Saturday, May 31, 2014

Schedule for June 6-9th

For those visiting-- here is our schedule next weekend:

Friday and Saturday we work from 8:45 to 3 PM. We are in Rendezvous on Friday and Sunset by the Mississippi on Saturday. We probably won't have to work on Sunday because we are working tomorrow, June 1st.

Yea! We look forward to spending a little time with you.

The tidal wave is approaching!

A week ago we had 508 visiter's at the Carthage Jail on Sunday between 12:30 and 5 PM. Elder Johnson and I didn't have to work that day, but we're realizing that a tidal wave is coming soon. There were days last summer when Carthage had 8-900 guests in one day.  Yikes!

However, every once in a while we still have slow times. The other Elders taught Elder Johnson what they made last winter when tourism was really slow. Winter hats...can you believe Elder Johnson can be crafty? I took pictures as proof.

During our Preparation day, we took a trip to Quincy Illinois. Quincy is a small town along the Mississippi River where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated for the US Presidency. Many historians think the debate in Quincy was a turning point for the election.

Quincy is also the community that took the LDS saints into their homes when Missouri issued an extermination order for the Mormons living in their state. I don't suppose it is coincidence that it is the same city. Do you?

We also took a tour of the Newcomb home in Quincy. It was built in the early 1900's and had a definite flare of keeping up with the Jones'.

This bakery below was one recommended on the internet. It was closed Wednesday afternoon when we arrived, but the owner happened to see us and let us in. Don't tell anyone, but we bought a brownie, and he gave us some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies---yum!
 This is another picture taken at the Lincoln/Douglas debate park. We went with Elder and Sister Wood who we met in the MTC in Provo last April.

Probably not a coincidence that Illinois was a Union state while Missouri was a Confederate state even though it had a relatively low percentage of slaves. Part of the excuse given for hating Mormons was their voting history against slavery.
 The plaque below is in commemoration of the citizens of Quincy showing kindness to the Latter Day Saints in 1839. There were about 5,500 Mormons who were housed in the town of Quincy with only about 1600 citizens. That's a lot of guests!

Below is a picture of all the missionaries working in the Carthage Jail. We love the young sister missionaries. They are a breath of fresh air.
 My Sister, Becky Connell, and husband Kent came to visit. Below is the beautiful Nauvoo temple that the saints built. It was completed in January 1846 and dedicated in May of that year, but most of the saints left Nauvoo in February before it was dedicated. Enemies burned it down the summer of 1848, and in 1850 a strong wind took down the one remaining wall. If you drive around Nauvoo, you see old buildings that used some of the quarry rock from the temple in their foundation.

It was rebuilt in 2002 and functions as a regular temple. What an amazing spirit fills this sacred building!
 The life size art below is across the street from the temple. The grounds are beautiful with the Mississippi River in the background as you can see.
 These are more life size bronze statues near the visitor's center in Nauvoo. Pictures below were taken in the Women's Garden.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Monsoon rain on the Mississippi River

Monday night May 12th was a Nauvoo rain storm that turned highway 136 (which runs along the banks of the Mississippi River) into a river of water. Our old Sienna did pretty well until we headed home after performing in Rendezvous. We had two shows that night and it had rained the entire time. In one dip in the road our minivan became a mini-boat. In fact, the water was so deep that we wondered how we would fair being swept into the Mississippi. Though we came through the pond with a running motor, we could hear that something was not right. Elder Johnson was impressed to keep driving and see how far we could get. We were still about twenty minutes from home but we found that while coasting as much as possible, the car kept running. When we finally stopped in our garage in Carthage, the engine smelled funny, but we couldn't see anything smoking.

The next day we found a mechanic who figured that we had water in the engine shorting out the spark plugs. Fortunately, he also thought that he had the skills to fix it. The shop was close enough to walk to the Carthage Jail Museum and he just happened to be available that day. In fact, the shop looked so abandoned, it didn't look like he had had any business the whole week. Anyway, without skipping a beat, we had the car repaired and ready for our Tuesday night practice back in Nauvoo.

The repairman kept saying, "You are so lucky." I can't believe you made it to Carthage from Nauvoo. Who doesn't believe in miracles?

Thought for the week: History repeats itself because no one listened the first time.  :)

Below is an email sent to grand daughter, Avry, in answer to more of her questions. It may be of interest to you if you wonder what a mission to Nauvoo is like.

Hi again Avry,
We have a few minutes before we go to practice. We are having a really fun time and it helps me not miss all of you quite so much. I know what you mean about missing Colorado. Life is really different here and we have a really strict schedule in order to get everything done that we need to. 

I have been able to bear my testimony 2-5 times every day so far. Most of the time, we have guests who are members of the church. Sometimes they are children about your age and other times they are teenagers. However, most of the time they are adults who want to hear about the history that took place around the time that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred. We have been reading every day about the events and it is fun to answer people's questions.

Today was really scary. Your grandpa and I were in the jail with a family of two young children and their parents. I bet one was almost 8 years old. While we were giving the tour, there was a knock on the jail door. People almost always start their visit in the visitor's center where they watch a film about Joseph Smith, and they have to have a tour guide to enter the jail so it was strange to get a knock on the door. We answered the door and there were 4 men wanting to see the jail but didn't want to go to the visitor's center. They didn't look like members of the church and were from Texas, Colorado, and one was from Carthage. They didn't look like they could be related to each other and may have been at a religious convention or something in the area. They were between the ages of probably 42 and 80 years old. One had a shirt on with the words "Presbyterian church" which means he was not a member of our church. The first question they asked was, "Why do you say that Joseph Smith was martyred?" They also asked things like,"Do you think that only members of your church can be saved?" or "So you think that people go to heaven by doing a certain number of good deeds?" They always addressed the hard questions to me because I probably look like I won't know what to say. You would have been proud of me though because I did know what to say and felt the Holy Ghost help me many times.

Life as a missionary is great but I must admit...exhausting. Elder Johnson admitted to me that Friday night while standing up practicing for Sunset on the Mississippi, (which we start performing the end of this week) he almost fell asleep. I have dozed off a few times while reading between tours in the museum, but never while standing up! I wonder if he could get in the Guinness World Records.

Since I told on Elder Johnson, I must confess a mix-up on my part. Whenever we eat, we use aprons because we're always in church clothes and I didn't bring an unlimited amount. Today, Elder Johnson was ready for church before I was so he brought the car out front and waited for me. I ran out as quickly as possible reminiscing about our son Trevor when he was a teenager. The Johnson family all have memories of Trevor running out of the house with a toothbrush in his mouth, shoes and socks in one hand and his tie in the other. Well, I assumed that Elder Johnson was remembering our son because he was laughing heartily when I got in the car. Well, actually, he was laughing at me because with my nice church clothes, I was also sporting a bright green apron. At least the laugh kept us awake through church.

Does anyone want any tulip bulbs? Every year the tulip bulbs are dug up and given away. If you're coming to Nauvoo this summer and want some free bulbs, let me know.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Relief Society, Printer's Shop, and what Carthage citizen's think of the LDS church

I love Spring!
 Both of these pictures were taken outside the Bushnell house where we live.
 Last Wednesday we stayed in Nauvoo after our weekly missionary meeting and visited more sites. This is the Sarah Granger Kimball home where the first Relief Society met.
 Sarah Granger Kimball wanted to assist in building the Nauvoo Temple and her husband, though wealthy, was not a member of the LDS church in 1842. Margaret Cook was Sarah's seamstress with little money but had sewing skills. They put their heads together and decided to collaborate their efforts. With Sarah's financial backing and Margaret's skills, they began sewing shirts for men working in the temple. From their small acts of service, other women got involved and the women in Nauvoo were in the process of forming a Benevolent Women's organization when Joseph Smith heard of their efforts and suggested that the Relief Society be organized under the Priesthood.  
 These sisters are the tour guides of the Sarah Granger Kimball home. The missionaries in Nauvoo rotate around the 25 visitor sights in Nauvoo. Since Carthage is so far away, we
(Elder Johnson and I) only give tours at the jail.
 As many of you know, I love Relief Society. It is now the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world.  The Picture below shows the Nauvoo temple that could be seen from Sarah's home. It is the white building between the two trees. 
 We also visited the print shop and learned many things about a printing press. Not only were we told what a dingbat was, (check it out if you don't know) but I had reason to ponder on the marvels of modern technologies. From the written word, to modern blogs that share information all over the country in moments is quite remarkable.
 Elder Johnson is giving these poor sister tour guides a hard time. Can you imagine that?

Today we had an unusual couple visit the Carthage Jail for a tour. The wife was from Peoria Arizona (near my brother John and Diane's home) and the husband was born and raised in Carthage just around the corner from the jail. He claimed that when he was a boy, he used to drop by the museum almost every day to borrow the news paper. (He claimed to have put it back each time.) After their tour, I asked him what his impressions of the LDS people were as a child growing up in Carthage where the Mormon prophet was killed. All he would say was, "My family always told me that they were out of town the day of the shooting."

We have tourists ask us regularly what our Carthage neighbors think of the church. I don't sense a problem, and it was fascinating to me that his response was more of an apology than anything else.

One time a seven year old tourist wanted me to know that she was angry that men would kill the prophet. I sympathized with her and then added that Jesus Christ loves the members of the mob too and that hopefully they are repenting of what they did.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Answer to "lots of questions"

Our grand daughter, Avry, has many questions about the Nauvoo Mission that I will attempt to answer.

When we say we are "working" at the Carthage Jail, we mean that we are giving people a tour of the old historic jail. We let them see a film entitled "Impressions of a Prophet" which lasts 18 minutes. Then we talk a little bit about the history of the jail. After that we take people through the jail and talk about the events that took place leading up to the martyrdom of Joseph Smith on June 27, 1844. We usually play an audio tape which talks about the particulars in the shooting of Joseph, Hyrum, and John Taylor that lasts 4 minutes. We also often bear our testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and/or the authenticity of the Book of Mormon etc, as we feel impressed. People usually have many questions so that makes every experience different. The whole tour takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Sometimes we take guests in the "History Room" and talk about paintings and carvings that depict the beginning of the church and some historical facts relating to Joseph and Hyrum's martyrdom. This part of the tour is usually reserved for people while they wait for the next tour to start.

We often take families through with children of all ages but I'd say 80% of the guests are adults. We also have had touring groups of young adults 20-30 years old. Last summer during the busy season, they easily had 4-600 guests in a day divided into about 15 tours. Between all of us, we can host three tour groups at one time. One group can be watching the film while one group is on the main floor of the jail, with a third group on the second floor. Right now we probably average about 75 guests in a day. We guess that probably 90-95% are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but since we don't ask that question, it may be off a bit.

 We have a different schedule every day. We either work from 8:45 AM to 3 PM, 11:45 AM to 6 PM, or 9:45 AM to 6 PM with a break between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM. On Sundays, we are open from 12:15 to 5 PM and we work about half of the time meaning we work the whole shift or not at all about half the time. We have taken between 2-5 tours ourselves every day since we've been here. Well, that is until today. It was very slow for some reason and we only took one group through. Wednesdays are considered our "Preparation Day" when we shop, clean, cook meals for the week, run errands, or have fun.

We drive to Nauvoo almost every day. We perform in Rendezvous twice a week, we have practice for Sunset twice a week and will start performing it the end of May again twice a week. We also have a weekly missionary meeting every Wednesday morning, a monthly Zone meeting, a monthly District meeting, and a slew of other occasional meetings. Like tomorrow morning, we have to be in Nauvoo by 7 AM for a special breakfast commemorating the Saints leaving Winter Quarters for the Salt Lake basin. We also pick up mail in Nauvoo as well as get fitted for costumes in the sewing room etc. All meetings are mandatory which makes our trips to Nauvoo way too regular for comfort.

We also take turns opening and closing the visitor's center, cleaning the jail, or doing minor jobs outside. Anything major is done by the facility manager who is a missionary like us. All 250 of us are given assignments according to the needs at the time. We'll see the guy that mows our lawn doubling as a tour guide one day or playing the piano another. A teamster may be asked to be a facilities manager for the summer in place of caring for horses, but he may also be asked to sing a duet in Rendezvous. I think of Shakespeare, "What ere thy part, act well thy part". Being shy or having stage fright is not part of our vernacular. We are simply expected to get over it. There are even times our talents are magnified in answer to other missionaries prayers.

It seems that nothing here is optional. We all attend everything; participate fully in whatever is expected; and where we lack in talent or ability, is made up for as someone over us is praying that we'll come through. Amazing that it works so beautifully.

We've also enjoyed Susan Easton Black Durrant's lectures on the prophets. We've made it to two of the three she has offered. They are always in Nauvoo of course.

We still read scriptures every morning and read church history every chance we get. Gregg still reads an hour or two while I am good to get in 30 minutes. We still run, walk, or exercise at least 4 days a week, but we often have meetings that interfere with our routine. We are trying to eat the same as before our mission. Most of the other missionaries in Carthage eat fast food a good share of the time, but that doesn't work very well for us. We've made a big pot of soup every week so far. We also eat fresh ground bread for toast or tuna sandwiches, Peleo granola or popcorn for dessert, fish, tacos, burritos, or other easy to prepare meals. Elder Johnson still makes breakfast with sausage, cooked frozen vegetables, and eggs. We even had awful waffles when Adam was here.

So there is our life in a nut shell. Is that about as clear as mud? Feel free to comment so I know what you're interested in hearing about.

I always have to include a "funny". On Tuesday of this week a two year old on the tour kept calling me, "Grandma". The parents seemed a bit embarrassed for some reason so I replied, "I'd love to be his grandma." The todler immediately whipped back, "Where's grandpa?"

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What's happening summer of 2014

Some of you are thinking of coming summer of 2015. Here are the activities for this summer 2014. Dates next summer will probably be similar and may be helpful in your planning. If you want to stay in Nauvoo, you may need to get housing a year ahead.

Can't wait for your visit.

Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo 
Musical Comedy performed by Sr. Missionaries telling about Saints who built Nauvoo, then had to leave the city they loved. 
Year round 

The Promise 
(Formerly called High Hopes and River Boats) Musical performed by the Young Performing Missionaries 

May 24-Aug. 9 

Just Plain  Anna Amanda 
Young Performing Missionaries perform this “giggle-fest” puppet show and musical with a positive message for children and adults alike 

May 24-Aug. 9

Just Plain  Anna Amanda 
Young Performing Missionaries perform this “giggle-fest” puppet show and musical with a positive message for children and adults alike 

May 24-Aug. 9

BYU Living Legends Tribute to the dance and music of ancient cultures of the Americas and 
the Pacific performed by descendants of these cultures. 

June 2-June 14 

BYU Contemporary Dance Theatre and Synthesis 
Contemporary Dance Theatre: ignites audiences with its wide spectrum of dance styles that range from 
dramatic to comedic & lyrical to jazz. 

June 16- 28 

Pageant Nauvoo Pageant-
This is the pageant that has been held in the past. It will be held in addition to the New Pageant, Truth Will Prevail

July 8-Aug. 2 

New Pageant Truth Will Prevail 
This is pageant new in 2014 and will be held alongside the Nauvoo Pageant. It is about Missionary Experiences in Britain (Preston, England) 

July 8-Aug. 2 

Evening Trail of Hope 
YPMs Travel down Parley Street with the Young Performing Missionaries.Vignettes, musical & instrumental 
based on journal entries from Saints who took the exodus from Nauvoo. 

May 24-Aug. 9 

Morning Trail of Hope  
Travel down Parley Street with the Pageant Core Cast. Vignettes, musical & instrumental based on journal entries from Nauvoo Exodus. 

July 8-Aug. 2 

Youth of Zion Vignette 
performed by the Young performing Missionaries about courageous Nauvoo Youth. 

May 24-Aug. 2 

Go Ye Unto All the World 

Performed by the Pageant core cast. 
July 8-Aug. 2 

King Follett Discourse 

Performed by Pageant Core Cast 
July 8-Aug. 2 

Letters from Joseph to Emma 

Performed by Pageant Core Cast 
July 8-Aug. 2 W

Women of Nauvoo 

Performed by Pageant Core Cast 
July 8-Aug. 2 

Hymn Fest 
Performed by Young Performing Missionaries 

May 24-Aug. 9 

Vignette in Carthage 

To Be Announced 

The Nauvoo Lecture Series, May 2014
Biographical Sketches of Latter-day Prophets

NOTE NEW TIME – Tuesday and Thursday 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

George and Susan (Easton Black) Durrant
Nauvoo Temple Missionaries and Nauvoo Residents
Nauvoo LDS Stake Center Chapel, 380 Durphy St., Nauvoo
Program Date, Title, Topic Summary

Thu, 1 May               Brigham Young 1801-1844
·   Childhood in Vermont
·   Youth as a painter and carpenter
·   Move to Mendon, New York
·   Conversion to the LDS Church
·   Zion’s Camp and ordination to the Twelve
·   Work on the Kirtland Temple
·   Missions to England and the Eastern States
·   Mantle of Joseph Smith
Tue, 20 May            Joseph F. Smith 1838-1918
·   Childhood in Nauvoo
·   Journey to the Salt Lake Valley
·   Significant teachings of his mother, Mary Fielding Smith
·   Missions to Hawaii and England
·   Call to the Twelve and First Presidency
·   Highlights of his Presidency: Appearance before a U.S. Senate Committee; Purchases Church History lands; Flu Epidemic of 1918
Tue, 6 May               Brigham Young 1845-1877
·   City of Joseph
·   Mormon Pioneer Trek
·   Establishing settlements in Deseret
·   Utah War
·   Act of Bigamy 1862
·   Reorganization of the Twelve
·   Dedication of the St. George Temple
Thu, 22 May               Heber J. Grant 1856-1945     
·   Prophecies regarding his future
·   Childhood in Salt Lake City
·   Businessman and banker
·   Call to the Apostleship
·   Highlights of his Presidency: Welfare Program; Emphasis on living the Word of Wisdom
Thu, 8 May                      John Taylor 1808-1887
·   Childhood in rural England
·   Youth in Liverpool, England
·   Methodist Preacher in Upper Canada
·   Conversion to the LDS Church
·   Missions to the British Isles and France
·   With Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail
·   Highlights of his Presidency: Edmunds-Tucker Act; Author of Mediation and Atonement
Tue, 27 May     George Albert Smith 1870-1951
·   Childhood in Salt Lake City
·   College year at Brigham Young Academy
·   Marriage to Lucy Woodruff
·   Mission to the Southern States
·   Call to the Apostleship
·   Purchase of Smith properties in Palmyra, New York
·   Debilitating illness
·   Highlights of his Presidency: 1947 Pioneer Centennial Celebration; LDS Church reaches one million members; Supplies sent to war-torn Europe
Tue, 13 May           Wilford Woodruff 1807-1898
·   Childhood in Connecticut
·   Conversion to the LDS Church
·   Call to the Apostleship
·   Missions to England and the Eastern States
·   Highlights of his Presidency: Salt Lake Temple completed; Utah Genealogical Society established; Utah gains statehood
Thu, 29 May             David O. McKay 1873-1970   
·   Childhood in Huntsville, Utah
·   College years at the University of Utah
·   Mission to the British Isles
·   Responsibilities in the Quorum of the Twelve
·   Highlights of his Presidency: “No success compensates for failure in the home;” “Every member a missionary”
Thu, 15 May               Lorenzo Snow 1814-1901
·   Childhood in Ohio
·   Conversion to the LDS Church
·   Call to the Apostleship
·   Missions to Italy and the Hawaiian Islands
·   President of the Salt Lake Temple
·   Highlights, Presidency: Reinstated Law of Tithing
Note: The June classes will be announced by mid-May.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Yikes! They left us in charge.

We have been at the visitor's center now for two weeks. Today was the first day that we were in charge by ourselves to run the center. We had help from five of the young sister missionaries in Nauvoo, but the other senior couple assisting had never been a tour guide in Carthage before. There were 91 guests this afternoon. On Sunday we are only open from 12:30 til 5 PM. However the last tour was late, and we didn't get home until about 5:45. Never-the-less it was fun and we often felt guided on what to say to whom. It helps that Elder Johnson is a history buff, and we have been reading from the Carthage library between guests and actually every chance we get the past few weeks.

 As you see, our world is beautiful with signs of Spring everywhere. Tulips remind me that there is life after the long winter.

 Adam, Becki, and their girls were our first family visitors. We had a marvelous time on our preparation day touring with them first in Nauvoo and then later in the week in Carthage.
 Elder Johnson and I are performing in Rendezvous twice a week. This coming week, we have a few speaking parts and will be part of the grand right and left.

 This statue is outside the Carthage Jail. Adam is 6' 3" and Joseph was just a little over 6 feet tall so as you can see, the statue depicts the two brothers a bit taller than they actually were.
 Zoey is two. That's all I have to say about her sad face.

Mia is four. Adam reported that one morning while in Nauvoo, Mia gave the family prayer asking Heavenly Father to help her share the gospel even through she isn't a missionary.
 The girls had fun at the Family Living Center.

 Elder Johnson did too.

 We went for a wagon ride pulled by horses one afternoon. It was still pretty cold that day and we all bundled up in blankets.
 Zoey fell asleep in her dad's arms for an hour or so.
  During the ride, the missionaries at the different sights watch for the wagon and come out of their shops to wave. Four year old Mia took note and said, "Wow, Grandma! We have a lot of friends."
Adam and family stayed in an RV most nights. The girls seemed to love it though I'm not sure how well they slept.

On their way home, Zoey sang "Welcome, to Nauvoo" over and over. It was apparently an attempt to mimic Elder Johnson and I as we sang in Rendezvous.