Sunday, June 25, 2017











     It's Halfway from
          The Beginning....
                                                 ......and Halfway to the End
         What Have We Learned...
                                 and What lies Ahead?

     June 19th marked our official half way mark in our call to serve here in Nauvoo.  So it's fitting we take a look back at the past as well as look forward to the future.  Upon our arrival here I was assigned to FM which was, of course, the reason we desired and were called to the Illinois Nauvoo Mission.  The surprise came when Sister Gibson was called to serve in Conservation Department of FM.  She has become a light and shining beacon as she serves and takes care of artifacts, missionaries, FM staff, and Elder Gibson.  It would be difficult to see her in any other role. 
     I, on the other hand, seem to be often discontent as I labor on FM projects.  While I enjoy the physical side of building and caring for Old Nauvoo I am constantly frustrated with those things that occur in management, fellow missionaries, and projects.  It has led me to respond to the oft asked question: "How long do you have left" to which I reply, " several more months.........if I last that long"  It is not my point to labor on these details and feelings.  Overcoming and dealing with these feelings is my challenge. 
     What I have found is that my real joy(and maybe even my purpose):
     Is bringing happiness and a the spirit of Nauvoo to those who visit.  Rendezvous offers me that opportunity as the editor  I am the "glue" that links the various vignettes together as we tell of the importance of the Book of Mormon in the lives of those who are willing to read it as well as telling of the strength and sacrifice of the saints as they were forced out of their beautiful city after their leader and prophet, Joseph Smith, was martyred in Carthage along with his brother Hyrum.  I hope they feel and are touched by the spirit and sacrifice of this special place. 
     There are other nights that we are members of the cast singing and performing our other parts in Sunset on the Mississippi or Rendezvous......It is more fun than I ever imagined....then again my expected "fun barometer" was never loaded with expectations.  The laughs, the cheers, the applause, and general appreciation raise my spirits each time.....who would have thought  that??  Someone recently commented that I was a "ham"...........who knew?
     On those rare opportunities that we serve in the  sites I have found joy.   Having the opportunity to talk to those who come and not only explain the strength and commitment of those who lived here and weave their stories into practical gospel applications is amazing.  I love to teach.....especially those young souls who I love so much.  If it weren't for the long periods of time during much of the off season I would be so grateful to be able to serve in these sites and testify of our Savior and of those principles of the gospel that allow our lives to become to rich.
     Serving with Sister Gibson has been everything I had hoped for.  I believe it has been an amazing experience for both of us and it has made us better and closer to each other and the Lord for it.  What a blessing!
     What lies ahead in the coming months is more opportunities for us to become better at what we are doing and continue to grow in spirit and testimony while we serve here together as well as be able to spread the gospel message to those who are seeking it.  We constantly feel the prayers of those we have left behind and hope our prayers are felt wherever they are needed.  We still have a little spring in our step and we carry the torch forward!!  I am sure I will endure to the end.......
                                                                                                               .....well pretty sure!!

Sister Gibson and......
                     ......The Magical Zucchini Prank

     One of the tender mercies (for some) that are allowed here is that if there is a little plot of ground and the missionaries so desire they can plant a small garden.....like tomatoes or such.  Some of our neighbors are ecstatic about the possibilities....some, like me, really don't care.  So when the other night we were visiting with the Lindeburgs and Sister Lindeburg began carrying on about how great the soil was and how fast things grow I listened patiently....that not being enough she paraded us out to show us this little bitty leaf emerging from the ground....the seed had only been there a couple of days, not being a gardener I assume that's pretty impressive.  It's been a week or so since and we were shopping when Sister Gibson brought over a little zucchini and suggested we put it by the sprout.  Before she could change her mind I had the little sucker in the basket and soon Sister Gibson placed it under the plant.  Wow....one week and a zucchini.  I've got to call the FM gardeners and tell them to remove the plant before we are inundated with the little veggies.    Folks.....it's just another Nauvoo Miracle....they happens here all the time!

     Sister Gibson leads the Way.......
          ......As Cooler Heads Prevail at Sunset!!
     It is getting hot and humid here.  The performances at Sunset are punctuated with new and unique ways to keep cool.  Sister Gibson has found a little spray bottle with a fan attached that she puts to use by spraying her face.  She must have thought I was really "hot" one evening as she turned it loose on me.  Can't beat that little woman.....she takes such good care of me.  Of course if I sprayed her it would certainly be another story and a completely different reaction.....go figure

     The Ugly Duckling......
     As expected the roof materials didn't arrive until late in the day on Monday.  What a blessing!!
Another Nauvoo Miracle!!  And so with that little hiccup it allowed us time to do the unthinkable, unfathomable, impossible, and near miraculous......I got everyone on board to clean out the trailer.
Everything had been piled at the back of the trailer since who knows when and it was nigh on impossible to even get in there.  Instead of looking for things we would just go find someone who had it and borrow it.  The stack just got deeper and deeper.  It took us two hours to pull it all out, discard all the junk that had been put in there, organize the remaining tools, and finally take back all the extra tools and materials we found.  From there we started installing the sheet rock....we had ordered "green board" and it had been delivered a couple of weeks ago.  When we got to installing it we found it had miraculously changed color (or more than likely it wasn't ordered correctly).  At any rate we plowed on and installed what we had.  The following day we installed the roof and with that the entire exterior of the trailer was complete
                      .........Starts to Look Like a Swan

     We finally got on a roll and the sheet rock ceiling was fully installed, Elder Hacking started taping it, and we put up    plywood  on the walls and by the end of the week we installed our first FRP panels.  Even better news was that Elder Sims had been temporarily freed from the H-Vac prison and was over helping us......bad back and all we just can't slow the guy down. 
     And just for good measure......and to bring us back to the reality of Nauvoo, Marcus announced that they would be moving the trailer to the pageant site on Monday. No problem....it got new tires and is ready to roll.  It will be inconvenient for us as we have all our materials and such stored at the FM site where we have been working on it.  It's just the Nauvoo way......wait until a crisis and then figure out a way to make it more difficult.
    It's Saturday... Bishop Hill calls....
     ..........and We're of on Another Adventure

     We are always looking for somewhere to go when Saturday arrives.  We had heard about Bishop Hill which is northeast of Nauvoo.  It was a communal living group from Sweden that started the community in 1846 in Illinois by Erik Jansson who had let a large group to America in search of religious and political freedom.  Bishop Hill was named after his birthplace in Sweden.   Four years later and disillusioned follower killed him and trustees were installed to run the colony.  It is a small community and the major industry is, of course, tourism. 
     We asked the Hacking's to go with us as they will be returning home in a couple of weeks.  Sister Hacking reluctantly came as she was preparing for a visit from her son next week but was very supportive of Elder Hackings wish to go.  After all....he was still looking for a pump to decorate his garden with.  He had been looking for months but with no luck.  We were perfect in our timing as there was a music event in the park as well as the setting of a Maypole.....we missed the Maypole raising as it was to late in the day and we had to be back for Rendezvous.  The bagpipers and big band jazz sound were entertaining, however.
     We ate lunch at the Filler Up cafĂ©.....full of cute sayings and signs.  Behind Sister Gibson is the advertisement for the famous Road Kill Cafe'....."You kill....We grill it"  Sounds appetizing.  There are several antique stores there....and we saw them all as Elder Hacking searched for the illusive pump.  No luck....but we saw some interesting things.
     Driving through Dallas City, a town about 25 miles from Nauvoo, on the return trip Elder Hacking, who had been sleeping the majority of the trip, says "Would you mind going around the block....I think I saw a pump"  And lo and behold there is a lady sitting in the back of her hatchback selling some junk....and in the middle of it is a pump.  Elder Hacking goes and talks to her....comes back empty handed.  He explained that the lady wanted $100 and he only wanted to pay $50.  She asked him to make an offer and he figured it wasn't worth his time.  We sent him back to at least make an offer...soon he is waving for me to come and help drag the pump to the truck..."How much did you pay?"   "Oh...she was fine with $50" replied Elder Hacking......and there it is.....once again....
another Nauvoo Miracle.

It's Not John Taylor's Horse......
     ......But Sister Gibson Makes it Look Good!
     One of the antique stores we visited in Bishop Hill had this old homemade rocking horse.  We laughed about all the controversy of the John Taylor Horse and decided we would take this picture to the FM Director, Jordan Bodily, thinking he might want to have a back up for the story.....He will undoubtedly find no humor in it as he is inundated with the controversy surrounding the Nauvoo horse.  Perhaps he might want it for a decoration in his newly remodeled office or even be inspired to give it to the Church Historical Department.


Monday, June 19, 2017




Throw the Comb....... Hope for A Laugh....


                  .....and.....You are Blessed!!
     We do this cutesy little number in Sunset where the Sisters start out singing a little ditty called Nauvoo Sunshine and then the Elders strut out on the stage acting like the macho men they think used to be and sing a song that is set to the music of Stout Hearted Men....and for the record it does take a brave hearted man to go out and perform on the stage.  So every night I am center stage front....not a very inconspicuous place to be.  So when we come to the verse where we proclaim "We are some men who "were" great specimens.....if you take twenty years off our age".....we are supposed to take a small pocket comb and comb our hair......really???....What hair???  It was prior to our last performance that I told (bad idea) Sister Gibson I was going to toss my comb in the air with a dumbfounded  look she replied "You look stupid enough already without doing such a foolish thing....throwing the comb.... is not a good idea.  What will Sister Rober (our coordinator) say?"   That being said.....(the Devil made me do it).....I threw it.  Got great response from the front row....the scowl from Sister Gibson did not go in-noticed, however.  Now the really good part....
     After the show a young boy came running up to me.....with the comb.  His mother right behind him explained that he was so worried that I wouldn't get it back and  he kept looking for me the whole rest of the show.  We were soon engaged in conversation that as usual,  led to "where are you from?".....Utah, Saratoga Springs....."Oh, I have a brother who lives in South Jordan" ....."What's his name...we might know him"  "Pikus, it's a really odd name" she replied.  "hmmmm, don't know him but it sounds like a good football name....I coached kids for many years in South Jordan".  "I don't think so" she replied....and then it dawned on me....this was Nicole Pikus-Pace.  And now you may be saying  "who is Nicole Pikus-Pace" 
     I had followed her story, like many others, over the years.  She won the silver Medal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics...but it is much more.  I am not going to tell you of her....she is just another "Mormon Mommy" on the surface but her life speaks volumes and speaks for itself and sends a message loud and clear.....do a little research....Google and such.  You will be uplifted and inspired....!!!
     The bottom line is......Throw the Comb (follow a prompting).....and be blessed with a Nauvoo Miracle Story!!!

Five Minutes Early is.........
            .........Ten Minutes Too Late in Nauvoo

     So you've seen chairs set up for Stake Conference before...it's not and uncommon site to see the chairs blanket the entire cultural hall floor...and maybe even to on the stage.  This is not Stake Conference here in Nauvoo.....it is Sacrament Meeting every Sunday during the summer months.
If you are one of the Elders assigned to set up the chairs at 7:00 a.m. and you really want to help....you will show up at 6:50.  By 6:55 a third of the chairs  have been set up and by 7:05 we are wiping the sweat off our brow and heading back home.  I can thank my priesthood calling with our young men to get me practiced and efficient.  As I leave I throw my jacket and I-pad on a seat....mind you I am not saving a seat....I am just putting them on a seat until I get back. 
     After that the chaos ensues as the missionaries start arriving at 7:15 to claim a prized soft seat in the chapel.....by 7:30 you are relegated to the hard chairs in the cultural hall.  7:40 arrives and all the missionaries are reverently sitting in place as the visitors, YPM's, and Young Sister missionaries arrive.  The seating is almost full by the time the meeting starts...... A single blessing is pronounced on the sacrament from the chapel table but there is a secondary table in the cultural hall.  YPM's do the chapel while the OPM's (Old Performing Missionaries....that us) take care areas in the rear of the building.   It's efficient.......and mind boggling.  Sister Gibson and myself are content to show up with the 7:40 crowd and get the hard seat....she brings a cushion as we get thirty minutes more prep (or sleep) time.


    A Roof......A Roof.....
                .....the Trailer Still needs a Roof!!
     The trailer is moving along .....well sort of.  While we were able to get all of the siding we had in stock applied by the end of the week we then were left waiting for more.  Plenty of material for the inside where we cant' work very well until the exterior is finished and all the exterior plumbing and light protrusions are installed in strategic places so they are flat and will not leak.  This in and of itself is a pain since all of the electrical was done before the rib pattern of the siding was in place and installed.  When the roof design was changed several weeks ago we were told the materials would be here no later than the first of this week....for sure no later than Thursday.  It is Nauvoo....and I have been here long enough to know the pattern....so it was no surprise that were told Friday that it would be here first thing (maybe) Monday morning.  We went to work on the inside putting the insulation on the ceiling where we thought the plumbers could work without it being in their way.  The exterior electrical boxes, we soon discovered, in spite of our best efforts, were found to be in the wrong places or in some cases, in our zeal (or lapse of memory) we had covered them over.  They weren't hard to find since we could see them from the inside but we did have to do a little work to get them moved. 
     Another Nauvoo irony occurred when Elder Hacking was approached by Marcus as asked if he could help paint the FM director's home since the painter's are short handed and behind.  He's apparently getting better at figuring things out as he soon changed his mind.  On one hand he could see displeasing the director.....on the other hand the wrath and displeasure 5000+ women who needed toilet facilities during the Pageant.

     Pella is a Window.....A City.....and

                                                       .....and a Story Book
     We passed on the Tulip Festival in May so we could visit this Dutch town nestled between Iowa City and Des Moines....We did miss the many tulips, a parade, and crowds of people.  The hope was that we would be able have a better experience, see more, learn more, and avoid the crowds.  Sometimes a plan comes together....this one did.  We were able to walk around and enjoy the things that we would have surely missed.......for example there is the Jaarsma Bakery.  It's a big feature on the square and there is usually a line to even get to the counters....it took us twenty minutes to even get to where we could see what we wanted to purchase.....the choices were many.  It was good stuff but during the Tulip Festival people waited in a two block line for over an hour.....it wasn't "that" good.
     The majority of our time was spent touring the 6 story windmill and it's operation.  Pretty fascinating stuff.   Sister Lindeburg took to climbing the large fan blade for a picture.  In order for these blades to work efficiently the "miller" must set the wind as it changes with a large wheel that turns the upper section into the wind and then he must set each blade to vertical and climb most of the way to the top to set the canvas.  Then he can go to work milling the flour.
     Behind the windmill is an old Dutch village that has been built to show the mid 1800's life when the town was founded.  It's like Nauvoo....without tour guides and touching restrictions.  So I made the most of the puppet theater....the names of the characters portrayed by the puppets have been changed to protect the guilty.  There is a miniature village created in the museum part that is really well done and fun.  And for what ever reason there is a hand carved forty horse team and wagon paying tribute to one of the only people known to have been able to drive such rig.....I guess it is kind of like the mountain climber who was asked why he risked his life climbing dangerous mountains....his reply...."Because I can"
     In the square we also ran across a couple of wonderful and interesting people.  A lady playing the saw with a violin bow provided eerie sounding music that is best done as a background for a horror movie...but she had done it for twenty years to help fund the arts in Pella.  Mark Hayes, the card man, drew our attention as he walked into the bakery foregoing the entrance and using the exit.  We immediately struck up a conversation and he explained to me that for many years he had taken it upon himself to go around the square with a condolence card for anyone that had passed away within thirty miles of Pella, have people sign it, and then take it to the mortuary to be given to the family.
It was his way of making something meaningful of his life.......what a message.  Sister Gibson gave him a "pass along card" and invited him to come to Nauvoo....She is really excited to show off her singing and acting skills.

Sunday, June 11, 2017




Family Arrives and...........
                              ......We Kick up a Storm
     Sometimes we forget what we are really missing......until the "real deal" shows up.  Such happened again this week as Marc, Mindy, Kessie and Molly came to visit.  First thing I learned from Kessie was that I had forgotten how to give those "big Grandpa hugs".  With a little time and practice and soon regained the old form.  The three days provided us with a lot of time to spend and talk together and to catch up on all the things as well as show them our lives and what we were doing here in Nauvoo.  Not only to help serve the other missionaries and rebuild things but also let them roam and find the spirit of Nauvoo on their own.  One of the things that we have learned while we are here is that there is a special spirit and feeling of this place.  Those who lived here provided the basis for it, and, if you listen carefully, you can here the spirit testify of their words, deeds, and lives.  Sometimes it comes from the expected places.....the Christus Statue at the visitors center as you listen to Christ's testimony, through the scriptures, of who he was and what his role is in our lives.  Maybe it will be the carriage ride that weaves through the woods and back roads of Nauvoo.  The stories that are told and the peacefulness of the message seems to grasp many.  Then there is Carthage...it is always a powerful experience of testimony and sacrifice as the stories of Joseph and Hyrum are told or you hear the beautiful songs performed by the Young Performing Missionaries.   And maybe, just maybe, it will be in an unexpected site like the blacksmith shop.  It doesn't matter when, or where, it will happen here and every visitor will be rewarded for the effort they made to get here.
   


      It was fun for us to sing and dance for our family (and many others) on the Sunset Stage.  But the real highlight started on Tuesday night.  It had been a long day and we had finished by performing in the heat on the Sunset outdoor stage.  Returning home Molly and Kessie gave us a big surprise when they announced that they were going to stay until after Rendezvous on Wednesday night.  Originally, their schedule had them going back to Chicago Wednesday afternoon.  I hope their sacrifice was rewarded....watching us in Rendezvous was special to us......I love my role as editor and I feel a special connection with the audience as I piece together the story of conversion, sacrifice, and testimony of those early saints through song, dance, and dialogue.  Sister Gibson is really special in her role as Relief Society President.  It was a great day and night!!
     We look forward to the day that we will again be able to spend more time with all of our family members, wherever they may be.

Fortunately it was a Dummy.......
   .....That Lived(Hopefully) to be Revived!! 


     It was announced Monday that all FM people would have the opportunity to attend a four hour class on CPR.  Sister Gibson was a little less than enthusiastic to sit that long.  Fortunately there were a few breaks, the usual Nauvoo FM breakfast.....donuts, milk, etc.  Willingly we participated....because we had to.  In the end we got to practice all the theory we learned....I was looking forward to the mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR exercise with Sister Gibson but we ended up using the dummy instead....at the end it looked the same as in the beginning....pretty dead!

The Badge Changes.......
      ......The Message is Reinforced!!  


     Our Wednesday morning training contained a new and unusual twist.  One of the unique things afforded the missionaries called to Nauvoo was the emblem of the Nauvoo Temple imprinted on their badges.  That all changed when President Hall announced that effective immediately (really) missionaries would no longer wear badges with the Temple Logo on it.  That left all missionaries to scatter and find the few badges they had been originally issued without it....at last count there were many hundred "new....old" badges on order.  There was some grumbling in the ranks....Willingly they moved forward....because they had to.
     That being said it is important to know where and why this decision was made.  It came from the Missionary Executive Council, chaired by Brother Oaks.  You see, our message is not that of the Nauvoo Temple, although it was always a good attention getter, it is of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  His name is that on which we focus....in our lives and on our badges.

      We Raise the Roof (as promised) .......


                 ....to Build a New One
                                  ....With an Artistic Touch!
     In spite of missing one full day due to the CPR training we did manage to get a lot done on the trailer as we rebuilt the roof structure, added a plywood deck, and covered it with protective wrap.  It was a lot of fun putting the wrap on the roof as the gun kept jamming and double shooting...but patience prevailed.    The inside was again worked on  as we needed to change the placement of the hand dryers and child's folding table in each of the sides.  Elder Hacking, with his usual thoroughness, nailed every piece of wood again to make sure it was secure.  With the temperatures rising into the high eighties it became increasingly more difficult to work in the afternoons.  I am sure that working over the parking lot and the sun reflecting off the trailer it is considerably hotter.  My water intake is immense and I am still feeling the effects of heat.  As a team we requested that we start at 6:00 a.m. and were given the ok to do it if the forecast temperature was going to be ninety or greater.......I am sure we will use any form of loose interpretation to make sure that works.....being obedient as we are.
     Elder Hacking couldn't resist drawing a picture around two vent holes which were place on the ends of the trailer.  I succumb to the evil temptation to name it.....I have already asked for forgiveness....at least it is now covered up.....maybe no one saw it.

     We Head to Quincy for

                                                      Lincoln Days

     Saturday took us to Quincy where there was a Lincoln Days celebration.  We didn't know quite what to expect.   What we found was a the town square dotted with pop-ups that had different displays and interactives to learn a little about the period.  The around the block carriage ride was sort of that....it went around the block half way....and then doubled back.  It was enjoyable and the narrator did give us some interesting facts about the town square and city of Quincy.  In my book Quincy's claim to fame is the generosity of the city to take in the Mormons as they were driven out of Missouri and give them aid, food, and shelter and help sustain them until they could get back on their feet.  The politicians and townsfolk, however, are quick to point out the Lincoln/Douglas debate that was so famous in the pre-Lincoln Presidency.  Lincoln lost that election but ultimately "won the war" when Douglas was done in by a split in the Democratic Party that allowed Lincoln to win the presidency.   Nauvoo on the Road was also there and we talked to our fellow missionaries and shared stories of the week with each other as the event was less crowded than anticipated.

Random Thoughts...
     We are finding an unexpected joy in Sunset.....not the singing and dancing but rather the people who come to see us.  After the performance we go out into the audience.....I usually find a way to break the ice with "I just wanted to make sure you got your money's worth from our performance".
  Since it is a free event I usually get big smiles and lots of positive feedback.  From there we can talk to them about anything.  Sometimes we know exactly why we are talking to them....sometimes we don't know.  They may be impressed with the YPM's or the OSAM's (Old Singing/Acting Missionaries.)  Sometimes it is the patriotic message or the pioneer spirit.  Most times they just don't know except that they feel good!!
     Everyone comes to Nauvoo for a reason.....there are no coincidences.  I believe that.

Last, but not least,  I made a trip to Hamilton to visit Zach Rodeffer, boy wonder dentist.  He got to do what Les Cannon had wanted to do for years......one more molar down....only a few more to go.
That's nothing to look forward to.








Tuesday, June 6, 2017





The Rainbow Shines......
                               ....And Sunset Glows!!
       Sooner or later....since time marches on.......and the sun rises and sets.....we were destined to perform on the Sunset on the Mississippi stage.  It happened on May 29....and it actually turned out to be a pretty remarkable.....well, remarkable in a unique and different sort of way.  I can't speak for others but the confusion, changes and chaos of the past seemed to disappear as I passed through the curtain carrying the flag of the U.S. Army proudly across the stage and the military anthems from all the branches of service were presented and the anthems or battle songs were sung. (By the way...that's me on the left....I'll get the flag straighter the next time).   I just couldn't stand tall enough or straight enough as those men and women who have maintained our freedoms over the years, past and present, were honored.  The crowd of 250 cheered and clapped......and when the singing of America the Beautiful ended and the flags retired....the show went into high gear led by the YPM's.  The old folks did their parts and performed their routines....it really didn't look to bad.  The band plays so loud behind us that unless you are a remarkably talented singer who can actually follow them.....it's good luck and God bless you the rest of the way. 
     The best part of the show came, of course, when it ended (LOL).  Both literally and figuratively as the YPM's performed last with a beautify song and we joined in at the end singing "Love at Home", a song that has always been particularly dear to me since the family sung it at Grandma Nances funeral. 
      The cast manager duties we have been assigned add to our workload as we have to be there at 6:00 PM and we didn't leave until almost 9:00.  I hope it gets better as it sure made for a long day and a short night.....Guess it could be worse.....O yeah...it is:  Rendezvous now has two shows nightly and we don't get done with the second one until 9:30. 

Just Another Day......
                           .......For Sister Gibson
     So what happens when you take a docile sweet grandma who reluctantly leaves her home, friends, and beloved grandkids to serve a mission in Nauvoo and then gets reassigned to work in the Facilities Management of the mission and then suddenly is thrust into being the head of the conservation department in charge of watching over and caring for the artifacts as well as the management of making sure all the sites are routinely cleaned......She becomes what I knew she always was by the way she took care of me and our family.....WONDER WOMAN!!
     She is remarkable and her parents would be so proud of her.  I know I am.  She will do anything to help and is much beloved for it.  Take for example the day mattress's needed to be moved from the 2nd floor storage.  No forklift was available so she grabbed several of the service missionaries to help with the task.   There she is in the middle of it.....acting like she should and trying to help!!!  Yes Sireeeeee.......Wonder Woman!!

The Pageant Trailer Turns to.....

           ........The Schenck House "On Wheels"
     We should have see it coming.  Work on the trailer was progressing nicely.  Things were falling in place.....needed materials were on hand.....we weren't being pulled off daily to do other small jobs.....the weather was a moderate 70 degrees.  I had spent the first of the week putting another layer of roof sealant.   We knew there was a lot of dry rot and water damaged wood...the floor needed to be replaced in spots but all of the plumbing and electrical was in place.  We were ready to start the long awaited exterior work so enclose the interior so we could begin the final phases to complete the trailer by the July 5 deadline. The dry rot on the frame was extensive as we dug further into the project and we also found it near most of the windows.  The floor in front of the doors was rotted.  Elders Hacking and Van Horn are great at such projects and they went right to work.
     We were feeling pretty good....there was a light at the end of the tunnel....and experience should have taught me that this was  not a light.....it was barreling down the tracks I was standing on in the middle of the tunnel.....I was about to be run over.....after all it is Nauvoo!  "Well Folks" it started Thursday morning when Marcus called a "team meeting" of all those involved in the trailer.....
He started out with "I've been thinking".  Now in the past  I would have rolled my eyes and, as he called it, "smirked".  Nope...not this time...I had prepared myself mentally in that 3 second gap and .....went into a quiet panic controlled stupor.   "Maybe we ought to put a new roof on the trailer"....Elder Gibson suggested it a week ago before  I had him take two days and coat and seal the existing roof  because we didn't have time to do it this year and we could do it in the future."  Then we had the committee (all of those present in the meeting) debate, ponder, question, check for materials etc.  Then he added "We ought to replace the windows with bigger ones".  More debate...more questions. 
     And so.....moving on to the Nauvoo way we were now  plotting, planning, re-thinking and debating   how we could do it within the time frame of getting materials necessary.  We were able to determine we could get additional siding and parts in three weeks.  Windows went out the door....as did the doors which were now being replaced.  With determined zeal we tore out the existing doors, removed and covered the windows.  The materials for the wood structure for the roof arrived Friday @ 3:30 and Monday morning....the old roof gets removed........unless.... there is a change over the weekend.

 Parker Talbot Makes a Call.......
                  ....and Rendezvous Gets Loud!!
     What a surprise it was to see Parker Talbot!!  I have such fond memories of him as I watched him grow up in our ward and what a special young man he was.  He was with a bus load of BYU-Idaho students that were doing a church history tour.  I am sure we will have other surprise visitors and acquaintances  pop up from time to time this summer but we really enjoyed our brief time talking with him about where he was in life and where he is headed.
     Now I am about to reveal a secret that I hope doesn't get leaked to some of the members of our Sara Granger cast.  For the second night in a row the audience was especially alive, loud, and into the performance...so much in fact that we received standing ovations both nights.....hardly, for some, a humbling experience as they made sure others, in the other two casts,  knew about it the following day.  Our performance is worthy of note as we assimilate new cast members and our experience in past performances is beginning to show.....still we have our moments!!  For example, as we waited on the stairs  to perform "Willingly" two of the newer cast members were trying to recall the Elder who walked down the aisle, rifle in hand, singing loudly as he went....unfortunately he was the lead in the line that was supposed to follow him and he marched down a  verse too soon and stood there all alone. I wasn't about to help them remember it was me.  But there are those who remember...and they will never miss a chance to give me a reminder.
    So now for the secret.....the last two shows contained a busload of  young adults, either from youth conferences or as in Parker's case, BYU-Idaho.  Whenever possible some of us like to talk to them before the show begins as they wait outside to enter the Cultural Hall.   Now  Elder Moench and I do take a little license when we prompt them about some of the funny things that will happen...Old Elders thinking they are doing a high leg kick when it really is only about a foot off the ground.  "So please give them a loud cheer....when the exclaim"Whew" at the height of the kick it is only because they didn't tear a muscle or fall off the stage.  So don't be afraid to cheer them on...after all the last audience "brought the house down"....and speaking of that audience....they were so loud and excited they gave us a standing ovation.  The pump is primed, the fuse is lit...........and soon old people get big heads they shouldn't.  But it sure makes for a great time!!

       The Civil War Comes to Life.......


                                                    ....In Pittsfield

     Saturday we used out P-Day to travel to Pittsfield, Ill where the small Illinois town hosted a civil war re-enactment.  You wouldn't think you would have trouble finding such an event in such a small town...but we managed.  Even the directions provided on the brochure and from the towns people provided and adventure that took us to every corner of Pittsfield Lake before we were able to find our way in.  Successfully and patiently negotiating directions we arrived.  The effort was worth it as it was an exciting and exceptional opportunity.  All in all there were about 22 missionaries that showed up to see the spectacle and also support Nauvoo on the Road.
     Arriving before the actual "battle" took place allowed us to be able to tour the camps of the Federal and Confederate troops.  It was very interesting to talk to the re-enacters who get totally into character and can explain their unit and  the battles they fought in.  They were all very accommodating although it appeared to many that the Southern troops were a bit more friendly and open than the northern troops.  When I asked one of the Southern troops about the black crow on a pole in their camp he explained it was their unit mascot and they even had a song dedicated to it.  When I asked them to sing the song they obliged with great zeal and vigor.  Over the course of the day I was introduced to General Grant and President Lincoln who took time from their battlefield duties to take a picture. 

    

Thursday, June 1, 2017





The Sun is Setting.....

                   The Ship is Preparing to Sail.....

.....The Old Sailors are Manning Their Posts..

                                (If The Can Only Find Them)
 Saturday marks the opening night of the Sunset on the Mississippi production.  Fortunately for the Sara Granger Cast we don't have to perform until next Tuesday.  I think the other casts are in the same boat as us.....we know we are going to sail......we know the destination....we just can't figure out all of the new course changes as they are implemented.  We have been practicing for two months now and just about the time you feel comfortable our ship is rocked with a course change.  New words, new places, your in....your out.....wear your hat...don't wear your hat....stand here....no...there....we're not doing this part.....dazed looks on most.....thrilled excitement on a few.
    So to summarize in the above pictures: 
           We learned to salute and obey orders
           We learned that we were easily confused by those changing orders we tried to obey
           We learned to put our shoulder to the wheel.....even if it wasn't attached to anything
                                                and seemingly going nowhere.
           The teamsters learned to keep their ropes moving and focus on the bull...it's great for laughs!!
     It is really a great show and I hope that we are up to the task to make it great. 

     When you consider the talent, enthusiasm, and energy of the Young Performing Missionaries
and seeing what they do it is a cinch to be a great show.  I have the honor of carrying the Army flag as we pay tribute to our veterans at the opening of the show.  Other's carry the flags of the Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force.  There is a YPM who stands behind me as we move into the Air Force Anthem.   Her voice and enthusiasm are so stunning and motivating......it's a wonder I do not go off "into the wild blue yonder" because I am flying high!!!

The Sun is Setting.....
           The Band is Playing.....
              We are Running to our Places......

      Friday night brought our first night of the year that we performed two shows for Rendezvous.  It will be the norm for the majority of the summer.  We staggered in at 9:30 and dropped in place. 
It also marked the introduction of YPM's performing Jimmy and Marie.  What excitement and pure talent they bring to the show.  They fly across the stage, spin around on chairs, act and sing masterfully and bring our complete cast numbers up to 55.  It was congested in the winter with 30.  The closing "Streets" number reminds me of the old Kingston Trio Song, Zombie Jamboree....."Back to Back, Belly to Belly!!!  At least we know the words in Rendezvous.
     Saturday night was the opening of Sunset with the Lucy Mack drawing the first shows.  We went to support them....well, actually we went to see if they were in as much chaos as us.....it was a relief to find out they were. (LOL)
    
   
It's a Priceless Gem to See!!

.....It is Only a Matter of Time.......

              ....Before we Remember Where to Go


      We Are Honored to Serve........

                    .....In Sara Granger Kimball's Home
     Upon our arrival here we joined the Sara Granger Kimball cast for Rendezvous and Sunset.  Until now we have never had the opportunity to serve in the home and tell those who visit  of her life, leadership, and testimony.  The really sad part of this house is it's original location.  It sits near the FM facilities and is blocks away from any other sites....and yet it is one of the most beautiful settings and landscaping.  It sit's far away from the street.  It reminds me of my courting days with Sister Kimball.  I used to joke to my friends that it was so far out of the way I needed to take a lunch to visit here....but, as with the Sara Granger Home,  there was a beauty and inspiration that rewarded those few willing to make the journey.  We were blessed to testify and explain as  several of the missionaries had family and brought them by to visit this special place on our day to serve.

Rendezvous Lights Up.....

    



Sister Gibson has added to her repertoire of skills as she now controls the lights the shows she is not the Relief Society President.  The stage is more confusing without her presence as she was the driving force in getting the chairs removed from the stage after the Relief Society scene.  The sisters will soon adapt.....if they can only remember when she isn't there.
    Meanwhile her cheery voice and smile  disappear into the console as she masterfully manipulates three important switches.....new glasses clarify it!!
She is a light unto herself.


                     




       ...With Sister Gibson at the Controls!

 Projects Abound........

              .....You Just Don't Know.....What
                  .....Which?....When?.....Really??
     The week in FM was filled with new fun projects and finally led back to old ones.  Now that's a surprise!!

Trailing the Past Takes us to Keosaqua....


                                          .....And Beyond