Sunday, October 30, 2016

What's That Hiding Behind The "Blue" Door

     The saga of bathroom door continued.  The paint was secured
and with great anticipation and the matching color was identified
as Tavern Table Blue.  Odd, I thought;  the door match is really green.  OK... it did look pretty close to matching.  I excitedly and hurriedly popped the lid and with brush in hand started stroking.  I sure hoped it dried green 'cause it looked really blue.  Maybe it would change as it got darker blue.  I proceeded anyway...what the least I would have a painted door.    I went back to the paint supplier....he was apologetic as his helper and accidentally made up and delivered "Town House Blue".  By the end of the week the cosmos was in order and the door was re-painted and lo and behold it is  now actually green.

Marilyn Gives the Prophet a Pat on the Back
                                          While Brigham Sees the Way West
     Marilyn continues to work on the cleaning of the statues in preparation for the winter season and to keep them looking 1st Class.  The statue of Brigham and Joseph stands at the end of Parley Street where the Saints "departed Nauvoo on a very cold February morning, in search of a place where we could plow our fields as we saw fit, worship as we want, and live our lives as we've a mind to" (One of the "Editors" lines for Rendezvous.) I hope it didn't spoil the plot for anyone.  She will continue on with this as long as the weather holds.  She has been blessed with an opportunity that suits her skills and mindset.  It's sad to know that sooooooooooo  maaaaaaaaaaaany harmless spiders and bugs will meet their demise at her hand.  RIP spiders...we won't miss you.

                        Welcome to Nauvoo........
       If there is ever a small reason to hold a party
it is enough.  We became the proud guests of honor when the cast of Sarah Granger threw one for us after our first temple night and visit to the Nauvoo Temple.  The temple was in and of itself breathtaking and amazing.  Understanding the efforts and sacrifice that made this temple possible is a humbling  experience.  I was honored to be here and feel of it's warmth and special feeling.  Thereafter, we went to a cast party social that was filled with fun and also a special musical night with dulcimer music from Sister Spradlin.  She had been playing for 4 months and is a very special and accomplished musician.  Her husband, when introducing her, listed her many talents that she had but was only the master of one in his mind....she was the best kisser he had ever met.  It reminded me of our courtship and that "special" first kiss.  I did miss hearing Susan Easton Black talk about Nauvoo and the Exodus at the Visitors Center.  She has a wealth of information on the early history of the church and is taking time to tell us of the Nauvoo and beyond years.

500 Pumpkins Waiting for a Face.....
                       And we get to clean them.......
     BoooooTiful Nauvoo is the annual Halloween celebration for the town of Nauvoo.  On Halloween night a five block length  of Main Street is transformed into a celebration of carved pumpkins sitting on hay bales that line the sidewalks.  The town grows from 1100 to Thousands and people come from miles around to view or participate in the festivities and parade.  What does that mean for the missionaries....not much we just sit around donating, organizing, and distributing 1100 bags of candy and thousands of bags of kettle corn.  It is a non-stop 2 day effort to get all of this ready.  And then
there is the matter of cleaning and carving, along with the towns folk, 500 pumpkins to line the streets with.  So we cleaned and cleaned during our time and filled several five gallon pails with the innards. 

It Seemed to Fit so................
                  I Jumped on Board to Build the "Crazy Wagon"
     It seemed like a good idea at the time when I signed up.  Like anything else it turned out to be a major project with abundant preparation and female supervision.  We decorated the horse trailer in no time flat and had it ready to roll.  I became the electrical engineer which required great expertise in stringing battery operated LED lights around the canopy.  They all worked great until the last one was done and then a couple of them failed.  Fretted over it for seconds, decided to get new batteries,
and we were back in business.  Marilyn worked with the women to put up the many layers of decorations to make the float look light a "million".  Elder Lindeburg posed in the picture with a pumpkin thinking we couldn't tell the difference. The next day it was on to the big parade.

Boo....Tiful Navoo Parade Crazy Wagon (and People)
    The sleepy little town of Nauvoo erupted into a sea of people as the celebration began.  I don't know where they all came from but I did find out that parking became a premium on the small narrow streets that were now lined on both sides. Two traffic lanes became one and no one knew which way traffic was going.  How fitting that traffic became a nightmare on Halloween.  The streets were a sea of people and the lines for free candy and kettle corn grew longer as the night progressed.
Adding to the mystique were two performers who were on the balcony of the Zions Mercantile Store as they serenaded the crowd with beautiful renditions from the Phantom of the Opera. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

      This Week in Nauvoo........   
      started out with a couple of "firsts" (in a long time)   It was Stake Conference and I actually went......and actually enjoyed most of it.  There was a great talk by the 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency about "Little Things Matter"  If I understood the Spanish part of it correctly the word for sin is "pecar"  while the word for fish is "pescar".  He detailed an early experience he had  as a young  Spanish speaking missionary about explaining to the investigators about the atonement.  He started out explaining  that little children could not sin...unfortunately he used "pescar" rather than "pecar".  So he was preaching that little children could not fish.  The confused investigator inquired why and he got it even deeper explaining that Christ did not "fish" either.....but the apostles did.  He then proceeded to detail many other things to illustrate "little things matter".  Then, a recently converted couple shared their conversion story and how they had been brought to Keokuk without even seeing the house they bought...they just wanted to move somewhere different.  If you didn't know any better they sounded like they had been faithful convert members for years.  
     Marilyn spent Monday at the Family Living Center which shows off a lot of pioneer crafts.  She sewed quilts (wouldn't Grandma Nance be proud), sewed material for rugs, and best of all, baked a loaf of pioneer bread in an oven fired by a wood fire.

1200 Miles to Get her to Bake
                                     A Loaf of Bread.......

                ........ And She Does it In a Brick Oven

     Meanwhile I got to put on my official Nauvoo FM shirt and my beloved Levi's and made my way down to FM to get my official orientation.  Three hours later I had keys to my FM truck that has rattles and squeaks from every which way as well as a knob to roll up the windows.  Good thing it's only meant to get around Nauvoo in (I hope).  Amazingly the powers that be were inspired to place me in the cabinet shop.  I had heard so many great things about it I was excited to go there.  Unfortunately there was no one there.  Lon, who is the paid church employee, and in charge of it was taking the day off and the other Elder who had been working there was packing to go home.  I rushed home and the "Great Bathroom Door" caper was begun.....and we will just leave it at that.

     Dressed in Our Finest Blues.........

                                        .........It's off to 7:00 a.m.

     Tuesday began our work day together as we fought for bathroom time to get ready.  And yes....
Marilyn can actually get up and function quite well at 5:30.  She went off to work in what is called the "Conservation Department".   Basically it includes a lot of great things.  Today's was loading up ladders, soap pails, scrubbers, and buckets as she went off to clean some of Nauvoo's fine statuary that is a favorite home for spiders and resting places for birds.  It's a dirty somebody has to do it. 
     I actually got to work as Lon was back from his vacation.  The man is an incredible guy and has specialized in 1800 restoration work in between his stints as a retired career army officer.  He not only brings expertise but also vast array of specialized tools.  There is a wealth of knowledge here and he uses it as the restoration of the restoration is a continuing process.  One of my projects for the day was to restore drawer runners to an contemporary piece of bedroom furniture. (Sounds isn't).  The highlight of the day was grinding off 200 coping saw blades  and cutting 3" pieces of 1/2" dowels that I will get to assemble and make the pumpkin carving knives for the Bootiful Nauvoo celebration that will be held by the city.  Eventually they will be used to carve some 500 pumpkins that will line the main street and thousands come from the nearby communities to participate in the festivities.  The end of the week brought me actually building a vanity countertop.
All told I can always look forward to next week.  It looks like we actually  have a 2 vanity cabinets to build and who knows what else.
    You Just Never Know.......

                     "Older Faces" from the Past
    Another one of the pleasant surprises of Nauvoo is faces from my past.  Darrell Moench lived around the corner on Devereaux Way and Barbey Drive.  His wife, Nancy, was my sister's best friend growing up.  They are here, having arrived six months before us, and a currently doing a vignette in the Rendezvous production as George and Agatha.  They are gifted performers and are very talented.
If things continue as planned we will be appearing together in the vignette....which should be a lot of fun.  They are currently assigned to Carthage and spend most of their time either there or travelling back and forth to Nauvoo.

                 A Night on River Road.........

                  Jammin' with Nagel's and Tuiafua's
     If you go north out of Nauvoo on the  River Road (which is pretty much 4 miles of bumpy dirt), and don't worry about the dead end sign at the first, you will pretty much come to the end of the road and find the "round" house.  Waiting at the door we found the Tuiafua's with a big "Aloha" and the evening just gets better and better.  The Nagel's, who will be going home in a couple of weeks wanted us to meet these wonderful people before they left so they put together a "pot luck" dinner.  Sister T took us around and showed us the most unique house that she had designed.  I couldn't do it justice to explain the uniqueness  of it.  It is about a 300 yards on a hill  that overlooks the Mississippi River.
The main windows face west and the sunset view is to say the least "amazing".  The dinner conversation was fantastic and the next thing I know Nagels and Tuiafuas are pulling out all sorts of instruments and the "jamming" began. It started out with Amazing Grace and ended with On The Road Again and the gamut in between was amazing.  If you look at the picture you will see their vast array of instruments.  What you don't see is a large pump organ that she brought in and refurbished it up to speed.  The trees she brought in as well as many other unique features.  It was like being surrounded by the warm fuzzies and a great experience.  It seems we were having so much fun that we failed to notice Brother T sitting at the table hovering over a Scrabble game.  Seems that, what we didn't know, was that he and Sister T play every night before they retire.....I think he wanted to retire.
He was there for a while before we caught on and said our good-byes.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

               Act 1.......Scene 1...
                                     ........It's Showtime
     The highlight of the week was our stage, singing, and speaking debut on the "Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo" musical stage performance that is held nightly in the Old Cultural Hall on site.  We were so spectacular that a second show was necessary to follow the first.  Due to the extreme schedules and site requirements rehearsals are non-existent. Our instructions include: Here's the script, here's where you stand, sing loud, smile......don't smile, make eye contact with the audience...don't make eye contact.....stand here....or maybe there...OK it's show'll do great!!  We did.  We had a minimal role in one vignette where we only had to learn a few movements and echo the previously spoken words.  Marilyn, on the other hand,   had a small speaking part.....she knocked 'm dead!!!
     "I'd be surprised if she were....Parley Street and Hyde haven't been the same since the Ashby's and Snows decided to build that duplex"  Since we perform every third night we will not see the stage again until Monday.  There are so many couples departing this week that the stage production is in a state of constant flux as the director scrambles to work with the existing casts.  There are three separate casts that perform.  Emma Hale, Lucy Mack, and Sarah Grainger.  We are in the best one.....Sarah Grainger.  One of the cast members had a birthday and we learned that when it's your birthday you get to provide a big food spread for the cast....WOW!....what a treat. 
     As for my part, well......I'm going to be the editor of the Nauvoo Neighbor.....the small public journal that is devoted to the kind of people that lived in Nauvoo....basically he's the guy who fills in between scenes, the thread that holds the whole piece together,  and pieces the stories (vignettes)  together....It's going to be a great challenge since it requires so much memorization.  I feel like the Bill Murry character in "Ground Hog Day".  Every day feels like a blank page that I get to start over. Marilyn is preparing for her future roll as the "Relief Society President" ("just on stage", she interjects)  
           The Proof is in the Printing.......

                           She isn't the Editor....Just the Printer

     One of Marilyn's site days this week was at the print shop.  Here in Nauvoo there is a replica print shop depicting the printing of The Times and Seasons as well a the Nauvoo Neighbor.  She learned to explain the printing process and delightfully shows off the "casket" which is the final resting of the paper before it is committed to print.  The paper would have to dry for 24 hours.  The process was lengthy and complicated but they could print 650 copies of week.  The print was placed in by hand and was upside down and backwards.   The Times and Seasons was devoted to the church and it's history.  The Nauvoo Neighbor was more the town newspaper.
     This was the last week I was supposed to be scheduled for work on the sites and looked forward to moving over to the Facilities Management to use his carpentry skills.
To my great surprise he was scheduled again for site work...RED FLAG...RED FLAG.  It was a problem that was easily after he brought it to the attention of the mission schedulers,
Mission Presidency, FM supervisor, and any one else including dogs, cats and squirrels that would listen.  The error was quickly fixed and the cosmos was returned to order.  Marilyn, however, was in for a little tilt on the anxiety scale.  Her sweet personality made such a hit with the FM manager that he called her in and called her to be the secretary of the FM Department to replace the sister who was leaving in three days.  Even though she expressed some concern over her high anxiety and total lack of computer skills (a big must for the job) she took to the task like a bulldog.  After one   hour on the job she was thrilled to be transferred to the conservation department of FM.  This will be great as we will both have pretty much the same schedules although she will miss her time learning all the stories involved in the sites. 
      Our Future Lies in the West.......

................While our Present Lies in Nauvoo
     Marilyn and I took a walk around Old Nauvoo on Sunday since it was such a beautiful day and there are likely to be very few of those left until the winter months hit.  At the bottom of Parley Street is, among other interesting things, a statue of Brigham Young being instructed by the Prophet that the Saints future will be in the Rocky Mountains to the West.  As for my site work this week I served the Jonathon Browning Home (yes it is the same Browning that is associated with premier fire arms), Riser Boot, and the Webb Brothers Blacksmith shop.  With each site new skills and stories are learned as we intertwine them the spirit to provide not only and educational but a meaningful message that will touch the lives of those it is given to.  There is a great emphasis to "bring others unto Christ".  Hopefully our message will touch those who are prepared to hear it. 

While on the walk this view of the temple appeared and it just seemed appropriate to end with.  This is a great place and we are having a wonderful time.  We miss you all and love you.


Sunday, October 9, 2016


     On Monday we began training which lasted the entire day.  Most of it was spent on mission procedures, guidelines, and disappointingly enough.....RULES. It became our "first vision" of the mission experience.  The main theme was that we were going to be very busy and would soon look like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.  After catching the "first vision" of our future we were treated to a horse drawn wagon ride around "Old Nauvoo"  While we had previously enjoyed our own self guided tour it was great to get an educated view of what we had seen. What wasn't so exciting was on-stage audition.  I have never, ever, ever, in my life sung a public solo.  And to my knowledge, neither has Marilyn.  So we kept that intact and were allowed to sing a duet.  She covered for me was "I am a Child of God".  We went to "Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo" for the first of many times during the week and were excited to see which of the three casts we would be assigned  to.  We got in the best one, Sara Grainger (simply because we were in it). Apparently our enthusiastic director, Sister Lowe, is hearing impaired as she is "happy" to have us on stage.  And my loud voice must have resonated as my understudy role for the next two months will be "The Editor" or narrator.  No solo's yet...thank heavens!!!   Marilyn will use her vast organizational skills in being cast as the "Relief Society President".
Nauvoo Visitors Center
"The First Vision"

     Tuesday was our first day on the job at the sites.  We got us, dressed in our site clothes and headed with the enthusiasm of a five year old going to kindergarten. My first site was the Riser Boot Shop.
I learned and told the story of George and Christianna Riser and their journey to Nauvoo and Mormonism and the founding of the Riser Cheap Boot Shop.  It appears he became the Wal-Mart of shoes in Nauvoo and employed several journeyman shoemakers.  It is a tale of desire, faith, the power of the Priesthood, and dogged determination as they lived and were blessed by the prophet personally.  I learned and then demonstrated  how shoes and boots were crafted in the 1840's.
     My other assignment was The Brickyard, where we explained the brick making process in Nauvoo and the permanency of bricks.  We are always mindful of the life and spiritual lessons which can be woven into our presentations as well as the promptings we may get.

Riser Cheap Boots
     Marilyn, on the other hand, started out at John Taylor's home, then Lucy Mack Smith's home and also served in the Print Shop teaching folks the art of type setting as it was done in the early Nauvoo publications The Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor.  The stairways to the upper floors are particularly steep and she made note of twenty eight trips up and down the stairs in the John Taylor Home.  She is a trooper and is plowing on.  The Lord has been good to her and blessed her with the ability to do these things as she once wondered if it were possible.

      Thursday was our first real Prep Day.  It started out with an FM interview with the site superintendent, Jordan Bodily.  It was mainly for me to get and idea of my skills and experience before placing me on a crew.  He was particularly interested that Marilyn had such a high degree of expertise and enthusiasm for weeding dandelions....who knows.....she may have a new calling come spring.   It was then another trip back to the sewing room for a final fitting for Marilyn's  cast dress.  It seems as there is a great deal of coordination for the cast clothing....could fool me.  The men all wear the same black vest, pants, white shirts, black shoes, and red ties.  They also carry the same looking gun in one of the scenes. 
     We took a ride to Burlington, IA.  There we found things that we would have never found in was a great trip.  Returning we unloaded an went for a walk around the nearby lake.

The vegetation and forestation that surrounds us is incredible.  It is a different world that we are used to.  We had a great time as we explored the forest and it's abundant trails.  After attending Church, which incidentally starts at 7:50,  We were blessed to serve together Sunday afternoon in the Lucy Mack Smith Home.  I was so impressed at how well she was able to present her message to the many people who visited us this day.  I am sure she made a impact on many.  The home was designed for one family but when it was occupied by Lucy Mack Smith and her daughter Lucy and her family it was turned into two residences.  Mother Smith (Lucy Mack) remained on the bottom floor while Lucy's family, her husband and two young daughters occupied the two rooms on the upper floor.  The stairs in this house are incredibly steep and once at the top, when nightfall came, the stairway opening on the top floor was sealed off by a platform on a hinge.  Quite ingenious but awfully tricky at times.

Monday, October 3, 2016

AND AWAY WE GO........
Elder/Sister Gibson, Elder/Sister Lindeberg, Samuel Smith, Elder/Sister Hughes

     Our last two days at the MTC were directed to our role as Visitors Centers or Sites Missionaries. They apparently didn't get the memo I was going to FM.  :).  We went to the Salt Lake Temple North Visitors Center where, after some confusion (seems to happen a lot to us) we were taken on a brief but impressive presentation directed by the Sister Missionaries.  When we finally caught up to the group they left to do what we had done and we received a brief presentation on our role.  The afternoon  and morning of the next day were spent in instruction and role playing.
By now our engines were revved up to maximum RPM's and we were ready to get on the road.  Our instructor indicated that the morning session would end early and the afternoon session would start late and that if anyone wanted to get "on the road" it would be fine.  Enough said!!!!  After a quick picture with Samuel Smith, the Restored Church's first missionary,  and our Nauvoo Group (minus the Sims,who unfortunately had to deal with the unexpected death of  Sister Sim's sister), We hit the road.
     The journey to Nauvoo began the longest road trip ever  for either one of us.  We left out the part about having Willie Nelson serenade us with "On the Road Again" as a prayer seemed more appropriate.  We occasionally broke out in singing the songs we had been practicing for the Rendezvous performance we would soon be a part of.  Looking over the bleak expanse of Wyoming we plowed on to Rawlins where we spent the night.  The next morning we hit the road and finally crossed over into Nebraska where the scenery changed from desolation to corn fields and flat prairie roads. We spent Thursday Night in Lincoln, NEB.  Friday, with the goal in reach we "plowed" on into Iowa and headed SE to Nauvoo.  We crossed the toll bridge ($2.00) at Ft. Madison, IA into Illinois in mid-afternoon.  Fifteen minutes later we were in Nauvoo in awe.  We had made it!!!  We were here!!!
     We checked into the old Nauvoo House which was now christened the Hotel Nauvoo  and stayed in room #7 which was slightly larger than our small bedroom in the apartment. At least it had a bathroom in the room.  After enjoying the great buffet (don't miss this...because there is no better place to eat in Nauvoo) we took off to see the temple grounds.  Sister Cook, the mission secretary, to us to be at the temple for a beautiful sunset.  Not wanting to pass this arrival moment we were there as the sun slowly began to set across the Mississippi.
The Gibson's arrive in Nauvoo

       We were honored to be here.  It was a long awaited dream and we felt relieved to be here.  Putting my skills with a selfie-stick to use we immortalized the moment.  The highlight of the evening was just beginning to unfold as the sun dipped lower.  We were very touched as it created a powerful backdrop for the statue of Joseph and Hyrum that depicted the beginning of their journey to Carthage where they would ultimately be martyred.  Consider the power and moment as this statue of Joseph and Hyrum depart Nauvoo in the sunset of their lives and how powerful their legacy has been upon those who have felt their strength and testimony.

          Friday we arose and began exploring the city and it's venues prior to our 11:15 meeting with President and Sister Hall.  As we walked around we could feel a very special feeling.  The reality of being here was settling in and we were in awe that this had really happened.  It is the beginning of a new chapter for us.  We started out as a young couple and for three years it was just us.  It was new and exciting.  Forty-nine years later we again, in a small sense, are alone and on our own.  It is interesting and powerful how we now feel and how much we need to rely on each other for spiritual and emotional strength.  We have a whole new feeling, outlook, and excitement about our adventure here.  One thing is for certain....we are here and we are going to enjoy every possible moment of it as we face new opportunities and experiences together.
     Our meeting with President and Sister Hall brought additional insight to the sacredness and divine guidance that has brought us here.  As expected I was called to serve in the FM (facilities management) and Marilyn was called to work on the sites.  Since this was General Conference weekend President Hall indicated that our training would begin in earnest on Monday with a full
day of training.  We then headed out to our assigned apartment and unpacking, organizing, and shopping to prepare for the coming days.
     We were assigned to "The Village Inn #5" which is on the "Bluff over looking the flats of Nauvoo".  It is a beautiful setting on a hill that is surrounded by so much greenery it is impossible to describe.  To the east is the Nauvoo State Park which is maintained by the state and has numerous camping facilities.  Deer and wildlife are abundant and we see them almost daily.  The birds on the river never cease to amaze us as to the number and species we can see.  The early saints worked hard to indeed make this a beautiful city and special place.  Their spirit remains and is felt!!!