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.

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