Monday, August 28, 2017



It Began as a Safety Meeting....

                    .....and Transformed into a Clinic


     One of the great treasures in Nauvoo FM is Lon Simpson.  Lon joined the church three years ago and has been a fixture in the cabinetry shop since then.  His roots go back to college when he studied 1800's woodworking prior to joining the military and after retiring  taught woodworking in school while running a business that required craftsmanship and skill.  His responsibilities in Nauvoo  include the day to day operations of the cabinet shop and the maintenance and supervision of the adjacent carpentry shop.  It is almost impossible to ask him a question about where something is or how to do a particular task without him rounding it up and doing it for you.  His wife is a extraordinary cook  who is continually baking.  He manages his weight by giving most of the goodies to the missionaries.
     Lon is very proud and skilled with his vast array of hand tools and he can do masterful things with them.  Additionally there is a vast array of current up to date equipment in the cabinetry portion of the shop.  He is so proud of it that he often refers to it as the "Celestial Shop".  I guess that makes the carpentry shop, with it's older and outdated tools, the "Terrestrial World" and those who work in the field the "Telestial Kingdom".   We as carpenters are certainly able to work in the Terrestrial world but never are allowed such a pleasure in the Celestial Shop.  Lon will, however, always be glad to do what ever we ask that needs to be done.
    The opening minutes of the safety meeting were spent on the importance of a sharp tools versus a dull one and then the ride began.  We started with lengthy explanations of the many types of sharpening stones, where they came from, and why and how to use them.  He has more stones than I have tools (LOL).  Then it was on to the types of steel used in tools with the emphasis on not even bothering with a chisel made today....only the ones manufactured in the 1800's are suitable.  After sharpening a chisel for demonstration purposes and shaving one of he elders heads (not really...but it could have done it since it was so sharp) he moved on to block planes. The things he could do with that tool are amazing....a little extravagant for normal every day work, but amazing.  A lifetime of study and practice have given the man some amazing skills.
     It was a ten minute safety meeting....and an hour and a half clinic on sharpening....that most will probably never use.

A Hammer and Hoe...

                                     ....And Away We Go!!!

     We started the week with high hopes of getting the barn addition concrete poured and a start on the framing.  That ended with two days of rain.  So we started the next project.....a kitchen remodel in the Economou house (strange name, I know).  A quick review revealed the obvious for a Nauvoo project....it was going to expand to the laundry room and down bath.  So with gusto and zeal we grabbed our tools of destruction and tore into it.  A day and a half later and a dump truck load of debris we had gutted the kitchen called for a plumber and electrician to review the exposed pipes and wires and we were back at the barn.  As for the cute title....we use the hoe to pull the lathe and plaster from the walls and ceiling....it's hard and dirty work but someone's got to do it.

     We returned to the barn.....hopes high that we get some concrete poured.  It soon became one of those weeks when one thing after another happened.  We needed some help from the equipment operators to drill some holes.  We needed the skidster to drill 12" holes for our foundation piers but it was in the shop.  Thinking it would be done we did some other small tasks.  Thursday came and it wasn't done so we grabbed a tractor....attachment for the drill needed work....off to the welding shop.
Things were looking when we got it back and then, after we had installed the auger and were ready to go it was discovered that it was a reverse drill and the tractor couldn't turn it to dig...only to push dirt back down.  Thank heavens for Elder Hall.  He had had enough....grabbed a shovel and started digging.  He has always told me I was the hardest working guy in Nauvoo (not true...but you know how egos work) and not to be out done...I dug in with him.  It took most of the morning but we got the holes done and by Friday afternoon we were ready to pour.....I can hardly wait for Monday!!
     Elder Van Horn, the brains, equipment skills,  and probably most of the brawn, of this entire project will be saying his farewell to Nauvoo on September 4.  It's going to be an interesting week... I just hope I survive it.

    Nice Thing About Being Old.....

 .....You Can Visit the Same Place Twice...
          .....There's Always Something New!!

     The Beecher's had survived the hard work they had put forth during the pageant and wanted to get with us on some of our adventures away from Nauvoo.  While Kalona looked inviting...(after all they have that wonderful carmel pecan pull apart) we opted for a different plan to revisit Bentonsport.  Sister Lindeburg wanted to make it a "full" day trip since all were were free from obligations in the evening.  So we took the long way to Bentonsport through Eldon, Iowa and enjoyed visiting the American Gothic House made famous by artist Grant Wood.  Regrettably it was music on the porch day and so the pictures on the porch got "photobombed".
     Then it was decided to stop by Bonaparte for lunch at Bonapartes Retreat...finally we reached Bentonsport.  Our first visit there had us thoroughly enthralled with the pottery and church and we missed visiting the Indian Artifact Museum.  It is indeed a treasure to be seen.  For some forty three years Tony Sanders has been scouring the nearby creeks in search of Indian arrowheads and anything else ancient he could find.  The area is rich in them but it takes a lot of patience and hard work.
     He then built a building and spent what was left of his leisure time building displays to mount his treasures on.  Using twenty different species of native wood he painstakingly created patterns and artistry to display them as well as covering the interior walls with intricate wood patterns.  It is amazing to see and listen to him talk about his efforts and creative skills.  It is a must see in Bentonsport and is a special sight.

Odds......At the End
    
     So here it was time and there we were.....just like so many others.... staring at the cloudy sky...figuring that it was going to be a bust. Our anticipation of seeing 96.7% of the famed "once in a lifetime" eclipse were waning by the moment.  And then, for an hour or so the clouds broke up enough for us to see what had been anticipated.  Wow!! it looked just like we thought through our specially purchased level 16 protection sun shades (actually they were borrowed from someone nearby who was willing to share the moment.  While it wasn't a Nauvoo Miracle it was interesting and I can say that we were there....gawking away until the clouds closed in again.  We did see the majority of it, however.

     
It started like any other project.  Grab some wood to make forms for the barn.  It ended in the Emergency Room at Memorial Hospital in Carthage.  I was loading 2x4's into the truck when I felt a sharp pain as a sliver drove into my thumb.  I looked at the thumb and found a little sliver protruding out.  I must be turning into a whimp I thought.  It felt a lot worse than that little sliver looked.  Then I noticed a little blood about 1 1/2" back on the thumb.  It didn't take long to figure out that that even though I couldn't see it...The sliver was there....  I could feel it!!  Soon the swelling caused the revealed part to disappear.  Off to the clinic I went...knowing it could be easily extracted with a little professional care.  The Nauvoo Clinic is our go-to place but the PA who is stationed there had to leave so they sent me to the Carthage ER.  This shouldn't be too hard the Doc explained.....I don't think we'll need to numb it.  Being the macho guy I am I agreed.  I figured it would be pretty simple.  Fifteen minutes later after screaming and yelling like a baby he asked if I might want it numbed as it was a little more difficult that he imagined.  Revealing my true identity I hastily agreed.  It was another twenty minutes before he extracted the culprit.  One stich later I was patiently waiting for the next half hour to pass for the paper work to be processed so I could get back to work....but by then the day was pretty much over.

    While the P-Day trip may have been to Bonaparte and Bentonsport.....not to mention The Dutchman's.... we arranged it to pass through Eldon, Iowa,  a famous American site in search of our relatives.  It was a bonanza for all of us as we soon discovered our forefathers had been indeed friends.  We uncovered some early photographs....the resemblance is amazing.....don't you think?
The band played us a welcome and photobombed in the background from the porch...go figure!  I sure hope someone doesn't think this is our new missionary outfits and post it.....after all....I have a pitchfork and I am sure I can use it!
Missionary Gothic
Beecher, Gibson, Lindeburg

American Gothic
Gibson Style


Monday, August 21, 2017





The Are Gone....

                              ......But Not Forgotten


     Tuesday morning marked the departure for our YPM's.  What they brought and what they left speaks volumes for their impact on the lives of many who visited here during the summer season.  Their breakneck schedule of multiple daily performances in various venues were viewed and appreciated by all.  They awed us with their talents and abilities....but it was their strength and testimonies that we will also remember.  Never once did I ever here them complain about the heat, weather, or the exhaustion that would show on their faces from time to time.  They thrilled us with their cohesive voices and instruments as they would perform their Sunday Concerts or as they played in the venues along the streets and on the wagon.    They testified to us on the Trail of Hope of the sacrifices and hardships of the saints as they left Nauvoo.  Most shed a tear as the serenaded us at their departure sociable.  Sister Gibson will miss Elder's Cook and Chen stopping by regularly for a piece of chocolate and a brief respite on her nearby couch in her office.
     Sister Gibson was called down bright an early (6:15am) on Tuesday morning to help the young sisters load their baggage on the bus.  They loaded their bags, said their goodbyes, and the bus headed to St. Louis where all the missionaries would catch flights to their home cities.  Two of the Elders will be entering the mission home to start serving their full time missions.  One will arrive home on Tuesday and head to the MTC on Wednesday.  Elder Cook lives in DesMoines, IA  opted to pass the three hour bus ride to home and instead  ride on the bus to St. Louis (3hour trip) to take the last flight with a missionary on it at 5:00 pm and fly to DesMoines (One hour flight).......just to continue the experience as long as he could.
     So they are gone....their memories linger and Nauvoo goes on.  The streets are now quieter.  Their is no longer a brass band playing up and down the street during the day nor are there the vignettes that so inspired and entertained.  The summer season is winding down.  With their departure the summer crowds are dwindling and the missionaries are taking deep breaths and relaxing a little more as you can often see them on the benches outside the sites waiting for their next opportunity to present a tour.  All in all it's a bittersweet time for all. 
     Some sixty missionaries are now looking forward to the end of their service.  The annual fall exodus of the missionaries has already begun with the early departure of a few and the larger ones begin  starting on Labor Day weekend.  Between then and November our ranks will deplete substantially and at this point there are few replacements on the horizon. The numbers will return to the time that we arrived.  In our innocence we  did not understand the numbers that had been here and were now gone.  At that time you could even find a spot to stand on the stage for Rendezvous.  I think I am looking forward to that.
    The YPM departure of Jimmy and Marie also ushered in some changes for Rendezvous.  Apparently there were a few who questioned the couple of allusions to Jimmy and Marie in the winter script.  The change that affects the editor is where to place him and how he starts the show.  The first two revisions brought more chaos and clarification.  Starting the show from the Editors seat in the front row and saying "OH My...is it that time already" after the opening number has been performed just didn't seem like the best approach.....but it is for now and the show goes on.

Chicken at Basco......or......

                                   ........Prime Rib in Burlington?

     It's no secret that our lives are happier when we make good decisions. Sometimes it's "either..or" and we have to make a choice.  Take for example Wednesday night.  Elder Moench had put together a Sarah Granger trek to Basco to their famous Wednesday night "all you can eat chicken" fest.  Well, we had been there...done that....didn't care to do it again.  But it was our cast and we felt obligated to go and endure.  Out of the blue Van Horn's and Johnson's invited us to go to Uncle Ronnies in Burlington  for their famous prime rib.  We thought about it for a millisecond before we accepted....after all Ronnies is a much better atmosphere for us....although the Basco atmosphere and wait time was not the best.  We chose wisely as the wait in Basco was almost an hour.
     Sister Van Horn, who is a seamstress extraordinaire who also owns a great computer operated sewing machine made us and the Johnson's a wonderful plaque to remember our time in Nauvoo.  It is very special and appreciated.  We laughed as we entered the door to Ronnies as their special was "all you can eat chicken".   Turns out prime rib is only served on the weekends but our alternate choices off the menu were great anyway.
     As for the Basco group the only thing I overheard was the long wait to get food.  No one seemed to rave about "all you can eat chicken".   My life was much happier for choosing Ronnies!!!!  

It's off to Florida.......

                                   .....Maybe We'll Stop in Louisiana?

     The title get's your attention....the reality is a little less exciting.  In searching for a Saturday visit someone suggested going to Mark Twain's birthplace in Florida.....It's near Louisiana  Are you kidding?  That's a little bit out of the three hour zone allowed to us as missionaries.....I'm for adventure but.....
      Turns out that Florida is the name of the city in Missouri where he was born and it is a little bit north of a town called Louisiana, MO.  And so mission rules aside we made the two hour trip to see the sites and the Mark Twain Lake and Park.  The trip turned out to be great and I enjoyed it as much or even more  as the Mark Twain exhibits in Hannibal.  Samuel Langhorn Clements (Mark Twain) was born in a very small two room cabin in Florida, MO. and lived there for several years before his father re-located the family over to Hannibal.  That small house was donated to Missouri back in the fifties and they decided to do something different and special....they built the visitors center around and over it.  that's quite a construction project and it is pretty impressive.  Also housed in the building are original manuscripts and his furniture from his mansion where he live in the later years of his life...and of course there is the legendary pipe he was never without.
     Informational Tidbit:  The  pen name Mark Twain comes from Sam Clement's days as a riverboat pilot.  They would  set a seaman on the bow of the boat and it was his job to throw a rope and anchor to verify the depth.  "Mark Twain" meant it was two fathoms deep and safe.
       Since we went with the Lindeburg's there was the unmentioned but included shopping stop at Sam's Club in Quincy and non-stop conversation the whole way.  I did suggest to Elder Lindeburg that we could have some fun with this trip....like let one of our "rumor did fly" elders here him over hear a candid conversation that know one should hear about...you know....the Gibson's went to Florida and Louisiana over the weekend......
    That could find me in the Presidents office this week.......looking forward to that!!!

Bathrooms to Barns.......


           ..... It's Up/Down and On/Off/on at FM

    Starting from where we ended last week....Jordan and the family got back from their trip.  Not sure how the chaos was received...maybe he laid a groundwork so it wasn't too bad.  Anyway we went right to work and nothing was said.  The family left around 11:00 and we didn't see them the rest of the day.
     Week's end had me pretty well worn outWe were to a point that the bathroom and basement  were pretty much a part time job with us doing work as needed.  We moved the vanity top in and Elder Jones, our happy-go-lucky missionary plumber jumped in and set the toilet and sink.   Sooner or later the cap for the shower wall will arrive and we can put it in and then the glass for the shower can be set.     We also worked on the finishing of the sheetrock in the basement which I took on while Elder Van Horn finished the grouting in the shower.
     Monday we got a new project....building an addition to shoe the horses under onto an already existing horse barn.  Elder Van Horn met with Marcus and got all the particulars.  (I was too busy to join the committee meetings.)  So we went up and scoped it out, put a material list together and ordered it, and arranged with the heavy equipment missionaries to meet us and go over the project.  They showed up ready to go to work Tuesday morning so..... we let them dig out the excess soil and compact new gravel in so we could pour a cement pad.....and then...the teamsters chimed in exclaiming this is not what they were supposed to get...it wouldn't work.
That night Elder Van Horn got a call from Marcus.....project was now going to be just a slab...forget the rest.....cancel the materials.
Thursday Marcus left town and the teamsters met with Jordan.  Don't know what happened in the meeting...I did hear one of the teamsters versions...at any rate.....
Friday we were told to follow a new design engineered by Elder Van Horn that would meet the teamsters needs (for the time being), re-order the materials, and get it built.
Onward.....ever Onward!!!!

     
Odds......at the End
      
    


It is not hard to feel overwhelmed with excitement when I see those young men that I love so much continue on without me and are thriving in the process.....I would expect nothing less from these guys or their current leaders.....they are special.
     The long awaited Demolition Derby took place....Levi's thoughts say it all:
"They say we took last place......
   We were really the winners as our brotherhood  was strengthened."
     Truly a "Band of Brothers"
in the Lord!!



   
    
     The last lingering item on the Trail of Hope fence was replacing the old gate.  So when Marcus left town for ten days we took first opportunity to complete it.  It was just another one of those amazing things that happen here.....jobs get finished!!
     The old gate didn't fit all that well and we were concerned that we couldn't make the materials we had work....but with a little luck and a lot of ingenuity we were able to create a gate that looked like it was planned for the space...another Nauvoo Miracle you say?...or just dumb luck?





We made another  trip through the Mark Twain when we visited his birthplace site.  It is about 30 minutes away and since Lindeburg's had made it there we dropped off for another visit.  Just seemed like the right thing to do....after all the marriage corner did bring a lot of memories back.  This one is a little different but there are some parallels:

We are Rock Solid

We have found our way by following the Light of Christ

Life is a cave that can be very dark.
There are lights placed along the way to
help us....to see what is important
We should always hold on to the Iron Rod
regardless of the terrain.
The Lights could go out any time but our
firm grip will guide us to safety
                                      

Sunday, August 13, 2017



Dancing in the Rain.....
                      ....Cancels the Final Sunset Performance
 
     Even though is was long awaited,  the final performance of Sunset on the Mississippi was to be our "last hurrah" with the cast taking pictures and reminiscing about the season.   It never happened as the 30 percent chance of rain turned into a torrential downpour that drenched the outdoor stage and wreaked havoc on Nauvoo.  It all broke loose as we parked the car on our relegated perch above the stage.  We marveled at the ferocity of the storm and how it virtually obliterated everything in the distance from our view.  Soon there was thunder and lightning and an e-mail cancelling the performance.  And then almost obliterated from our view we noticed shadow figures on the stage.  In between waves of rain we soon could make out four of the YPM girls dancing their hearts out in the rain.  I love youth and their enthusiasm....it gives ups life.....excitement....and wonder.
    Yet in all of the disappointment we remembered a story that needed to be told.  Elder Shultz, our beloved leader of Nauvoo Productions.  A week earlier he had taken an expected helicopter trip to Iowa City having fallen victim to a stroke.  His daughter had found him unable to move in the shower and summoned the necessary help.  Fast forward a week to Thursday night....there he is driving his trusty golf cart down to the Sunset Stage to see for himself if there could possibly be a show.  The eventful week had seen him go from left side paralysis and it's associated side effects to eating cheese burgers and telling his numerous and continual jokes.  It was rumored that this was really the cause of his remarkable recovery and release....the doctors and nurses just couldn't take it any more.
     Yet we all know....don't we?  Here in Nauvoo we come to expect these sort of things.  We don't take them lightly....we do our work.....we fast and exercise our faith and prayers.   We don't know the outcome....we just put it into God's hands and trust in his outcome.  Elder Shultz has worked so hard I am sure God had a hand in it so he could be here at the end and say good-by to those wonderful and obedient YPM's that have brought us such joy and buoyed us up.  
     We also said a fond farewell to the Brown's who left this week.  He has been the editor, along with me, in the Sarah Granger cast since last November.  His strong voice will be missed.  
     Last, but not least, we have this bull who shows up nightly for "Stomped on my Heart" and the USA medley where our teamsters take shots at roping it....they seldom miss (from two feet).  Each night the bull gets a different name...Big Mac, Sir Loin, T-Bone....but there are two of the sweetest YPM sisters that make this character come to life.  They never get any personal recognition.  So I have attached the best I could find.  Thank you, Sisters......you are the best!!

If a Tree Falls in Nauvoo.....
                 ....It's Best You are Not Under It!!
 
     The same storm that caused Sunset t be cancelled also changed the landscape of Old Nauvoo and scattered trees and limbs all over the place.  The Friday FM prayer meeting soon became a mustering of the troops to scour the town and pick up all the tree limbs that were all over the city.  It would take a lot of time and manpower to clean up not only those limbs that had been blown off trees but also those that were hanging on or still stuck in the trees.
      The most spectacular was the two large trees that had been destroyed and fallen. A large massive tree next to the print shop came crashing down blocking the roads in all directions.  The grounds employees were called out that night to clear it but the destruction was impressive and complete.
     The Witbeck's were in the back of their house when their house lost power.  The Johnson's who lived in the upper apartment did.  The massive tree in the front of the house came crashing down and literally crushed Elder Witbecks FM truck and grazed the Johnson's car.  It was an impressive sight...not necessarily to see the destruction but rather to see how a large and seemingly stable tree was destroyed.  There is a strong analogy as this tree had been rotting and decaying from the inside for years....yet seemingly was as the other large trees nearby.  This is often the way apostasy works inside of those who let small and seemingly insignificant things work on the spirit from the inside. Eventually the destruction is so severe that the wind of trial can destroy us.  Sometimes it isn't the big things that destroy us but rather the small things that are left to grow and fester until the bring to pass our utter destruction and loss of testimony.
     Rendezvous.........
                                                          ....The Show Goes On!!
 
      The Browns departure this week also brought on Elder Hughes as the new editor.  I can vividly remember the stress of preparing for my "debut" so I have a lot of empathy for those chosen to fill this role.  We had two full shows Friday so the missionaries weren't allowed to come up and watch.  I would have like to seen it....but I did get to hear parts of his performance through the small speakers provided back stage.  He and Sister Hughes did very well and will be marvelous in their roles.  I hope they continue to perform their roles as Peter and Abagail in the nights they are not the editor and Relief Society president.
     This was the last week the YPM's would be performing.  With that comes the end of Jimmy and Marie.  Our Tuesday night performance was limited to one show as the YPM's were given the cultural hall so all three of the Jimmy and Marie (and Pa) teams could perform for the other YPM's who hadn't seen them..  I was editor and extremely grateful for that.  The days have been long and arduous lately and by the time the second show gets going I am extremely fatigued and find it difficult to concentrate.  My elation for one show soon ended when I was asked to stay on and do my role as editor.  It was a fantastic experience as well as a tender mercy.  I did it willingly because I wanted to....really wanted to.  These young people are so special, talented, and enthusiastic.  They brought the house down as they watched these performances.  What a treat.
     I wouldn't call this a "senior moment" although maybe I should.  Elder Norman was doing his usual gruff Jed role.  He is outstanding.  There was Elder Hughes, first time editor, telling Jed that the Saints weren't being forced out...they were going willingly.  After that we go into our "Willingly" song.  Except this time Elder Norman audibly says "BULL"....thinking only the editor can hear.
Hearing for seniors is deceptive....I don't think more than half of the packed house heard.....and we had another one of those moments when most couldn't keep it in and laughter broke out.  I kept a straight face.  It was worse than trying to hold a sneeze back.
     Elder and Sister Norman will be returning home at the first of September.....I think it's time.

     It's the Bottom of the Ninth....
          .......We are Going to Extra Innings
 
     Three weeks ago our FM director sent his pregnant wife and three kids back to Salt Lake for a summer visit with the family.  He joined them ten days ago. Then he set out to remodel the bathroom and paint the house,   I have heard rumors that the bathroom remodel was supposed to be a surprise.  Well, they are returning this Sunday.....one way or another it will be a surprise.  The bathroom masterpiece has been a typical "Nauvoo Challenge" and with the numerous stairs to climb and the number of trips required it has certainly taken it's toll on the time and the physical stamina of all of us.  Elder Van Horn is not one to do anything half heartedly and we have built this with some of the projects being done for the first time.  It may not be the way the pros due it but we created our own support system for holding up the ceiling tiles which for the most part stuck....or struck Elder Van Horn or broke on the floor as they fell.  They are now up and in place.  We only need to finish the grouting....and install the cap on the wall and threshold so the glass can be measured to be put in.  For two weeks now we thought this was ordered.....seems it's not.... so who knows when we can finish.  Good news is the glass will be installed three weeks after the cap.  At least there will be a toilet and sink.
    Thursday and Friday Sister Gibson and Van Horn came in a started a massive clean up to get the mess that construction had brought.  Some of the sheet rock dust was so thick you could write a masterpiece on it.  The carpets will be cleaned Saturday.
     So after traveling for two days in the car with a pregnant wife and  three kids the family will arrive back Sunday....one way or another it's going to be a surprise!!  We will spend a couple of days next week working around them to complete what we started and also do a couple of more additional projects that have been assigned.  All this...and not to mention, they are serving dinner to his boss who will be in Nauvoo for the first days of the week.....might I suggest eating out?

Ft Madison....
                             .....an 1812 Experience

     Nine miles North of Nauvoo on the western side of the Mississippi across the dreaded toll bridge
lies Ft. Madison, Iowa.  We have been there countless times and passed the rebuilt fort but have never taken the time to stop in.  Saturday became the day.  We first visited the museum and were treated to a guided tour through four separate buildings that contain a lot of memorabilia from the towns history.  The flag that flies over it is the 1812 version with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes.  The next flag reverted back to the thirteen stripes as it became apparent that there could be a really wide flag in the future...or something that looked like pinstripes.
     One of the displays was a miniature version of an ice cutting operation that took place there in the early days.  It explained how ice was farmed on the river.  First the snow cleared off then it was scored about three inches deep so the cutters could cut the symmetrical ice blocks that were of a size that could be placed in the original ice boxes.  One figure that was thrown out I found rather astounding was the depth of the ice could reach 24" to 30".   We surely haven't seen anything like that around here for years.   It seemed like a pretty risky operation standing on the ice cutting the blocks.  One unintended  cut or crack or a slip and it was river city and probably the cemetery when your body was found.  We did find a typical ice box in the museum and Sister Gibson pointed out that it was a "Gibson".  Who knew?
     The fort was a re-construction of one built in 1805-1813.  It was intended more as a trading post with the Indians in the area and manned by many who were recruited by rather devious means to a life of difficult labor and circumstances.  Turns out that most of the soldiers there were alcoholics who relied on whiskey to make it through the day.  One of the most severe punishments administered was withholding the daily allowance.  Withdrawal was severe and there were a couple of reported cases of deaths.
     It was pretty much a government program designed to keep peace with the Indians and relied on government contractors to supply the fort with the necessary food and supplies to trade with the Indians.  It was involved in on battle during the War of 1812 and soon thereafter was burned to the ground as the last soldiers left after being supplied spoiled and rotten meat for their rations.  It was never rebuilt....until the current restoration.

             Odds....At the End
    



     Elder Bass took a moment out from Sunset to enjoy his bubbles.  It would be good for all of us to grab a bottle of bubbles....











    
     We received a text from the Pettit's with this picture.  We couldn't quite figure out what it was all about.  A phone call later we discovered that these were some of Christi's friends visiting.  They had been visiting the sites when the stumbled on the Pettit's who were serving in the Brigham Young Home.  The next night they came by Sunset and watched the performance.
       Christie was invited but she couldn't make it due to some prior commitments.  She did surprised us when she told us she had an opportunity to come for the weekend.  She was looking forward to seeing us perform in Sunset and Rendezvous.  Timing is everything so the idea was scrapped as we weren't doing the Editor when she would be here and she wouldn't get here until after Sunset...which was rained out anyway.
     We are still hopeful and excited that she will be able to come at a later date.






Monday, August 7, 2017





What Goes Around.....
                                        ..........Comes Around!!
     Most often when it comes time to put together the weeks activities and my thoughts I ask Sister Gibson for some pictures .....and the response is "Oh, I didn't take any....I guess I should have".  Well, last week was a banner week.  I found two pictures on her phone.  Proof that she does know how and can take them.  One of them, however, was not so flattering, but in all fairness I earlier posted a particularly poignant picture of her collapsed on her favorite chair after a hard day's work.  So when I found her picture of me snoozing.... I should certainly get my due reward...and yes...she does look a lot better "crashed" than I do.
    
    
Her second offering came from our day at the John Taylor home as we served there a week ago.  As we were giving multiple tours I didn't see here for sometime but I certainly noticed the parade of antique cars that streamed down Main Street.  She had been outside talking and hoped for an opportunity to  get a picture of her sitting in the car.  Didn't happen but she did manage to get a picture and a video of one of the cars along with a the sound of the old horn honking as they left Nauvoo.  Kudo's to her...I am sure there will be more in the future...as least I hope so.



The Pageant Comes to a Close.....



     Three weeks ago on July 11 the first Pageant performance began.  Since that time the streets and venues have been inundated with people.....both visitors and those who come on a weekly basis to perform in it.  It has been amazing to see the bus loads who come...some in tours and some as youth groups from the surrounding states.  50,000+ people attended this year.   We attended four performances and appeared in the British Pageant twice as singing missionaries....which was a powerful experience.  
     Our friends and fellow missionaries, the Beecher's, were in charge of organizing and staffing the casts who come from all over the country.  It was a busy time for them and soon they will relax, take a breather, return to missionary life here as Thomas and Elizabeth in Rendezvous and begin the process all over for next year.
     The Pageant still maintains a handcart experience as part of the Country Fair that goes on before each performance.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity we grabbed one for a photo op and pulled it the 100 yards allowed.  There was a family standing by to go and they offered one of their children up for the ride....gotta luv it!!
     Watching the Pageant come to town and set up was amazing....but even more so was them leaving.  By midnight all of the chairs had been taken down, a lot of the venues and parts of the stage had disappeared, and it almost looked like nothing had happened.  Where the audience sat, however, and where those pesky chiggers found morsels on those who were unprotected, was a matted down, dry and discolored patch of lawn.  I am told it will return quickly once it receives some needed moisture....from the skies.  There is no irrigation or sprinkling in most of Nauvoo.  
     Last....at least....the Protestors.  Seems there are eight to ten protestors floating around the outskirts of the pageant as they are not allowed on the grounds...but they can be on the fringe where the streets run....These two spend every night on the North entrance yelling and screaming and antagonizing just about any and all who pass.  Their message is hate, dissention,  and deceit.  Those who stop to talk to them are the victim of their unruly and overbearing attacks on them.  The goal is apparently to embarrass, discredit, and humiliate the unsuspecting and then post the exchange on the internet.  They pass out a flyer that is of the same layout and nature of the Pageant brochure.  The low light of their rants and antics was taking a pair of sacred garments and flaunt them before throwing them on the ground and stepping and spitting on them....and for what?  Certainly this is not intended to turn someone from their chosen spiritual path but rather incite feelings of hate and anger.  They picked the wrong group for this tactic...."We have endured many things....we have yet to endure many things and we hope to endure all things"  
     We know what we stand for......What do they stand for?

Rendezvous Moments....Cherished Memories...
 

       I have had many a good laugh at Rendezvous and yet there are great memories.  Several months ago the Wayments arrived and received the "opportunity" to play the George and Agatha vignette.  Sister Gibson and I spent several evenings and afternoons with them rehearsing.  It was pretty slow going and  I would often sneak attack Elder Wayment with "you know Jimmy's a fine young man"
After startling the daylights out of him several times he soon responded with his  "you'll get no  argument from me" line...and the scene was off and running.  It didn't hurt either that he got his hearing aids adjusted....so he could really hear.  Sadly, when it came time for them to perform they were not in the rotation to do it with me.  We were both disappointed.  This week that all changed and we had  that opportunity.  What a great experience.
     Elder Hughes and I seem to be somewhat partners in off beat humor which when done to loud does get us noticed.  For the most part we share those moments privately, however.  Somehow we ended up with this selfie while standing outside after the "Willingly" segue at the end of the show.  He is a comedic bright spot that brightens my day (or night)!  Next week is his debut as Editor as Elder and Sister Brown say farewell to Nauvoo this week and return to their home in Lake Arrowhead, Ca. after attending two weddings for their grandchildren.

     Twenty Steps to the Top.....
           
          .....Twenty Steps to the Bottom

      The bathroom remodel in "The Big House" is more than a job.....it is also an exercise program.  Counting steps or time on the Stairmaster has no equal to the dual tasking opportunities presented by the upstairs location of this project.  There opportunity is enhanced by the weight of the materials and debris that we carry with us.  Physical fitness and service....just doesn't get any better than this!!
     Two  people working in the same small space provides for some creative solutions.  Fortunately it all works fine for Elder Van Horn and myself.  I was still hanging sheetrock as he launched into setting the first of the tile.    Last week was the structure...this week will be the glitz as we put up the tile and put the bathroom back together.  We have been instructed to tile the ceiling in the shower...a task neither one of us has attempted.....look out below!!  
     We had the welding shop build us a pair of brackets for the bench....then we had them cut them down so they would fit.....Elder Duvall was a great help on both ends of this project.  We are pretty much a self contained unit and as an FM group we can just about handle any project....as long as we are kept on it and can get the materials ordered and here.
     In keeping with the spirit of FM the pile of wood we created from the Trail of Hope Fence was dismantled by Elder Hill and the majority of it relegated to mere obscurity in the burn pile.  We had suggested this in the beginning but told to stack it in a pile near the river.  The pile soon became a challenge as I could see a very large bonfire...hotdogs and marshmallows  could then be cooked with twenty to thirty foot sticks.   It could have been a blazing beacon on the Mississippi....and probably burned a few trees next to it on the way.   Sometimes.....I just want a little more excitement! 

Threshers and Tractors.....

                  ....Western Illinois Thresher Festival
     This is farming country.  It's corn and soybeans or soybeans and corn.  Some even refer to driving down the roads as corn tunnels.  That's all you see here as we travel Illinois and Iowa.  So it's not hard to imagine that the big events around here revolve around farming.  We had heard from the beginning and planned on attending the Thresher's festival in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  Then we heard of a smaller version just a little south of Nauvoo in Hamilton.  If this is the small version....the Mt. Pleasant one will be gi-hugious!! (Giant and Huge).
      There were rows and rows of tractors from the beginning of tractors to the present.  I saw one with a 600 number so I am pretty confident there were at least that many.  Then there were tractor games and pulls.  Who ever thought the winner in the tractor contest would be the one who never crossed the finish line...or how about pushing a barrel with a tractor around two markers to the finish line.  Be calm my beating heart!!
     There were junk sales, tons of food vendors, and a guy selling a really slick vegetable peeler.  Sister Gibson bought two.  Nauvoo on the Road was there so we stopped in and said hi to the group. 
     What was the most fascinating to me was the old time threshing machine powered by horses and the sawmill that was set up and powered by a tractor.  In both cases, while I could see the benefits of those machines while the risks and dangers of the operation were astronomical.  The men encouraging the horses to keep moving as well as the horses themselves were required to step over the power take off (PTO in farmer language) that turns the thresher as they went around and around and around.  It was a physical endurance contest for sure.  One mis-step or trip and you would be trampled before it could be stopped.  My guess is, based on the time we watched, that these men and horses would be going at a pretty good walking pace for over and hour to complete the load of wheat.  And then there was the doting mother was patiently explained to her child that this is the way they turned straw into hay....and I thought it was to get the wheat separated.
     Watching the sawmill in action was like a horror movie.....something's going to get lopped off...you just don't know what or when.  After watching a worker pull boards away from the saw and get within an inch or two of the 36" blade I couldn't stand the suspense....and away I went.  It was interesting and informative.....and scary.

Odds....at the End


OMG(osh) another Moench connection.


     Chad Kartchner was never little....even when he moved into our Wasatch Ward when he was ten.  He had watched our Rendezvous on Tuesday night and then ran into Sister Gibson down by the Mississippi on the Trail of Hope.  Turns out he had married one of the Moench girls.  We had a great time talking to him and his family as they also attended Sunset on Friday.













     It's my assumption that these guys wanted to be here...
but who knows?  I just couldn't pass up the picture.












    So it has never been a secret that I want to lead the Children's parade at Sunset.  There are only two performances left and I certainly enjoy my part in carrying the Army flag during the opening military tribute...so it isn't going to happen.  The two foam hats we are wearing are YPM stuff used in "Stomped on my Heart" segment.  They are not to be touched or used by anyone else...it is forbidden per Elder Schultz (director of all musical and stage performances....like the king of all)
     Then again where there is a will...there is a way.  The Grand Baton (power duster) that leads the children's parade need a minor repair.  When Elder Rober asked me to repair it I was glad to oblige...with a condition.....that we get to wear the hats for a picture.  Baton fixed....Hats worn!!
Not necessarily a Nauvoo miracle...more a tender mercy.
     We also experienced  some sadness and concern this week as the Director of all the Nauvoo Stage Productions, Elder Shultz,  was struck by a stroke.  Rumors did fly as ambulances were seen early in the morning Friday at his residence.  It didn't take long to realize that he was seriously ill and he was transported to Ft. Madison and quickly put on a chopper to Iowa City.  The exact severity and nature hasn't been disclosed but it appears to be of great concern at present.