Sunday, March 26, 2017

We Learn to March......

                  ......Into Sunset on the Mississippi
     A new chapter of Nauvoo life began this week as we held our 1st practices for the summer variety show "Sunset on the Mississippi".  This is a different production than Rendezvous and focus' more on the entertainment side rather than telling the story of Nauvoo on stage.  First order of business is to "train the new recruits".  Sunset has a "pre-show" with a lot of fun activities....a Kids Parade where the children our entertained by making hats and that is followed by a parade around the stage while playing instruments.  Once that is completed there is a tribute to our military veterans.  Here's where the marching part comes in.  All the missionaries stand in formation and march in place while they sing the anthem of all the branches of the service.  Since walking a chewing gum at the same time is a difficult task for some....marching, singing, and saluting?  The veterans are asked to stand as there anthem is played and they are saluted....since I was in the Army I get to hold a flag in the front rather than sing and march.  Go figure....the one's who have marching experience don't march.  Since we didn't have to learn to march our group went and practiced one of the songs....over and over again until we got tired and started swapping stories.

A Week of Misadventures.....

                         ...Ends in Progress

     Turns out we still had one more window to replace...this time in the basement.  Elder Sims volunteered, dove right in, only to find that the rock foundation would have to be chipped away about 1/2" x 18" deep to fit the new window.  Cheerfully and without hesitation he pounded away until the window was fit and installed.  His bruised and battered finger will heal.....
    Elder Hacking and myself took a trip into the world of self leveling floors.  The original floor in the house had such a significant bow in it we determined we would have to fix it before we were able to put tile on it.  Shoring it up from the bottom did little, if anything, to correct the problem.  We probably could have forced the issue as we are such big strong guys anyway...but then again we probably would have caused inadvertent mass destruction to the house considering the structure and all.  It just didn't seem that difficult....the instructions were straight forward.......mix to a thin mixture and pour.....gravity takes care of the rest and levels it.  We mixed it up....poured it out.....and then heard the screams from the FM employee downstairs who was directly underneath one of the many holes in the floor that allowed it to leak through.  Two days later with the holes either plugged by the previous pour or our efforts we poured worked!!!  Maybe tile next week.
     Next on the list was hanging doors and trimming them.  Sounds easy enough.....if they are framed right, ordered right, or even ordered at all.  Since our fearless leaders had ordered the doors based on their original plan...what could possibly be a problem.....different wall thickness' and framing allowances.....that's for sure!!  We ended up cutting jambs, enlarging jambs, re-hinging, re-hanging, and even cutting down the width to make things fit.  Thanks heaven's for Elder Hacking....he is masterful at it.
     The painters continued to paint and repaint.
     All our work this week was done without Elder Van Horn who spent the week in quarantine after being diagnosed with Type A Influenza.  There have been several cases this spring including Sister Lee Master, with whom Sister Gibson works. 

    How Many Elders Does it Take.........
          Replace a Piece of Paper????
      For some reason most of the Elders have a great love for Browning Gun.  So when it was reported that a small picture of the self-loading mechanism for the repeating rifle that John Browning had designed had fallen the glass security case display case would be opened up to replace it....word spread fast.  It is a tricky operation that requires a very heavy piece of security glass be removed to do the repair.  What started out as 2-3 Elders soon grew.  Sister Gibson came home laughing and laughing about the event. 

     The Flu Bug Bites........
                        .....Reinforcements Arrive!!
     Along with the Type A Flu that has stricken several of the Elders and Sisters and put them in quarantine for a week there has been a rash of coughs, colds, and even allergy's that have arisen to plague the mission.  While Sister Hutchinson, our site scheduler, might disagree the most affected has been Rendezvous.  It is a nightmare for our directors to try and figure the last minute....who can do what and fill in where.  Most of the new missionaries that arrived this month are prepared to step in and help....some even have major parts yet to be learned....and then, or course, most of them have yet to get their show apparel finished.  Sister Moench was feeling pretty good by the end of the week as she had miraculously held it together for her first three shows.....Saturday morning arrived...with her visit from the bug...she was down and out.  Our show went on with Elder Moench doing what he could to act really worked out well....for the most part.
     Our new missionaries are doing well and we have 5 new teamsters and 6 single sisters.  We will get four of the sisters in our cast since we only have had Sister Alderton in the past.  They will be a welcome addition.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bigger Than Texas.........
                                   ....Our Family Pride
 It soon became apparent that this wasn't going to be a week of watching paint dry or grass grow. Time flew by as we were visited by most of the "Texas" Gibsons; Eric, Kristin and Kreshelle, Emeri, Kamri, Eden and Kimball.  Next week doesn't look much better....that being said, I am going to post what I can with the little time I have in the next few days and then as time permits I will sort through pictures, grab a few memories then add them so I can fully tell of the week.......To say the was a GREAT TIME for us.
     So it was with great anticipation and that we awaited their arrival.  Believe me.......the hugs from the grandkids were worth the took Kimball a short time and some Cadbury Mini Chocolate eggs to became my "Best Buddy" again.....what a good time I had.  They are growing up and their lives are changing and becoming more exciting....and I guess that means Mom and Dad's too!!!  There was Kreshelle in the drivers seat, driving us around Nauvoo,   Emeri talking one hundred and fifty words per second for hours without breathing and doing acrobatic leaps on the shores of the Mississippi River, Kamri reading things to the group in the Family Living Center, Eden sweetly asking for....... and getting....... anything she wanted from Grandma, and Kimball screaming  ........Grandma.....Grandpa....Grandma......Grandpa at Rendezvous. 
     While we worked during the day they took in some of the sights that we had recommended and then after we were through we took them to others.  We drove out to Carthage and experienced the jail and martyrdom site with them......well most did.  I chased Kimball around the site.....he never stopped running!! 
     The "high point" was Saturday Night when we were Editor and Relief Society President and there in the audience cheering us on was our family.  I hope they enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed presenting our roles for them.  I'm sure it gave them a whole different perspective on us that they probably never have seen or imagined.  I guess you'd have to ask them about that, though.
     They are back......we will remember this as a cherished and treasured time!!

They Rode to the Red Brick Store.........
                                   1840's Style
    On Friday re-enactment of the organization of the Relief Society took place.  It marked 175   years since the Relief Society was organized here in Nauvoo.  The sister missionaries were the only ones to be able to participate since there was limited space in the Red Brick Store where the event originally took place.  They were treated to a ride from the visitors center in one of the custom carriages and driven by Nauvoo's finest (and only) teamsters.  Dressed in their finest.... they spent the afternoon socializing and organizing.......Sister Gibson and Sister Lindeburg rode together on the wagon.  Fortunately, shopping was not open at the Red Brick Store for Sister Lindeburg.  An opportunity missed.
      Meanwhile, the FM Elders took the assignment to replace them on the sites.  What a treat!  Not only did I get to serve with Elder Duvall but I also got to serve in the Brigham Young Home.  It was a great day as I not only was able to teach of the importance of the home to my family but also to several groups of youth and their leaders who were on a Youth Conference Trip from Arkansas.  It was a very busy day that ended with dinner in Keokuk with the Gibson's at Pizza Hut.....

It's no Longer a Sow's Ear.............
              .......It's Looking More Like a Silk Purse
With all the defects and damage of the Schenck house now buried and obscured it is finally evolving into what will be a newly refurbished residence for the doctor.  He will never know what was involved in the transition...and that's probably a good thing.  At mid-week the painters were busily working around the ongoing sheetrock work as well as the finish carpentry which was taking place.   It's always reassuring to know that God answers some prayers and I was able to return to the cabinetry shop to work on milling needed parts for the completion of the woodwork.  I really do love the elders I work with in the house.....just not working with them.  It is sometimes a mind boggling experience I am not accustomed to.

The Cultural Hall and Rendezvous.......

  ......Another Night......Another Memory!!

     I have said it several times before and I am sure it will still be oft repeated but Rendezvous and the Cultural Hall will leave some indelible memories.  Let's start with Elder Lindeburgs efforts to give Sister Lowe  a parting gift and a reminder of her "time" as Rendezvous director.  The tree that was removed from the front of the Cultural Hall was taken to the saw mill to await other uses.  Elder Lindeburg took it upon himself to get a slice of that tree cut off and then transformed it into a clock for Sister Lowe.  It was presented to her after one of the last performances she would be directing.  It turned out will require some serious hanging weighs a ton!!
     Rendezvous did not run nearly as smooth as the fact it stopped dead in the middle. 
To set the had been going well with a few little hiccups.....audience seemed to be alive and responsive (even cheered and laughed out loud several times).  The Peter and Abbigale vignette was performed especially well and got lots of applause when it ended.....just laughs in the middle....without applause there is no cue for the next scene to begin....long, long, pause and finally I just burst in after leaving Peter standing around for what seemed a long time.  I finish my scene and intro in Thomas and Elizabeth vignette which again is performed exceptionally well.  At the end is the typical applause, dimming of the lights.......and then it went dark.  Hmmmmm I thought they must have over dimmed so I started my lead in waiting for the lights to go up.....they didn't..... my part ends and I leave in the dark (there is emergency lighting so there is light for all to see).  Curtain opens for "George and Agagatha" very a dark stage and George trying to figure out what to do.  So he wanders around whistling waiting for this point I can see Sister Lowe frantically working on the control panel ......and I mean frantically!!!  Hoping to buy here some time I decided it's time that someone tell the audience the "enlarged" story of Quincy.  And so for 5-7 minutes until the lights were resurrected I told the story.  Finally.....there was light and the show went on........ here's the rest of the story......down under the hall is the cast or "green room" where the speakers transmit what is going on above so missionaries know when to go to their next scene.  As I am into my story it becomes apparent that "I have lost it" and I am rambling on.  It was probably even suggested that someone should go up and restrain me.......and so once again....there's a new Rendezvous memory.   

The Seventies Hall........

                    ......We Answer the Call
  Sunday we were assigned to serve in the Seventies Hall.  We have never have been there so everything is going to be brand new....(we really didn't plan on much happening).  Afterwards we were set to have our  monthly dinner with the missionaries we had come out with.  It was a very, very, quiet day until 4:30 (we're done at 5:00).
        4:30 Elder and Sister Spradlin arrive wanting to know if we talk about 2 or 5 men in the presentation......."I don't know....haven't ever given one".....I'll talk about 2 when I give it....unless I remember the other 3 then I can talk about 5", I reply.  The discussion ensues between the Spradlins and they decide to settle it over the pulpit with her giving the presentation.  "Whew"...getting in the middle of the Spradlin's could be a problem.  Somewhere before getting to the pulpit a new discussion arises between them about John D. Lee and his death....soon they are into "Google" and
I run for cover as they go to the pulpit for her presentation.
     4:40  I am intrigued watching the Sister Spradlin as she is giving a great least intro....when the doors open and a family comes in.....behind them are President and Sister Hall...this is not a coincidence....they are together.  Sister Gibson points to me......Elder Gibson is the best...he will give the presentation.....The Spradlin's make a hasty departure as I give our tour.....I get it done in the allotted time and they go upstairs and look at the books and artifacts as.......
     4:55  A family with 4 children poke their head in and ask if we can get a tour......"Sure, we would love to......Sister Gibson points to me and says "Elder Gibson is the best and most practiced.  He will do it"  It was the best time I've had all week.  The kids were the cutest.....turns our they were triplets and an older sibling.  They had a blast doing the scavenger hunt in the upstairs artifact room while the parents searched out their ancestors......
     5:15 As we are saying goodbye to the family the door opens and before I can catch him, a single visitor has made his way up the stairway.....he just wants to look in the records for his relatives that lived here...."I'm not holding you I?"  No.....we can always be late.  I got the closed sign out and we locked up at 5:30.....rushed our food assignment and headed out again.

Is it That Time Already?  
                   ...............6 Months have Flown

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sometimes Things Happen......
                         .....We Don't Understand
     There isn't a picture to go with this. The last image I have of Sister Harriett Crandall is her sitting in a rocking chair at the John Taylor Home.  Sister Gibson and I were stopping by to get a tour of the home as we were to be serving there the following Sunday.  She gave us a half-hearted smile; not the gracious one we were used to.  She had been ill for several weeks and most thought it was the result of the "Nauvoo Crud" that had affected most of us at some point.  Several trips to the doctor had done nothing to help.  Sister Cluff gave us the tour and we wished Sister Crandall well as we left.
     A week or so later she was found collapsed on her bedroom floor by her companion and emergency services were called.  Ultimately she was transported to Quincy where she was diagnosed with a sub-dural hematoma.  She remained there but it was soon clear this was a serious situation and even though many prayers  and visits by missionaries were offered in her behalf she did not improve.
Two weeks ago she was transferred to Iowa City so she could be close to her daughter who lived there and it was discovered there that she had brain cancer.  Chemo-therapy was administered as a treatment.  She did not tolerate it well and she passed away two days later. 
     Sunday a memorial service was held in place of Priesthood/Relief Society and was attended by her
children who spoke about their mother.  She will be buried in Cedar City along side her husband.
     God bless you, Sister Crandall.....we will remember you!!

The Trail of Hope Gets a Cleaning...
                                 .....As I Ponder!!
     We received the assignment, once again, to clean the Trail of Hope markers that lead down Parley Street to the Mississippi.  It was a fortuitous circumstance that made my assignment and easy one as the night before we had a driving thunderstorm that passed by and lit up the night sky and drenched Nauvoo.  Mother Nature did my job.
     Still wanting to make sure nothing had been missed by Mother, I walked Parley Street, inspected, and read each of the signs.  By my count there are thirty of these markers which are diary excerpts taken from those who live it.  It is sobering to know the commitment and faith that those early Saints possessed.  Those who pressed on in spite of the discouraging and difficult circumstances that were forced upon them were indeed worthy of a place of glory in the heavenly realms. 
    The "Great Plan" we accepted in our pre-mortal lives was most certainly a factor in determining the time and place we were assigned to mortality.  Those who came during the restoration years must have been unique and special as their testimonies were founded and grounded in the midst of some very trying and difficult times.  Their challenges were different that ours....but they were "their" challenges and those who were obedient and endured are remembered for their faithfulness and dedication in the midst of some very trying times.
     I hope we can do likewise!!

How Many Missionaries.....

        .....Can You Stack in The Schenck House??
     During my teenage years there became a unique form of competition between groups to see how many people could be stuffed into a phone booth, Volkswagen, bathtub, or similar.  Here in Nauvoo it has been decided to resurrect that form of fun and frivolity.  This week's record was nine.....4 Elders trying to finish sheet rock and window installation, FM Heating, and 4 Elders painting and prepping.  That doesn't even include all the tools that have never been put out of the way or the myriads of ladders and scaffolding that are required.  Never mind the chaos or confusion just find a job you want to do and plow  on. 
     In one swoop I was able not only get a dirty shirt from tearing out the last remaining window from the old home but also proudly bump into wet sheetrock mud and paint within seconds.  Not to worry....all can be repaired and redone.....after all it is Nauvoo. Every job is a rush!!  Everyone one seems to accept it as "par for the course". 
     Tipping over buckets of water happens regularly but we can drain the water through a vacated vent hole in the floor.  We have been elder has fallen twice from ladders and scaffolding and survived with only bumps, bruises and a cut.  Whew!!!

   Sister Gibson was Sick and Tired......

       .....but not for Riser Boot or
                   President Nelson and Elder Soares
   While we are expecting a visit from the Texas Gibsons next week we got another unexpected visit from Nauvoo Crud.  Sister Gibson endured it well and refused to give in......that meant serving in the Riser Boot Shop on Sunday afternoon.    She did find time to take a needed nap and rest up.
     A week ago it was announced that President Russell M. Nelson would coming to Nauvoo to hold a fireside with all the temple missionaries, ordinance workers and all Illinois Nauvoo Missionaries.  So the week was filled with anticipation.  It was announced that the doors would open at 4:30 at the Stake House with the missionaries having preferential seating until 5:00.  At that time others would be allowed to fill the remaining seats.  While we were thrilled to be able to hear President Nelson and Illses Soares of the Seventy it did not seem to thrilling to sit in anticipation.  So we went at 5:50 sat in the back of the hall and watched on the big screen and heard the same words that everyone else my question is:  Is the Spirit stronger at the front of the chapel or weaker because of the lengthy and tiring wait?
     He delivered a very interesting message on the Savior and highlighted Handel's Messiah and the inspiration that went into it as well as several back drop stories the were very interesting including one about the female soloist who performed it at the opening night.  He scripturally chronicled all the verses in order of their appearance in the bible (not the way they were presented in the Messiah). 
     We also got to view a preview of the Easter message that the church will be presenting starting soon.  All in all it was a great experience.......even from the back!!!!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Under His Watchful Eye.......
                 They Learn Together......
                               ...They Practice Together

                 ....Soon They Will Soar....Alone!!
     As I drove home one blustery afternoon my attention was drawn to what appeared to be numerous eagles gliding above the trees near the house.  Usually eagles are solitary and if ever seen with another, it is their mate.  Nonetheless I grabbed the camera and headed into the park to the north of our home to see if I could catch some images.  Typically, by the time I had arrived, they had departed.  I hung on thinking they might return......and soon they did.  I watched as they would soar together on the winds and use the currents to their advantage.  This repeated itself several times as I marveled, watched, and tried to get some sort of remarkable photo.  At one point there were thirteen birds in the air above me.  They were clearly eagles but they were not yet matured and probably very young ones at that.  It takes five years for the mature eagle to receive the white plumage that defines him as a Bald Eagle, our nations symbol.
     It wasn't until later when I was viewing and analyzing the pictures that I found a remarkable lesson.  Alone, seemingly a part of the juvenile eagles, but soaring above them, was a mature male.  He was watching as these young birds prepared for their future.  They were learning to navigate the currents as well as building up their strength to fly into winds that opposed them. They were preparing to fly great distances and learn to be aloft for hours as they would soon migrate north during the summer as well as learning how to use the currents for their benefit in conserving energy and hunting for food in the vast land below them. 
     I soon found myself reflecting on those young "Armadillo's" I had such a great time with.  I remembered many of the crazy times and their quirky personalities.  Their visits to hang out, mooch food, or even just see what was going on with me.   They even thought they drove me crazy...not knowing fully that I was half way there anyway. 
      They are now past my watchful eye and I am left to ponder if my lessons to them were as meaningful as I hoped.  They probably aren't  graceful eagles (yet) but they have that place in my heart and for that I remember and love them.  I hope they are doing well!!

Rendezvous Will Never be the Same....

                  .....But Then Again.....It Never Is!!
     In two weeks Rendezvous will be saddened to lose our beloved director (soon to be called the coordinator), Sister Lowe.  She has come to the end of her service here and will be returning to her home in Tennessee.  Her spirit, optimism, physical infirmities(Sight and hearing...LOL😅), and testimony will be missed.  She is our biggest fan and laughs the loudest when we do well or foul up.  She has raised the bar for Rendzvous and we are all better individually and collectively for knowing her and being able to associated with her and grow from her vast experience and personality.
     On Saturday she and her husband took the stage and did the "Thomas and Elizabeth" vignette....and they were spectacular.  It's no wonder.....they have raised their family in the gospel and as stage performers as easy task.  Sister Gibson recently received a text from her dear friend Carol Bengtzen telling her that their Relief Society instructor's parents were serving in Nauvoo...her name....Kendra's a small world.
To get to know more about them them visit  We have been truly blessed to have Sister Lowe...especially me....after all she picked me as the "Editor" so I didn't need to sing so much and I can talk alot.  I don't think she understands that I understand music as well as she understands Chinese symbols for reading.
     Replacing Sister Lowe will be my sister Gayle's childhood friend, Sister Nancy Moench.....I caught a picture of her opening her call to be the new director....Doesn't she look excited?  Actually she is shown here as "Agatha" who is constantly "guiding and bossing" her husband, George around while trying to make improvements to my newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor........unfortunately her many suggestions require more paper than we presently have in our supply!!  I hope she gets over it soon.
The Drink Man Cometh.......
     We didn't see much of this "Saint" as we arrived in October and the weather was changing...soon we were at FM.  Starting a couple of weeks ago he again began appearing on the streets of "Old Nauvoo" with a truck full of drinks and goodies.  
     He willingly does this weekly and bares the full load of expense.  He will not take any help and if you ever are so rash as to say "Thank You" he corrects you....and says "No....Thank You!!" Only when you respond with "God Bless You" do you receive a warm smile of gratitude.  He is indeed and angel!!  
          .......God Bless Him!!
Elder Sims is Granted a Golden Ticket
                                   .......And he Accepts!!

     Normally I wouldn't make any note of  someone accepting a "Golden Ticket".  In Elder Sims case I will make an exception.  He is truly a priceless wonder for the ages and the more I work with him the more I appreciate him.  He is truly a humble man but is very, very, defined in the ways he does things and wants them done.  Part of this comes from enjoying a small town life in Furth, Id. with a little more freedom to do things than is afforded in the larger cities and part comes from an inborn stubbornness...sound familiar?  He had made it abundantly clear to me that he would never accept the "golden ticket" because of his  inadequacies.  In fact he had previously declined the invitation from the prior mission counselor in charge of ticket distribution. 
     So when Elder Purcell showed up  at the Schenck house looking for Elder Sims I quickly grabbed the phone (camera) to catch the moment....and then ran for cover not wanting to hear the ensuing conversation.  Returning later and asking how it went Elder Sims sheepishly replied...."I took it". He explained it was to teach Priesthood Meeting.    Inquisitively I asked "Why?".  "Well", he said...."You told me if I ever took a ticket you would stand up there right beside me to help"  ....and I will, if he wants!!


                  ......and Welcome to Nauvoo
     Friday morning brought another one of those bittersweet moments as we assembled for a mission "Farewell Breakfast".  We say good bye to E/S Lowe, E/S Lee Master (they really won't leave until the middle of April....they didn't want to do the farewell breakfast alone....who could blame them), E/S Swain, and our  doctor and his wife E/S Rassmussen.
    Replacing them will be 9 new couples.  Folks around here feel like they have been fighting a battle with diminished resources (few in number....not mental capacities) and by the end of the month we will have added another group of 18 (8 Single Sisters, and 5 couples).  It's going to be a welcome change for those who will be working on the sites as they will again be able to have varied schedules.
     I wanted to add a picture but none was I looked at using the picture of the 2000 Stripling Warriors....but no one had updated it to reflect 65-80 year olds carrying brooms, canes, and garbage can lids, wearing hearing aids, with grey hair while following an old guy on a horse.  So you'll just have to use your imagination.!!

A Beautiful Weekend ......

                  .....Takes us to the Amana Colonies
     We were invited by Elder and Sister Hacking to join them on a trip to the Amana Colonies since he was interested in purchasing a hat he liked that several of the other Elders wore.  He explained that it was an Amish Community and they liked to feed groups on the weekends in the barn.  Sounded fun since it wouldn't involve shopping.  Lesson learned: Don't speak until you know the full did end up with shopping!!  Now don't get me would be ok and the trip would go fine...but it did include the inevitable shopping experience.
Feeling safe from shopping I told them that the Lindeburgs would probably like to go and they had a mini-van that would fit us all.  Great.....and then the details emerged.....The Amana Colonies are not Amish....they are religious refugees that came from Germany and settled in Iowa and started a communal living group that became totally self sufficient relying on their own skills to survive on and protect them and their children from the outside world.  It worked until 1930 or so when an explosion destroyed a portion of their production facilities and they had neither insurance or a way to rebuild.  They established the Amana Society, a profit sharing enterprise, and encouraged free enterprise.  Their religion remained intact and the villages remain as historic sites visited annually by hundreds of thousands. 
     That meant there were shops......lots of shops and even worse our travels would take us within a few miles of the Costco in Iowa City......."oh my heart" ......what had I done??  Would we even get to see the  Amana Colonies?  Of course we would and we would eat.....but heart skipped beats and pounded like a drum as I would be forced to explain to the Hackings what may happen with Sister Lindeburg and shopping.  They were in away we went.
     Well, it turned out just fine.  We saw the sights, visited the shops, bought a hat and backscratcher, ate lunch and a non-authentic German restaurant.  The waitress didn't even know what  "Koendel or rotkraut" was.  They didn't even have kartoffelsalat (potato salad). We saw some of the colony and museum and even got in and out of Costco within the 30 minute time limit that was set.......WHEW!!
     We returned to Nauvoo in time to perform at Rendezvous for a couple of visitors and a raft of new missionaries........I remember their feeling......on the outside you are smiling in spite of the glazed looks in the eyes.  And now.....seeing the show and what goes say to yourself "NOT ME....I don't do that stuff". will!!