Monday, July 31, 2017




The Trail of Hope Ends....
     As the saying goes....all good things must come to an end.  So it is with the Trail of Hope project.
As I took the liberty of throwing the last post from the old fence it is also fun to fascinate about the pile we have created in the FM yard of all the pieces that were in the old fence.  Some were in reasonably good shape but for the most part the fence had served long an faithfully...it was just time to get some fresh lumber in in to straighten it out and improve the look.  It did not necessarily go easily as many times we had to dig out posts that had rotted on the bottom and had broken off as we removed them.  The fence saved it's best treat for last as we were digging the last post hole.  Elder Van Horn had struggled with breaking through a rather difficult layer and was elated as the drill broke through and was again going down.  That joy was temporary as soon it stopped cold and sheared the safety pin.  There sat the drill embedded to it's hub and no easy way to get it back out.  
     Fortunately we have Elder Hunsaker and his trusty back hoe.  He was the Elder who dug the infamous 3X4 hole at the gate...trying to find the edge of the bedrock (thinking it was a footing).  Like ever project here it requires spectators and a committee to find a solution.  Elder Van Horn was convinced he could pull it our by reversing it with a large pipe wrench....I doubted but with a little help digging around the embedded drill by Elder Hunsaker Elder Van Horn provided the muscle and the drill was extracted.
    
   


  Last but not least I leaned on the last post at the sign board at the end of Parley Street.  It was a great project as not only did we get to accomplish a worthwhile goal that beautified Nauvoo but we also were able to meet and talk to many people who made the trek.
     Take a group of youth from Florida, for example.
They stopped to talk when I asked them if they could show me the correct use of the hand held post hole diggers I was using.  Before I knew it they were grabbing poles and setting them in the holes.  It reminded me of Tom Sawyer and white washing the fence in Hannibal.
     Soon their leader tracked them down and they were led away.  Seems they wanted to do something more than just visit the sites.





    .............And So Does the Legend
                                of the Prairie  Diamond
 
     
     One of the things we are learning here is that change is inevitable and sometimes comes with
great questioning and audible gasps of "Really?......Why?" Such is the demise of The Legend of the Prairie Diamond that is a beloved story told in the Blacksmith Shop.
     The short version of the story is as follows:
"A young man on the pioneer trail westward is drawn to a young woman.  Over the journey they begin to spend more and more time together and soon they are wishing to be married.  The girls father has always been protective of her and brushed away suitors as they appeared.  Looking for a quick exit for the young man he asks him  about his ability to care for his daughter.  He is the son of a blacksmith and accomplished in the trade and he can read and right. So the father 
moves on to a second question.  How does he feel about the gospel and his church worthiness.  He is doing all the right things.  Now it has become a perplexing issue as he is a doting and protective father.  With his last query he is sure he can delay the inevitable...and maybe put an end to it.  "All right", he says.  You can marry her as soon as you can give her a diamond.  Disheartened the boy returns to his home and despondently tells his father of his dilemma.  Long story short..the father takes a horseshoe nail (manufactured by Diamond) forms it into a ring.  Son presents a "diamond" ring and father is bound by his word and the boy and his sweetheart are married on the trail.
    Apparently the Church History Department can find no documentation as to the participants, where and when it happened and so it can no longer be used.  What are they thinking?  It's a story, a legend, a myth, I have never heard it explained any other way.  It's cute...it's funny.  It tells us that sometimes we have to rely on ingenuity and creativeness...and sometimes...where this is a "will" there is certainly a "way".
     What's not funny is giving folks a ring made from a horseshoe nail without the story.  That's my story.....and I'm sticking to it.

     The Oxen Get a Visit.....and Name Tags
     It's a tough job...but somebody's got to do it....and with that Sisters Van Horn and Gibson made the drive down to the Oxen site to deliver new name tags to a couple of the boys.  Dan and Ike toil daily carrying visitors around the oxen yard for a pioneer experience in wagon travel.  They now have new name tags that identify them.

Lincoln's New Salem....


                          ......The Road Trip with a Twist
     Our Saturday trip (or adventure) took us to Lincoln's New Salem.....in a round about way.  Seems Sister Van Horn had told Sister Lindeburg that the lifetime National Park Service pass for Seniors was having a price increase....from $10 to $80 that needed to be done by Saturday.  Now saving money....regardless of the cost (or even need)  to save it....is right up Sister Lindeburg's alley.  It was imperative we drive to Springfield, even though it took us out of our way 30 miles.  I figured it was no big deal if we didn't get to Lincoln's New Salem that day....there were other opportunities ahead.  We got the NPS office......and they were out of forms....and besides that we could do it on line....and last but not least....it didn't need to be done for a month.
     And with that we headed to our original destination.  Thirty miles or so North of Springfield is Lincoln's New Salem.  It is a replica of and 1830's town built around the exploits of Abraham Lincoln before he moved to Springfield.  To me it was similar to Nauvoo as it had a few people scattered in the site that would explain life there.  The real difference was the theme was Lincoln...rather than Christ.  It was quite interesting and we spent a couple of hours touring and eating in the bistro.   The visitors center was closed due to an air conditioning failure.  We did pick the best day of the month to visit as the weather was spectacular and the temperature only got into the eighties with very little humidity.

    One particularly interesting thing we noticed was the main statute of Lincoln that greeted visitors was donated by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers in 1954.  It was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks but I yet to ascertain the connection between Lincoln and the Sons of the Utah Pioneers.  It should be a story worth researching.



   
Odds....at the End
    

The Yates Come to Visit
   















One of those great times happened this week as we received a visit from our bishop and his family.     They had come to Nauvoo along with twenty one members of family to visit and enjoy the Pageant and other sites.  It was so great of them to take time from their busy schedules to spend a little time with us as we gathered near the Trail of Hope Fence I had been working on.  It's truly been a great pleasure to have him serve as our bishop and we have certainly enjoyed his spirit and testimony.  The Yates are very special in our ward.




What Makes You Think I'm a
Leprechaun?



    
    Elder DeWitt made the blog last week with a remarkable story about the power of prayer.  This week he arrived and Rendezvous and I immediately commented on his dress attire for the night.  While not necessarily offended he did question my remark...so you be the judge.....

                         Is this not a Leprechaun?

He runs, jumps, has a twinkle in his eye and is charming!!

And of course he is dressed in Irish Green!!

 
A Gift from Friends


     Sunday found us in John Taylor....telling of his house and life.....it was of course the Nauvoo version which is told in ten minutes (mission rules).  The group consisted of a family with older children.  As I finished up with a short piece from the last editorial in the Nauvoo Neighbor the lovely young lady stepped forward and told me she had a gift for Sister Gibson...turns out it was Carolyn Steven's grand daughter with a pair of walking shoes from her grandmother and her walking buddy Emmalyn.....the message here....those who walk together....stay together.  And then to top it off Judy Njord called from her mission in Hawaii.   Soon Sister Gibson was on the phone to Carolyn having one of those good old conversations....All in all it was a banner day for Sister Gibson...and as you know....if she's happy (which is most all the time) I'm happy!!


    
It's Not a Road....It's a Path
    


     Some roads look like roads.......Some don't.  Let me explain:
On the return trip from Lincoln's New Salem our trusty Google Map started taking us the quickest way back to Nauvoo.  Well, we all know that is sometimes not the case.  When we hit a road closure on the route we were re-routed counter clockwise about a mile each direction.  The last turn through us for a little loop....it was not necessarily a road but more of a gravel path through cornfields on the left and soy beans on the right with a few mud puddles in the middle to make it fun.  But there was a sign post big as life indicating this was a "road".
     It must have been a road.....after all it re-routed us back to our path home.  Sister Lindeburg was a little worse for the wear....but then after all, she was the director that took us the long way to Lincoln's New Salem in search of the NPS pass.
      I think is was karma and a payback....but then that's probably another story.


Sunday, July 23, 2017




Jimmie and the Knee......
                      .....The Power of Prayer

     Rendezvous changes it's character in the summer months with the addition of the YPM's.  During the other months there are  vague references to a Jimmie and Marie who are neither seen nor heard. When the  YPM's arrive they take on these roles and  are added to the cast  as vibrant young Jimmie and Marie; Jimmie a young overly energetic Mormon boy with a belief in the restored gospel who also works for the Nauvoo Neighbor editor and Marie, the daughter of George and Agatha Skillingstead who are non-members and a very odd couple who weave in and out throughout the show.
     There are two sets of Jimmies and Maries.  Both Jimmies are very accomplished, energetic and talented beyond imagination.  So this is the story of Elder DeWitt.....his appearances are marked by  sprints up the aisle at full speed, leaps over a chair, and crashes through the rear stage doors while leaping the down stairs to a small landing.  And then one day for no recognizable reason his knee turns tender and he his relegated to crutches.  There was no noticeable event...it just happened.  Two weeks have now passed, his insurance won't cover an MRI, and it now looks like his time here in Nauvoo will end early.  We have a retired physical therapist who has  given him exercises and stretches that could help...maybe....but time passes and there is no change.  The other Jimmie (Elder Sykes)  performs with the two Maries.  YPM Elder Walker is asked on Sunday to learn the Jimmie role and remarkably by Monday he has learned it and performs it almost flawlessly...these young people are so amazing.  Thursday Elder Van Horn and I are driving toward the Cultural Hall and ahead of us, on a bicycle, racing along at breakneck speed, is Elder DeWitt.  We assume this is therapy but question the obvious zeal and sanity of pushing a rehab stint to those levels.....and now the rest of the story....
     That night, at our Sunset performance prayer meeting, Sister Rober asks Elder DeWitt to share his experience:
     Wednesday night as the YPM's were preparing for the roles in Pageant things were looking pretty bleak for Elder DeWitt as he knee was not showing improvement and there appears to be little hope for a medical solution and it is beginning to look as though his days  YPM were waning and he would soon be asked to return home.
     As they gathered around awaiting their time to go on stage someone suggested that a prayer of healing be offered and a voice was chosen. At the conclusion of the prayer another stepped forth and shared thoughts as to the power of prayer and it's ability to heal exhorting those present to have the faith necessary to have God  heal Elder DeWitt.  After offering a prayer another stepped forth and offered a powerful prayer...this exercise in faith continued and would  have gone on longer but it was time to perform in the Pageant and so the cast left.  Elder DeWitt said that even before the prayers concluded,  as he sat there, he could feel something changing in his knee....the discomfort was subsiding and there was a change.  As the others left he slowly stood up....no pain....he took a step...no pain...the knee felt as if nothing was wrong.  He walked around and felt fine....and then in a youthful act of either stupidity or faith he did a deep knee bend....it was totally without pain.  A quick sprint and he was sure he had been miraculously healed.
     Saturday night he performed as Jimmie , and in spite of my prudent advice, he ran up the aisle, jumped the chair, crashed through the doors, and was the Jimmie of old.....
      A Nauvoo miracle?.........there is no question!!  Why?.....I don't know the answer to that...I will continue to believe that the Lord has a reason that some receive miracles and yet others are left to endure trials.
      
It's Hot.....It's Humid....It's Summer in Illinois!!
    
     There are just some things that are going to happen...no matter what you do.  During the cold winter months when it is dark, cold, and we are often confined to the inside of our homes seeking warmth we yearn for the bright happy days of summer.  Well...those days are here...and for me it's great.  For others....not so much..in fact not at all.  This will be our first and presumably only summer in Nauvoo.  We have been told the horror stories since we got here.  We believed and we have not been disappointed.  The expected is here.  You walk out the door at 6:00 in the morning and you start to sweat.  As long as you our out doors it continues...then you go inside to  air conditioned comfort and you freeze because of  your wet clothing.  I drink more water than I ever imagined.  It is unbelievable to feel the sweat roll down my body or drop large droplets on the ground as I work.
     This week is has been a thermal nightmare....the heat and the humidity combine to push the heat index to levels that for animals and humans are possibly dangerous.  The "heat index" is similar to the "wind chill" factor we, in Utah, are accustomed to.
     By presidential decree (President Hall) if the heat index is 105 or above at the time we are to perform Sunset...the show is cancelled.  The animals that pull the wagons are taken back to the barns and fields to rest...even if it is mid ride.  This disappoints those who have come to see the show and brings relief to those missionaries who would be performing.....sweating oldies is neither a pretty sight nor does it feel all that exhilarating!  So this week the Thursday and Friday shows were cancelled...Saturday was our night and you could feel many of the missionaries praying for cancellation.....it's possible there were prayers answered...it just wasn't the missionaries and the show went on....Yippee!!
   


   Adding to all on Saturday was a heavy rain shower that woke us up to thunder and lightning.  And then.....at 5:30 pm another one passed by drenching the Sunset stage and seats.  When we arrived at 6:00  we found visitors already arriving.  As we jumped in to dry the seats they eagerly joined in to help.  Thanking them for their help I was so appreciative that I told them they would receive a refund and also get to pick their seats......they didn't seem to get it....after all admission is free and they had already found their seats.
     It was still drizzling as we arrived...Sister Gibson brought out her trusty umbrella that the Talbot's had given her on our departure...She sure has a way of making things look good......especially me!!
   



Fiddlesticks, Drums.....
        The Nauvoo Country Band Rocks
                                                     at Pageant
     The Country Fair portion of the pageant is a colorful array of different venues portraying activities that were associated with pioneer life.  None is more colorful and exciting than watching the Nauvoo Country Band perform.  It is composed of participants from every possible source here at the Pageant.  Some are support people, Pageant participants, Nauvoo residents, and then there is our FM representatives.....Ben and Lon.  Ben is the resident electrician who came to Nauvoo when he was seventeen and has lived here since.  Lon is the wood working master of the cabinet shop.  Together they make a great addition and contribution to the gala event.  Lon beats his drum that can be heard all over the flats and plays a mean harmonica.  Ben and the fiddle are so fun to watch....but Ben and a fiddle?.....Who knew?

One Project Ends....Another Begins!!

    
When the church rents or leases a home in Nauvoo it agrees to maintain it as well as keep it in good repair.  It is also stipulated that it will not be held vacant for any length of time.  Sister Hacking's brother, in trying to do a good deed, damaged the vinyl in the kitchen months back while trying to clean behind the fridge.  With Hackings departure Sister Van Horn was all over FM to get the flooring replaced so she could put missionaries in it.  The home owner paid the difference and tile was installed instead of vinyl.  So we removed the appliances, baseboard and trim, and cabinets and tore out the existing vinyl.  Four days later we completed the installation and put everything back togetherOur wives showed up before we completed it to start the cleaning.....such is life here in Nauvoo.
    


It's been a bad week for heat and we were preparing for the worst as we now would be starting back on the Trail of Hope Fence....but then.....there is something new and more pressing....a bathroom remodel in the FM Directors new "old" home.  Seems his pregnant wife and three kids are visiting and vacationing in Utah for three weeks....it's the perfect time!
    So, like any good project in Nauvoo there is always the tear out that precedes the building. Our usual committee of whoever is present meets and the first round of decisions are made.  They won't be the last...unless a miracle occurs.    
     It is not going to be an easy project as not only do we have many challenges but also stairs.  It is a two story home that is raised four feet above the ground.  So many stairs....so many trips.
      I must have made one hundred trips during the tear out... My legs are sore and crampy but this too will pass.

       

Rock Me Baby.....and the Barn of Miniatures!
    
     Saturday we took to the road with the Duvall's, our neighbors in the village.  He is a welder  in FM. We asked them if they wanted to go north with us to Amana as   Sister Gibson had a request to see the giant rocking chair in Amana West....and so it was.  There is no "photo-shopping" here...it is one big chair...the only disappointment is that is doesn't really rock...it has been stabilized so old folks can get in and out.  It would take a major effort to rock it.
     We also came across the Mini America  Barn full of hand made creations from the hand of a retired farmer, Henry Moore.  It is amazing when you consider that everything was done by hand and over a 15 year period.  I guess you can say he was a man with a vision and determination....and a strict devotion to his task at hand.  It's just one of those things you have to see to get a full appreciation of.
     Satisfying the Duvall's hankering for ice cream, we stopped at Grandpa's Ice Cream in Burlington...that's another story for another day!
     
  Odds....at the End

     As we were talking to visitors at the end of Sunset two little guys wanted to get up on the stage.  I asked them if they wanted to dance on it....and so I found them a couple of lovely volunteers (Sisters Hughes and Gibson) and they danced around the stage....who knows....maybe they will be back as YPM's in years to come.  Sister Hughes might be back in coming years but I am pretty sure this is Sister Gibson's last hurrah.
     While Elder Van Horn and I were working feverishly to finish the last of the Hacking home our dear wives showed up and started to clean the place up...so there I was nailing on molding while dodging Sister Gibson's cleaning wand above me.  Sad......but true!!
     Some folks get an assignment and they are relentless in their pursuit.  Christi's stake president, with whom she works closely with on her stake assignment,  was given the assignment by Christi to get a picture with us while he was here with his family and youth from the Irving Stake.  So the first thing folks need to know before getting to Nauvoo.....any other phone service besides Verizon is virtually useless here.  Verizon isn't all that hot either but it does work best.  President Graves does not have Verizon and so begins the saga.....
      His first attempt...a phone call was garbled and lasted a brief time....then came the texts, many texts....we were on our way to Burlington but we would get with him before we left....we just need to know where and when.  "We are at the Brickyard starting a tour"....great we were there in five minutes and waited twenty five for the last ten minute tour to end....(Brother Mortensen was again boring people to death).  As the group came out....no stake president.  Then another text...."We are on the corner watching the YPMs sing"  We're there in two minutes...no sight of them.  The texts were taking 30 minutes to get to us.  As we got back from Burlington we got a call from the Andrus' who were at Sunset and  said there was some guy who wanted to get a picture of us...they didn't realize we were that famous.
We rushed right over, saw the end of Sunset, and he got his picture.....What a relief for all!!
     There is something about a Nauvoo Sunrise....so I took this picture early one morning from Hacking's house.  It's a beautiful place here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017




The Director Screams...The Siren Sounds...
                                          ....And Calm Prevails
  
Rendezvous has always been full of surprises and laughs.  I am often reminded by cast members of the night that the control panel went on the fritz and essentially darkened the Cultural Hall... leaving the place in near darkness.  As the director struggled to find the light I boldly took an initiative and narrated the story of Quincy,Ill. until the lights were restored ten minutes later. In my opinion  it is a very important and often untold story of the Saints survival during the Missouri exodus.  And so, in a way, I was preparing for something to come.
     Monday night found me as the Editor.  The show was nearing conclusion when the cast entered the hall for the final scene through the back stage doors rather than the front.  That was my first clue that there was rain beginning outside.  And then.........
     Sister Moench, our director, rushes down the stage left aisle and in a panicky but authoritative voice instructs the cast to stop the production...followed by; "There is an  extreme tornado warning and one may be our way.   Everyone must get down stairs immediately" And then the  tornado siren blared it's frightening warning.   It caught the majority off guard and with a strong sense of uneasiness the crowd rose in unison to exit.  It appeared that there might be a chaotic scene unfolding.  Without much hesitation I took to center stage and told every one the obvious..."be calm....evacuate slowly and orderly."  I instructed half of the hall to exit through the rear doors and re-enter through the outside entrance and the other half to follow the cast members down the stage stairs.  It went slowly but smoothly until all were in the confines of the basement.  It was not a comfortable situation as we packed somewhere near 180 people in the confines of the basement for twenty minutes.  The rain continued to pour as another siren sounded twenty minutes later and all assumed it was the all clear  and soon the building began clearing.    No tornado......just a precautionary warning.  Turns out that the next morning revue of the tornado siren revealed that there is no siren for all clear.  The siren only sounds when there is a strong warning and all should be indoors.  So the second siren was not an all clear....just another warning to stay inside and seek shelter.  
     As for me I went to the front of the empty hall and watched the rain and lightning.... I had no fear or angst and was extremely calm.....Don't know why.. but then again downstairs with 180+ people that didn't seem that appealing either....perhaps the alternative was preferable.    
                                                               

It's Summertime......
     

                              .....And Visitors Swell the Sites!!

     Months have passed since our arrival and we have continually been reminded of and prepared for the busy season that would soon be upon us  by President Hall and the mission leadership.  We fine tuned our site presentations so we could present the information in a concise presentation that would let the visitor know and feel the spirit along with gleaning some information regarding the site.  Included in this is our testimonies of Jesus Christ.  And now it is summer and the crowds are growing daily.  They are swelling daily and with the advent of the Nauvoo and British Pageants this week Nauvoo has become a tourist mecca.  Where there were once Elders or Sisters sitting outside waiting for visitors there are now short lines or groups waiting for a presentation.  Sometimes additional missionaries are assigned to the sites and they do a pre-entrance presentation to shorten even further the inside presentation.  The streets are clambering with groups of people meandering and conversing with little awareness that they are walking down the middle of the road and cars are patiently waiting for them to clear.  Buses arrive full of anxious youth who have been brought here for a youth conference and the opportunities to see and feel the Spirit of Old Nauvoo.  Youth groups  come by the bus load wearing colorful shirts with mottos and references to the purpose of their conference.  And with them comes the exuberance of youth....you can feel it on the streets...in the venues...and our performances.

     They have come to celebrate, participate, and enjoy.  The culminating events for all is usually attendance at the Nauvoo and British Pageants.  Weeks of preparation by the pageant folks have now culminated in the fruition of their work.  Core cast performers have been chosen through audition and have prepared for months for their roles.  Families and others volunteer to participate in the stage productions and support in making the events associated with it a success.  
     While the pageant productions begin at 8:30 p.m. the Country Fair opens activities for the evening at 7:00.  There are so many activities that I will present some of them weekly as we will probably often be at the pageant site or productions.
     So.....our first night at the Nauvoo Pageant found us wandering around fascinated in the grand scale of activities....not doing much.....just watching.  We did run into the Hacking's who were there for their last night with their family...then it would be off to Branson, MO. and home.  Sister Gibson found a bagpiper teaching Scottish dancing in front of a miniature Nauvoo Village....She sure made him look good!  As for me....I couldn't contain myself while watching the log sawing exhibition.  A gracious father gave me the opportunity to saw with his daughter...like most everything I made it look tougher than it was.
     Our next visit to the Pageant was on Friday night when the British Pageant was presented.  It is a spectacular presentation that culminates with the missionaries who are serving in Nauvoo joining in the finale coming onto the stage singing "Called to Serve".  I can't describe the feelings and emotion I felt as we walked up to and approached the stage.....Sister Gibson and I both felt the spirit of truth as we were a part of this moment.

     Chiggers.......

            .....and A Hard Lesson in Prevention

     They are so small you can hardly even see them.  They pack a powerful and disgusting itching bite that's impossible to ignore.  They lurk in the grasses of Nauvoo....seeking out the unsuspecting and unprotected.
     So it's a hard but true fact.....sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way......even here in Nauvoo.  Months had passed since we arrived and we had taken the little walk in the woods near the house and Sister Gibson found herself bitten by some sort of bugs.  We pretty much figured it was the dreaded chigger that plague the grasses in Nauvoo.  We had stocked up on all the preventative stuff and knew how to use it.  
     Unfortunately...knowing what to do doesn't count for doing it.  So our attendance at the Nauvoo Pageant was greeted with glee by the local chigger population....we hadn't protected and it was open season.  Sister Gibson was so sweet......Elder Gibson not so.  The picture is horrifying and disgusting and tells the tale.  We should have learned from Christi as she posted her misfortune with Texas Chiggers some time ago.....
     Sister Gibson is healing and hopefully a lesson is learned.  Not relying on any further good luck....as he could turn unexpectedly delicious..... Elder Gibson will be spraying too.

    The Trail of Hope.....
              .....Fills in a Couple of Holes
                               .... and Smiles Abound!!

    The rain that fell in torrents on two days (only for a couple of hours each) didn't delay us as we were able to find a rhythm to our work and we progressed at a rapid rate. During one such delay on Thursday we decided to take the tile and trailer up to the Hackings as they were supposed to be leaving early that morning.  Good thing we called to make sure they were on their way.....they weren't.....they were still in bed...... having worked into the morning hours to complete their cleaning.  We dropped off the trailer and said our good-byes (again) and we returned to the trail.
     The rain brought us an unexpected gift  as Elder Hall who normally works with the heavy equipment didn't have a project to do and he came down and worked with us for the week.  Not only did he bring his skill but also his upbeat enthusiastic attitude.  Not only could he run the tractor but he picked right up on running the complicated hand post hole diggers and tamper.  With two of us working the fence line Elder Van Horn was able to concentrate on and build the pop outs that were around each sign.  The one glitch during the week was the Trail of Hope presentation that was scheduled to be performed by the pageant core cast on Thursday morning.  Since it was raining we figured there wouldn't be a presentation so we began work as usual at 6:00 a.m.  The rain didn't deter the presentation and soon crowds were flocking down the trail and we pulled off for a couple hours to take the tile trailer to Hackings.
     In order to complete the fence line  that encompassed the reader boards we needed to re-install the gate to a pasture and cover in Elder Hawkins 3x4 hole that had raised many questions as to what we were burying there.  The welding shop was asked to provide new gate hinges and before we knew it Elders Duvall and Witbeck were on the spot.  Not only did they make the hinges but they were able to, along with Elder Hall, form a committee, make a plan to install them, hang the gate, and fill in the hole.  We still have about 500 feet of fence to run until we reach the river.  It will be a different challenge as we will be changing the design and layout to accommodate so new gate openings....but the good news......we have a committee and no hole to explain!!

   Bridges and Buttons......


                   






                         

                      ....Another Saturday Adventure
      Saturday rolled around and we were on our way to another adventure....since we weren't able to find anyone willing to risk their lives on the swinging bridge let alone endure the Button Museum in the "button capitol of the world" we headed out to Muscatine, Iowa on our own.
     The swinging bridge is in a little town called Columbus Junction on the Iowa River.  It was a small detour from our direct route to Muscatine so it seemed like the thing to do.  We found it easily and bravely set foot to cross....no big deal...what's the fuss?  And then it got really exciting as a family of 6 with several large teenagers started to cross....OK  it was a cheap thrill....but a thrill nonetheless,  All I can say if I am a disheartened lover and believe this is a lover's leap I want to make sure my medical insurance is paid up and I have a good plan...the fall isn't far enough to guarantee a finale'.
     From there we traveled to Muscatine and after avoiding the inner city road construction we finally discovered the world famous button Museum.  Seems like take in the late 1890's people who lived there began harvesting mussels from the river and started making buttons from the shells....of course they were called pearl buttons.  As techniques improved and machinery advanced it wasn't long until the folks harvested the mussels to near extinction by the 1940's.  No mussels....no shells.....no buttons...no jobs.  So all we have left is the story to tell and the museum to visit.  Of course there is always the statue on the river that portrays a "mussel man".  Quirky but true.

     Odds......at the End.....
                              or What's behind a Picture?

   I have discovered that there are photo's  that tell small stories that should be remembered.  They are not really odd, nor are the people.  I just took a picture and I want to remember the moment.  They are what makes some days special....for example:
     Sister Gibson had long ago brought a box of chalk so when our grandchildren came they could draw on the massive concrete slab in front of the apartment or up on Lindeburgs space so we didn't have to deal with it.  They were always on the go and somehow it never happened....until the Slater's (our upstairs neighbors) children arrived.  They were always playing around and so Sister Gibson gave them the chalk and let them "have at it".  It was so fun to see their work and  so we took a picture.  And then the rains came....gone was the art and Sister Slater broke down in tears not being able to see it.....but she could as we have a picture....a tender mercy or Nauvoo Miracle....take your pick.  I know it made Sister Slater's Day
or
     On one of the rain days the grounds crew (women) couldn't do much...so Sister's Gibson and Van Horn invited them to join them at the Visitors Center to help clean and dust the statues...you just can't beat that for good clean fun.
   or  
     It started with Elder Moench balancing a gun on the steps of the Cultural Hall as we waited for our grand entrance to "Willingly" in Rendezvous.  Of course he had a particular gun that was "his" to perform this magical feat.  So...boys will be boys...and led by Elder Hughes it has turned into a major event each night. It's now up to four elders...four guns.  The catch, however, they are using the step for some support.  Elder Purcel raised the bar to a new level, however, when he balanced the gun on the barrel in the middle of the step with any support.  I have no idea where this will go but "boys will be boys" and it is entertaining.  I am hoping for a circus act with one of them balancing the gun on his nose while singing in Rendezvous......We will have paramedics standing by to revive Sister Moench!!
or
     There is, at best, a one hour gap between serving in the sites and being ready to perform on the Sunset stage.  It is difficult for the missionaries to get home, change, eat, rest, and whatever they need to do.  In fact, President Hall has made it mandatory that the missionaries must use this time to prepare and not do other assignments.  That means the original plan to for the missionaries to arrive at 6:00 and clean the benches is off the table.  Since our FM schedule permits it, and I am the cast manager  I have been arriving early and set out to dust off the benches and clean the bird doo-doo.  I have a great time doing it...cracking jokes and conversing with those who arrive early.  So I am doing my thing and find this sister and her family sitting at the top.  Right in the middle of a sentence she changes direction: "You're Elder Gibson!"  It's hardly a revelation as I am wearing a name tag but I go along with it....
And then she says, "I read your blog....you have an interesting perspective".  The fact that someone besides by friends and family reading my thoughts had never really occurred to me.  I took her picture and told her I would make her famous.....got so caught up in the moment I forgot to get her name...but I am still giving her the fame she deserves.....Thank You Sister....You made my Day!!



      
   


Sunday, July 9, 2017




We Celebrate the


     One thing about the mission field in Nauvoo....it's pretty much business as usual for the missionaries......with a few caveats thrown in.  For us it was a 7:00 a.m. flag ceremony with the YPM Nauvoo Brass Band providing the patriotic music.  The honor guard that proudly raised the colors at the visitors center was composed of some our military veterans and their spouses.  One of the members of the guard is Sister Judd who herself served in the Navy.  It was a proud moment to watch the Stars and Stripes rise in the early morning light of Nauvoo.  It, unfortunately, was a lightly attended event and our resident missionary patriot who is so concerned about details in the flag ceremony was noticeably  absent......didn't miss him a bit.
     That evening we were in between performances so it was time for a cast part to honor those missionaries that will soon be returning home.  We had hot dogs and hamburgers off the grill and within a hour the festivities were over.  We relaxed the rest of the evening and retired around ten as usual....
      .....and then the fireworks went off again at midnight   Ding......Ding.......Ding....my phone was going wild with texts.  In a dazed stupor I staggered over to see what the commotion was.....

    It was a picture of  Kimball....our youngest grandson holding a sparkler on our driveway in all his glory.  I was so danged tired I couldn't even really enjoy it until the next morning.  We had face timed with all the family who had gathered at the house....including Eric's family who were in Utah visiting for most of July.  Christy was alone in Texas and had face timed us earlier.  All of that was great.....but we weren't there.  We were missing the trauma a grandma going crazy over the fireworks we hadn't event purchased let alone fired. Jaustin wasn't pestering me to go to David's firework stand and get a thousand dollars of high flying rockets that would explode in a colorful array.  Then there was Kimball last year he ran for cover...this year he is embracing the thrill....This picture might not have ever happened if we had been there....grandma would have probably thrown the sparkler in a water bucket before it ever got to the kid's hand.  So in the future...when we look back as this picture....remember...it happened  because we were in Nauvoo serving a mission.  I wonder?....is this another Nauvoo Miracle?


The Pageant Looms Bigger....

                                    ...as "Our Story Goes On".......
     The pageant starts next week and Nauvoo is a beehive of activity.  Not only has the core cast arrived but now the families that support and perform on the stage have started practicing for it.
There are really two separate pageants....The Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant.  Each tells a different story...and when we go we will be able to tell you.  Until then...it is just as though we haven't seen it.....since we haven't.  But we have certainly heard them practice as it goes from morning to night on the pageant stage with full volume.
     What we did see is a presentation that the core cast puts on only three times....it is call Our Story Goes On.  From the time that the young mother and father welcome their infant daughter into the world until she is "going home" we listened to song and dialogue that reminded us that we are all here on earth and regardless of time or place we are each responsible for our stories that we write in our own books...it is our story and it goes on through eternity.  It was mesmerizing as we watched and listened....and then we were momentarily distracted as we looked above and saw a stream of May Flies being attracted to the large lights....they too appeared to be mesmerized.

                      ....And the British Pageant Sets its Sail
     Our work on the Women's Pageant Bathroom Trailer, henceforth, christened as "The Queen's  Throne Room" has put us in close proximity to the Pageant stage.  So every morning the British Pageant is rehearsed and we get to hear the music and the dialog.  In the afternoon the Nauvoo Pageant takes over and their voices and music resound through out the lower flats.  The sail mechanism that raises and lowers the sail was replaced this year....seems the old one took several brave souls  , and a couple of helpers with no sense of danger to climb the mast and lower it at the end.  Step aside Salt Lake......a new one has been put in place.....much safer and it even works without pulling the mast rigging down....it is done by a power mechanism......imagine that.  Another Nauvoo Miracle!!

    90-90 on the Trail of Hope......

          ...And We Say Farewell to a Good Friend
     Tuesday morning I did my little checking of weather and saw what we had been expecting for many months now.....the beginning of a long hot summer.  Forecast for the week.....90 degrees and 90 percent humidity.  Traveling down Parley Street I saw a mist hanging over the flats...like a fog in the winter.  As the sun rose and looking toward the temple I found myself in a beautiful quiet setting and so after pondering the moment I took a picture to remember how eerily beautiful it was before I was soaked in sweat for the remainder of the day.  As I worked along and would bend over drops would fall like rain.  Water is consumed in record proportions and yet there is no need for a bathroom.
     We have been progressing well as we remove and replace at least 80 feet of fence a day.  Our best day we put in 120 feet but that was smooth sailing and no reader board cutouts.  So right now we have installed around 500 feet and our estimate is only 1500 feet more to go.  Taking stock of inventory of poles and rails the good (or bad) news is that we only have material for 1000 feet....so we reported the shortage and maybe....just maybe....it will get here before we run out of material.
     We arrived at a gate opening and discovered that one of the posts had been anchored in concrete.  No problem....we called  Elder Hawkins who showed up with his trusty backhoe to remove it.  We continued to put in fence and then I notice him digging in a deep large hole with a shovel.  "What are you doing?", I inquired.  "Well", he replied, "They put a footing under the concrete and I am just trying to find the edge to remove it".  What he had found was the limestone layer of bedrock that encompasses the entire flat area adjacent to the river.  I suggested it was best he  leave it in place....and he "willingly" complied.
    The following morning President and Sister Hall were doing a morning walk and it took them down Parley Street.  They paused to check out to see what we were doing and the progress we were making.  Of course he had to comment on the huge hole Elder Hawkins had dug....thinking we were preparing to bury something there.  It was worth a photo-op and so they obliged and stood next to the tractor not wanting to appear they were doing a check up on the missionaries.
     Thursday was Elder Hacking's last day in service to the Nauvoo mission.  He is an extremely hard worker and experienced craftsman.  Sometimes his precision is a little over board and his memory is
a little failing...but what a great man.  He hands me my "gun" in Rendezvous and if he remembers takes it with him.  If he doesn't I have learned to stand close enough to him to whack him on the shoulder as he leaves as a reminder he has forgotten something.  We have taken several trips and have fond memories of the Hannibal ride with him and his wife and we have learned to love them and appreciate their friendship.....
They will be doing one more Sunset and Rendezvous shows as they extended two months so some of their family members to come during the summer and see them.  They are planning on leaving after the opening of the Pageant on July 11.
     Farewell, Elder and Sister Hacking.....we will miss you and look forward to seeing you again when we return.
      It Started with a Text.....
                            .....and Became a Special Day!!
     A text from my ever so thoughtful daughter-in-law Mindy informed me that the Reusch's, some of my very favorite people from home were on their way to Nauvoo for the weekend and that  while they were here Maddie was going to take out her endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.  I know you have heard me tell of the Nauvoo miracles that happen often here and maybe we could even call this one a tender mercy......so to explain;
     It was Friday and I had just finished a grueling day on the fence line down Parley Street.  I had to make a quick stop at the Queen's Throne Room to see if some sinks had been hung so the mirrors could be installed  and then I was heading home.  Then I noticed the sails on the British Pageant Ship had been raised and I drove around and took a couple of pictures.  It just seemed like a good idea to me to drive down Main Street to take a quick look.....coming down the street toward me, just before the Cultural Hall, was the horse wagon loaded with tourists.   Not wanting to be a nuisance I pulled over in front of the Cultural Hall.  Soon I heard....."Brother Gibson, Brother Gibson".....and lo and behold I had met up with the Reusch's without even trying.  How sweet it was.  The only hard part was fending off the hugs and keeping my arms at bay (this missionary "no hug" thing is really annoying).  It's like being a zombie.
     We met up with them at Sunset, as we had the night off, and watched the show with them.  Since we were performing Saturday we wouldn't be able to attend the temple with them as they had scheduled a 5:00 p.m. session.  We were a little heartbroken but certainly understood when they felt it was necessary to keep the scheduled time.  They were so amazed and really enjoyed the Sunset Show and were extremely disappointed they wouldn't be able to see us....of course, we understood.
     And then.....a text (gotta love some text's)....they had changed the endowment time to 3:00.  We were ecstatic....we could go to the temple and be a part of the session and they could come to Sunset and watch us (for whatever that was worth). 
     Maddie has always been a special soul to me since she was a youngster in Primary and then was also in some of my Sunday School classes.  She was always so upbeat and engaging always willing to share here sweet spirit and immerse herself into the activities.  She is grown into  such an amazing young lady and now she has been called to serve in the "Germany Frankfurt Mission".
At the temple it was a special session and while I would like to share those experiences we had there I think it appropriate to leave it as a memory for me and Sister Gibson.  It was a highlight and memory that will remain forever.  I am sure she will be willing to share them with whoever asks, however.
     But......I will share this.  The YPM's do a little number called "Stomp on my Heart".  Elder Dickson wears this big ostentatious cowboy hat and laments his lost love while scouting the audience for three "volunteers" for his finale and to be participants for the next number "Along Came Jones".  During the show on Friday he kept looking at Maddie and pointing to her with a longing look (part of the act...maybe?..doubt it).....but selected others and that was that.   Nope!! After the performance the Reusch's participated in the Trail of Hope Experience and they ran into Elder Dickson, who had now changed costumes and "hats"  and was performing a different role. They talked for a time and then they moved on.  And that was that.....Nope.   On Saturday when Maddie showed up for Sunset  he didn't miss this time....and Maddie performed on the stage in Sunset.
     Days just don't get much better than this in anywhere!!

Richardson's Point.....The End of the Trail....

            .....for the First Two of Many to Follow
     Sometimes......most times, I am a pretty persistent fellow.  Sometimes....last time.....I should have been.  Let me explain;
     Several weeks ago we took the trip to Keosaqua  what I could find about the early Mormon settlers there since my grandfather Joseph Stallings and his family had lived there for two years before starting west again.  So after a disappointing visit in Keosaqua it was on to Richardson's Point, a site that other missionaries had told me about but never really explained the significance of.  The Google app wasn't  hitting on all cylinders, or at least I couldn't get the info I wanted,  to I was just winging it as we traveled through Lacey Park on the way to highway J-40 where the site was located. I finally figured I had made a wrong turn and so we turned around and returned home.
     Elder Lindeburg wanted to go to Cantril to get a pair of shoes on Saturday morning.  We had plenty of time before the 3:00 temple session and so we headed out.  After shopping at the Dutchman
 Sister Lindeburg had cart full, Elder Linderburg couldn't find a shoe to fit, and I with my straw hat we decided to take another crack at finding Richardson's Point which is supposed to be 13 miles away.  Following a map I had printed we  re-traced the path I had taken....a mile and a half past where I had turned around we found the little makeshift sign that pointed where to turn to find the site behind a large structure that housed pigs....or future bacon or ham.
     As it turns out this was also where the Mormon Trail crossed the area after the Saints had left Bonaparte and continued west.  During that crossing Edmond Little had valiantly jumped in to help Brigham Young's wagon cross the Des Moines River....it was low water but the river is still 200-300 feet across and it was February.  The ensuing sickness that followed took his life a few days later....yet the vanguard company moved on.  When they reached Richardson's Point they made camp for many days.  A 15 month old infant named Tanner died there.  Edmond's body was brought from the Bonaparte area, a wooden box fashioned, and he and the infant were buried at Richardson's Point....becoming the first of the pioneers to die on the trail.  In the coming years there would be thousands to follow.
   It was around 1895 when a farmer named Klodt purchased the ground and found the rudimentary markers that had been placed.  He fenced it off and thus preserved it.  Eventually upgraded headstones were place and a rail fence erected.  Plastic flowers always blossom as a remembrance of the two.
     Walking up to and including the gravesite it is a very peaceful setting.  I ponder often the difficulties and adventures that befell those hearty souls.  It wasn't improved dirt trails they followed...it was wagon and horse tracks that would take them west.

Odds at the End....

     I am constantly...asking....almost begging Sister Gibson for a little creative help in the "Blog"
"Picture's would be nice", I ask.  "How about some stories"....her reply is: "I don't think about pictures and I certainly don't want to tell you some of the things that happen or I hear"  So finally, to her credit she did get someone to take a picture of her and Sister Van Horn cleaning statues in the Women's Garden.
     The little guy in the cage?  There are several morals to this story: 
            Don't make noise under Elder Hawkins house....
            Don't get in his garbage.....
            Don't go in the trap that Elder Hawkins set for you.
Or....
            How about "if you do bad things and wear a mask you will end up behind bars"

Don't know what happened to the little critter.....but I can tell you there are many, many more to take his place or that are lying smashed on the Illinois highways.
    









Monday, July 3, 2017




Fifty Years.....It's Only a Moment...
                                                 or So it Seems

    Long before I was standing in front of the Salt Lake Temple on June 30, 1967 kissing my bride for a picture, a seed had been planted in the front seat of the IH Scout I was driving.  I had been dating Marilyn Nance for three long months now and never (really...never) kissed her. She was different and special and I knew it.  Finding a secluded spot and working my way through the chit-chat I made my move....and something magical happened that cannot be explained...only felt.  And with that kiss we were on our way on a journey that has lasted fifty years.
     Eight Months later and  standing in front of the temple  doing a posed kiss I can tell you I was the most relieved person in the world.  We had been married all of two hours.  I can't recall all the thoughts that had gone through my head to get here....but I can say with 100% surety that  there was never any doubt, at least on my part that I was doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, with the right person.  Kneeling over the altar in the temple during the ceremony, when we got to the part where the bride is supposed to say "yes"...there was  a pause that seemed excruciatingly long.  It was probably a mili-second...or maybe even ten...but when the audible "yes" sealed the deal I was relieved beyond belief....  I had pulled it off!  I was now married to my dear sweetheart.....now all I had to do is live up to all those expectations I knew she had of me....
     And so the journey began.....We spent the next three years enjoying the time oblivious to the expectations of others, especially my parents who continually raised the question..."When are you going to make us grandparents......we're getting tired of waiting?"  Our children started arriving with Marc in 1970 and ended with Kimberly in 1979.  Arriving in between were Eric, Christie, and Stephanie.  Each was different....each were special.  We soon were caught up in raising them and immersing ourselves in their lives and preparing them for the future.  School events, athletic contests, church callings and assignments which we were always (at least almost always) glad to attend. 
We lived their lives with them....the ups and downs....their successes and missteps.  We lost so much sleep and felt so much worry.....we stayed strong together but our time together diminished and waned. 
     Soon they were leaving the house seeking education and adventure away from the nest.  Missions followed for most at soon they returned home and to continue their education.  It wasn't long before they were married and we became grandparents to fifteen wonderful grandchildren.   There was a time we raised Jaustin and  we found ourselves  back in the parent game. Grandma struggled between her role as grandmother and mother...and yet there was Christy there to help.  What a blessing it was to have here there to help.   It was a special time for us that sometimes required much more than we thought we could give and yet oblivious to everything else we found it kept us young.....and sometimes made us old.
      Through all of this we remained close as a family with countless activities centered around our home and away.   We found ourselves together on most holidays....sometimes spending them away from home in Park City, St. George, Heber, Bear Lake, and Eden. The houseboat on Lake Powell, the wave runners and boat.   And then........
     One day I felt that it was time to do something again for us......together.......alone.  It was time to go back to the beginning......when it was "us" instead of "them".  Sure...we still loved them and wanted to be immersed in their lives and watch them grow....BUT...  we needed an adventure...together.  And so it soon presented itself when, with a little effort on my part, .......Nauvoo called.....we answered when Sister Gibson pressed the "send" button and soon...."away we went".       And so....
          Our new adventure began.....and continues.  We have missed a lot.....we have gained a lot. 
It's fifty down...... and eternity to go!! 
             
The Carthage Commemoration......
                                        ...............June 27, 1844 Remembered
     On June 27 the mission closed all sites as the missionaries traveled to Carthage to remember and commemorate the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  Many others assembled there as the crowd swelled to several hundred.  It was a typical Nauvoo mission gathering....I should have seen it coming.....as we arrived an hour early planning on getting a good seat.  Well, I can say this, we did get a decent seat as it was the same as everyone else, plastic with a back, but it was just back about thirty rows from the podium.  The program was about 45 minutes long and included musical numbers from the YPM's (Praise to the Man) and the Young Sister Missionaries (Oh, How Lovely was the Morning) and readings of the events that let up to the afternoon of June 27th.  President Hall spoke briefly and bore strong testimony to the prophets mission and his life. 

Much Ado about Something.....

            .......Is Really about Nothing!! 
     Well...I guess it started at the beginning of Sunset when our opening tribute to our veterans included all the seniors marching and saluting.  Seemed harmless enough to me but to two or three veterans it was a shabby disrespectful gesture.  It was a disgrace.  Only the military in uniform are allowed to salute.  It had nothing to do with saluting the flag....it was a gesture of respect...or so we thought.    It was a tribute to the military and those who had served our country.....that included me. It was never done in conjunction with the  Stars and Stripes.  Loud voices soon drowned out any sense of reason and   we were no longer saluting and so  we moved on...putting it behind us. 
     Then this week an new uproar began.  On the previous night Sister Rober had felt it would be nice to dip the military flags in unison as we all joined together and sung "God Bless America"  To reference this the flag bearers dip the flag of the service they represent during the opening number and then return them upright as another service branch is honored by the singing of their song.  So it isn't like the flags haven't been dipped before.  Apparently it really looked impressive and so we were asked to do the same for our Sunset presentation.  And then all hell broke loose.....one Elder started a rant that would have you thinking we were throwing the flags on the ground and spitting and stomping on them.  "It was totally disrespectful."  If we did it.... he wasn't going to participate in the opening ceremony...."fine", I said, "Works for Me.....we will miss you".  He was adamant and soon drug another into the fray as they stormed the Rober's and made a big issue of it.  Peace prevailed....harmony restored....no flags were dipped.  The loud mouth obnoxious bullying marine prevailed
      It didn't seem right to me....his information.....his take on the situation....and his bullying to get his way.  This was the same elder that told Sister Moench that the teamster whistle was too loud in Rendezvous and it made him deaf and his ears ring....he wouldn't put up with it.  He doesn't have to  any more...she gave him a new place and role...won't miss him a bit.  Cheers to Sister Moench!!
     So anyway I did a little research and really couldn't find a protocol for "Military Service" flags except for their relation the Stars and Stripes.  But what I did find was a picture and an article from the Langly-Eustice News Blog.  Langly-Eustice is a large air base that frequently sees the president and his comings and goings.  This was a military tribute to fallen soldiers......seems pretty clear that is acceptable to "dip" the flags to those we honor.  How often do we listen to the loud bullying obnoxious voice.....failing to take a stand and waffle in indifference? 
     So by our next performance on Saturday the issue was researched....the solution  worked out......the flags were dipped.....and one Elder was missing....presumably as a protest but the reality is probably a bullheaded stubborn bully not getting his way....
     So what started out as a well intentioned tribute to our veterans and their service,  evolved into someone's ego disrupting and casting a pall on what is supposed to be a tribute presented by a group of thankful citizens to rouse patriotism and stir our souls.

We Celebrate our Anniversary.....
         .....and Dinner With the Super Sisters
    For most folks who survive to the big "Five-0" there is a massive celebration thrown by the kids and paid for by the "Oldie Weds".  Here in Nauvoo it is a little different story....if anyone finds out you are supposed to provide treats for your cast and get little more than a thank you for the pleasure.  Our celebration started off with a full day of work.  Rushing home we hurriedly clean up and charged off to the temple.  While we didn't renew our vows we did enjoy the spirit of serving and remembering what we had signed up for in the beginning.....It was a time to remember and reflect....even though we were both tired from our day's work activities.
     Wanting to do something special....with someone special......we invited the four fabulous  sisters in our cast (Wright, Eppic, Shumway, and McNeil).  There is only one good place to go in Nauvoo and so it was......of course.....The Hotel Nauvoo and their scrumptious  buffet, salad bar, and prime rib (for me).   The laughter, stories, and hilarity continued well past their closing time but that did not deter the hotel from offering us a free buggy ride around the block by the temple.  All in all it was pretty much a side splitting night.....all were pretty much had by a good time.

The Trailer Moves......
                ....Let the Pageant Begin....Almost!
      The Pageant trailer was moved early on Wednesday morning as we were in a training meeting.
We moved the work trailer and set up shop.  Things were in stride.....we finished the FRP panels on Tuesday as well as put two coats of paint on our newly textured ceiling...Texture isn't necessarily Marcus' favorite but we all agreed it saved us a lot of time and is great for the bathroom.  We laid a plywood sub-floor, filled in the cracks and sanded it.  As you can see, Elder Van Horn was more than willing to lift a finger to help with the vinyl....in fact he did most of the work getting it down.   Then it was time to start installing the partitions. It took most of the morning getting a layout and in packing and it was just going great until we realized that we didn't have all the parts for the partitions and so it would be the first of the week before we could finish them.  Elder Sims surprised us all when I handed him the camera to take a picture of the partitions, with me in it, of course.....the next thing I know is he is taking a "selfie".  I think I got the last laugh as I posted him front and center in the weeks picture gallery.

Pottery Glazing at Bonaparte......
         .....Something to Get Fired up About!!
     Our weekly escape from Nauvoo took us back to Bonaparte.  The Lindeburg's hadn't been there and there was a Raku (a high temperature glazing technique) firing and at Bonaparte Pottery where we had visited earlier in the year.  This time Lee Burningham was there with his expertise and kilns.  Lee is second cousin to one of our missionaries here and has had a life full of experiences centered around his pottery skills.  He has come here for the last three years to spend the summer working with Marilyn, the owner of Bonaparte Pottery.  I chronicled a the story earlier how she and her husband had come to Bonaparte and found the treasure trove of pottery molds and pieces that he been buried there over the years.  He died in 2006 and Marilyn had given her whole life and soul to keep the place alive and continue to tell the story.  And now, as has often been said....This is the rest of the story......
     As Lee and I were talking and I had told him I had been here before and Marilyn had related her history with the building he asked me if she had told me that he had been prayed here.  "I don't recall that detail", I said.  "It's a great story", he related and with that I was on my way.  I found her and began a little chit chat with her and then I sprung it on her...."Lee tells me you prayed him here...is that true?"  Marilyn, who is probably eighty + and has thinning red hair started to tear up and dropped her head for a moment.  Regaining her composure she related the following:  "Do you believe God could talk to you in a dream? I smiled as I affirmed to her that we can have answers to our prayers....and yes we can hear voices on special occasions (and we are not crazy, either) She continued;  My business had been struggling to the point that I could no longer see the future.  I was despondent and heartbroken.  I felt that Bonaparte Pottery was nearing and end and my lifelong work and dream was going to vanish.  I had prayed long and hard but there was no answer.  Finally, one night in the spring of 2013, I had retired after a particularly disheartening day.
I was dead asleep when a voice said loud and clear.  "Don't give up....Help is on the way."  Startled I laid there wondering what had just happened.  As I dozed off again the same voice....the same message: "Don't give up....Help is on the way."  This time I was more awake but still unbelieving what was happening.  And then again.....a third time: "Don't give up....Help is on the way."  A few weeks later Lee showed up unexpectedly and spent the summer helping her and revitalizing her business.  He as returned now for two years, bought a property, and plans on retiring at some point.
When Lee and his wife are in Bonaparte they are the only two Mormons in town.....so far!
     So we probably didn't need the pottery.....but we did need to hear the story.  And that my friends is another "Nauvoo Miracle".