Sunday, October 15, 2017

It's Harvest Time in Nauvoo....
       ......Combines Cut and Sift...Trucks Roll....
                     And  .........Wildlife Scrambles!!!

     There are those who think that Nauvoo is  a quiet little town that sleepily sits on the banks of the Mississippi.  That's probably a pretty fair statement except for a couple of times during the year.  The throngs who flock here during the summer months and especially during the Pageant, who numbered over 50,000, change the whole demeanor of the city.  They flood the streets both in town and Old Nauvoo without paying much attention to what is going on around them...intent on enjoying the moment.
     Fast forward to October.  It's harvest time.  The corn and soybeans have been sitting in the fields awaiting the time they are ready to be harvested.  The streets rumble as large trucks full of crops roar down Mulholland Drive through Nauvoo and onto  the streets in Old Nauvoo finally arriving at the grain storage facility on the banks of the Mississippi.  They are loud and overpowering on the small streets.  They are now coming in waves and sometimes are backed up blocks waiting to unload.
     What was now tunnels of corn have now become vast fields of stubble and the immensity of the farm land again reveals itself.  Soon these will be tilled under and the land will remain dormant until spring and the process will repeat itself.  As for the many animals that have come to call these places home must  now scramble to find refuge and prepare for winter.

Sometimes... A Mouse in the FM House......
       .....Can be a  Laughing Matter!
     Mice seeking refuge from the corn harvest best not try to find safety in FM's conservation area.  The sister's do not use traps but rather "sticky paper" that traps the little critters as they innocently scamper across. So the scenario is set....and so the story begins....
     Sister Murch was recently called to be in charge of the mail room and Missionary D. I.  So her first order of business is to clean out many contributions that have been cluttering the D.I.  In order to do this she needs some boxes and goes down to Conservation to get some from Sister Gibson and Sister Schmitt who have been discussing their terrifying fear of mice for sometime now.....the stage is set....Sister Gibson goes to the back and finds some boxes and also discovers a trapped mouse in one.  Not having anything to do with it she takes her boxes and asks Sister Schmitt to grab the one with the mouse in it.  It doesn't take long for her to discover it and the screaming begins....Sister Gibson and Sister Murch are now busting a gut over her reaction....ultimately she grabs a dustpan a dispatches the little guy to mouse heaven.....Even though they don't have a mouse problem in the apartment I understand Elder Schmitt has taken away all her dustpans.

Rendezvous at the Cultural Hall....
         ....Leads to some Falls...and
                              Another Nauvoo  Miracle!!
Let's face it.....older people are a little less agile than they used to be.  For was only the night before that Sister Spradlin, one of our "younger and more agile missionaries" had missed a step coming down from the stage at Rendezvous and taken a tumble that left her shaken, bruised, and sore.    Bruised and beaten she left the second show early to recuperate.
     The next night  it is Sister Shumway who falls victim.  The previous Sunday she had me on a bench pulling down "buckeye's" and we were having a great time.  She is nearly eighty and even though she is methodical in her steps she is still pretty active.  We had just finished our opening "Welcome to Nauvoo" number and she had exited the rear door and was returning to the front of the Cultural Hall.  Earlier in the day the grounds crew had been working on "felling" the big tree at the front and had clearly marked the walkway with red caution tape defining the boundaries of the danger.  While avoiding the caution tape she failed to see the cone that it was attached to....ran right over it...and did a literal face plant.  She lay their flat, face down  not moving....and the panic ensued.  Soon she responded....she said she was need to panic....she was just embarrassed.  We sat her in a chair....but when she tried to get up...she couldn't support herself.  We carried her to the front of the building....covered her in blankets....gave her a Priesthood blessing and did our best to humor her while we convinced her we needed to call an ambulance.  She soon relented....Willingly because she had to.  Meanwhile, the show is going on....missionaries scrambling to do their parts and then returning to see how she is doing.  Soon she was on her way to the Ft. Madison hospital.  Even though he had done a full face plant on concrete there was absolutely no damage to her is still as lovely as ever.  The diagnosis at Ft. Madison was a cracked patella (kneecap) and a sprained wrist.  They sent her home with an immobilized knee to heal.  Everyone was could have and should have been worse.  And now the rest of the story.....
     After our visit to Kolana we stopped by to give her a sweet treat and see how she was doing.  She answered the door with a limp.  The hospital had called and told her they could find no sign of the fracture.  There was hardly even a bruise on her knees.  Even though she fill hard and caught herself with her hands.....there wasn't even a scratch.....She did a face plant on the bruises, scrapes, abrasions, or black eyes.  Angels were there....she was blessed and protected!!.....another Nauvoo miracle!!
     I often ask why is one granted a miracle and another not?  We chose to come here and experience's ups and downs, joys and pains, highs and lows.  While I am not sure we fully understood the consequences of that choice....we did choose to follow the Savior and his plan.  We always need to remember that and trust that our experiences are there to help us become what God intended.  We are his children and he does love us!!

       On to to Tear Out.....
            ....Back to Sheetrock

   The Economou house is moving along.....slowly....but moving.  I puttered along continuing to hang the sheetrock....5/8" (extra heavy) as opposed to 1/2" lightweight.   I'm not bragging or complaining but some days it's amazing how much effort I have to put in to accomplish so little.  It sure isn't like the "good old days"
       Our electrician, Ben, is doing his best to keep up with all the little electrical issues that pop up. Elder Jensen, his newly assigned missionary,  is back from his health problems and return trip to Utah to attend his mother-in-law's funeral but has been marshalled into service to help with the foundation on the Engle house. 

It's Maxwell Time in Nauvoo......
     We are still waiting for the engineer's report on the McConkie house we have decided to open up a new project....The Maxwell house (Yippppppeeeeeeee).  This is probably one of the nicest homes the missionaries have used in the past  and was usually occupied by one of the President's counselors.  Not any more.  It has been designated as the assistant FM directors home and it appears it needs some "minor" modifications and upgrading.
     The beginning list is: remodel the entire exterior including enlarge some of the existing windows, including the basement, and replace all windows, restructure the interior from a three bedroom to a two bedroom home, totally rearrange and restructure the bathroom, all new flooring and painting, insulate and sheetrock the double garage, add a bedroom and bathroom downstairs, and frame in a mechanical room.  Sadly the plan to put an addition to the house to accommodate a grand piano was rejected.  The piano will just have to be stuffed in the living room.  This is probably just the beginning because as we all have learned in Nauvoo....things change and get bigger and better.
     With the help of Elder Schmitt, our missionary handy-man,  we began tearing out all of the carpet.  Pulling out carpet, padding tack strip out of hardwood floors is not a is hard work.  I followed that up the following day by starting the tear out of the exterior siding to see what was under it.  Good news as it turns out to be plywood so we could side it with Hardy Board (concrete siding like we used in the Schenck house) and we wouldn't have to place additional substrate on the walls.  Hmmmmm, not so fast.... The next command was tear out a 4x8 section of the plywood on the front, side and back of the house to see what is behind may need replacement insulation.  I can see where this is going...bring it on....but please hold back the winter. the End
     We knew it was going to be a big rain day on Saturday and so with opted out of the Spoon River Drive.  The Beecher's came to our rescue and invited us to go with them to Kalona.  We have enjoyed Kalona...but even more so the Amish Bakery just can't beat the caramel pecan pull a-parts.  The 12" diameter plate must weigh 2 pounds....mostly caramel and pecans...but the best was yet to come.
     Working FM presents us few opportunities to really do missionary work but every once in a while we are granted a tender mercy.  For example:  As we exited from lunch we were startled with "You're a Mormon" from a group we were passing as they entered the restaurant.  As we all revealed our badges she added a new comment.."I'm surrounded" as Elder Beecher completed the circle around her and her sister.  "I used to be a Mormon", she started out.  "You still are!" her sister chimed in.  "Well, ever since I got married thirty nine years ago I haven't talked about it to my husband and we go to another church.....and read the bible.  Sister Beecher charged in and reminded her of the scripture from Ezekiel...the Stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph would be as one.  The Bible is the stick of Judah...what is the Stick of Joseph?  As we testified that it was the Book of Mormon she listened and then wanted to know where that was found and she would take it to her Bible study class and ask about  it.  Somebody's in for a hard question.    For the next twenty minutes we talked and laughed about her involvement and memories.  Her sister stepped up and told us she hadn't been active for years since her divorce but  was very receptive that it was time for her to come back.  We handed out a pass along card and invited them to return to visit Nauvoo...Especially the sites and the Christmas Walk.  It was a great experience for us to feel the spirit of the mission.

The rains came in droves on Saturday as we sat around after returning from Kalona.  Then the lightning flashed and the thunder roared.  Then the phone alerts started blaring and soon thereafter, it was the tornado sirens screaming.
The last time this happened I was on stage at Rendezvous and not wanting to get stuffed into the Green Room at the Cultural Hall I sent everybody there and watched through the windows as the sirens blared and rains fell.  Soon all was past.
     It worked last time so I employed the same least I watched and waited as the threat disappeared .  As for the other folks in the apartments...they did what they should do and ran to the Lindeburg's basement shelter.  They seemed to be having a good time.  Especially the young Sister missionaries who were trying to explain how to long on the teaching center...seems like many, including us, are having a difficulty with it.


   It was time for our monthly get together for the MTC group and so we trundled off to Keokuk to V's restaurant.  It is a great time for us to get together and talk about our mission experiences and what has been going on.  The only downside was the Friday night square dancing group went on without us....or maybe it didn't....we haven't heard back on it.
     Anyway we missed them.

     We knew it was coming....we just didn't know when.  Well, it's here....much earlier than expected.
Elder Larry K. Hughes was announced this week in training meeting as the new counselor to President Hall.  I know it was inspiration.....I just hope the President is prepared for it.  He and his wife, Janece are some of our closest friends and we have known them since we were all called to serve together.  He has character.....and is a character.  There are none better!!
     I don't know exactly what that says for the Sarah Granger cast as we now have the two counselors to the president with us.  Either we need a lot of guidance or we have an exceptionally blessed group....I will go with the latter!!


Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Elder Plays......

                        ......and the Missionaries Dance

     I really wanted to start this out with the title "The Grinder Plays.....and the Monkey's Dance" but that doesn't do fairness to us.  We are not entertaining others...just ourselves.  What started out last week on the Finlinson's back deck has now moved to the FM break room building...mainly because it is indoors and it was raining.  Most of last weeks group came back for more and we were joined by a some of new couples.  It is good to add new couples so we have an excuse to go back and re-learn and remember what happened last week.  Elder Orme plays a "mean" accordion and did so well that one of the elders through out a paper cup and we provided was such a pittance that he gave the money back.  
     Speaking of our memories we have added a new adventure to Rendezvous.  It's over a month now that Sister Hipple has taken the reins of the show and things have, as expected, changed (just a little...or maybe a lot....depending on your perspective.  I am not sure exactly why...maybe the departure of missionaries on a large scale during the fall months and the subsequent smaller casts, or maybe the fear of the winter months illness' taking a toll...or maybe we are all preparing for other roles?  While the vignettes have stayed pretty much the same, with the addition of those now called upon to play them due to the departures, the smaller "one line" parts and roles are a constant merry go round with changes every night and then we have added rehearsals before the performance most nights.  Learning a line of dialogue and where and when to insert it is not an easy task for many....older folks prefer a constant....that way they can what they had for breakfast.
Most are past the point of enjoying change or a I am not inferring all....just many.
And so the show goes on!  It is still a source of happiness and joy for me.....and I still look forward to it.

  Fifteen Yards of Concrete,
                             Sixteen People,
                                       Fifty Feet of Pipe....

                    ....Engle House Gets a  Footing
     I knew it was coming but no one had said anything about manning up so I was feeling that I was going to miss the opportunity to help with the concrete footings on the Engle house...I wasn't feeling sad....more like grateful.  That all ended with Elder Hawkins calling me and inviting me to the party..."The more the merrier" he said.  I knew from the beginning it was going to be hard work.  The concrete was conveyed via a 5" hose that needed a man on it every four to five feet to lift it as it was directed around to where the concrete was  poured.  Then it was in the trenches moving it around to get the correct grade and where it needed to be.  It was all hands on deck and took all of us five hours to complete the task.  Of course one of those hours was standing around waiting for hardened concrete to be removed from the pipes....seems like someone had neglected to clean them out the last time they were used.  The reward was pizza for everyone.....provided by FM.  They got their money's worth.
     I made the tactical error of returning to the Economou house just to check on things and I spent the remainder of the day putting in insulation....why?.....I have no idea...I was sore and tired.  Just because you are getting older you are not getting much smarter.

On the Road Again....

     ...."The Fort", Bonaparte, & Bloomington
    It started out as and adventure over in Fort Madison to visit the now vacant Iowa State Prison now known as the Fort,  that was first erected in 1839.  It sits on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River and looms as an old decaying edifice for all to see.  Years of renovation, addition, changes and the like were reflected in tour.  Our guides were former guards who knew it well and along with pointing out a little of the architectural changes were very informative as to life as a prison guard.  The history and visuals of the prison in it's heyday as well as early pictures of public executions where it is reported that up to 15,000 people came to visit.  Not my idea of a way to spend a day...but then it was early Iowa.
    We headed south after that.  Seems Sister Lindeburg had a "hot" tip on an Amish bakery "a little bit past Milton, IA.  Lunch called as we past Bonaparte so we made a quick retreat to "the Retreat" which has always been a favorite place eat.
     Returning to the road we arrived in Bloomington only to meander through the town looking for Yoder's Country Corner.  We were struck by the architecture of the county building erected on the town square.  It's unique style caught our attention so we stopped in the rain and took a picture.  After that, while still searching for the bakery we ran into an original cabin that was built by the pioneers as they traveled along Iowa on their way to Zion.
     We soon resorted to Google to find the bakery...turns out it was 7 miles past the town.  Our anticipation and expectations were only overshadowed by reality.  It was okay...but it certainly wasn't Kalona, which has become our benchmark.  There was an adjacent wood manufacturing facility which was worth the trouble.  We bought a fruit basket.   It lay flat as a board and looked like an apple...then when pulled by the stem it would transform into a basket.
      A Lesson....and a Legacy......

         .....of Unrivaled Determination and Faith
      While reading the sign of the cabin in Bloomfield I was struck with something I already knew.  Only this time is was more than was the Spirit testifying to me.   These pioneer saints, our forefathers, were a determined lot. They lived their lives with an unrivaled determination and a faith in God that pushed and pulled them through every circumstance and obstacle that befell them.   Their decisions weren't based on what they thought they should do but rather on what the Prophet wanted them to do.  Days never went as planned.  The Mormon exodus was fraught with obstacles on end....yet they continued.  Sickness, misery, and death accompanied them.  Yet they pushed on and at the end of the day they gave thanks to God and often would rekindle their spirits with music and dancing.
     Glory be to them and their sacrifice....Hopefully we can leave a similar legacy!

Odds at the End
    We were just sitting on the bench in front of the Post Office on Sunday.  After two days of rain it was a great day with the sun shining brightly.  Two of our favorite Senior Sisters Shumway and McNiel had wandered up from Riser Boot as they were a little board.  They saw a few buckeyes on the ground and began to scratch around when it occurred to them that there were still some on the tree.  Great presents for the Grandkids they explained.  Looking for excitement I quickly volunteered and soon found my crew as we dove into getting them off the tree.  A broom, a bench, and a lot of stretching and we had them in hand.
     After we had completed the task Elder Walker pointed out that there is a reason men live shorter lives than women....they do stupid things to impress them.  As  Sister Gibsn says in Rendezvous........"Think about it!"
(a buckeye is similar to chestnuts but it has a smooth outer shell...not the prickly kind.  And by the is not to eat if you are a human!)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

    There's not A lot to Say....
      ...and I don't have many Pictures to Prove it.
The week is over and as I muse over it I struggle to find pictures and thoughts that can paint a picture.  It's not that there was little that's more like it was the same thing every day.  So it is likely this will be shorter than normal and contain a lot of random ramblings....
     It's been a month since Elder Van Horn left and I have spent the majority of my time working alone....not necessarily and bad thing but it does make progress seem slower and it definitely is harder physically.  We tore out more of the floor and exposed another wall at the McConkie home and discovered more hidden damage.  A structural engineer was summoned but he was unable to make it to the house last week for his assessment.  I can hardly wait to hear......if I have any nightmares it will be that this will be a return to the Schenk house scenario.
     Meanwhile, back at the Economou house the plumbers finally finished and Friday the electrician began work.  He went to get some wire and I never saw him again.  I started framing in a doorway and temporarily laying some plywood on the floor so I didn't have to dance so much over the open floor joists.

Speaking of dancing.....It started with a phone call from Sister Orme, our fellow cast member and neighbor.  They were having a little "get together" with music and dancing on Friday with a few other couples....Sister Gibson answered the call and of course she said "we would love it".    Turns out...we did. (even though I said "What are you thinking?"!!!
   We met at the Finlinson's, who have a large deck on the back of the house, and there Elder Finlinson, who is one of my favorite off beat Elder's  explained we were going to have a"Quadrille" (a dance where four couples form a square and follow the instructions of a caller).....
If they'd called it a "square dance" I would have known what I was getting into.
    We turned out to be short a couple so he called President Gordon (one of the mission presidency counselors) and started out the conversation by asking him if he and his wife were dressed...we were having a little "get together" and wondered if he and his wife could come over.  After a long pause...and our raucous laughter in the background died down he acknowledged they were.  It may not be what you think but around here you always need to ask that question.....bed time comes early....anytime after 7:00 you better ask before you show up.  Fortunately they were coming back from dinner and arrived quickly....let the dancing begin.
    It turned out to be a lot of fun with Elder Orme plays a mean accordion and Elder Finlinson guided us through the moves. Old people tire quickly and it was over before  we knew it...plans were formed to try and do this again....I can hardly wait!!?


      We had to make a shopping run to Burlington.  It is really more of an excuse to go out and eat.  I needed to get a pair of gloves so we stopped at Lowes.  I sat down for a rest and was soon joined by Sister Gibson.  Apparently it had been a rougher week than I thought.  At least my dental hygiene look to be pretty good.
     On the way home I met a nice young police officer from Gulfport, Ill. who sits in the median and waits for unsuspecting drivers coming off the downhill side of the highway bridge that crosses the Mississippi.  I had seen him apply his crafty trade to those who weren't paying attention.  Now I was the guy.  He wore the cutest Bermuda shorts and was very polite.  I would have asked him for a picture but I didn't think he would appreciate it.

Conference has a way of wreaking havoc on schedules for the sites and Rendezvous.  Women's Conference and General Priesthood Meeting require that some sites, where schedules can't be adapted, are closed early so the missionaries can get to Rendezvous that must start at 5:30.  Then it's quick change time to get to the conference on time.  In the case of Priesthood meeting the Elders were fed spiritually while the sisters headed off to Sister Butt's where the were fed lavishly with a meal prepared by Sister Butt.  I'm sure there was also a lot more fun and frivolity than at the meeting the Priesthood attended.


   The one thing left to post needed to wait until about 6:30 Sunday Night (Oct 1, 2017).  That was about the time we made our way up to the temple after arriving in Nauvoo.  We marked the occasion with a selfie.
     While it didn't look like a promising night for a picture.....the longer we stayed the better it got.  We met a family from Georgia......Sometimes you are in the right place for a reason.
     They introduced us to their father who was a rancher from Weston, Id.  The next hour we listened to his many spiritual and inspirational stories about things that had happened to him and his family and their experiences.
     We walked away feeling better for the night...and I am sure he did.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another Milestone.....

                                                                            ....As Time Marches On
     Tuesday September 19th marked our year anniversary since we first met at the MTC in Provo.  We celebrated with a night out at the Cellar Restaurant in Keokuk.  It was also Elder Lindeburgh's birthday.  The Sim's, who were unable to make the MTC picture because they had left due to the passing of Sister Sim's sister, were missing again as they had completed their call and were now heading east to visit church sites with their friends.  We shared a great time together and uniquely enough we were not talking about what was behind us but rather what was present and ahead for the remainder of our journey.   We have become close friends, usually having a monthly meal together and then often seeing each other.  The Beecher's and Lindeburgh's are in the Emma Hale Cast and we are fortunate to have the Hughes in our cast, Sarah Granger.  
     The Beecher's were called as Pageant directors and have put  their first pageant behind them.  They are already preparing for next years as the work never seems to stop.  Elder and Sister Lindeburgh are assigned outbound to the Ft. Madison Branch where they are a strength and guide to the members there.  Elder Hughes is now serving as a Zone Leader and fellow editor.  He is my comic relief and together we share many laughs...both seen and hidden.   Sister Hughes has the monumental job of scheduling missionaries to the sites on a weekly basis and then dealing with all the chaos that follows.  Sister Gibson and I are serving as District Leaders (Dinner coordinators and soon to be teachers and mentors) and now we have been asked to help with the Bootiful Nauvoo extravaganza at Halloween.  Sister Gibson keeps Conservation rolling and all those who come in contact with her smiling.  As for me, life is good as a do-whatever-is-asked carpenter.  I have run all the other missionaries out of Nauvoo (actually they finished their calls) and I am currently working alone on a kitchen/bath/laundry room remodel.
     Fortunately none of use are wearing the same we did when Christi came to visit us last week.  More than likely it's because the men weren't wearing jackets and the women, under Sister Lindeburgs influence, had probably bought new clothes anyway.  
    We have enjoyed our time here.  It has added something to our lives and family that otherwise we wouldn't have experienced or enjoyed.  We do miss our family and are looking forward to again seeing them...Facetime can't replace those wonderful hugs we get from them and especially the grandchildren.  There are other milestones ahead but none as important as March 19, 2018.

What is "Nauvoo on the Road?".....And......
                         .....Why is our P-Day on Tuesday?
     It started a couple of months ago when we volunteered for Nauvoo on the Road.  That is where several missionaries load up a trailer of things that we do here in Nauvoo and take them to various towns and cities during their festivals or celebrations on a Saturday.  P-Days for site missionaries are adjusted to fit the schedule and FM missionaries are given a midweek day since they will be serving on Saturday.  It's a great opportunity for us since we will have an opportunity to share the Gospel with others at the Blakesburg Corn Days celebration in Iowa. Our P-Day fell on Tuesday and so along with our friends and fellow missionaries, the Hughes' we headed out to visit the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad Cities area (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa as well as Moline and Rock Island in Illinois.)
      The Rock Island Arsenal is a secure facility and requires you register at the security gate prior to entering.  No problem.....unless you forget to bring your drivers license as Sister Gibson discovered.  With that we went to plan B and visited other unique and interesting sites in the area.  We would have liked to visit the John Deere production facility in Moline but the tours were closed until November so we opted for the huge museum and history facility.  We learned about the history of the company, saw many of it's current production models as well as an old John Deere tractor...painted, of all colors, yellow.  John Deere is now known by it's bright green colors.
     We followed up with lunch at Lagomarciano's, a very old ice cream parlor that had sandwiches.  Ice cream followed and Elder Hughes went for the big one....I can't believe he ate the who thing.
      Returning to Davenport we visited the German American Museum and learned of the influence of the early German immigrants in the area.  There we found a video presentation where actors portrayed stories of these early settlers.  The big question ...was that really a young Tom Cruise?
Probably the most startling thing we learned is the discrimination that was heaped on the immigrants during World War I.  The cartoons and harassment were sad to see how these people were discriminated against.  When I saw the name Gibson on a card I was intrigued to read the fine print that indicated they were reported to the government as not participating in the war bond drive...really?
     Our last stop was the Putnam museum in Davenport.  We found ourselves engrossed in the hands on displays and activities.....and yes there was the obligatory mummy from Egypt.  While Elder Hughes was able to get the meter higher by pounding bare fisted on a pad I ate his lunch on the tug of rope was my clever cunning rather than brute strength that took the day.

     This is Nauvoo on the Road.......
        ....Sometimes it's Pretty "Corny"!!
     It was almost like the good old days.  7:30 Saturday morning and the Nauvoo on the Road group is loading up at the Visitors Center to head west and a little north   one hundred and thirty miles to Blakesburg, Iowa where we were invited to bring the traveling road show to their small town celebration of Corn.  The first thing Elder Pettit (he's the big guy) does is pass out a Nauvoo version of Willy Nelson's hit song  On the Road Again......and we churned it out.  Seems like yesterday when I loaded the kids up for Disneyland, telling them if they are not in the car when we leave they get left, and then turning on the real deal as we motor down the road....I thought it was great....I doubt if they did.
     It was a great day.  There was a hometown parade with all the things you would expect.... a the three city junior high school marching band, the 15 man football team and 9 cheerleaders, local and state politicians, a couple of horses, and countless tractors being driven by kids.
     The kids flock to the display tables and they are taught to play games that were prevalent in the pioneer days...they are fascinated by the things the kids used to do.  Watching kids trying to negotiate a pair of stilts is mind boggling most get a quick step or two and that's about it.  Most flock to the rope making area where they make a six foot rope to take home.
     Probably the greatest surprise occurred when the parade was running a little late and the commentators searched for fill in stuff to pass the time.  A couple of jokes from the gallery evoked groans and glee.  "Anybody else", they asked.  And before they knew what happened our four sisters were standing in front of them holding their microphones and asking "Anybody ever heard of the Andrews Sisters?"  Some older folks responded....probably with anticipation of a rendition of an older tune.  "Well....we're not them but we do have a cute song we sing in Nauvoo".....and with that they sang "Welcome to Nauvoo" A Capella .  It was the highlight of the pre-parade festivities.
Six hours later we gathered up our tents and games and hit the road to return to tired to sing On the Road Again but with enough left to visit the nearby Antique Air Museum.
     Three miles down the road from Blakesburg is the Antique Air Museum.  Ten miles down the road we were still looking for it.  Retracing our steps (and now with the help of Google Maps) we find it tucked away on a sharp turn with no signs to show the way.  It was interesting to see the many models and full scale planes they had showed together in one hanger and we were able to look and see up close the thinly covered wings of these planes.  There were also a lot of older experimental planes and training equipment and memories of many of the members of the association that had put this display together.  The landing field was nothing more than that....a field, and air sock, and a little grass.  It would have been fun to see these older planes in action but we missed the fly in that was held several weeks before.

A Rippin' Good Time.....

                ......or Out with The Old...What's New?
    We barely got a good start on the Economou house before Elder Van Horn Left.  Once the barn was finished it was back at it for me.  Since his departure I have essentially worked alone....which isn't necessarily a bad thing....but it does make the tear out harder and is wearing me out to a frazzle.
I got all the decking off the floors so the plumbers have access to all the plumbing they want through the crawl space.  The smiles on Darrell Layton and Elder Jones tell the sure beats crawling under the building and working in an 18" space....old guys don't do so well with that kind of job.
    I left them to their work on Friday and moved on to the McConkie house which is supposed to be the same thing.....betcha it's not!!

The Martin Harris District....
Right/Left  Lowe2/Butt/Barlow/Spradlin/Hatch Gibson/Johnson2
     Being called to District Leaders isn't really what we had in mind or even expected.  After all, in the past, the assignment  has been the social coordinators for the district to have a dinner meeting once a month and evaluated some of the training and relate some memorable experiences to each other.  Our FM experiences aren't usually the kind of spiritual experiences that they are looking we've been pretty much listeners.  That all changed when President Hall called the newly called DL's and explained that we would be teaching our district once a month in place of one of the Zone or Presidential training meetings.....Woooooooooooppppppppppeeeeeeeeeee.

Odds at the End.....
     Busily engaged in making rope after rope with the local kids I didn't pay much attention to what was going on around me.  Occasionally I heard Chicken Bingo was starting soon....come buy your chance to win  eighty dollars.  It wasn't until the chicken escaped and was apprehended nearby the my interest was piqued.
     Turns out the bird is fed kitty food (it's apparently a bird laxative) and the star of the show is put in the cage where he struts along  doing his thing until someone is declared the winner.    I didn't get into the particulars but I am here to tell you he hit a lot of spots during his stroll.
     Turned out to be a great fund raiser for the high school.  The winner got eighty bucks and the high school got eighty.
Personally one in thirty two is not great odds....but neither is the lottery.


As we turned the corner and headed up Mulholland Drive we ran straight into the Nauvoo sunrise perfectly aligned with the street.  Other than the fact that it temporarily blinded me it made for a pretty picture.

     Many months ago we served in the Post Office....fortunately I never followed in my father's footsteps and worked there...but that is another story for another day.   Back then we were dressed in our site clothes...but as of two weeks ago the dress requirements for Sundays on the sites is missionary dress.  It is designed for those who visit on the Sabbath to feel of our missionary efforts and align us with the rest of the missionaries who are serving throughout the world.
     Sister Gibson has passed the yoke to me but is standing right there beside me.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Christi Comes to Visit......

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

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

Ready or Not......

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

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

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

   Elder Sims Leaves a Lasting Mark

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

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

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


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

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


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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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

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

     White Gloves and All.....

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

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

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

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


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

      Odds at the End

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

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


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

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


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