Sunday, January 29, 2017


Eagles, Flowers, and .........
 
                         ...... Other Random Thoughts
   
     After the disappointment not seeing any eagles during Eagle Days at Keokuk I made it a goal to get a picture.  It wasn't uncommon to see them along the river so I carried the camera around for days hoping for a spectacular shot.  Finally, on day I had left it home I spotted one along the river sitting on a long jam.  He was so far out I really couldn't even see what the I-Phone was taking but I took the shot anyway.  With the aid of Photoshop I  at least got a picture.  They really are an impressive bird even when just sitting around.  I am sure there will be other opportunities to "score" a better shot.
     The "Nauvoo Crud" hit Sister Gibson this week.  It's basically a severe cold that seems to be worse than normal.  By Thursday she felt bad enough to stop in and see the mission doctor.  Unfortunately it was his P day.  She stopped in the next day but he had left early since he wasn't feeling well.  She finally went to the Nauvoo Clinic got steroids, instruction, and advice to rest.  She's on the road to recovery and by Sunday was back on duty in the Lucy Mack Home.....even though she won't admit it...she's a trooper!!  I can only hope I am too ornery to get it!
      Sitting in Sacrament meeting this morning I was struck by the beautiful flower arrangements that adorn  both sides of the speakers podium.  There is a brother in one of the Nauvoo Wards who takes it upon himself, and at his own expense, to see that these are place here every Sunday.   After the services in the building are complete he then takes them to care facilities to brighten the lives of others.  Such selfless acts seem to go un-noticed.  But on this day I noticed their beauty and appreciated them.
     On Wednesday we were involved in the worldwide missionary training conducted by the church.  It was impressive to know that we are a part of a missionary army than now has over 86,000 missionaries.  I can remember  proudly telling people in Germany that we were part of 13,000 missionaries who served world wide (sort of back then) and the church had over 3 million members.
     It is important to note that the Nauvoo Mission does not function as other missions who are spreading the gospel, teaching and testifying of Jesus Christ, and baptizing new converts.  Ours is a mission to reinforce and teach about the early saints and their many, many sacrifices they endured.  We are committed to also testifying of the Christ and the many blessings that can be brought to our lives by following his gospel.  Our message of the gospel is interwoven in the stories we teach and testify to.  It gives us an opportunity to grow ourselves and know that we are making a difference as we testify.    
     In the world of old and deaf people the following incident occurred.... names have been omitted for obvious reasons (no it wasn't me).  I believe I have told the story earlier of the selfless temple missionary who takes it upon himself every Thursday to take drinks to all of the missionaries who are serving on the sites.  Visiting one of the sites where there were several sisters present he appeared to not be his usual cheerful self.  One of the sisters inquired and he explained that he had "married" his son.  "Congratulations" she cheerfully replied as he left.  One of the other sisters turned to her and said "I think he said he "buried" his son.......and with that she chased him down the street to offer a tearful apology.  And that's pretty much how things work here in "Old Nauvoo".

   The Old Nauvoo Cemetery.......


                                  .....Gets a Quick Clean


     Our District leaders, the Waites, needed to return home during the week to attend a funeral and they asked us to fill their assignment in cleaning the Old Nauvoo (Pioneer) Burial grounds  The site is up the street from us (about 1-2 miles) so we willingly accepted.  We hadn't visited the site before and were anxious to see it.  I started out as cold but soon evolved to "very" cold when the wind kicked up.  We cleaned the kiosk, message boards, swept the floor of a few leaves, and Sister Gibson just couldn't help herself as she took a cloth to the statue to make sure it was in first class shape.  I, in the meantime, grabbed the selfie stick and we took a couple of pictures.  Could have been worse....could have been freezing rain.   

Birthday Month.......
                                     .......Gets and Early Start
     For those of you who know Sister Gibson you will be aware that we don't just celebrate her birthday on February 5.  Over the years she has attracted so many friends who want to share the day with her and are not content to do it on her birthday that the celebration can go on for a long time.....like a month.  Well, fortunately for me, it got started earlier than usual this year.  It's a "biggie" this year as she will be turning 30 for the fortieth time.  That puts a lot of pressure on me as it is hard to find something she wants and usually will ask for something like "take me out to dinner....wherever you want."  Now for some men that may be great....but I just always felt I owed her a gift far more special than that.  She always got what she asked for....I just always felt I would have like to have done more.
     So this year I am really trying to come up with something special.....she doesn't like jewelry, trips, or even sexy lingerie :).  As we were heading to the Burlington with the Lindeburg's.    They got talking about "Suzy", their new spinning wheel and the fact that the Labrum's who had sold her to them were soon going to a nursing home and would be selling many of their other possessions.  Now usually when I say something like "we could get you a spinning wheel for your birthday" the answer would be "No...we don't need it, can't afford it, or  what are you thinking".  Not this time.....she was definite.  With "that's a great idea" we hurried over to Ft. Madison and made a deal for one of the other spinning wheels she had.  It was more of an antique than Suzy and did cost a little more ($300) but with it began birthday month. Now we just need to find a good name for her.

Lost in Burlington.......
                                  .....Reveals Mosquito Park
    Burlington is just not that big of a town.  That being said it sure seems easy for us to not get to where we want to go.  It does have some interesting effects as we seem to stumble onto something we would likely never find.  Mosquito Park is tucked away on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  It's probably not a lot of fun in the summer but in the winter it did provide and interesting view.

The Packard House.......
                                   ......Windows and Walls
     With Elder Sims leading the charge we began putting new walls and cutting out the existing
walls from the inside of the house in order to make way for the new window placement.  We also go the tub in this week and the interior walls are now all but complete.  So now the dilemma is do we work outside in the cold Illinois windy weather and tear off the siding in order to really do the window/door replacement in a more correct and orderly fashion or can we find other projects to hold us over until the winter eases it's frigid grasp.  The answer is........we'll see what next week brings.  It's a pretty daunting project for someone like me who has never torn things apart on this level.  All I can see is the house falling down which has been my approach on it since the beginning.  Now with things starting to come together it looks a little more promising.

EXODUS WEEK BEGINS
Sunday night is the commencement of activities for the commemoration of the exodus from Nauvoo in 1846.  It will start with the telling of the stories of ten families who were here during that time.
The re-enactment will be on Saturday morning and the last event will be on Sunday night with another perspective on the event.  All in all it is a week to look forward to.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

                                              

A Week to be Forgotten....  


                       ...........Farewell Nauvoo(Market)

       The one that that we can all expect in our lives is change.  We expect "this" but somehow get more of "that"  Sometimes it is inevitable and when it happens it is unexpected.  Our dear friends, the Lindeburgs, received word that their next door neighbor's son Andrew passed away.  A twenty four year old Downs Syndrome boy whom they had come to love and nurture as a family member.  They were   very close to him and wanted desperately to return home for the funeral and comfort their neighbors.  Mission policy is we can only leave for very important events (death and marriage) with immediate family members so they struggled with the loss during the week.  The funeral was Saturday and it was a difficult day for them.  I hope that we were able to help mitigate the loss but it is doubtful we made much of a difference. 
     So, as long as I am writing about death..... the Nauvoo Market was officially pronounced dead this week.  They had closed shortly after Christmas to do remodeling and upgrades but that appears now to be a diversion as they will not open.  Many of the missionaries had gift certificates which were not redeemed that had been given them.  Trying to operate a small grocery store in this day and age to compete with the "giants" that are just 15 minutes away was a daunting challenge.  They may have held a belief that the missionaries would buy there and keep the store profitable but that never happened.
Joseph Stallings

     And then there was the Joseph Stallings story and the great Mormon exodus re-enactment that will take place on February 4th.  His is my second great-grandfather. 
      Missionaries were asked to provide stories of their ancestors who were here in Nauvoo during the exodus.  I had held, like many others, a hope that he would be one of the few recognized and presented at a "sociable" prior to the actual re-enactment....but, like thirty others, I received my "thanks for your submission....BUT" e-mail.  I will wait with anticipation to see what was required to make the "Big Ten".  It is enough for me to know he had a story and did provide a basis for my history and that I will be marching in the re-enactment with his name pinned proudly to my chest.

     It is probably good....at this point....to get the Rendezvous debacle off my chest.  It was my worst performance ever (all be it there have only been five others before.)  It wasn't that bad....it just wasn't that good.  I suffered my "first blank screen" where I couldn't remember where I was or where I was going.....this is where the Spirit (prompter) is supposed to step in with "words from heaven".  She did...I couldn't hear......"Where am I" I proclaimed....."Disasters, Tornados" she said louder......"Yes, I know it is a disaster" as I picked up the prompt and stammered on.  I had the ship "righted" until we got to the Willingly scene.....unfortunately I had forgotten to change from my Greek editors hat to the Amish flat hat we are all supposed to be wearing.  At least I stood out as different.
     The Relief Society Sisters jumped in to help relieve some of my tension, however.  Their song went so far south it was speaking another language at the end.  George joined in by calling his wife Agatha......Abagail in the last scene which was shocking and amusing....We didn't know!
     All in all this spectacular   was performed in front of Elder Schultz, the grand czar over productions of Rendezvous and Sunset.  I'm sure we "knocked his socks off".

The Princess of Conservation......
                                    ......Cleans and Counts The Kingdom
   
       Sister Gibson, meanwhile, continues her orderly and systematic task of cleaning and inventorying in the sites.  It is a long and tedious process that keeps her very busy.  It is something she excels at and enjoys.  Starting with the picture at the top right:

Merriwether Dry Goods:  Each one of those jars in the picture have to be picked up, cleaned, and
                                             on the bottom is a sticker with a number.  That number is looked up on
                                             the computer and noted as there and that it is the correct item as pictured.
Merriwether Dry Goods:  Oft times she gets help from the sister serving in the sites....although
                                             there are limited tasks that they can perform to help.  In the picture with
                                             her are Sister Hughes and Sister Spradlin.
The Post Office:                 Each paper, each cubby, each drawer, each knob....you get the picture?

John Taylor Home:           Most of the artifacts and furnishings are very old but not original.  Still,
                                            every care is taken to preserve them.  Here Sister Gibson is taking care to
                                            place a special paper between the bed covers as they are folded so the
                                            crease will not become permanent.
The Print Shop                  Using a special blower she cleans the type and furniture that is used in
                                            the print shop.  Fortunately she does not have to count the many, many,
                                            small pieces of type used in printing the paper.

The Week of Construction.....
     Elder Sims and I plowed on with the rebuilding of the interior walls on the Packard Home.  All of the interior walls are now in place and finished.  There are still a few minor things that will take a day or so to complete.  We also learned most of the windows for the exterior part of the remodel are here.  Apparently there are three wood windows that will be needed to replace the existing ones in the original home.  The cabinet shop is currently under some renovation so it is hard to know when they will be completed or how many other "more important" jobs will put in front of them. Building the "Nauvoo Way" takes time and  patience (mostly patience).  On the same day last week our  missionary director of housing told me the house needed to be completed by the end of March so she could put the new arriving doctor in it while the construction director told me that wasn't near that important and she put him in the house the leaving doctor resides in.  Great idea.....until you tell him they will overlap by two weeks....."She'll have to figure it out" he proclaimed.  Could it....Yes.  Will it.....Doubtful.....Highly Doubtful.
A New Remodel......
                                         .....Brings a View!!!
     Recently the Church was given a home and property on the Mississippi River.   Elder Sims and I were called over at the end of the week to help with the tear out so it could be renovated.  The house will be converted into two missionary apartments which will be much larger than most.  Once it is completed it will be a coveted place.....with a great view.  The only drawback is the three flights of concrete  steps that need to be negotiated in order to get up and down to the  residences. 
    

Sunday, January 15, 2017



The Spirit in John Taylor.....
                           ........or the Ghost That Wasn't

     Every Wednesday morning at 8:00 we have a training meeting.  For FM it is a good thing as we get an extra hour to use "as we see fit".  (Use your imagination here as to what that might be).  We have had trainings on mission rules, procedures, who can and can't do what or what you should or shouldn't wear...depending where you are..., things that will help us in our mission work in Nauvoo, and we even teach each other about site presentations.  In the summer time becomes of the essence and so it is important we refine our presentations so we can deliver our message without causing a long wait for the next group.  Sounds like fun...can hardly wait.
     Last Wednesday the primary agenda was devoted to the artifacts that we have here in Nauvoo as well as who is allowed to touch them and when.  Each site has a book with pictures of the artifacts and a color coded logo which denotes who can touch them.  A green logo is "go" for everyone....Orange is for "missionaries", and a Red one means "HANDS OFF" unless you are specifically trained.  Sister Gibson and Sister Lee Master have that responsibility and that is why they have so much to do when it comes to cleaning and inventorying during the winter months.  
     Also on the agenda was a rather unique topic. An eerie noise was disturbing sisters in the John Taylor Home.  It seems that the sisters would often hearing a baby crying....The site coordinator would make periodic checks and even heard it.  One of the oft heard lines in Nauvoo is "a rumor did fly" (comes from Rendezvous in the Noah Packard scene.....well a rumor did fly.....Was it a spirit that was haunting the old residence?   Nope.....seems there is an apartment that is attached to the back of the house and is currently being used by a young intern couple with a small baby....who knew????
Mystery is solved and life is back in order.  Sisters can sleep soundly.

A Week at the Packard House....
        ......One Pain is Replaced by Many Others!
     Things at the Noah Packard residence started rolling right along and it felt like we were getting things done..........finally!  Elder Sims and I started lifting the 2x10x16' joist into place for the upstairs floor (and bedroom ceiling).  Getting them in place  was a challenge as they had to lifted over our heads while standing on step ladders and then pushing them between the existing joists and push them up to the upstairs on an angle so they wouldn't hit the wall before we were able to drop them onto the walls we had built.  Then we followed that up with trying to fit a 16d nail gun between the joists to nail them to each other.  We followed up that little exercise by pushing and pulling the 48x97x 3/4" sheets of chip board through those same narrower openings.  Elder Sims went to work laying the floor while I started building the interior walls.  By the end of the week, and a bottle of Advil, things were looking like progress......I was sore but there was finally progress.
    But Wait....there's more.....and then.....it was decided that a portion of the  kitchen floor needed to be cut out and the floor joist cut down so when the floor was put down again it would be level.  Never mind that we had discussed the matter on many occasions and it could not been resolved at that time....."And that's the way things are here in Nauvoo...."(Line for Rendezvous which is oft quoted rather than debating the moot point).  So we will "willingly" tear out the floor that could have been torn out weeks ago.....who knew?

 A Spinning Wheel......


                                          ....Named Suzy           
     P Day this week started out with a trip top Fort Madison where Sister Lindeburg had found a spinning wheel to buy.  One of the sisters in the mission has gotten her all excited about spinning.  She wants to teach this to her grandchildren.  She found one in nearby Ft. Madison and made an appointment to be there at 10:00.  We pulled up to large building with a sign proclaiming "Saint Elizabeth Manor" over the door.  It looked more like a small hospital than a house.....turns out that was a purpose for it at one time.  The couple that lived there were in their nineties and both trundled around with walkers.  She apparently had forgotten about time or the appointment because she had to get out of bed to greet us.  The house looked more like a museum with so many interesting things.....including four spinning wheels and other unique pieces.  With tears in her eyes she parted with "Suzy" which was her favorite "wheel" and Sister Lindeburg had a new teaching tool for her grandchildren.

          ....and a Burlington Snake
     The trip to Burlington appeared, as always, to be a "short list" trip with HyVee (grocery store) and GNC (nutritional store) on the list.  Turns out the list included two nutritional stores, WalMart, and JoAnn's fabrics  so while Lindeburgs went off in search of the first one on the list I got a haircut.  In and out (less than 10 minutes) we quickly reunited with them.  The store, it seems was further than they thought.  GNC turned out to be in the Burlington Mall....RED FLAG.  As you can see the Sisters had a great time shopping. 
  Turns out the nutritional store was close to "Snake Alley" and so we stopped to pay a visit.  It's really only a short meandering street down a steep hill that someone thought would be fun to create....so they did. It did make it into the record books, however, according to the plaque.   There are a couple of houses but the street is locked off with a chain at the top.  Makes for a great walk over the old original brick surface.   What more can I say?   At least it wasn't icy!!!

     Ice Storms Bring Havoc......
     After church today we were supposed to be serving in the Print Shop...Neither one of those things happened.  Seems there was a potential for one of the famous "Ice Storms" to pass through and with that, and the safety of the missionaries in mind, all activities were cancelled.  While the ice storm never arrived it is by far better to be safe than sorry...they are treacherous! 

Monday, January 9, 2017




    What a Blessing.....
     With the holidays behind us we march forth into the new year.  The days are now passing faster as we continue to adapt to the mission and it's operation.  We received an in-home visit from President and Sister Hall on Friday.  They make it a point to visit all the missionaries and become a little more acquainted with them.  They wanted to make sure we were happy.  I did hold my tongue about the miniscule vanity cabinet (surprisingly) as it still remains an irritant.  Sister Gibson has it on her agenda to take it up with the director of the FM when I get her a picture.  The highlight of the evening was a blessing on the home by President Hall.  Their visit and love for us was much appreciated.
     Each day that passes we are grateful for our time and assignments in Nauvoo.  There is a poignancy about the winter months.  We are more mindful of the hardships that were present here for the Saints in their day to day lives but is the memory of their forced exodus in winter's deep grasp that is the most telling.  Standing at the Trail of Hope and looking across the river causes a lot of pondering as to their commitment and willingness to follow the directions of a prophet. 
     Many had come from foreign lands to a new and promising country.  They had built their city from a swamp, fought off disease and hardship of building their town which was growing daily with new convert arrivals. They sacrificed and banded together to help one another.  Slowly, like a brewing storm, the clouds of darkness began to cloud their sunny lives, gathering together into a storm of darkness and destruction that would destroy everything they had come here for......except their faith.  That is what brought them here....and that is what powered them forward into the unknown wilderness while following their prophets vision of a better and brighter future. 
     We will be re-enacting that difficult day on February 4th which will be the exact day 171 years ago that the Saints began their journey west.  We will be preparing for that event during the month and look forward to it with great anticipation.

Noah Packard House....
       It's like a Dance Two Steps Forward.....
                                               .....One Step Back
     In the beginning of the Packard House project I was extremely frustrated with the "Nauvoo" way of doing things.  Since that time I have learned to cope with it slightly better and my frustration level has declined to the point I am only frustrated.  That means two things.....I have learned to cope with it better and I am a little bit more aware of some of the problems that arise in a project such as the Packard House.  I am also learning and re-learning that my opinion isn't the only one....in fact it is generally only my opinion and it really doesn't count for much....and that's ok.  The lack a plan and leadership in implementing the project continues.  Eventually everything seems to get where I thought it would be....or at least hoped.  Take for example the ceiling in the main floor bedroom.  The first directive was to tear off the existing sheet rock and leave the lath and plaster.  It was a dirty and filthy job.  A few days later the directive became....let's (that means me) strip the plaster off the ceiling but leave the lath...it was a dirty and filthy job.  There was a lot of plaster between the lath boards and so it was decided that it needed to be cleaned and scraped out before it would be sheet rocked over (that's me again.....getting really dirty and filthy...not to worry).   It required a breathing mask and safety glasses than continually fogged up a left me seeing little.   The next day it is decided to tear down the lath since we now have to level the ceiling (which everyone knew was a mess from looking at it).  Elder Sims...feeling my pain grabbed some hoes and we tore it all down.  And to think it could have all be done at one time.....INCONCEIVABLE.
      Since the beginning it has been know that there was a severe fire at sometime and there was considerable damage to the structure in the basement.  We shored up timbers to help with this.  As we have progressed in the demolition of upstairs we have found a considerable amount of fire damage and burnt wood.  It was scary what the condition of the ceiling joists in the bedroom ended up looking like when we had everything stripped away.  Two were cracked almost clear through and two had severe fire damage.  And then things STOPPED making sense.  The severely damaged and scabbed together boards had no other fire damage around them.  It now appears that the fire down stairs was severe and did considerable damage but not being able to find or afford good wood....the old burned and charred wood was used again wherever it would fit.  It's a mess.  We will solve the problem with the ceiling/floor as we will be strengthening them with 2x10's that will be above and below the existing (if Elder Sims figured correctly) and we will now have level and smooth floor and ceiling....WaaaaaLaaaaaa.
     In the Nauvoo tradition, however, progress has brought retrogression.  The plumbers and electricians who have been diligently working by our sides, even though there is a constantly changing  plan or finished framing in place, are now having to go back and tear out what was mis-directedly placed and wait until the framing is completed.....like should have been done in the first place.  I think we ought to give this dance a name........any suggestions?

Inventory Continues......and a Rocking Legend
                               ....quietly retires from Nauvoo
     Sister Gibson continues working to complete the inventory and cleaning.  It will go on for several weeks.  One of the stops along the way was the John Taylor home.  Here she shows off her handiwork cleaning a hickory cane that would have been similar to the one  John Taylor used to ward off the guns of the impending cowards who murdered Joseph and Hyrum Smith while incarcerated in Carthage.  He was severely wounded and from that time on he would require the use of a cane. Prior to that the cane he used may have been more for style than substance.
     One of the many emotional stories told here in Nauvoo has been John Taylor's grit and determination.  Unable to bear the tears and heartache of his young son he returned to Nauvoo in spite of the danger from the mobs that had forced the Mormon's out and retrieve a wooden horse he had made for the child.  Many of the missionaries have told this story but according to the Church historical department, this, and some other stories, lack historical evidence and are cataloged more as family legends.  They may be true....and then again....maybe not quite so true.  An effort is always being made to be correct and so the wooden horse story will only be told with what is factual...as a family legend....not as a factual story.
Suspenders are in Iowa but.....
              ...Do we really need a Horse Collar? 
     Our P Day on Saturday took us back to Cantril, IA.  The object was to get a pair of genuine leather suspenders for the Editor in Rendezvous.  The nearest place we can find them is a harness shop that is a little past Cantril in  Milton, IA that is run by the Amish.  It is called Countryside Manufacturing.   Lee Roy is the proprietor and in truth he reminded me more of a leprechaun than an Amish businessman.  We would have loved to have a picture to show you but the Amish do not prefer to be photographed...respecting their culture, we didn't.  The suspenders are a sideline and their main business is providing leather goods for horses and farm animals. We also purchased some delicious homemade chocolate/caramel/and peanut candies made by Lee Roy's mom.  He carefully explained the process to us.  And then  Sister Gibson found a horse collar that was a perfect fit for me and was ready to buy it.  I was ok with that but stopped short of letting her by reins so it is still hanging on the wall in Cantril. 
     While we were inside the shop, that by the way, is free from the clutter of electrical lights and is heated by wood burning stoves we noticed a couple of the horse and buggies the Amish are so recognized for parked nearby.  They do allow themselves the "luxury" of a full enclosed carriage in the winter I noticed, however.
     Stopping by Dutchman Store in Cantril and I replenished by supply of twisted butter pretzels like use to be available at Cabela's. The Lindeburg's purchased a tenderloin that didn't look all the appetizing until it was cooked and prepared and we shared it with them for our Sunday dinner at our house.  Sister Gibson made the rolls and her special frog-eye salad.
 
Rendezvous in ol' Nauvoo.......
    The Editor came to life again Thursday night.  While the role may appear to be difficult and daunting it is delightful to me to be able to be engaged with the audience as I try and narrate the storyline.  We are committed to providing a quality experience to the audience and there is always a question this time of the year if there will even one.  Here in Nauvoo and audience of one is as good as one hundred and the show goes on.  Thursday we had and audience of three.  Mom, Pop, and their eleven year old son.  One of the cast members asked me if it was easier or harder with few people.  I thought about it......it really didn't matter....the message was the same.  I was actually more concerned for them as they sat on the front row (three feet away)...what did they think?  I sure had their attention.  They did seem to enjoy it, however.






Monday, January 2, 2017





The End.......
                                .....and the Beginning


     It is now the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.  It seems like so long ago that the spark of inspiration ignited a desire to serve a mission.  Nauvoo became the dream.  Patience became a virtue.  August became the reality that it would happen.  December 28th marks our first hundred days as missionaries.  We have passed the sadness and loneliness of being away from our families and missing the many traditions we have established in the past and yet at the same time we rejoice at our being here in this sacred place surrounded by new friends and fellow missionaries.  In December we lost our titles as "Newbies" as a new couple, the Jones' arrived on December 4th.  Hardly "Newbies", however.  They had served here fifteen months ago and were back for another round.  The official "Newbies" arrived on December 21 when the Duvall's and Daine's arrived. I wonder if we looked that shell shocked? 
     We are in a lull right as no more new missionaries will arrive until March....and then the annual deluge begins anew.  By May we will have added some 40 new couples, several single sisters, the nine young sisters who were assigned to outbound missions, and soon thereafter, the young performing missionaries, who carry the entertainment load for the summer will arrive.  Our assignments will increase as we will not only perform in Rendezvous but also Sunset on the Mississippi...two performances a night at least four nights a week.  All this with the cold temperatures of Winter giving way to the humid heat of Summer..... Sounds fun!
     We are involved in our assignments at FM daily and just like anything else here in Nauvoo you never know exactly what to expect.  We are extremely grateful to be here amongst our fellow missionaries and we learn so much from them that strengthens our testimonies.  It is not a "Pollyanna" world where every thing is roses but there is a special feeling that exists and we feel blessed to be here.  It is indeed Joseph's City and you cannot go far without feeling his influence or presence.  He was indeed a prophet who restored the gospel and plan of happiness that is the way for us to return to his divine presence.  Learning of his life, sacrifices, and testimony as well as his fellow Saints is a strength to us.  Sharing the blessings of the restored gospel with those who come is truly a blessing and a challenge. 

Partners in Grime.........
                                   .....Having a Good Time
     The Noah Packard (aka Schenk and "The Doctors") house appears to be a monumental endeavor of gi-hugeous proportions that often screams "What are you thinking.....why are you doing this?"  Each day I learn a new facet that elicits a "really?!!!" comment from me.  The construction techniques and "fixes" are things I have never seen or imagined....or would even personally consider doing...but around here the by-word phrase is "Willingly...because we have to!"  Our efforts succeed because of my new friend and work partner, Elder Sims.  He was in our MTC group and hails from Furth, Idaho.  It was his request that took me from the cabinetry/carpentry shop into the world of carpentry.  This is his third mission to Nauvoo and he knows pretty much all of the current FM employees and is often referred to as "Bob" rather than Elder Sims.  He was a self employed  HVAC contractor and ran a very successful operation in Furth and was respected and trusted by all.  This allowed him to sell his business and retire at 50 and work on rental units and other construction projects helping his friends there. 
     The Packard house is a perfect fit for his creative skills in shoring up old dilapidated and fire charred timbers and structure repairs that appear to be questionable at best.  If there is a way he is usually the one who finds it and leads us on.  His faith in the project far outweighs my skepticism but once the solution is decided we dive in and complete the task.  One of our "dirty" tasks was removing lath and nails from the charred timbers in the cellar and shoring them with new lumber and putting 6x6 timbers and metal supports underneath in order to keep the structure sound.
     After the cellar project we moved on to creating a new ceiling in the existing additions while working around parts of the existing roof that we were told not to tear out.  This went great until it was discovered that part of the existing roof line with 100 year old 2x6's (really 2" by 6")  hung below the new dimensional lumber (2x6 is now 1 1/2x 5 1/2).  There was not enough space to safely use a circular saw to cut the old out so I tried several other types of saws that were not effective in the extremely hard and dry lumber.  In the end I resorted to a claw hammer and chipped away for over a day at cutting them down to size. 

Eagles Soar and Ice Packs Roar......
     Marilyn and Sister Lee Master were down by the river where they discovered massive ice chunks that had been driven ashore by the winds as the ice on the Mississippi and Lake Cooper began to break up during a thaw.  It was impressive to say the least to see the size and thickness of the blocks of ice.  Then there was sighting of the bald eagles that are now appearing in more numbers along the shores of the river.  It is an annual occurrence that will have many of the large majestic birds dotting the shoreline.  I don't know what the birds thought but she sure looks appetizing to me!!

It's the Annual Counting of the Artifacts....
     At the beginning of the new year the annual inventorying and counting of the artifacts in Nauvoo begins.  This responsibility falls to the lovely ladies of conservation and so Marilyn and Sister Lee Master  begin visiting the sites with their log books and computers and are assigned the responsibility of finding and cleaning them.  An artifact is a rather loose term used to denote anything of older and historical value.  So many of the things that are on display and in the sites in Nauvoo are not from Nauvoo but are of the Nauvoo period.  They are valuable and so they need to be checked on and cleaned.  While some may be touched and handled by the missionaries there are a few that can also be handled by the general public.  There are also those which cannot be touch by anyone except the conservation people who have been taught and trained on how to deal with them.  They are to only be touched with "white gloves" on and very carefully at that.  It scares Sister Gibson to even think about it.  She is the perfect person for the job.  While doing the inventory of the Heber C. Kimball home she took opportunity to stand next to his portrait.  During the Nauvoo years there were many, many sisters that were under the impression that it was necessary to be sealed to one of the church leaders in order to attain the Celestial Kingdom.  There are many, many women sealed to him....and I am not sure he is aware of all of them.  I sure hope he doesn't have his eye on mine.

New Years in Old Nauvoo......

     New Years Eve is a missionary extravaganza that starts at 7:00 and ends at 9:30....WoooooopTeeeeeeDo.  Sister Gibson had the assignment of getting the tables and chairs set up so we were there at 5:00.  The assignment took 30 minutes.  Rather than sit around we retreated to the apartment....waited  a while......drove around and took I-phone pictures of a couple of the more spectacular sights in Nauvoo then went back to the missionary gala at the pageant site and waited thirty minutes for it to start.  Almost all the missionaries showed up....now that's a surprise....what else is there to do in Nauvoo on New Years Eve???  We had a great time with plenty....and I mean....plenty to eat.  There was a program with lots of laughs and the whole shebang ended with the three casts (Emma Hale, Lucy Mack, and Sara Granger) competing "Minute to Win It".....we didn't.
We were in bed and crashed by 10:30........HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

The Lyon Drug Will Deliver a Treat.....
                   ....But None Were Delivered Today

     New Years Day was, of course, on Sunday but that didn't deter the zeal of the missionaries to serve in their sites,  While it may not have been our choice...we did it "Willingly...because we want to"  (Actually we were assigned ).  We had never served in the Lyon Drug so we were excited to see what the history and purpose of the drug store was.  Windsor Lyon and his Wife Sylvia Sessions were the proprietors.  He was a botanical druggist and used herbs and botanicals for the purpose of healing.  There are so many different things to see (but not touch).  The druggist was also able to pull teeth so there is a tooth extractor.  A pill maker was also of great interest.  The main message of the store is to bear testimony of the strength of eternal bonds and the knowledge, through a prophet (Joseph Smith) that little children are indeed special and if they pass away early in their lives their is a celestial place for them.  Perhaps it is because they did some valiant act in the pre-existence and their only need was to gain a body.  Such was the case with the Lyon's as they lost three children while they lived and served in Nauvoo.
     Looking at the pictures you can see the monumental task ahead of Sister's Gibson and Lee Master.  Every one of those bottles and trinkets has to be taken down, turned over to find the correlating number to the catalog, dusted and returned to the EXACT spot it was on the shelf....Talk about "micro-management."   Who needs sheep when you have the Lyon Drug to count??