Monday, December 26, 2016

 Some Things Need no Explanation.......
           .............When your day starts at 5:15 a.m.
     Sister Gibson is having a great time in Conservation.  When she is not taking care of the missionary housing and accounting for all the pots and pans she is busy in her kingdom where there are endless rows of housing furnishings that are constantly being brought in and sent out depending on the missionaries needs. 
     Added to that is the responsibilities of the sites and all the work that goes into cleaning and counting of the artifacts that are in many cases original pieces that were crafted and used during the 1840's when the Saints were here.  This month has been especially busy.  It started out with the FM director wanting to  re-organize the sites, bring the "DO NOT TOUCH" pictures and descriptions up to date, and move things around to protect them.  There are always a lot of questions...but the answer is usually NO.  Then there are more questions.....finally last week the annual visit from the "artifact's specialist" took place......and with it more changes.
     Emily spent four days here and toured the sites with the FM director , Mission President, and the Conservation Team (Sister's Lee Master and Gibson) they talked about the artifacts and the dialogue that we present in the sites to explain things.  As always...there will be changes.  The most refreshing part, however, is that many of the items that were previously on the "Do Not Touch" list have been removed and this will allow the missionaries and visitors to have a more hands on experience and hopefully make their visit here more memorable.

Rendezvous with Sara Granger Cast.......
A Picture is Sometimes Worth a
                                                  Thousand Words
Sister Lowe, our ever patient and loving director, sent us a picture she took of our cast performing a couple of weeks ago.  I am not sure that she had a hidden message here, but for my part I found it hysterical.  As you can see we sometimes "play" to a less than full house.  But the show goes on.  One of our cast's played to one lone soul who didn't laugh and barely applauded....such is life.  Anyway, back to the picture....this is our opening number "Welcome to Nauvoo".  The object here is to focus on and connect to the "crowd" and greet them.   Judging from the picture it appears a few of us are a little distracted.....Focusing is difficult at this age.....President Hall refers to it as "Herding Cats"........and so the adventure continues.
It's Party Time......
     All of the missionaries were invited to President and Sister Hall's home for an open house.  To keep the numbers in proportion we were invited by our Rendezvous Cast.  It is a lovely home and we all had a great time talking and socializing.  We did learn that the Hall's have a grandson serving in the Taichung, Taiwan mission where are grandson Easton is serving.  His name is Elder Call and he has been their since October.  We are so proud of our missionaries, Easton and Kessie, who is serving in Wisconsin.   Their testimonies are a strength and source of immeasurable pride to us.  We love them so much and we continue to pray for them and ask the Lord's blessings to be with them and strengthen them.  Of course, then, we also pray continually for our entire family.  We miss and love them so much.

The Noah Packard House

      It occurred to me that I haven't said much about my current assignments in FM.  About two weeks ago I was asked to help the carpenters (those who do just about everything) with some of their projects.  During one of my "lulls" in the cabinet shop I worked with Elder Sims doing the demo work on what was known as "The Doctor's House" or the Shank has now been discovered to be the "Noah and Sophia Packard" house (of who we characterize in a vignette in Rendezvous).
Apparently he liked the way I swung the demo hammer and asked the Assistant Director if I could work with him.  Long story short....
     The goal is to provide an up to date residence, presumably for the on-site doctor, while somehow burying and trying to preserve the integrity of the old Packard house.  Under the direction of Marcus Allyn (Assistant to the FM director) we are charging  forward working around the poor construction of the previous additions, significant damage from a previous fire, evidence of termite infestation, and trying to shore up and support floors and ceilings.  Add into this the efforts to preserve a house that will be covered up and buried in the new is somewhat of a dilemma.  It is not my place to question and it would be a stretch to say I would do it the way we are directed (or if I would do something totally different like just restore the house and forget trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  There are those who know more the reason why.  We are obedient and follow the directions we are given.  It would be nice, however, to have some sort of plan so we didn't constantly have to ask what we can do and what we can't do.  Tearing off plaster, leaving lath, and then covering it with sheet rock is a unique approach.  It will undoubtably look great when the remodeling is complete. 

The Tradition Continues.....
                           ....The Christmas Eve Movie
     When things in our lives change.....we adapt.  Ever since the kids were young we have taken in a movie on Christmas Eve (back then it was to get out of the house that Sister Gibson had spotlessly cleaned). Our missionaries, Kessie and Easton, probably missed out but the rest of the family, even though split, made it happen.  We went with the Beechers, Hughes, and Lindeburgs and saw Rogue One (the one most of the adults would  like to have seen).  The Texas Gibson's went to Sing and the Utah Gibson's went to Moana.  It was the same and it was different.

A Mouse in the House......

                                             .....How Sweet it Is!
     Elder Lindeburg dropped by  and sent Sister Gibson into a tailspin as he proudly showed her (from a distance) a mouse he had corralled in his house.  As he proceeded to hand her the little critter she was extremely relieved to see it was a chocolate treat that the Lindeburgs make and pass out to friends.  1 large chocolate kiss, two large chocolate chips,  a maraschino cherry with a stem dipped in chocolate, and two frosting dabs bring the little guy to life.  Fortunately, this is the only mouse we have seen......let's hope it stays that way.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday in the Family Living Center

     The week began with our assignment to serve in the Family Living Center on the site.  The Center is comprised of several stations that tell of some of the skills and activities that would have been used and practiced by the residents of Nauvoo.  It is pretty much a show and tell site where visitors can actually see demonstrations of skills and trades that would have taken place during the period.  When there are few visitors, like our Sunday, then it is not near as exciting to be there.  But then, being who we are we did manage to investigate and Sister Gibson got right into rope making.  She made an eight foot rope and using skills that would have put any of my scouts to shame cut them into smaller pieces and whipped the ends so they wouldn't fray.  Those little ropes now adorn our Christmas tree in the apartment.  The barrel making demonstration is fascinating but it provide more of a picture opportunity rather than perfecting a skill.

Old Habits Die Slowly........
                     ....So Tree Making Lives On!!
     I can't exactly say the "Devil made me do it"!  But when my grand-daughter(s) called and wanted an instructional lesson on tree building I couldn't help myself and started plotting on how I could make trees in our tiny apartment.  It became quite a challenge to round up the necessary tools and supplies...we are still missing the cinnamon sugar shaker that helps in the production of a successful tree.  There isn't a lot of time to do these since we are both involved in our daily activities...not to mention that it is hard to drive around and find where people live.  We decided to keep it small and only do those who came with us in our MTC group.  Our first batch was three trees which we delivered in the Gibson tradition of being fresh out of the oven.  The results were predictable...the reports came back that they had only lasted twenty-four hours and no one would admit to eating the most.
         And Molly Leads the Charge........

Trail of Hope...The View to Montrose...
                                                                                 ......High +6.....Low -8
     After our quick (4hrs) shopping trip to Keokuk I dropped everyone off (no one else wanted to go) and I went down to the end of the "Trail of Hope" to look at the frozen wasteland of water between Nauvoo and Montrose.  This is not the view the Saints who were forced to leave Nauvoo faced would have seen.  The dam in Keokuk has  made a lake of where the crossing took place but the emptiness and bareness would have been the same and initially the river was not frozen over.  Only eleven wagons crossed on the ferry that first day.   I was alone in the cold as I pondered the effort and resolve that it would have taken for them to make this giant and was overwhelmed by the commitment required.  It was all I could do to hold the selfie stick for the picture.
      Jump ahead to December 18, 2016 there is 2" of snow on the ground and the temperature is 0.
All church meetings have been cancelled  and sites are closed today (Thank Heavens).  Need I say more? 

A New Village Arises......
     We made a stop at the Allyn House, a gift and souvenir shop on Mullholland (Nauvoo's Main Street)
I started spending money immediately when I found some reproductions of paintings by Al Rounds which thought would be great for the Apartment.  There is one in particular that I had wanted to get over the years that depicts a single woman pulling a handcart in the frozen wasteland of Wyoming.  It reminded me of Mary Carmichael Kelly (third great aunt) who was a part of the Martin Company. 
    Rounding the corner with a handful of pictures I ran into small replications of buildings here in Old Nauvoo.  I just couldn't resist myself.  Well, I could a little...I only bought the ones that we had visited so far.  So I am sure that by the end of the mission we will have bought the whole set.  Adding to the set were some small trees we pick up a WalMart.  I can envision bigger and better things for next year.  Maybe a wagon train on tracks?  Remote controlled handcarts?

And a Tree is Decorated....
    We have pretty much completed the decorations on our gi-hugious 4' tall Christmas tree.  We keep adding the daily items from the Advent Decorations hand painted by our lovely grand daughters Molly and Elle.  The G on the top is a gift from the Texas Gibson's. I'm sure Eric hand picked it along with the other gifts that were sent.  The cards and letters were appreciated.  Thank you Kristin!  I love the picture as it makes it look like a real tall tree.  It is a bright spot in our home as we are missing the this time of year with our family.  I hope they understand the importance of this sacrifice.  We love them all.  They are all so special.

Monday, December 12, 2016


 The Christmas Nativity


One of the highlights of the beginning of the Christmas Season here in Nauvoo is the live nativity
which is performed in the Visitors Center by the missionaries.  It was well done and included singing and narration and was a great prelude to the annual Church Christmas devotional.  Rather than being only a Bible narrative it also included what was happening on the American Continent with the signs and prophecies that are included in the Book of Mormon.   Our good friends, Elder and Sister Hughes were Joseph and Mary and Elder Beecher provided a great solo with his baritone voice booming throughout the theater.  Elder Lee Master is shown portraying Nephi in his tailored leopard skin outfit.  Sister Gibson is working with his wife in the Conservation Department.

       Is there a Dentist in the house??'s Zach the Rescue!!
      It's pretty much a given that while serving a "senior mission" that things are going to break down.   That being said this is apparently the year of the bad tooth. Sister Gibson put us through the test requiring urgent care just prior to our leaving for Nauvoo.  So when  a piece of tooth popped loose when eating a peanut butter sandwich it required a trip to the dentist.  There are no dentists in Nauvoo so the mission referred me to Max Roddefor, who practices in Hamilton, about 14 miles South down Highway 96.  Not to my surprise it turns out that it would require a root canal and crown.
When my scheduled appointment time arrived Max is not going to be in the office but his son Zach would be there to do the job.  As you can see....Zach is a little older than a teenager, and looks like one.  He assured me he had graduated Dental College and has plenty of experience....since August.
I guess he had to practice on someone....just as well me...after all I am on the Lord's mission ...everything should be far so good, and everything looks like it is going to work out well.  Hail to our youth!
It's  Show Time................

      The Editor and Relief Society President Debut
     On December 10, 2016 the first issue of our Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo performance with  Elder and Sister Gibson making their debut performing their Editor and Relief Society President roles.  It was a mystical performance.  Sister Gibson was marvelous in her lines and he performance was fantastic.  As for the rest of the cast.......well that was what I might call very interesting...
Not only was it our debut but it also included the Hughes doing a vignette called Peter and Abagail. 
And that's when things began to fall apart...(not to spoil the plot..but things work out fine in the end.)
It took three tries to get the first take of our scene with the  Hughes... while practicing people kept interrupting and  not  being where they were supposed to. In addition  it was Elder Mortensen's 81st birthday and his eighty yearl old wife was going "all out"  preparing for the cast celebration during the performance.  Well.....she got into it to the point that she showed up very late....missed two of her lines and Sister Gibson had to stand in next to Elder Mortensen and pose as his wife in the Noah scene.  I was doing great..... rattling off my editor lines,  feeling pretty good about was much better than I expected......even got some audience response which is most times difficult to get.  I finished one of my sequences and moved to the back of the Cultural Hall in preparation for my entrance from the rear.  Sister Lowe, our patient and loving director, was immersed in problems with the back stage sound system which was causing problems for the others before they came on stage. She was so busy in fact, she didn't notice the newbie editor (me) was jumping a scene ahead and in the wrong place....even thought I was next to her.....these oversights would effectively end  the show without one of the vignettes....ooops!   I charged down the I, shooting off lines and finished the entire monologue before I even realized what had happed.  There I was sitting in a stupor...
There I sat contemplating my fate and imagining the chaos I had caused for the cast and the show.   So, I thought, I will go back and do the intro to the scene I skipped and somehow tie it into the last scene....somehow, some way......IT WORKED!!
     Things were going to be all right after all.....Nope!  The last scene before the finale is called Willingly which is very dramatic and special.  All of the men are on stage holding (fake) rifles and join in singing a very moving song.  How it happened no one really knows..... but we ended up skipping an entire verse and standing like dead lumber on the stage.  The others marched off the stage leaving me to figure out what to do with the rifle I wasn't supposed to have and  conclude the scene with the "editor's" final words...before the entire cast returns for the finale.  I fumbled through placing the rifle, gave my last and moving monologue and exited through the rear doors. Fortunately it seemed to work and the show finally ended with the cast meeting in the cast room and eating Sister Mortensen's lavish spread for Brother Mortensen's birthday.  I can hardly wait for Sister Lowe's review when we next meet.....
     Sister Lowe is indeed a Saint of the highest level and should be given a free pass for her work with all the senior "actors" here.  Patience is indeed her virtue!!!!  Some weeks are better than others....this wasn't one of the better ones.  I hope she has forgiveness in her heart for me....which I know she will.

Decorating the Tree......

               ....With Beautiful Advent Ornaments

     Around here you get a lot of surprises.  Most are of the kind you just don't want to get...say a "Golden Ticket" or maybe even a call to protect Main Street and man the barricades on The Christmas Walk.  But when we received a surprise package from our thoughtful daughter-in-law Mindy it is always a welcome surprise.  She sent us Advent Christmas Ornaments for our "small but humble" tree.  Not only that, the were hand decorated by two of our many special grandchildren, Molly and Elle.  So every day now we read the story and  put the ornament on the three.  It is always a special part of the day. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Golden Ticket Wasn't.

    ..A Ticket to Heaven

      For the last two weeks we have been spending a lot of time together trying to work up a lesson the first six chapters of Ether that would not entail the use of crayons, pencils, rocks, flashlights, glued together dishes with holes in the top or bottom, or make shift provisions (treats)we had previously used primary, Sunday School, or Youth lessons but did include something that would keep the majority of the Senior Missionaries awake.  Now that's a challenge!!! Marilyn and did a spectacular job but she assured me that this was the "last" time she was going to do something like that.  As for me everyone said I did a wonderful job and they appreciated my "interesting perspective."   I am not sure what that all meant but I felt good about the lesson....I remembered my time at teaching Gospel Essentials with fondness,  but I don't think I have ever, or will ever, teach Gospel Doctrine.  We"ll least we cashed in one Golden Ticket and we are not planning on any more for a long time.

Love Around the Lamp Post......

On Thursday we traveled over to Carthage to sing Christmas Carols around the town square with 15-20 other Senior Missionaries.  It really marked the beginning of the Christmas Season for us and it also marked the beginning of the shopping season for the merchants in Carthage.  It is really quite surprising the difference between Carthage and Nauvoo,  It is surprisingly bigger with shops, stores and many different places to eat.  Nauvoo, on the other hand, only has 1 small market, a few souvenir shops, and 1 full time café that will probably shut down for a couple of months.  They had carriage rides around the square as well. you can see, the best part of the whole caroling  experience was spending time with my sweetheart.
One of my thoughts as we prepared to serve was that we would once again have the opportunity to spend time together and grow even closer.  It has been just that!!
                .......Christmas Caroling in Carthage

Farewell to the Old........

......Good Luck to the New
   Friday night marked the last performance for Elder and Sister Blair as the Editor and the Relief Society President.  We will take over their roles starting next Saturday.  When we first got here he was known as President Blair (1st Counselor in the Mission Presidency. While he appeared to be a little on the "stuffed shirt" side.  Once he was released from the presidency, pending his release, I soon learned to love and appreciate him.  He and his wife are kind and loving people and his portrayal of the editor is one to emulate and strive to live up to.  He was kind enough to even give me his famous watch that tells the editor it is "show time".  Sister Gibson will become the new Relief Society President.  She will be quick to remind the Editor it is time for her meeting to start.  And no.....there will not be any refreshments served for the Editor.
    A Christmas Walk to Remember......
                         ...I'm Sorry...You are NOT the Exception                             
     The Christmas Walk is set up to encompass several sites with activities. While the event is in Old Nauvoo, it is meant to draw as many people from the city as well as the surrounding areas.  It is similar to Bootiful Nauvoo at Halloween but it doesn't draw as many free candy but there are free cookies and horse  wagon rides.    I was asked by Elder Berry to help him with the parking and as such it was my "privilege" to stand in front of the barricaded street and direct all traffic from Main Street so the horses and carriages would have free rein on the street.  Sounds easy enough....until you realize that the message of  "Main Street being closed" hasn't been parlayed to the missionaries who were told they could park in the parking lot accessible from main street so they could go to their assigned sites and fulfill their important callings.  I did not make any new friends that night...but I did stand firm!  The retired fire chief from the Jackson Hole Airport especially found my firmness and resolve annoying.

The Trail of Hope........

                                 .....On to a New Beginning

     We often get assignments.   This last week we had assignments to clean the Stake Center on Saturday morning  (at 7:00 a.m) as well as clean the plaques along the Trail of Hope.  Sister Gibson was her best self as she cleaned away on the kitchen and left it clean with her usual thoroughness.  I was their dutifully following orders and keeping out of her way.  We will have this assignment for the remainder of the month.....along with many other missionaries from the Zone.
    I took to the trail which is about a half mile long down Parley Street that leads to the Mississippi River where the Saints crossed the river and left the United States heading into the plains.  It was a great reminder as I cleaned and read the plaques along the way which contain journal entries of those who crossed and in a small way depict the hardship that was befalling them.

   Sunday at John Taylors  
            ....Watching the Snow Fall   
     Sunday we woke up to Nauvoo's first snowstorm of the year.  It was bad enough worrying about this?  It was about time but we just didn't expect it.  After surviving the teaching experience we moved on to our Sunday assignment which was the John Taylor home.  It had been a very sparse week for visitors here and so we really weren't expecting much if any traffic.....although it would have been nice.  I did get to shovel the walks around the site and then spent an hour or so walking around in front of the building reciting the editor lines.  I've got them down pretty well but there is still the unknown of what happens when I hit the stage...will I remember what to say when
I look into Sister Gibson's beautiful eyes and she pours out her lines to me?  For the record they are
"Meeting?......What meeting?............So it is. 
     We did get one convert couple that arrived about 4:45 and we gave them a tour and explained a little about John Taylor and his house and life here in Nauvoo.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Come Ye Thankful People Come.....
While we missed our family and the chaos that goes with it we found comfort in a small gathering of The Nauvoo missionaries  as well as the Temple missionaries as we gathered in the Pageant Building.  We had a great meal and spent the afternoon having a great meal.  Of course, we are missionaries, and so as the saying goes....There is no rest for the wicked....and of course the righteous don't need any...So we spent the day working at our assigned venues doing what we were assigned to do.  It was amazing how many families came out to visit and the sites were  busier that I thought they would be.  And it certainly was better that sitting around moping about what we didn't have rather than what we did.  I am sure it was extremely hard on Sister Gibson as this was the first time in her life that she wasn't with family...but she was a trooper and didn't complain.
So you all family is the best and even though we weren't together we still felt their love. I hope they felt ours.

The Light of the World....
Two Hours and We Have Successfully Completed the Project
Maybe we needed more help?

With the sun setting on Thanksgiving we now turn our efforts to Christmas.  Our first project was to set up the display for the live nativity in the Visitors Center.  As you can see we have plenty of help to accomplish any task here.  Did anyone know what we were doing..No!  But we had plenty of help and got through it.  All we knew was that we were to get the parts from the barn near the Browning Gun Shop in the upper floor.  We loaded up what we thought went and took it to the V.C.  Some stayed....some went back.  Eventually we started putting it up when one of the Elders noticed a small fur ball nestled in the backdrop...about the size of a small pine cone.  At first we thought it was a dead critter like a mouse...then again it looked like it was breathing...after further inspection it turned out to be bat....
This Bat wasn't in the Belfry....
Elder Berry and the Bat
(Elder Berry is wearing the hat)
The little critter was probably as comfortable as he could get until rousted from his secure place. The wing span was 16-18".  I was impressed.  I never knew they got that big....except for Dracula.   We placed in high up on a large tree branch thinking he would soon fly away....he was still there when we left.
     Next week we will be preparing for the Annual Christmas Walk down Main Street in Old Nauvoo.  There will be a tree lighting in the Visitors Center @ 5:45 followed by Horse Drawn Wagon Rides and 300 Luminaries lighting the street to the sites on Main Street.  And if you stop by the Family Living Center you will be treated to one of the 1800 cookies that the missionaries are baking for treats....There will be caroling and all the fun stuff that sets off the celebration.  The Visitors Center is the focal point with all things pointed toward the Savior and his birth as well as his mission.
Christmas Comes to Parley Street......

Sample Ornament
(And no....Christy's not our favorite..
or maybe she is)
      We are beginning to get the Christmas Spirit around here and do a little decorating.  One of the things we are wanting to do is a tree.  Sooooo anyone who might want to be a "little snowflake" on are humble but sincere tree needs to send us a digital picture that we can fit to the snowflake. 
     And in case anyone is wondering....I didn't even give a thought about the joy I was missing in not setting up the village....honestly....not one thought.  I know some of you will miss it.  If you have 40-50 hours and infinite patience I am sure you can make arrangements with The Gibson's to put it up and then take it down that takes another 20 or so hours and 100 trips up and down the stairs.   And, while were taking about what also might be missing......remember those Christmas Trees?  It's all the sacrifice we have to bear.

Cheers to you..........
Things are Warming up at the Gibsons
Just about the time the weather starts to turning dreary and sultry and it's getting colder every day a ray of sunshine is delivered to us in the form of hot cocoa, marshmallows, and two mugs.  Our sweet daughter-in-law Mindy sent us this care package to boost our enthusiasm and heat us up.  Our thanks go out to here for her kindness to us as well as all those who are offering prayers in our behalf.  It is such an experience to be here and participate in this great endeavor and share the gospel and our testimonies with those we come in contact with.

Armadillo to you....Josh Gardner
2009 Scout Camp Arches National Park
One of the life's unexpected paybacks came my way recently.  Josh Gardner, our neighbor since he came into life was recently was awarded his Eagle Scout Award.  What a great young man he has become!!
      He sent me a DVD that was played at the ceremony and along with it letter of appreciation for my role in his life as a neighbor and a scout leader.    Along we that he presented me with a Mentor Pin that the Eagle recipient, if he so desires, presents to someone who has helped him in life and Scouting.  I was so honored!!
    I continue to wear the Armadillo Pin and proudly explain the significance of it as well as my love for the boys that were in the Armadillo's with me and Brother Grill and Brother Andrus.  It was a great time.  In the event Josh sees this I hope he isn't embarrassed... It was one of the only pictures I had of him.

The Golden Ticket isn't For...........

                                                A Ride You Want to Take                              

Friday, November 18, 2016

     The View from Montrose.........              Week 8
       I thought I would begin this week by following up with our
visit to Montrose last week.  My new card reader for the CF card
arrived so all can see the beautiful view across the Mississippi
River from Montrose.  We looked forward to out upcoming visit with the Foley's with great anticipation...and that happened on Thursday.  We had a great rib dinner provided by the Beechers' and then talked for an hour or so before going off to Rendezvous.
    Since they other's at dinner were performing and needed to leave a little earlier we sat around and talked to the Foley's. They are very good people and have a strong belief in Christ and are very mindful of his hand in their lives.  While they only had two children of their own they have been foster parents to thirty five children and they shared their gratitude for being able to help in the lives of these young people who have been abused and neglected most of their lives. 
     Mike is also a very accomplished photographer and shared many of his pictures with us as well as gave us a poster he had made.  One of the pictures, "Nauvoo on Christmas Eve" was one that caught my eye.  In our first encounter I had asked him if I could purchase it.  It was disappointing that he didn't have one and really wasn't planning on getting any more made.  To my surprise, however, he had found one,
(actually two) and was willing to let me have it.  I was extremely grateful as it adds a beautiful touch to our small apartment.
     Rendezvous went well......there were no senior moments that night.

Christmas Comes to the Visitors Center...  
  ......and Guess Who's on the Ladder.....Again
     I hadn't even given a thought to the time we would again return home....until today.  It suddenly occurred to me that I will no longer have to be subjected to Sister Gibson's scrutiny when I want to put up the Christmas lights.  She has been training on high ladder experiences for the past two months so I will just get the ladder out and let her do it.  Of course that reverts back to what I have told people all along over the years..."The only person in the world that I know she has said NO to is me"
I guess I can always try the home teachers....Nope...that hasn't worked either.
     The FM ladies were given the assignment to put up and decorate the 20 foot tree that adorns the center of the Visitors Center.  So Sister Gibson is on board as usual.  What you don't see here is the man-lift (in this case..woman lift) that the sisters used to get to the top of the tree.  Some didn't volunteer, however (Sister Gibson). 
     In addition to that we are now starting to decorate around the house for Christmas.  We had a 4 foot tree that was left and Sister Gibson found and extra one (tall skinny kind).  It will be interesting see what we can do to get some sort of novel approach to decorations.

This is the Place.........
Northeast Corner of Munson and Hyde

     One of the first things that came to light as I researched the Joseph Stallings family history was that after he joined the church  he and his family eventually moved to Nauvoo where they lived for some time.  What I didn't know was that there was a way to find where he lived in Nauvoo.  There is a site in Nauvoo that is called Land and Records.  Here is where all of the records regarding Nauvoo have been accumulated and categorized.  We visited the office and the found information that led us to know exactly where the Stallings family lived when they resided in Nauvoo.

     It appears that he wasn't a land owner, rather he occupied the land with his family as a tenant.  The lot is on "the flats" and block east of Main Street and pretty much near the center of town.  The streets in Nauvoo were built in a North-South and East-West Grid (similar to the way Brigham Young laid out the streets of Salt Lake City).  For the most part the lots in the flats were one acre lots which allowed for the occupants to have a house, a large garden, and space for livestock.  During his time in Nauvoo he may have pursued one of his  known occupations; perhaps a gunsmith, shingle maker, or similar.  While he lived here he worked on building the temple as well as the Seventies Hall.  For his work on the Seventies Hall he was presented a stock certificate valued at $5.00.  He was here at the end when the Saints were forced out and he spent the next years in Iowa as he prepared to make the eventual journey west. 
     The log cabin on the lot is the William Fields cabin that I "Photoshop'd" in.  I am pretty sure he lived in a similar building.   I have a thought that this will be re-edited with us on the front porch some day.  We will also have the opportunity to honor him and his family's memory on February 4th as we do the annual commemorative walk down Parley Street and the Trail of Home to remember those Saints who were forced to leave Nauvoo in the dead of winter and leave the majority of their worldly possessions behind.
Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree.....

     The Sunday Site was the Webb Brother's Blacksmith Shop.  We never did get a confirmation that this was one of Brian's ancestors.  Sure would be cool if it was.  The day started out slow but ended with a rush.... I guess they heard Sister Gibson was there.  In the site we talk about Wainwrights(the wagon box and undercarriage builders), the Wheelwrights (wheel makers), and of course the blacksmith, who forged all things metal into workable objects.  The blacksmith heats and beats and iron rod into a small horseshoe which his presented to a lucky recipient ant the end of the tour.  As in all of the sites we relate the trade into a spiritual concept.  The are many to choose here but one of my favorites is the willingness of the people to pull together and follow Brigham Young's advice to prepare to leave Nauvoo.  It took great courage and obedience to follow his counsel to leave in the dead of winter. 
     One of my other favorite parts of the site is the "Legend of the Prairie Diamond".  It is a fun story to tell....especially if you have the right person in the crown. 
     We had several large families with lots of young children and it was so much fun to talk to them and explain the pioneers and their wagons to them.  We also talk about horseshoes and the size difference in horses as well as why the pioneers chose to use oxen rather than horses.

      To Quincy and Beyond........

     We made another P day trip to Quincy.  We visited the Museum again to view the touching video of the Mormon's expulsion from Missouri as well as went to the river where there is a monument to memorialize the event.  If it wasn't enough for the good people of Quincy to help in 1839 they did it again in September of 1846 when the remaining Saints were again forced out at gun and bayonet point.  Their plight was similar....and so was the help from Quincy as you can see in the notice. you can see in the is now considerably colder and the days of summerfall are over.......Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

Monday, November 7, 2016

   A Visit to Carthage                               Week 7
Elder and Sister Gibson at Carthage Jail

     We made our first visit to Carthage on Wednesday as a part of our site training.  Carthage is about 30 miles Southeast of Nauvoo.  Every Wednesday we have a mission training and it varies as to what we are instructed in.  In this case it was a tour of the Carthage Jail and Visitors Center.  This is part of the Nauvoo Mission and we have two couples permanently assigned there during the winter months and the number jumps to three and there are also several young single sisters added during the summer months.  It is a very unique and special place and has a very special feeling about it.  While there may be a tendency to feel melancholy and depressed over the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum there is also  a feeling of resolve to represent our beliefs and testimonies as we go about representing the Lord and his restored church.  It was surprising to learn of the jail and it's history and operation.  It was unique to say the least.  The jailer and his family lived there and fed the prisoners.  There is a part of the jail reserved as a "debtors" prison.  It held people who could not pay their debts until they could...sounds counter productive to me.  On the second floor is the actual "Dungeon Cell" which looks much like you would expect a jail.  What I didn't know is that the room in which the prophet and his fellow brethren spent the night and subsequently were attacked in was actually the jailer and his wife's bedroom.  Joseph, Hyrum, and the others were confined in the debtors cell.  As the mobs evil temperament increased on the day prior to the martyrdom, the jailer had suggested that they would be safer on the 2nd floor in his bedroom.  The following day he suggested that they might be safer in the dungeon cell but Joseph prevailed and they stayed in the bedroom.  That is why they were able to force the door open. 

     Rendezvous ....a Laugh a Minute

     Our adventures at Rendezvous continue and they are certainly worth writing about.  It is probable I won't be able to catch the depth and breadth of the moment, however.  We were still working out the "Whoa" on the carriage ride during the week.  With hope in hand we hit the stage....same driver...same result (horses, however, were prepared and did stop short of end of the scene)!  Last night we had the problem under control, or so we thought.  Now you have to understand that Rendezvous is done with little (and I mean, very little) rehearsal time.  So with a quick 30 second rehearsal the director put a new driver in the scene.  Trouble is...he can't hear the song because he is too close to the piano and has a hearing problem and is not wearing his hearing aids.  So he is driving without a was only the quick thinking a fellow actor who poked him a little late in the scene  that the horses stopped.  Whew!!
     And then there's Sister Gibson.  (She usually doesn't read this so I am probably safe in telling it...or not).  After we finish our second scene (Noah and Sophia) she is supposed to remain on stage with me and other cast members for a large cast number which features the Streets of Nauvoo.  At the end of that scene she is in another large scene, a short time later,  featuring the relief society sisters.  So as the curtain is pulled on the Streets number I realize (not that there is much I could do about it) that she and two other sisters are  not on the stage (can you say "Senior Moment?).  They were down in the cast room preparing for the Relief Society scene (wondering where the other sisters were).  One sister tried to make amends by charging down the aisle in the middle of the scene and join the cast on stage for the finale.
     Most all of you will have not clue as to what I am next going to explain.  It is sad but true....and if you live long WILL happen to you.  Our dear director tells me it is time to start rehearsing for my soon to arrive "editor" roll.  I am ready....but for what..... I don't know.  It is still pretty much "Ground Hog Day" where every day with the memorization of the script seems to be a new day.  I have now resorted to walking down the street, waving my arms in folksy gestures, and pointing wildly around as cars pass...I can only imagine what they are thinking.  Some days it is great...a flawless performance....some days it is read and reread and reread and rehearse and re-rehearse small scenes.  So my big moment arrives....and I primed.....confident....and mystified as a look and feel like a mule dear in the headlights of the oncoming car.  I know the words....I just can't find them...they are lost in the myriad of trash boxes in my mind.  After stumbling through our sweet director tells me it was fabulous.....I am going to do great.  (I think she has worked with old people too long and has a pretty low expectation factor)

A Trip to Zarahemla......
Divining the Graves of Zarahemla

       No....we did not take an unauthorized quick trip back to the Book of Mormon lands but rather spent a portion of our P-Day with and extraordinary couple, The Foley's who have lived their lives in Lee County, Iowa and where they have researched the Mormon Trail across Iowa.  It's safe to say he has devoted a major portion of his adult life to this undertaking.  We started our day in Montrose, IA which is directly west of Nauvoo on the opposite side of the Mississippi.  I would have like to started off with a picture of the restored Nauvoo Temple but CF card reader is not to be found so I can't provide a view at this time.  So along with a group of Saints who lived in Montrose at the time of the exodus there were also other colonies established in Iowa, even though it was referred to as Indian Territory and should have only been occupied by Native Americans or Half Breeds.  But, what the heck, there were developers who sold land they didn't own and even printed their own money.  It was the Wild Wild West and beyond belief.  A few miles east of Montrose is a colony that was named Zarahemla (It has been suggested that yes, this is the place).  Behind the last house on the road to Zarahemla is a graveyard containing the burial sites of many people.  There are a few, very few, remaining headstones and markers.
     Brother Foley then began teaching us the magic in the divining rods.  These are simple pieces of wire (clothes hangers, etc.) which when straightened out with a small handle to for an "L" and held loosely will reveal some of the earth's great secrets.  In  this case it can determine the trails of wagons, boundaries of buildings, and even find and determine information about gravesites.  Basically, when the wires are held loosely in your hands and you begin walking whenever there is a disturbance of depth and composition in the ground the rods will magically cross at the beginning and return to parallel at the end.  He has used this technique to map and determine the locations of campsites, trails, and graveyards.  In the picture you see posted we are standing in the graveyard in Zarahemla.  The stakes that are now planted their indicated gravesites and their width and length locations.  A two foot x six foot hole is usually and indication of an adult.  There are many, many, graves, however, that are 18" x three feet....indicating the many children who had died before reaching adulthood.

      And now here's the punch line....The Foley's have expended enormous amounts of time, resources, and effort into exploring the Mormon Pioneer Trail and the history of the towns and all the time acknowledging the hand of God in many of their endeavors in helping them in their lives and research......they are not Mormon's but rather Methodists.  We, and a few other couples who were with us, will be enjoying a dinner with them on Thursday and then we are going to take them to Rendezvous....fortunately there will be another cast performing.

You Just Can't Find Bakery........
The Scoville Bakery

         That Makes a Great Loaf of Wheat Bread
     Sunday, Sister Gibson and I spent the day in the Scoville Bakery.  It sits next to the Cultural Hall and here were not only show visitors and "old fashioned bakery" but we get to tell the story of Lucius Scoville and his family and testify of the blessings of the temple and that families are linked together eternally through covenants.  It was a surprising day and we expected, and had, only a few groups.  What was remarkable was that with one exception they were all members of other faiths that had come to Nauvoo.  This is not usually the case.  I especially enjoyed a group of six college students who were here on assignment to discover the "cultural side of Nauvoo".  It was a great opportunity to share the gospel and we encouraged their questions as we bore testimony of many truths as well as the Book of Mormon.  It reminded me of all the good times I had over the years teaching and explaining the gospel to my priesthood young men, young women and even the primary.  It is sad, to say the least, that I am not enjoying their company now.  They are the best.  The best question I am ever asked is "What is that funny silver thing on you lapel? looks like an Armadillo...or some odd animal"  Best boys in the whole world!!
     As for the picture caption.....if you like a good multi grain or whole wheat don't come around this area.  This is the corn capital of the nation.....not the great American  bread basket.  If you find a bakery they only make confections and rolls....good doesn't exist.  Fact is....the Great Harvest Bread Company or The Village Baker spoiled us.  And the bread baked in the Family Center, while entertaining, just isn't in the competition.  It is baked the way the 1840's folks baked it.
I will keep searching..............
Inside the Bakery....
"No pinching the buns here"