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 can feel it on the 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 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.


            .....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 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 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 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. 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
     On one of the rain days the grounds crew (women) couldn't do Sister's Gibson and Van Horn invited them to join them at the Visitors Center to help clean and dust the just can't beat that for good clean fun.
     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!!
     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 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 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!!


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