Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving and He is The Gift

We actually celebrated Thanksgiving out here. Well, not in the normal way but Nauvoo sites did close at 3 pm instead of 5. Thanks to my sister, Becky, and mother, who visited Nauvoo, we had a Thanksgiving feast. Like you, I'm still stuffed. I hope you remembered to turn your scales back 10 pounds. :)
 We invited one of my favorite missionaries here in Nauvoo to meet Mom and help eat our dinner. Sister Olsen is one of those sweet women whom everyone loves. You just can't help be charmed by her quick wit and fun responses to life's predicaments. She and Mom had a fun evening.
 One morning we visited the Carthage Jail and were able to be the tour guides for my family. Elder Johnson and I still love Carthage. What an amazing place with the beautiful Spirit that fills the visitor center and jail. It has certainly become a shrine of sorts for Joseph Smith.
 Below: me, my mother, and sister

Just in case you wonder if we are still good hosts, check out the bedding arrangements below. Apparently, the bar near the back of the couch is bent so nephew, Jeremy got creative.
 Here he is below sporting his sleeping arrangements. I think it's going to be a hit don't you? Stores across the country are going to be promoting it so saw it here first. :)

With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is on center stage. I hope you are having fun with the holidays and not loosing your mind. To keep Christ the center of Christmas, I have a suggestion.


Once you've enjoyed the video, will you discover, embrace and then share the gift with your friends and family?

(After that, you may even want to continue sharing with your second and third favorite folks. :)  )

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds

We've been here for about seven months and finally found a minute to drive about five minutes out of town to see the Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds.

The structure below is lined on all walls with names of those who lived and died
in the Nauvoo War which ended in 1846 with the expulsion of the LDS people.
 There are literally hundreds of names. Elder Johnson found the names of a few of his relatives who were related to his great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Johnson. Most of my relatives joined the church and migrated to Utah as early as 1850 missing the Nauvoo War.
There is one exception which is a story for another day.
 It's a beautiful place!
 And, it was very cold that day.

You can't help but ache for the families that buried their loved ones here.
It's all so senseless...
...extreme intolerance for religious differences.
But, I suppose the followers of Christ have always been persecuted.

I believe that Christ will indeed come again. Do you? 
He lives with a body of flesh and bones and will one day soon reign here on our earth as Lord of Lords and rule as King of Kings. Are you ready?
It will be exciting if you are prepared.

All who have suffered will be given rest. 
No suffering will go unaccounted for, and all will be made right.
Through the same power of the atonement, 
all of us can be forgiven and cleansed of all the hurt we've caused others.
We simply must have a broken heart and contrite spirit and come unto Christ through baptism.
Not just any baptism of course, 
but a baptism performed by one who has authority given to him by the Savior himself.

 It's all true. Will you find this out for yourself?
Will you do something about it this week?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The harvest is in and so comes winter.

Nauvoo is surrounded by acres upon acres of farmland. Corn and Soybeans are the primary crops and seem to never end. The picture below was taken a few months ago showing how dry the corn gets before harvesting. Soybeans are the same. Once the crop appears dead, it is harvested by huge harvest combines. Those mountain sized machines work day and night to bring in the harvest.
 The yellow rooftop below is actually no roof at all but a giant mound of corn. A week or so after this picture was taken, we saw a white plastic roof layered on top of the corn before the weather turned wet.
 This storage plant is located on the flats of Nauvoo, right along the Mississippi River. We are told that the corn will be taken to large barges that will float six at a time down the river for processing. Much of it will be used as a gasoline additive.
 We're also told that the crop this year has been plentiful. Elder Johnson and I have a new perspective on a bountiful harvest. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it will give food for thought.

Indian Mounds
We visited old Indian mounds a few weeks ago. Apparently, upon excavating, the hills were found to be full of old Indian graves.  It was decided to leave them untapped and remain as sacred ground.
 There is a sense of peace and serenity here. I wonder about the history.

 Home Evening
Our most rewarding activity this week took place last night. We were invited to dinner at a member family in the area struggling with crazy "Indian" children of their own. It reminded me of our own tribe at home--wild, crazy and lots of fun.
 We were asked to provide a game.  We talked about keeping God's commandments and comparing temptations to crocodiles along our path. The children were blindfolded one at a time and asked to find their way to their parents. The rope represented the rod of iron or laws of God which can guide them to safety if diligently followed.
 The game was a hit and each of the four children wanted a turn. Earning the trust of a thirteen year old boy meant success in our minds.

 We love the Shaw's and hope to have more opportunities to help strengthen their family.

We've been asked to be the site leaders at the Family Living Center. We are also moving to three casts for Rendezvous in place of two. I have been asked to be the cast manager for the Emma Hale Cast. We will continue to perform the vignette of Thomas and Elizabeth, solo, rather than sharing it with another couple. However, two performances per week rather than three will be a tremendous lift.

We continue to be pulled and stretched to the max in every direction. 

We had a true Sunday today not being required to work at a site. The summer brought thousands of guests but with hundreds of missionaries assigned  to handle them, it was doable since we were required to work only one Sunday a month. Now, the guests have dwindled but so have the missionaries so now we only get one Sunday off a month. I prefer the summer schedule and will never complain again of a crazy itinerary as long as Sunday afternoon can provide time for a rest and rejuvenation.

How is your scripture reading coming? Will you look at your schedule and make more time for it if you did not do so well last week? Remember my challenge with the Book of Mormon.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

We Talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ!

Before I jump into my main message, here is a little more love as I call the beautiful scenes around me. Can you believe how red those fall leaves are? I am still in amazement at the world around us.

Also, a quick message about our recent activities. Elder Johnson and I are being trained on how to thread the looms. Threading is a tedious and time consuming project, and with numerous missionaries needing to be trained, we had a "Threading Party".  Actually, we had a late night of hard work that started with pizza and cookies. (You can't fool us.)
 However, we turned a week's worth of work into about three days worth of concentration. After our "party", several missionaries were able to finish up threading one loom the next day, and Elder Johnson and I have been asked to finish the second one tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that we won't run into any major snags.

There is 200 feet of thread for each color you see above. After winding each group of threads, we have to tie off every strand with a strand left from the older threads and then pull them through the loom to the other side. Then each group is tied off tight to a canvas and we'll be ready to start rug weaving demonstrations again. All of the sites here in Nauvoo and Carthage are covered with rugs made here in the Family Living Center.

We currently have fabric cut and wound on shuttles ready for the next few rugs. We just need threaded looms.

Life in Nauvoo is never dull even with the number of guests starting drastically to wane.

However, here is my main message. 

Amos 8:11-12 says, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord."

"And they shall wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east, and shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it."

Have you ever felt like this? I have from time to time. I've wondered: What is the purpose of life? Is there truly a God in Heaven? Does he love us or is He even aware of us? If He is indeed our Father and we his children, what does that mean to me? How can I feel His love if he does love me? How can I return to Him if there is life after death.

 Joseph Smith wondered these same things and did something about it....he asked in prayer and with faith where to find the answers. He was told that there was no organized religion on the earth at that time with all the answers... with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

He was given that message by God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

 It's all true! It did happen as Joseph declared and he was then an instrument in the hands of the Lord in restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ just as it was originally during Christ's life.
 Jesus Christ is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and it is therefore not a man made church. I have never felt His love so strongly as I have at this time in my life as I dedicate myself, and time and talents to whatever is needed here in the Nauvoo mission.

2 Nephi 25:26 in the Book of Mormon says, 
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."
2 Nephi 2: 6-8 says,
"Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being first that should rise."

Would you like to know this for yourself? I invite you to go in prayer and ask for help to know the truth.

If you don't have a Book of Mormon check out and ask for one. If you have a book, will you read it? If you've read it already, will you read it again? It's powerful. It's full of the Spirit of God, and He will manifest the truth of it to you by the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Your happiness depends upon it. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Charity and Joseph Smith

In church on Sunday, Elder Johnson and I were asked to tell our favorite story of Joseph Smith that illustrates the love he felt for others. I thought I'd include mine here.   


Charity and Joseph Smith
1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is of God and knoweth God”.

Joseph Smith was an impeccable example of this concept.  One of my favorite stories of Joseph Smith’s love for others was what transpired and led to his martyrdom in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.

 Months before that dreadful day, there were three political parties existing in America: the Whigs, the Democrats, and the Anti-Mormon party. A few Mormons attended the Anti-Mormon meetings undercover. They learned that a plan was in place which had the intent of leading to another murderous catastrophe likened to what followed the extermination order given by Governor Boggs in Missouri October, 1838.

The plan was to rile up the surrounding community, offend the Mormons through slanderous publications all with the intent of stirring a Mormon uprising that would validate Mormon enemies coming in and destroying the whole community. The desired outcome was to be rid of the Mormons as well as to possess their property. The main reason for stalling was the simple logistics of the numbers of men in the Nauvoo Legion. There was an estimate of about 4000 trained men in Nauvoo compared to Carthage and Warsaw having only about 500 a piece.

Therefore, the Mormons as a whole would need to be villain-ized to convince surrounding communities to rise up against them. An all out war was on the horizon and Joseph Smith knew it and acted prayerfully and carefully to give the saints time to finish the Nauvoo Temple before leaving all behind and heading west far away from their enemies.

The editor of the Warsaw Signal, Thomas Sharpe, had been printing outlandish articles slandering Joseph Smith but they hadn’t had the desired effect of rioting on the part of the Mormons.  The Anti-Mormon Party decided to put a printing press right in the town of Nauvoo. The publication was called the Nauvoo Expositor and though the Prophet knew their intentions, he didn’t intervene until after the first printing. The only publication was what Joseph called, “a filthy sheet that would excite mobocracy and lead to death and destruction.” Joseph claimed that he could withstand persecution directed at him, in fact he was quite accustomed to it, but he could not ignore offenses directed at women and children especially those under his stewardship in Nauvoo. Joseph said that there is not a city in the whole country that would have tolerated such a publication.

 Joseph, as mayor at that time, met with the City Council, deliberated for two days, and sought legal direction from professionals including Governor Ford. It was determined that they had the legal right to declare the press a nuisance (a word with a much stronger connotation than it has today) and the press could then be legally destroyed. This way, the City Council would take full responsibility for the action not the community as a whole. The action did not set precedence; in fact, it had been done a number of times before in our country.

Not surprisingly however, after the job was done, enemies sent a writ against the entire City Council on charges of “rioting”. According to the Nauvoo City Charter, the men had the legal right to be tried in Nauvoo. Therefore, they went to court twice in their own town, once before a Mormon judge and another time before a Non-Mormon judge as requested by the governor. The men were acquitted both times. However, Governor Ford insisted that the accused answer again in Carthage where the writ had been originally issued and before the judge who issued it. Governor Ford said if they didn’t come to answer in Carthage, he would send a militia to hunt down the men and there may be bloodshed.

Joseph took a few days to decide what to do. He knew and had prophesied that if he were to go to Carthage, he would be killed. He also loved the people in Nauvoo and didn’t want to see them suffer as they had in Missouri. He knew that his mission on earth had been completed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had been restored with the fullness of keys and rights to the Priesthood. Those keys rested fully in the hands of the twelve apostles and the church could carry on without him. All but two of the apostles had been sent on both religious and political missions. (As much as anything, I believe they were away for their own safety.) After deliberation and even attempting to leave Illinois at one point, Joseph made up his mind to go to Carthage sending the governor a note claiming that he was coming to Carthage not because it was legal but because the governor had requested it.

 The two remaining apostles, Willard Richards and John Taylor along with about 30 other men which included the City Council of course, went with Joseph to Carthage. Governor Ford had promised safety and a fair trial if Joseph would come voluntarily. Joseph received neither nor did he appear before the same magistrate who had issued the original writ which was the main reason Governor Ford gave for needing to come to Carthage in the first place.

Then after meeting bail for the original charge of rioting, many of the men went home. However, Joseph and Hyrum were quickly served a second writ for treason against the state obviously and simply because bail cannot be offered for treason. The judge however had dismissed the court and gone home so evidence for treason was never presented in court. As you see, Joseph and Hyrum were taken to Carthage Jail illegally on many accounts. He was killed two days later with both apostles, John Taylor and Willard Richards, alone to witness.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Christ offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice, of course, but Joseph too died as a martyr. He was only 38 years old and his wife, Emma, was at home six month pregnant with their last child when he was savagely gunned down. He came to Carthage knowing what would happen. He came willingly and out of love for others.

The saints struggled deeply wondering why Joseph was taken. In January 1847 from Winter Quarters, Brigham Young said, “Many have marveled because of his [Joseph’s] death, but it was needful that he should seal his testimony with his blood, that he might be honored and the wicked might be condemned. (D & C 136:39)

“Everyone that loveth is of God and knoweth God.” Such was Joseph.

That is my favorite story that depicts Joseph's love for others. Will you do a little reading of your own and find another one?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Boo-tiful Nauvoo...Happy Halloween

The city of Nauvoo along with the help of the LDS missionaries host a Halloween celebration.
 The LDS missionaries help carve over 400 pumpkins.
 We use our facilities and donate the pumpkins. All in the community are invited to help carve but I only saw a few carvers that I didn't recognize as missionaries.
 A few of the missionaries participated in a "crazy band". Elder Johnson and I were two of them.
 If you live in Arvada, you may recognize Sister Colleen Jones.
 The Crazy Band was at the tail end of a parade following families dressed up in Halloween costumes from all around the area. We had piped music of songs like The Purple People Eater and played musical instruments to the beat. We truly did look and sound a bit crazy but it was fun.

 The baby below looks really excited!

 It was estimated that over 7,000 people were involved in the celebration. Since Nauvoo's population is only 1100, that's a big deal.
 The carved pumpkins lined the streets though we didn't get any good pictures of them. The parade started with the children showing off their cute costumes.
The shops along Mulholland Street (the main street running through Nauvoo)
offered candy to the children.

Another different tradition here in the Midwest is that the children come around door- to -door on October 30th during "Beggar's Night". We gave out some candy that night but no one came on the 31st, Halloween. Does anyone know the history behind that?