Sunday, September 17, 2017

Christi Comes to Visit......

                          ....It Doesn't Get Much Better!!
     It was with a lot of anticipation that Christi was finally able to break away from her hectic schedule and visit us here.  It had been almost a year since we had seen her but with the help of FaceTime the absence hadn't been felt near as much as it could have.  She flew into Chicago, rented a car, and arrived here in Nauvoo on Saturday evening.....just in time to see us perform in Rendezvous.  She stayed for two days and we had a great time with her.  We went to Carthage on Sunday....right after I had been coerced into making nachos after church.  Some things never change including the usual "noggin nocker" on the top of my head. (As you keep reading you will understand that this seems to be a permanent scab off.....three scabs on).   We also made a visit to the Arched Stone Bridge where Joseph and Emma used to retreat to as well as their gravesites.
     We worked on Monday while she took in a session at the temple.  Then it was off to Quincy for dinner at the of our favorites.  We then got the crazy idea to visit Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri all in the same day...if fact we were so focused on this we had to go back to Missiouri because we forgot to take a picture of the "welcome sign".  It all worked out well even though we weren't able to get a sunset picture of the Nauvoo set before we could get there.  A visit to Hy Vee supplied us with and ice cream fix.
     Tuesday morning  she was off bright on early with us to return to Chicago and then on to Maine to visit one of her friends......and then life returned to normal.  We were so excited to have her and enjoy her sweet spirit.

       It's More Than Showtime.....
                                ...It's Time to Get Busy(er)
     Our cast is saying farewell to more of our friends and fellow missionaries as they depart and return to their homes.  The Andrus' have been an integral part of our show as they portray George and Agatha and now it's time for them to leave.  We will miss them......but the show goes on.  Our new director (coordinator) Sister Hipple is showing  frazzled nerves as she struggles to work with the departure of cast members and trying to herd the cats (cast) into new parts.  Many are saying she is in panic mode as the complex schedules are changed nightly.  Filling in the vacant spots with new people who must now learn small lines as well as blocking...add to it some have roles as stage hands as they maneuver props to end and begin scenes.  It is less than a well oiled machine and there are miscues, omissions, and commissions on a nightly basis as our aging memories sometimes do not adapt well to change.  Some who have been assigned new parts have resorted to "crib notes" hidden in hats and the like....thinking that it goes unnoticed by the doesn't and we here a chuckle now and then.  Hopefully all will calm down soon.
     Adding to our adventure here is our new calling as District Leaders of the Martin Harris District.  Up until our call the DL's were figureheads who were mainly in charge of organizing month dinners and sharing experiences and reporting on them and making a few cleaning assignments on some sites.      President Hall has a new vision that we will be training our fellow missionaries at least once a month...onward and upward.  We have also been called to be the FM representatives to work with the Beautiful Nauvoo committee.

Ready or Not......

                                  .....The Teamsters Are!!!
     It was slow work because of the late morning starts but we are getting close to the end.  Elders Hall and Hawkins are being called away constantly to use their expertise as heavy equipment operators and with not being able to start until 9:00a.m. we don't get a good work flow but it is steady.  We had finished the plexi-glass on the roof and most of the fascia and trim and were planning on completing the job the following morning....but what did to our wondering eyes appear but the teamsters had moved the shoeing stock in place and were going to work shoeing a horse....never mind we hadn't cut the reliefs in the concrete slab they were in full swing.  Nip, one of the larger horses here was not all that excited about the event and gave the equipment a good test.  The next day we made modifications to tie the stock to the support posts and put a major support beam underneath.  It should to the job.  That afternoon we completed the tin work and started moving on to other challenges.....after all it is Old Nauvoo!!

  Sister Gibson Welcomes the Help.....
                         ....As FM Takes a New Approach   
       We knew they were coming.....and it was with a sense of relief that they arrived.  Elder and Sister Jensen and Elder and Sister Schmidt arrived and started their work in FM.  They were both called under a new program where the FM missionaries will be assigned to the mission but will not work in the sites although they will be participants in Rendezvous and Sunset.  
     It is a great relief for Sister Gibson as she will now have Sister Schmidt to work beside her in Conservation and she will not have the worry of housing that was left to her when Sister Van Horn left.  Trish, the FM employee who will now be in charge of housing has been on vacation in Europe for the past week and has a week to go.  When she returns she will oversee the Housing Missionary, Sister Jensen and the conservation missionaries, Sister Gibson and Sister Schmidt.  
     There is also a change in Housing as FM will totally manage it and the mission will be able to concentrate on missionary activities and not be burdened with the pressures of selecting and placing missionaries. It has been a busy time with missionaries leaving and those who are staying feeling they need to move to accommodations that suit their wishes....we're talking things like bigger units, king beds, whiter walls.....the bigger/better syndrome that can cause some jealousy and pettiness among some.  Anyway...that's where it's going.....for a while.

It's the End of the Road.....

   Elder Sims Leaves a Lasting Mark

     We said good-bye to my friend Elder Sims today.  He fulfilled his commitment and today marked his last day in Nauvoo FM.  His last days were spent building a copula that will sit on the kiosk at the end of Parley Street that honors those early Saints who were not able to complete the journey they started out on.  The names of the fallen are on those boards.  It is fitting that Elder Sims did the work.  He is a craftsman.
     We have spent so much time together here and although we did not understand each other in the beginning we have become true friends counting on each other for support.  I look forward to the day that we may see each other again.
     Farewell Elder Sims....I love you and will miss you.  God Speed and a safe journey.

         the End
     It was a tough week as I kept running into things or they kept falling on me.  I had just lost the quarter size scab on my head when I raised up had and cracked my head on a piece of quarter inch plate on the shoeing stock.  It was a gusher but I kept it under control to get a Band-Aid on it.  I followed it with one more good bang next to it and then added another when I ran into a protruding handle that had been misplaced in the trailer.
     Following day I added the nose piece when doing tear out at the Economou house and  a light fixture fell on the bridge of my nose.
     None of that was equal to the abuse and questions I took as I encountered people.  Never even thought to blame Sister Gibson.....although many suggested it.

     Elder Sims received his FM retirement flag Friday and I wanted to sit near the front so I could get a good picture of him.  Prior to the meeting, Marcus began playing around on the piano and Sister Gibson couldn't resist sitting next to him.  While she may have added beauty to the chair she didn't tone his loud playing down.  The grand piano is not really that "grand" as it really is an amplified keyboard place in the chassis of the piano.  He plays so loud you can't hear anything else.....which in FM really isn't too bad of an idea.


The Beecher's hadn't been to the Amana Colonies so along with the Lindeburgs we headed there.  It wasn't that we needed to go...we just wanted to so we could spend time with our friends and eat at the Ox Yoke Inn where we treated Elder Lindeburg to some German Chocolate Cake....I just couldn't resist ordering it. Sometimes you just have to overrule the minority .  We did visit the museum which we hadn't been able to see as well as stop by and sit in the giant rocking chair in West Amana.
     While in Amana West I found this little wooden heart with the fifty in it and I couldn't pass it up.  Fifty seems like but a minute now but getting here took a lot of time.....time well spent.

     It was a banner week for visitors.  Not only did we get Christi but also Sister Gibson received a visit from her water aerobics' buddy, Barabara and her daughter Shelly.  They spent three full days here and loved every minute of it.  While they didn't get to see her as Relief Society President they did get to see her in the Saturday night performance of Rendezvous.
     They were touched by the many sites and the special feelings they felt her and also attended a very special Sacrament meeting on Sunday.  President Hall asked Elder Wayment to bear his testimony.  As he spoke we all knew that he felt he had angels present as his life was protected from startled horses.  His is small but powerful and we all felt his strength. 


Last but not least it is so good to know that I have such a strong support team that takes care of our needs.  If anything happens back home we can count on our family, especially Marc and Mindy who are taking care of the houses and looking after them.  Best of all Mindy reads the blog faithfully and sends doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

For a Few.....Enduring to the End.....
                                                                       .....Means Just That
      This week begins the mass exodus of missionaries as they have dutifully served their time.  It is a bittersweet moment as the service they have rendered and the joy they have received is conflicted by sadness of leaving and the anticipation of returning to their homes and families.  Emotions are running high.  Some have counted their last days to the minute while others contain their thoughts.  And then their are a few who are focused on their tasks at hand......enduring to the end with the same gusto they more than likely started with.
     Monday we said good-bye to our fellow missionaries and new found friends, the Van Horns.
The last two months we have worked with them closely and learned to love them for their honest,   forthright and dedicated efforts as missionaries.    They are now on their way to Washington where they will begin life anew.  What we learned from them and their friendship will stay with us forever.  They worked as hard the last day on their mission as I am sure they did on the first. 
     Even though they were packed and ready to go they showed for work ready to usual.  Without any hesitation they worked hard and thoroughly....putting up with my constant reminders that it was fine...they could go....we will be fine.  Nope....Elder Van Horn would have nothing of it and continued lifting those joists as we put them into place....sore back and all.  His is indeed a man among men.  Meanwhile, back in Housing Sister Van Horn had stayed extra hours orienting a new missionary couple.  She had delayed their departure, much to Elder Van Horn's glee, to complete her task....more time to get those joists in place he exclaimed....and we did it.  Elder Hawkins counted the minutes remaining with each joist.  At the end we Elder Van Horn saw the joists raised and we all were excited to see him on his way!!
     We will miss them and wish them well!! 

     The Clouds of Uncertainty and Despair......
                                ......Hang Over Nauvoo
     It was Saturday afternoon at the Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant that we first heard the news.  Due to Elder Wayment's run in with horses the Church Missionary Department called on Saturday, and with out further comment, told the mission that all further activities involving animals were shut down pending a "risk management" review of the incident and the overall  safety of the program.  Even though rides were scheduled and visitors ticketed all activity ceased.  
     What this meant was that not only were the Carriage Ride, Wagon Ride, and Ox Ride silent but the Nauvoo rumor mill began to scream in disbelief.  With the discontinuation of the Hand Cart experience many had begun to speculate on the longevity of the horses and oxen as a form of entertainment and activity.  Conversations turned to speculation and disbelief.  It was as though another part of the Nauvoo experience was going dark.
     I like many, was saddened and questioning......this was an important part of our experience here and we had ridden the wagons and heard the stories of those early Saints here.  What would become of them.....would their stories be washed away with no way to tell them....after all there are many, many stories that are only told by those who know and love them.
     So we now wait and wonder.....and listen to the rumor mill.  We hope the Missionary department will quickly come to the conclusion that these animals are a vital part of Nauvoo and their evaluation of  it will lead them to their continuation of this program.

     White Gloves and All.....

        ......Sister Gibson Stands Willing to Help All!!

       Sister Gibson is always busy in FM and her job tasks vary from day to day depending on the need.  During any given week she can help with the artifacts, housing, cleaning, organizing, sorting out things, harassing the other FM employees, and it is all done with a smile.  Everyone loves her...especially when they ask her to do something.  Her willing and helpful attitude is a ray of sunshine.
     So when Candelight came to town to shoot some scenes for an upcoming movie that follows Emma after the martyrdom and the exodus from Nauvoo they needed help from FM.  Seems that the rebuilt Red Brick Store is too cluttered with every day merchandise they asked if they could shoot some scenes in Lyon Drug which has nothing but old stuff....nothing new here....not even the missionaries.  It would be portrayed as the Red Brick Store in the movie.  Jordan, the FM Director, had originally planned to do the supervision but was called away to tend to some urgent business at the barn....(and I don't think he was horse'n around.)  He went to Sister Gibson, told her to get her white gloves and get down to the shoot at Lyon Drug.
     They wanted to move some things around so Sister Gibson took pictures of the way things were so she could put them back and then sat around and watched as the movie was filmed.  So there she sat in the background watching as the scenes played out several times before they were thought to be good.
     That's Sister Gibson.....always in the background adding to the beauty of life!!
    He Walks.....He Talks....He Smiles.....
                      ......But Don't Make Him Laugh
Elder Wayment and Elder Hall
     The don't make 'em  like Elder least not very often.  Sunday morning the hospital in Iowa City had apparently had enough of him and released him... .broken ribs, three stints in an artery and a neck brace  Monday his wife reported he was doing very fact too well as he was driving her crazy.  Tuesday was their scheduled P Day and so it was off in the car to Cantril to see the Amish horsemen.  Wednesday it was a pizza luncheon with the teamsters after our 8:00 training meeting.  Thursday it was off to the Rodeo as he had bought tickets with the teamsters several months ago and he didn't want to miss it.  This guy is a clone for the  Ever Ready Bunny......or maybe the old Timex watch....."takes a licken' and keeps on tickin'!!
     Fortunately he is a human.....has one or two complaints.  The broken ribs are painful when he laughs and he wants someone to keep  his wife out of the house while he removes his neck brace so he   can's that important to him.
     Regardless of the here and now his neck and shoulder will still take some time to heal but I sure  wouldn't want to get in his way....The little                                                                                     guy is tough!!

      Every Good Barn Has a Red Roof.....

             ....Getting It On is a Lift(ing) Experience
                                      ..............In Old Nauvoo!!
         With the joists raised and Elder Van Horn on his way we spent the rest of the week tying the structure together in preparation for the installation of the metal roof.  One of the marvels of Nauvoo is the variety of ways we ascend to the heights.  Some times it is ladders....sometimes the creaky old wooden platform on the fork lift, and then there is the improvisation of using the skidster to hoist us upward.  Sometimes you just have to improvise....prudent or not.  Elder Hawkins gets a little dizzy when he bends over and stands up and Elder Hall usually runs the heavy equipment.  In the end I usually I am the one to go up and scale the heights to secure and fasten things.  I make my best efforts to contain Elder Hawkins but he is usually right their beside me.
     Since the teamsters are pretty much unemployed right now we can usually get one of them to help us.  Elder Cornwell  and Elder Long joined in the festivities as we put on the 2x4 framing and ultimately the roof by Friday.  Like any good FM carpentry project we always can count on some one to drop by and give us some good advice....or thoughts on our project.  In this case it was Elder Duval, one of our welders.


     Tall Corn and Hanging Gourds.....
                                                ....Just an Excuse for a Picture
     We have been watching all year as the corn has risen from ears to full blown stalks.  There are two crops which are planted abundantly here.....Corn and Soybeans.  The crops are rotated so what was corn might be soybeans the following year.  On some of the smaller highways it is not uncommon to have corn on both sides making it feel like you are in the "corn forest".  The corn will be left in the fields until it looks dry and withered....then it will be run thru the combines delivered to silos or storage facilities and wait until the price is right to sell it....maybe days....maybe months.  The particular hybrid corn usually grown grows tall and tastes is used primarily in ethanol or silage.  Nice to see.....not to eat!!
     Meanwhile, in Old Nauvoo, our gardener's continue to make our area beautiful and interesting.  Such is the case of the tunnel created behind Lyon Drug.  It didn't look like much and then the gourds began sprouting and handing down.  Great for pictures.....but a pretty good head knocker if you are not careful.

      Odds at the End

     Christi came to visit this weekend.  she came in Saturday and Sunday we went to church.  I want to devote more to her visit next week but this one couldn't is absolutely hilarious!!  Even though we haven't see her for a's clear....some things don't change.

Up at the top of Mulholland Street is a small building in front of a trailer park called Peter's Place.
     It has been dormant through most of the busy season but all of a sudden it has sprung to life.  The owner has been seriously ill and apparently his grandson has stepped in to run the place.  He tells great stories so we have made it a gathering place for the last two Mondays to get together with our MTC group and eat....sorta to help him keep the joint afloat.  In the background is a half finished mural started by missionary several years ago but he was unable to finish it before he left....shortly thereafter he died and it remains unfinished.


Sometimes there is much more to a picture that can be explained.  Either because the facts aren't known or maybe the story is to personal to share.  Take your pick and enjoy the picture.

Elder Hawkins and Elder Jones are two of FM's finest.  Their day jobs find  Elder Hawkins driving heavy equipment or on top of a roof preparing it for the steel to be applied on top and Elder Jones is the happiest guy I know in Nauvoo.....and I don't think it's because he is a plumber.
     Their night job finds them dressed as "high falooten"  door men assisting the visitors attending Rendezvous  to find seats as well as managing the doors for early exits and cast entrances.  Couldn't find two better guys!!
Better looking.....Maybe?


Usana Vitamins....Why are they here  When Marc worked at Usana I took them because they were very cost effective and he wanted me to be a healthy Grandpa for his children .  Now he is gone....and so are the vitamins.  Life is tough!

Monday, September 4, 2017

If the Work Doesn't Get You...
                                                                    .....The Social Life Will

      I have pretty much documented the work we do here on a regular basis and it is pretty safe to say that it is, for the most part, pretty demanding and physical for those of us called.  We do it and we love it!!  The other reality is the title of this segment........
     Now in all isn't always like this but.....this week was a killer. 
    It started Sunday District Meetings....which is really more or less an excuse to get together for dinner and discuss our month as well as get assignments for the coming month.  At least we didn't try to feed the masses....just ten people...but we always make sure it looks like we will be feeding twenty.
      Monday found us at Peter's....a small sandwich place at the top of Mulholland. It had never really opened during the Pageant season but now miraculously it is back and the proprieter has all sorts of interesting stories to tell.....more or less "Untold Stories of Nauvoo"  Fact or fiction...they are interesting!!
     Tuesday it was a cast social to say goodbye to the members of our cast that will be departing in the next few days....Pot Luck....bring the most fattening food  and plenty of will be eaten....vegetables and fruit....maybe.
     Wednesday it's a birthday party at Rendezvous....Mississippi Mud by the McLoed's and Cheeseburgers from McDonalds by Elder Moench.  It wasn't is birthday....he just wanted and excuse to eat a cheeseburger.....his wife is a vegetarian of the highest degree.
     Thursday it was off to the Old Threshers Reunion.....we ate at the Catholic offering.  Saturday we will probably eat Methodist or Mennonite food...both looked good.
     Friday was the mission breakfast.  It used to be to celebrate the departing it apparently just to get together and improve our "waste" lines.  Bring your best and plenty of it.  We always take 40 slices of bacon....that way there are no leftovers.
     Saturday....back to the Old Threshers...... and the Iowa Fair Blue Ribbon Award winning Methodist Meatloaf.  We were too tired to walk back to the ice cream station so we just stopped on the way back for another "sweet fix"   I am getting tired, full, and fat  just writing about it!!

My Buddy Goes Down....
                                                         ....But He is Far From Out
     One minute we were working away trading pleasantries with the majority of the teamsters about our work...and their lack of it..... and the next we were responding to the chaos on the other side of the wall.  There had been some excited voices as the horses abruptly bolted from their feeding down!!  And then it was dead still and quiet.  Not a sound.  We didn't know what to make of it....soon we found out why.
     Our compressor had fired up.... startling the horses...they bolted and Elder Wayment, all one hundred and sixty pounds (soaking wet) of his seventy nine year old body was knocked to the ground flat on his back as one of the startled horses laid a hoof on his chest and he quickly fled.  These are not little horses...they are Belgians......big, heavy, and strong to pull the wagon loads of visitors around Nauvoo.
  Within seconds the paramedics were called and the other teamsters were at his side administering to him and giving him a blessing.  The dead quiet was those wonderful priesthood brethren uniting in prayer and calling on the powers  of heaven to preserve his life and watch over him until proper medical care could be administered.  As in every crisis it seemed like an eternity before the Nauvoo Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene.  He was in crisis and pain as they worked on him.  Then the mission presidency and his wife arrived as care was given.  Sister Wayment, with her vast experience in medical care, insisted he be taken to Iowa City rather than the closer large hospital in Quincy.  Iowa City is a Trauma 1 facility and that decision likely saved his life.
      He was soon on his way to Iowa City.  The University of Iowa is one of the leading hospitals in the Midwest and an inspired choice.  His injuries included broken ribs, a cracked vertebrae in his neck but also a crushed artery that fed his arm.  He was soon in surgery, stints inserted into the damaged artery and a neck brace was put in place.    All went well.  He spent the night in the ICU and the following day was moved to a room.  Sunday he was released and returned home.    I am sure that besides his beloved wife there were angels at his side.....summoned by the power of the Priesthood!!  

     Concrete Piers.....Floor....and More....

          ......The Barn Rises....Finally....Almost
   It isn't exactly like and Amish barn fact it is far from it.  It is small....less than organized...and involves far less people.....and far more old people....but there is always progress.  Elder Van Horn masterfully laid out the concrete piers as I formed the slab. And then it poured rain the next night and part of the day.
     The following day we were concerned that the tubes that formed them would be too wet but we hand delivered the concrete to them after filling the holes with concrete from the chute.  It worked well and we were off and running.  The moisture in the supporting tubes and the high humidity in the air kept them from drying and they were a little soft so we held off a day on pouring the slab. There are no pictures of us pouring as it took all our labors and efforts to get the job done and the teamsters were busy watching and jawing.


     We certainly didn't meet any Amish standards....but with the zeal of youth and bodies of the aged Elder Van Horn and myself  started raising and securing the poles using ladders.  The following day we raised the beam using our trusty fork lift and makeshift wooden platform. We first made the beam in pieces that we could lift for assembly from the platform on then lift and then onto  poles.  Speaking of our platform....It is really creaky and wobbly...but then so are we, so it is sometimes and adventure.  The Elders in the welding shop have made several efforts to build one out of metal that would be more secure but have been told by Kendall not to make it since it could not be OSHA the one we are using is?? Really?  Life with bureaucracies is certainly mystifying and challenging sometimes.
     We then realized that we were short the materials for the second beam.  Seems as though they hadn't gotten ordered as they had been overlooked from the nature of the on changes.  They, like Elder Van Horn, will be here Monday...and ready to go........both to work and then to begin his journey home.  
Old Threshers....or the Grapes of Nauvoo?
                 ......Mt. Pleasant Wins Out.....Twice!!

     From the day I arrived in the cabinet shop of FM and was introduced to Lon Simpson I have awaited eagerly for the Old Threshers Reunion.  He painted such a picture that it was one of those things you didn't want to miss.  It was held in Mt. Pleasant, IA on for five days beginning with the Wednesday before Labor Day.  The scale and size of this permanent venue was massive.  The vast acreage includes a full size narrow gauge steam engine (I think the one that was used on the TV series Dr. Quinn...Medicine Woman), and electric trolley that encompasses the south end of the venue as well as tractor driven carriages that contain 100 people each as they circle the sites.  Of course all of this comes at a cost (.50-$5.00 depending on mode) after you have paid the $ 15.00/person entrance fee.
     Nauvoo on the other hand competes with it's annual Grape Festival to honor the fine wines produced from the grapes in the area.  I am sure all the wine aficionados are familiar with least any where inside the Nauvoo City limits.  To celebrate they stage a carnival(nope), car show(nope), wine tasting(nope), grape stomping(sounds fun) and a massive parade on Sunday down Mulholland Drive(nope).  Nauvoo on the Road(definitely) will be there....but as they say in baseball.....Three strikes(nope's) and your it's off to Mt. Pleasant.
     We did find out Sunday that it was a much bigger deal than we expected as the roads were blocked by the parade and car show and vendors and crowds swelled the park and surrounding open spaces.  
      We were glad to invite the Beecher's with us as they had missed out on so much while preparing and putting on pageant.  Elder Van Horn heard me talking about and expressed that Sister Van Horn really wanted to go.  They were leaving the first of the week and he had been pressured to get things around the house cleaned he decided to see if she wanted to go...she did...and we took of Thursday after work.
     It was everything we expected and more.  Of course our first stop was to see Lon in Mr. Dodd's Workshop.  His expertise and mastery of 1800 hand tools is phenomenal...and one tool or demonstration leads to another.  He is continually looking for new "old" tools but says his kids pretty well take care of that buying whatever they see for him.  The old drill press in the rear of the picture was given to him.
     We marveled at his skill at producing a "new and improved" water carrying yoke demonstrated in Pioneer Pastimes in Nauvoo.  I am sure it will last a long time with the amount of material and effort he put into it....I am not sure, however, if there are many who can or would want to carry it up and down Temple Hill with two full pails of water.  Sister Gibson demonstrated it for the camera....and then it was off the chiropractor (LOL).
     Our second trip to the Old Threshers found us spending most of the day with the Beechers seeing the old time steam equipment and horses in action.  It was quite interesting to see the size of some of these machines and horses.  The "not so" highlight was the Cavalcade of Power that paraded itself in front of the grandstands as we watched.....and watched....and watched.....went to lunch....saw that it was still going on...and on.  Turns out that there were over 1000 entries.  The old time exhibits were fascinating....even some old cars.  Then there were classic cars...then there were kids on riding mowers and mini tractors....and they were only at 700.  I imagine there were toddlers in the end pulling toy tractors and horses with parents sitting in the grandstands bored to death until their child comes by and they cheer wildly.
    The horse driven drilling machine was of particular interest to me as it reminded me of my days working for Intermountain Drilling with the machine powered rotary drill.  The horses mane was a work of art and interest.

A House Raising in Nauvoo....
                                      .....New Heights for an Old House
     Last spring we spent a week gutting the Engle House basement in preparation of  remodeling the entire lower floor into another missionary apartment.  Turns out that was the tip of the iceberg (now I have never seen that before on a Nauvoo project....except for most).  The foundation had been poorly constructed and so it was decided to raise the house, tear out everything below, and put in a new foundation and floor....and then finish the lower level.  Sounds like fun to me.....I'll just love to see the house levitating into the winter. the End!
     This is pretty much the final hurrah for the Van Horn's as they will return to Washington State next week.  He and I have worked together for over two months and his youth, skill, brains, and brawn have really been appreciated.  Sister Gibson has worked with Sister Van Horn since the departure of Sister Lee Master.  Together they have been the complete team working together to make sure that their duties and assignments are completed.  She has been the Missionary Director of Housing and is responsible for all that goes on in missionary housing.  They have also become very good friends here and we will miss them...Oh very much.  Our intrepid Assistant FM Director, Marcus Allyn, presented them their NRI flags on Thursday.  Carpentry and Housing will never be the same without them.  



Things sometimes get delayed until it is almost too late.  Now I can certainly see that my shoes are falling apart but it was when my toe popped through I decided it was time to get some new ones.
     Fortunately I have a friend in the shoe business.  David Grill at Ossine shoes is my guy and he took care of my urgent request and sent me two pair of Brooks shoes.  David and his family were one of my home teaching families that I learned to love.  The kids would always give us big hugs when they saw us.  That's just one of the things I miss....That is a sacrifice.
     Wednesday Nights Rendezvous performance was the last for the Moench's.  They did a great job as George and Agatha and she was always a great coordinator(director) to work with.  I had been teasing her for weeks that I was going to put a pop-up surprise in her newspaper so scare her as she opened it for her scene.  Prudence prevailed as I knew she wanted to give a great performance and not be distracted.
     It is a tough week for Sister Hipwell, our new director.  She is trying so hard to get her feet on the ground, keep Rendezvous organized with all the departures, and deal with the every day challenges of dealing with us, our quirks, illness', and adventures.
     It has always been stressed to be completely professional in our presentation and the show is about others and not ourselves.    When it comes time to leave many feel it is time to "let it go" and get creative with their lines....Great laughs for the perpetrators....  A disappointment for the one who is trying to "herd the cats".

     Sunday found us serving in the Brigham Young Home again as we swapped weeks with the Jones so we could have next Sunday free when Christi visits.  It was one of the busiest site days we have experienced.  Not only were there a lot of tours but also the size of many pushed the limits of our space capacity.  We received a tender mercy when it calmed down for a few moments and as we sat down the kids called from Eden telling us of all the fun they are having and how much they enjoy Eden.  It was so fun to talk to everyone and see they happiness on their faces.  It did cost me twenty bucks as Mikala finally got up on water skis.  Seems as though my offer made when she was ten was still in effect.
   We didn't have time to take a picture of us so I snapped one from the Council favorite in Nauvoo!!  I don't think anyone will forget what we look like....LOL.
     Our first visitors were a young couple from Indiana...he looked like a dear in the headlights as he started to glance around the room taking all of it in....seemingly with out blinking or breathing.  It wasn't until his wife explained he was a direct descendent of Brigham and he had so looked forward to this moment.  We tried to explain that a lot of the furnishings were not Brigham's but I don't think that mattered to him....He was caught up in the moment and took it in.  As we told of his conversion and love for the prophet he sat enthralled.  As I took him through the story of the Council Room on the house you could see it was a special moment for him....and us.  It's great to have these experiences....they are truly special to us.


Monday, August 28, 2017

It Began as a Safety Meeting....

                    .....and Transformed into a Clinic

     One of the great treasures in Nauvoo FM is Lon Simpson.  Lon joined the church three years ago and has been a fixture in the cabinetry shop since then.  His roots go back to college when he studied 1800's woodworking prior to joining the military and after retiring  taught woodworking in school while running a business that required craftsmanship and skill.  His responsibilities in Nauvoo  include the day to day operations of the cabinet shop and the maintenance and supervision of the adjacent carpentry shop.  It is almost impossible to ask him a question about where something is or how to do a particular task without him rounding it up and doing it for you.  His wife is a extraordinary cook  who is continually baking.  He manages his weight by giving most of the goodies to the missionaries.
     Lon is very proud and skilled with his vast array of hand tools and he can do masterful things with them.  Additionally there is a vast array of current up to date equipment in the cabinetry portion of the shop.  He is so proud of it that he often refers to it as the "Celestial Shop".  I guess that makes the carpentry shop, with it's older and outdated tools, the "Terrestrial World" and those who work in the field the "Telestial Kingdom".   We as carpenters are certainly able to work in the Terrestrial world but never are allowed such a pleasure in the Celestial Shop.  Lon will, however, always be glad to do what ever we ask that needs to be done.
    The opening minutes of the safety meeting were spent on the importance of a sharp tools versus a dull one and then the ride began.  We started with lengthy explanations of the many types of sharpening stones, where they came from, and why and how to use them.  He has more stones than I have tools (LOL).  Then it was on to the types of steel used in tools with the emphasis on not even bothering with a chisel made today....only the ones manufactured in the 1800's are suitable.  After sharpening a chisel for demonstration purposes and shaving one of he elders heads (not really...but it could have done it since it was so sharp) he moved on to block planes. The things he could do with that tool are amazing....a little extravagant for normal every day work, but amazing.  A lifetime of study and practice have given the man some amazing skills.
     It was a ten minute safety meeting....and an hour and a half clinic on sharpening....that most will probably never use.

A Hammer and Hoe...

                                     ....And Away We Go!!!

     We started the week with high hopes of getting the barn addition concrete poured and a start on the framing.  That ended with two days of rain.  So we started the next project.....a kitchen remodel in the Economou house (strange name, I know).  A quick review revealed the obvious for a Nauvoo was going to expand to the laundry room and down bath.  So with gusto and zeal we grabbed our tools of destruction and tore into it.  A day and a half later and a dump truck load of debris we had gutted the kitchen called for a plumber and electrician to review the exposed pipes and wires and we were back at the barn.  As for the cute title....we use the hoe to pull the lathe and plaster from the walls and's hard and dirty work but someone's got to do it.

     We returned to the barn.....hopes high that we get some concrete poured.  It soon became one of those weeks when one thing after another happened.  We needed some help from the equipment operators to drill some holes.  We needed the skidster to drill 12" holes for our foundation piers but it was in the shop.  Thinking it would be done we did some other small tasks.  Thursday came and it wasn't done so we grabbed a tractor....attachment for the drill needed to the welding shop.
Things were looking when we got it back and then, after we had installed the auger and were ready to go it was discovered that it was a reverse drill and the tractor couldn't turn it to dig...only to push dirt back down.  Thank heavens for Elder Hall.  He had had enough....grabbed a shovel and started digging.  He has always told me I was the hardest working guy in Nauvoo (not true...but you know how egos work) and not to be out done...I dug in with him.  It took most of the morning but we got the holes done and by Friday afternoon we were ready to pour.....I can hardly wait for Monday!!
     Elder Van Horn, the brains, equipment skills,  and probably most of the brawn, of this entire project will be saying his farewell to Nauvoo on September 4.  It's going to be an interesting week... I just hope I survive it.

    Nice Thing About Being Old.....

 .....You Can Visit the Same Place Twice...
          .....There's Always Something New!!

     The Beecher's had survived the hard work they had put forth during the pageant and wanted to get with us on some of our adventures away from Nauvoo.  While Kalona looked inviting...(after all they have that wonderful carmel pecan pull apart) we opted for a different plan to revisit Bentonsport.  Sister Lindeburg wanted to make it a "full" day trip since all were were free from obligations in the evening.  So we took the long way to Bentonsport through Eldon, Iowa and enjoyed visiting the American Gothic House made famous by artist Grant Wood.  Regrettably it was music on the porch day and so the pictures on the porch got "photobombed".
     Then it was decided to stop by Bonaparte for lunch at Bonapartes Retreat...finally we reached Bentonsport.  Our first visit there had us thoroughly enthralled with the pottery and church and we missed visiting the Indian Artifact Museum.  It is indeed a treasure to be seen.  For some forty three years Tony Sanders has been scouring the nearby creeks in search of Indian arrowheads and anything else ancient he could find.  The area is rich in them but it takes a lot of patience and hard work.
     He then built a building and spent what was left of his leisure time building displays to mount his treasures on.  Using twenty different species of native wood he painstakingly created patterns and artistry to display them as well as covering the interior walls with intricate wood patterns.  It is amazing to see and listen to him talk about his efforts and creative skills.  It is a must see in Bentonsport and is a special sight.

Odds......At the End
     So here it was time and there we were.....just like so many others.... staring at the cloudy sky...figuring that it was going to be a bust. Our anticipation of seeing 96.7% of the famed "once in a lifetime" eclipse were waning by the moment.  And then, for an hour or so the clouds broke up enough for us to see what had been anticipated.  Wow!! it looked just like we thought through our specially purchased level 16 protection sun shades (actually they were borrowed from someone nearby who was willing to share the moment.  While it wasn't a Nauvoo Miracle it was interesting and I can say that we were there....gawking away until the clouds closed in again.  We did see the majority of it, however.

It started like any other project.  Grab some wood to make forms for the barn.  It ended in the Emergency Room at Memorial Hospital in Carthage.  I was loading 2x4's into the truck when I felt a sharp pain as a sliver drove into my thumb.  I looked at the thumb and found a little sliver protruding out.  I must be turning into a whimp I thought.  It felt a lot worse than that little sliver looked.  Then I noticed a little blood about 1 1/2" back on the thumb.  It didn't take long to figure out that that even though I couldn't see it...The sliver was there....  I could feel it!!  Soon the swelling caused the revealed part to disappear.  Off to the clinic I went...knowing it could be easily extracted with a little professional care.  The Nauvoo Clinic is our go-to place but the PA who is stationed there had to leave so they sent me to the Carthage ER.  This shouldn't be too hard the Doc explained.....I don't think we'll need to numb it.  Being the macho guy I am I agreed.  I figured it would be pretty simple.  Fifteen minutes later after screaming and yelling like a baby he asked if I might want it numbed as it was a little more difficult that he imagined.  Revealing my true identity I hastily agreed.  It was another twenty minutes before he extracted the culprit.  One stich later I was patiently waiting for the next half hour to pass for the paper work to be processed so I could get back to work....but by then the day was pretty much over.

    While the P-Day trip may have been to Bonaparte and Bentonsport.....not to mention The Dutchman's.... we arranged it to pass through Eldon, Iowa,  a famous American site in search of our relatives.  It was a bonanza for all of us as we soon discovered our forefathers had been indeed friends.  We uncovered some early photographs....the resemblance is amazing.....don't you think?
The band played us a welcome and photobombed in the background from the porch...go figure!  I sure hope someone doesn't think this is our new missionary outfits and post it.....after all....I have a pitchfork and I am sure I can use it!
Missionary Gothic
Beecher, Gibson, Lindeburg

American Gothic
Gibson Style

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Are Gone....

                              ......But Not Forgotten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bathrooms to Barns.......

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

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

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

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

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

We are Rock Solid

We have found our way by following the Light of Christ

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