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"


Sunday, November 6, 2016

I'm With You, Jed!!.......
Man #3 (Elder Gibson) and Jed (Elder Norman) 
     And with that I opened my mouth on the Rendezvous stage for the first time.  The complete line is: "I'm with you Jed, and there are others who feel the same way.  Let's go find them."  Fortunately cooler heads prevail and the Mormon's leave Nauvoo willingly rather that take up arms to defend themselves.  One of my fellow cast members praised me as offering it in a "robust" manor. I think he was tactfully telling me that I was loud.  Jed is Elder Norman who lives across the mountain from Eden in the Cache Valley.   
     But that wasn't the high point for the night at Rendezvous.  It got even better where we were performing our Streets of Nauvoo number.  There is a part in the song that has a buggy ride in it, set to the upbeat melody.  Two of the sisters act like they are being bounced around on a rough buggy ride while a driver spurs on two missionaries who are bent over acting as horses and pumping their arms for legs.  Works great until the driver forgets to tell the horses "Whoa!!"  What happens next is the song ends with the Sisters and Elders (horses) continuing  their roles oblivious to everyone else who is moving on to the next scene.....It looks like we have a stampede on our hands......what could be worse?........Well you could be one of the horses!!. 

Sister Gibson Polishes the Prophet.......
                  As Joseph and Hyrum nod Their Approval
     Continuing on the cleaning and polishing the many statues here in Nauvoo, Sister Gibson and Sister Lee Master finally were delegated some help.  So they used them wisely and let them hold the ladders while they climbed to the top and adorned Joseph and Hyrum with polish.  This is one of the last statues they will be cleaning for the fall season and they have been really fortunate as the weather here in Nauvoo has been spectacular and unseasonably warm.  The statue they are working on sits in front of the temple and directly behind the narrow tree line in the picture is the mighty Mississippi.  This is a depiction of Joseph and Hyrum as they left Nauvoo for their impending deaths.

       I Shutter to Think.........
                                                           ................My First Project

     Well, it's been three weeks in the cabinet shop and I have spent most of it trying to find the tools for the small projects I have been assigned.  We have plenty of good tools....I just can't find them!
The middle of the week brought my first assigned project.  Elder Bass had started building some shutters for the Heber C. Kimball home but he was burdened with other duties...not to mention a small amount of difficulty on a couple points in building them.  So I volunteered to step in and help.
Around here we don't go to the lumber store.....we go to the tree.  After it is harvested and cut into workable slabs we then joint, surface, and mill the lumber for our projects.  It's kind of like the kid who doesn't understand where bacon comes from (the case you are wondering).  After all that then we can began building.  As you can see I was successful in building the shutter.  Used the wrong rails (too long).....but built the shutter....back to the beginning.  It was a great learning curve.  Don't trust what others have left you.

            A Sunday Afternoon.....
                                                     At Brigham's

     Sunday afternoon Sister Gibson and I got to spend time together in the Brigham Young home.  In doing so we tell visitors about the history of the home as well as relate analogies that help build and inspire others to "Come unto Christ" and feel his spirit.  In this case we tell of the influence of a church member who was very unpretentious and without eloquence and yet it was through his testimony that the Holy Ghost testified to Brigham.  There are also some original dishes that were discovered in the fruit cellar of the home when restoration was beginning.  They were broken and dirty and totally useless.  It wasn't until many years later that a master craftsman said he could make them look as new.....and he did.  But first he had to put the broken pieces together before the final process could take place.  So it is with our lives.  Sometimes we are so broken we don't believe we can be whole again.  And yet...we can through the Saviors Atoning Sacrifice.  We can be as new and clean as we ever were through our repentance and his atonement.
     Brigham built the center part of this home while living in a log cabin with his family in the back of the house.  Before the log cabin was finished he was called on a mission and he willingly went to serve.  On his return he personally built the center section.  He was a master carpenter and craftsman.
The center section was barely complete when the Prophet Joseph was martyred.  The following year the two wings were added on.  The one on the left is known as the council room where the church business was conducted with the Quorum of the Twelve until the Mormons were forced out in 1846.

Veteran's Day in Quincy
     Saturday being our "P" Day took us 50 miles down river to Quincy, Ill.  Now there are a lot of reasons to go there.....The Veteran's Day Parade and a "little" proselyting, The Quincy Museum which has a room depicted solely to the town's role in saving the Mormons who had been driven to the edge of the Mississippi River in the dead of winter fleeing from the mobs and Gov. Boggs extermination order.  Seldom in history has a people and town risen to help in such a glorious manor.
The town with it's 2,000 residents gave care and offered shelter to the 5,000 Mormons who would have suffered beyond belief without help.
Elder and Sister Gibson
Elder and Sister Lindeburg
     When Joseph and Hyrum were murdered in Carthage the local inn keeper there, Artois Hamilton,
 took the bodies and provided caskets before they were taken back to Nauvoo.  He was given the keys to the interior of the Nauvoo Temple.  It is unknown if it was for safekeeping or another reason.  Eventually the keys ended up in Quincy and are on display in the museum.
     As you can see we took our good friends the Lindeburgs with us (actually they there would be no escape).  We have enjoyed their company since our MTC days....which seem so far in the distance now.
     We also visited the John Wood Mansion.  He was a very wealthy man who, at one time, owned a large part of the land in the town of Quincy.  He built a much larger home later and then lost all of his wealth.  Eventually returning to the "Mansion" and living the remainder of his life there with his son.  After that it was "shop till you drop" time. 

   We Look So Good here.....
                         We Thinking of Making an Offer