's the way it should be.  I will miss him.  I miss President Hinckley.  I never knew Joseph Smith but his presence is felt every day because of his simple prayer.  I miss him....he inspires me.  The prophets have been our leaders.  Their message is of hope and inspiration.
     What I will miss most about President Monson will be his stories.  They were always filled with humor and a deep message.  How can you forget it Prophet that would tell a story about himself and being able to wiggle his ears to confound a young boy who was mimicking him in a church meetings.  His story about burning a field near Vivian Park was a classic and it reminded me of a couple of experiences I had with field fires and I also remember vividly my son Eric trying to burn our patio up with gasoline.  What about all those widows he cared for at an age when most young men are just thinking about marriage let alone taking care of some 85 sisters who had lost their husbands.  That's what you call and example!
     We will miss you President and we will never forget you!

Sheetrock Isn't all that Exciting....
     So We Find Humor Where we Can!
     We were told by Marcus some time ago that he thought it would be great if we could get the "mansion" sheet rocked in the basement by the time we started on the presidents home remodel.   My comment reflected my optimism: "It will never happen.....Jason won't have the HVAC installed until the end of January".  He scoffed and said it wouldn't take that long. " Oh ye of little faith" I proclaim.
We have plowed along every day....dragging sheetrock down the stairs.....waiting for more sheetrock to come....and hanging it as fast as the HVAC is put in the ceiling.  Now it's not the literal end of the month...but it's getting close.  We start the president's house Monday.  Let's look at the situation:
The sheetrock is far as we can go.  What are we waiting for?  The that is a surprise.  We are also waiting for the electrical panel.....seems there is a little problem with a hole that doesn't work..and a line that won't stay connected.  This too will pass and we will move along.
    Elder Pollock is back and painting and seems to be doing well, although I am sure there is still an awful lot of grief and some mourning to go.  He is such a wonderful guy and a quiet inspiration to me.  Elder Hawkins dropped by for a visit.....I am pretty sure this hallway wasn't designed for a guy who is 6'8".  At least Elder Hall fits well.
A Checkup Leads to a Checkout.....
  Our Dear Friends The Beecher's Head Home!!

     It started a little over a week ago when Elder Beecher visited Dr. Smith in Keokuk for a quick visit to get his meds renewed.  Dr. Smith, being a thorough physician did the routine stethoscope check.  He detected  murmur in the heart was detected.  Just to be sure of the extent he ran over to the local hospital for a further test.  The following day he was in the hospital at Quincy for further tests which revealed three valves were defective.  A triple valve replacement is serious business but that diagnosis as nothing compared to what was coming.   The next day he was transported to St. Louis for a specialist to perform the operation.  Standard procedure dictated a lung x-ray to make sure the patient can tolerate the anesthesia.  A large mass was detected in one lung things got gloomy pretty quick.  Then an MRI revealed a spot on the liver.
     First things first dictated a biopsy of the lung mass.  In the middle of the procedure he went into cardiac arrest and the procedure was abruptly halted and heart rhythm was returned to normal. Turns out not only did he have damaged valves but his electrical system "was hanging by a thread"   The following day   a pacemaker was installed to stabilize his heart.  the following day the procedure was performed but results won't be known for a while.  At this point there was some clear writing on the wall.  Some hard choices had to be made and the mission field in Nauvoo isn't the place to do it.  The hard decision was made to leave their mission early and return to Utah to get the care and support of family.
     Elder Beecher left Sunday for Utah.  President and Sister Lusvardi traveled to St. Louis on Sunday morning to accompany Sister Beecher back to Nauvoo.   Family is coming to help her pack and drive the cars back.  This is a sad time for us.  They have been a part of our mission experience since the MTC and we have had so many fun times with them.  They have been instrumental in so many things here that they will be sorely missed.

      In all of the chaos we did find a tender mercy, however.  We wanted to get together one more time with Sister Beecher before she left and lend her support and our love.  Sister Hughes thought they might be more hungry than tired on their way back from St. Louis and asked them if they would like to get together with our MTC group.  She was thrilled and we also invited President and Sister Lusvardi.  It was a wonderful time for all of us.
     During our conversations there was a question of President Lusvardi's  Italian heritage.  One thing led to another and all of a sudden we were talking about the  "How Rare a Possession and the Vicenzo DiFrancesco  letter.  It was part of President Lusvardi's previous assignment to oversee historical documents that came to the Church's attention.  He knew every little detail about the letter I had donated. I marveled as we discussed the importance of it.   He made it sound much more important than I had ever imagined and also added that there was a re-cut of the original video that would update it.

It's Time for a Re-Do and so.......
    We Turn our Efforts to the President's Home
     As soon as President and Sister Hall were on their way home FM jumped into their vacated home and thus began the awaited renovation.  It appeared that every truck in FM was parked in and around the house for Jordan's explanation and direction as to what work was to be done and who was doing it.   The first people in were conservation and they started packing everything....and I mean everything in the house for storage.  That was followed by Elders, young and old, taking out the furniture and storing it.  Monday work begins.....Chaos will reign....and sooner or later the job will get done.