Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hmm...... What's missing?

Our Stake President, Michael Jones, came to Nauvoo. I'd like to say that he came to see us, but actually, his mother is a missionary here in Nauvoo and all of her children surprised her on her birthday. However, he did come out of his way to visit us while we were working in the Seventy's Hall on Sunday afternoon.

(For those of you who don't know what a Stake President is, he is a leader of about 4,000 members of the LDS church in a particular geographical area. In this case he is over Arvada Stake in Colorado. He is the one who set us apart as missionaries before we left home.)
Elder Johnson wonders if you can tell who's taller--he or President Jones?

We noticed the young sister missionaries one Sunday afternoon socializing with these beautiful horses. I had to take their picture. Aren't they sweet in their costumes? The sister missionaries I mean.

The young sisters have received their second mission calls. Two are going to Billings Montana, Two are going to Virginia, and two are going to California (It has slipped my mind which mission in California). It's unique to have them called in two's I think. I suspect part of the reason for that is so they don't have to travel alone. They leave in 10 days. We're going to miss them.
 Here they are again getting ready to eat in their group home called the "Hatch House".

Our preparation day got changed last minute from Wednesday to Thursday which meant we didn't have an early morning training meeting that day nor did we have the play Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo to perform in that evening. So we took advantage of the change and did some sight seeing. We went to Hannibal, Missouri and checked out the Mark Twain sites. It was fun, don't get me wrong, but something was missing. Stay with me and I'll explain. 

First we stopped at the Mark Twain Museum and among other things learned how Mark got his pen name. As you know, Samuel Clemens is his legal name.

We stopped at Lover's leap which overlooks the Mississippi River. The river below only looks narrow because you see an island on the far side. It is actually much wider on the other side of the island.

 We talked to some bikers while at Lover's Leap. Since we are on full time missions,we are requested to wear missionary attire along with our name tag while in public. So it is a bit obvious that we are LDS. We are often stopped and a conversation follows on either where we're from and how long we've been out, or random connections that he/she has with the church. For example, while here, we learned that one of the bikers has the missionaries in her area over for dinner every other week. She also thinks we are really "nice" people. A couple of times we were told that the observer sees many missionaries from our church in their area and want us to know that some relative of theirs is a Mormon. Interesting, that this particular comment comes up so often. 

Do we look bored or in need of approval or something? Oh well, we like the friendly conversations.

Our favorite spot was the Mark Twain Cave where historians think some of the writings in Tom Sawyer were inspired. 

 There are over 250,000 signatures in the cave. It's illegal to add your name now. In fact, some areas of the cave have restricted access because tourists might smudge the writings. Those retched tourists just can't be trusted can they? Apparently, Jesse James spent time in this cave and left his signature. With the new federal regulations, we only saw a picture of it.

 Lastly, we went on the Mark Twain river boat. It was a warm day and the boat just went in a circle for a few miles at a very slow rate so it wasn't our favorite. It was mentioned that if the boat were to go upstream to Nauvoo at the current speed, it would take 18 hours. Interesting that they picked Nauvoo. They must have noticed our name tags too.
Note the bridges and muddy Mississippi River below as well as the full of life  river banks. Being from the Arizona dessert, the whole world looks green in comparison, but the humid areas of the world are especially beautiful to me.

 The End

Okay, so here is the question I have for you. We've been giving tours almost every day for the past six months. As you know, we give tours at historic sites from real history. Samuel Clemons is a man out of history. Granted, his stories are just for fun but he is somewhat of a hero in many people's mind including mine, and I expected to feel the same way about them as I do where we serve. Why is there such a different feeling between Nauvoo and Carthage and these fun sites that we visit on our day off? I'm quite sure it is not my prejudices because it is a mammoth difference...not subtle at all.

If you have an idea, feel free to leave a comment.

Side note: The corn and soy beans are mostly brown now. I didn't know that farmers wait until the fields are completely dried out before harvesting them. I suppose that is evidence that I'm a city girl.

When we took the river boat ride, we saw the huge barges that are used to transport the grain down the Mississippi River. They are starting to collect them on the river. Once they have 12 loaded and ready, they will all go together.

My mother sent us this link to a cool video. Check it out!

Lastly, Elder Johnson and I have been asked to be assistant site leaders of Pioneer Past Times. I have mentioned this site before and we are excited to play a part. Basically, we get to help guests play with home made pioneer games once a week. Elder Johnson is particularly in heaven. (You may have guessed this if you know him at all.) The biggest change I want to make is in the dress up clothes that are available to the children. They are getting an overhaul and my sewing machine has been used non-stop for the past week. I hope to catch up on the work soon so I can sleep more than four hours at night. Why must I get so consumed? Oh well, I hope to do some good. (You may have guessed this about me as well.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saying "goodbye"

Fall is here and many of the missionaries will be finishing up and heading home. There are over 60 missionaries leaving the Nauvoo Sites of which only 6 new missionaries will be coming to start their 18 month mission. There are also 125 Nauvoo Temple missionaries which will be cut in about half in the next few weeks.

 It is a tradition that those leaving perform a skit after a 7 AM breakfast together. As you can see, there is a large group heading home before winter hits.
 Along with senior couples leaving, the young sister missionaries are all called to go "outbound" for the six winter months. How amazing is that? They get a call to the Nauvoo visitor's center for 18 months, and then during the winter months when everything slows down here, they receive another mission call to somewhere within the United States. We will see some of them again next summer. Others will be going home before spring.

Below are pictures taken of the group that we trained with in Provo last spring. Several of the couples are teamsters and were only called for six months. We decided to gather before their departure. We would have met more often, but Elder Johnson and I were incarcerated in Carthage as you well know and it wasn't logistically possible.

Today is Elder Johnson's Birthday. We've stopped counting years a while back but use it as a time for fun. Last night we invited two missionary couples over for food and games. We couldn't start until about 8:30 PM after Rendezvous was over, and we had a 7 AM choir practice this morning so it was only for a couple of hours. However, we decided that we need to make it happen a little more often. People need people don't you think? It was fun even if it was a short amount of time.

We will be busy with added shifts and school tours starting next week. With the shortage of missionaries, we will have to man more than one sight at a time by leaving signs up of where to go when we're away from a particular site.

Hopefully, we won't have too many new sites all at once. Last week it took us 35 minutes to figure out how to open the Seventy's Hall. It was a crazy solution. The door was swollen shut from all the humidity and we simply had to smack it hard with our body weight.

Fall colors have started but the flowers are still in full bloom. I'll have pictures for you by next week.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Abe Linclon Museum in Springfield Illinois

Life in Nauvoo has slowed way down with school back in session. Elder Johnson and I are relieved because we have new scripts to learn at each site each week and we can use down times to rehearse. Some of the sites we are assigned to are now repeats, but we also have new ones regularly and will for the next while since there are 27 different sites just in Nauvoo.

However, our life will change again when school tours start. Business will also pick up when tourists come to see fall colors. I bet its going to be breathtaking.

So while we had the chance, we went to the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield which is about 2 1/2 hours away.
 This is Abe in front of a replica of his childhood home.
 Can you tell who's real and who's wax?

 Below is Abe Linclon's tomb. 
They have done a super job honoring one of America's greatest heroes.

One morning we came around the bend to see these deer checking us out. We stared at each other for quite a while. I'm not sure which of us was more curious.

So, I think you need some humor since I'm must be too.

Here you go...
Paraprosdokians (Winston Churchill loved them) are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, frequently humorous.

1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right--only who is left.
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
9. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.
10. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'
11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.
12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
13. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.
14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
15. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
16. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
17. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

Thanks goes to my niece, Arick.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Does a Grape Stomp and a Rodeo Have in Common?

What is a Grape Stomp anyway?
Well, a Grape Stomp is how Nauvoo celebrates their heritage. There were celebrations all weekend as the community held one activity after another. In fact, some of the missionaries lost sleep a couple of the nights as the night-time entertainment was in close proximity. We only joined them for a 5-K. The good news is that Elder Johnson took first place for his age group running it in 24 minutes and 41 seconds. Wow! Good job Elder Johnson.

You may wonder what Nauvoo and grapes have in common. Apparently, after the Mormons were forced out of Illinois in 1846 and headed for the Salt Lake Valley, Nauvoo farmland was used to grow grapes for wine. The farmers did pretty well, especially during the prohibition years and Nauvoo became a bit famous worldwide. Now farmers primarily grow corn and soy beans. I'm not sure what happened. No one wants to talk about that part of the story.

Actually, there were a number of first place winners from our missionary group. However, the other four contestants were walkers whereas Elder Johnson was a runner.
Below is evidence of Elder Johnson's excellent score.

Mine is not so impressive, but hey, it was fun.

So here's what a Grape Stomp and a Rodeo have in common....we participated in both of them in the same month. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch... I'll admit.

Actually, after this rodeo, I can forever after say, "This is not my first rodeo!" We enjoyed the show for the most part. Animals are unpredictable and that adds spice to the entertainment.
I have to admit, we probably looked a little out of place with the men in white shirts and ties and the women in skirts. There were nearly 50 of us so we got a a number of curious looks.

There you have first rodeo and Grape Stomp!