Monday, July 27, 2015

Tin Shop, Patterns, Angel Moroni, and Visitors fact wall to wall

We served at the Sylvester Stoddard Tin Shop the other day.

 Sylvester was one of the pattern makers here in Nauvoo in the 1840's. While giving people a tour, we talk about patterns in our lives.
 We also talk about using the correct pattern and following it carefully to get the desired product. Did you know that Yankee peddlers sold tin products for over 150 years?  Me either.
 There are some pretty cool antique tools on display for making tin products.

Mr. Stoddard was a member of the Nauvoo Tinners' Association who made the 1846 angel weather vane that sat on top of the original Nauvoo Temple.
Today many of the LDS temples have Angel Moroni on top of the temple except that he is standing up straight and not a weather vane.

 This is the view from the temple of the Mississippi River. I don't think my camera did it justice.

 I'm trying to show you the current Angel Moroni on the top, but all I can get is how huge and beautiful the temple is.

My invitation to you this week is to examine the patterns that you are currently following in your life. Will they ultimately bring you deep and abiding satisfaction and happiness? If you were to be taken from this life today, can you imagine that Father in Heaven would be pleased with your actions and desires of your heart? What should you change? Will you do it?

Only one more week of pageant. Can you believe how fast the summer is going?

We had the missionaries that we were stationed with in Carthage last summer spend the weekend with us. They went home in the fall of 2014. It was terrific to catch up with their lives and reminisce about old days.

 Originally, we thought we might have as many as 6 guests. We started with six and then Sunday morning awoke to three more. Actually, we love it---crazy like our own home, but lots of fun.
 Some of our Carthage friends will finish their 18 month mission this fall the same time we finish so the picture below includes the visitors as well as those currently serving in Nauvoo. What a fun reunion.
 As I said, "wall to wall beds"

 How do you like our tomato plant below? You can think of it in two ways.  Either Nauvoo climate is so good that the Johnson's vegetable garden is still alive after two months (the optimistic approach). Or, the Johnson's are so bad at gardens that they can't even get a crop in the rich soil of Nauvoo (the not so optimistic approach).

Do you see even one tomato? Some animal swiped the one single fruit we had ripening for our BLT.

 Just because it gets ignored most days...shouldn't be cause for concern. After all, we watered it a couple of times. What more do you want? (You should see our neighbor's plant. Looks like a bush with big juicy red and green things.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beckstrand Nieces and Nephew, Bentonsport again with the Young Single Missionaries & the Indian Museum, Nauvoo on the Road

All the way from Houston, Emma & Annie Beckstrand came to Nauvoo with 350 teenagers 14-18 years old from their stake in Texas.
 Oh yes, and Nathan Beckstrand as well.
It's always fun to have company. Nauvoo is a testimony building place for all ages, but soooo good for youth who are searching for truth. You can't help but notice a group that size.

Bentonsport and Bonaparte Iowa... again
Two of the Young Sister Missionaries  came with us on our preparation day. We took them to Iowa. It was interesting enough to do it two weeks in a row. That says a lot.

 Young Sister Missionaries find fun a little differently than we do.
 We ate at the Old Mill again where the LDS crossed the Des Moines River after a delay due to heavy rain bringing mud that was impossible to pass through.
 We walked the bridge again...remember last week? This time I brought evidence of the rusty support beams.

 Then we stopped at the Indian Museum again. This time the owner was home and showed us around.
He hikes and camps all around the midwest to find these  specimens of petrified wood, geods etc.
 What an interesting fellow. He has also been collecting arrow heads since he was seven years old and has them displayed  inlay wood that is intricately designed. Beautiful work, don't you think?

 He is standing next to his favorite arrowhead below which is in the shape of a snake. "That's a big deal", he says. There were hundreds of arrowheads all around the room. My camera battery died or I would have taken more pictures.
 Nauvoo on the Road
It was finally our turn to go with the Nauvoo on the Road group. We joined the Bloomfield County Fair showing our Pioneer Pastime games, cinnamon cookies, and rope making.

 We mostly played and talked with people old and young. It was a very hot day--in the 90's with high humidity.

 It didn't stop us from having fun and eating to our hearts content after stopping at the Dutchman's in Cantril for pie and ice cream to cool off.
 Showing off their old tractors was a big part of the fair.
 As we traveled back to Nauvoo, we saw dozens of tractors on their way to the fair.

We had the honor of having Jeffrey R Holland, one of the twelve apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, come to Nauvoo. It was really a family trip for him and not an assignment to speak to us, but he took an hour last week to address us. The sites were all shut down early one evening and Rendezvous and Sunset were moved to 5:30 instead of 7 pm to accommodate him. That's a big deal...right!

Well, anyway it was worth all the trouble. There is something quite amazing about being in the same room with an apostle of the Lord and Savior. Even if he hadn't talked, I think it will be emblazoned in my memory for life. I took a few notes to remember.

He said that if he could choose where he served as a missionary, of the 405 missions throughout the world, he would pick Nauvoo. He thanked us for giving of our time and money to be here. He acknowledged our sacrifices and compared it to the sacrifice made by the saints in the 1840's. Of course, it's not nearly as great, but it is a sacrifice for all of us and the Lord loves us for it.

Elder Holland suggested that most of the early leaders may have known that ultimately, Nauvoo would not succeed, but perhaps they knew that it would 100's of years later. He believes that we are keeping the dream of Zion alive in and through the temple, the sites, the pageants, the performances and all that we do here.

May I offer you my testimony again?  Nauvoo is like no other city on earth. Why? Because it was initially built as a city of God. The first place on earth after several millennium to have a temple where truths are taught and ordinances are performed for the salvation of all mankind... any who choose to accept it whether living or dead. Men, women, and children gave their all including their own life to keep it alive. Now the followers of Christ have returned to honor and celebrate what was started over 175 years ago.

The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth in it's fullness. Will you learn this for yourself? Will you ask in prayer if this is true? 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Pageants are Here and so are the monsoon rains! Preparation Day Travels

As was said by one Nauvoo resident, Nauvoo has 1,100 people one day and 20,000 the next.--The Pageants are here!
 The audience sits on plastic arm chairs to enjoy the performances. Three months ago, the hill you see below was not there...instead, it was flat which made it hard to see past the guy in front of you. After truck loads of dirt were brought in raising the hill a good 20-25 feet, missionaries worked hard and fast one morning and finished the dirt hill off with newly laid sod. 
It only took an hour and a half to complete the job.

It's quite amazing to see ambition coordinated--another Nauvoo miracle.
 The hill holds 3,000 arm chairs!

 The Pageants are now off and running. After a week of rehearsing by day, the 20 core cast and dozens of family participants are looking and sounding amazing by night. 
The Nauvoo Pageant was presented first.

 The British Pageant was second and alternates with the Nauvoo Pageant. 
Both are amazingly performed.

So here is how it works: As I mentioned there are 20 members of the core cast that perform every night for the next five weeks. There are twenty core members for the Nauvoo Pageant, and twenty for the British Pageant. Families apply to be part of the cast. They are selected to come for two weeks. The first week they watch and practice. The second week they perform which means there are new supporting actors each week. How fun is that?

California, are you jealous?
Yesterday afternoon, the sky opened and dumped a reservoir of water on us. Then just in time for the pageants, the clouds disappeared, and the water began draining away to the Mississippi River.

 These families are making lemonade out of lemons. They must be from Houston or something where this kind of thing is the norm.

 A few hours after these pictures were taken, the water receded and the show went on without missing a beat.

Bonaparte & Bentonsport, Iowa
When the Mormons left Nauvoo, they trekked across Iowa and stopped for the winter on the other side of the Missouri River which they named Council Bluffs and is situated 300 miles from Nauvoo. There they built log cabins and prepared for the 1,300 mile trek to the Salt Lake Valley. Before they left in the spring of 1847, they planted crops for those who would follow.
 On the way to Council Bluffs, they were delayed by mud here at Bonaparte.

Benjamin F Johnson mentioned above is Elder Johnson's great-great-grandfather of whom I've mentioned before.

At Bentonsport, some of the Mormons were delayed due to mud so they stayed a while and used their skills to serve the community and earn much needed funds to further their travels.

Bentonsport is now a darling little town with an old bridge built in 1892. The bridge was good for bikers and hikers but not much else.

See what I mean by "darling"!

 Oops...skip the one below.

 There's a fun little store named Iron and Lace in Bentonsport.
 They make all their own pottery, iron decorations, and rugs. 
Queen Ann's lace decorates many of the pieces.
 The owner told us that they use a flower called Queen Ann's Lace to mask the pottery before spraying the color. Then during the firing process, the flower burns away leaving the beautiful silhouette that you see above and below.


Consider the notes below taken from our training meeting this week. 

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, 1966 to graduates of BYU said the following: The “preservation of the family will be one of the great and serious challenges facing you in the future into which you move”   
          (Church News, May 31, 2015.)

This past month (June 26, 2015), the Supreme Court  handed down their decision on marriage – 5 to 4. One justice had previously performed 4 same sex weddings; one is a lesbian so 2 should have recused themselves – but didn’t.
Making SS ‘marriage’ legal throughout the country will have a profound effect on religious practice – for LDS too – consider the statement by 1st Presidency and 12 apostles June 29th.

Response to Supreme Court Decision on SS marriage

Apostles – in recent months talked about religious freedom - an indication of their/Lord’s concern in anticipation of this decision (especially Pres. Uchtdorf, Elders Oaks, Holland, Cook, Christofferson, and Andersen.) See

Religious Affiliation
Survey published, May, 2015 – Pew Study – 35,000  
1. 6% of Americans are non-Christian (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism)
2. 7/10 Americans – claim to be Christians (8/10 in 2007)
3. Evangelical Christians (Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Churches of Christ, Presbyterian Church ) = 25.4% of population
4. Mainline Protestant – Methodist, Episcopal, United Church of Christ – membership down 18.8% since 2007.
5. Roman Catholic Church – down 13% since 2007.
6. Religiously unaffiliated – rose from 16.1% to 23% (atheists, agnostics, ‘spiritual-but-not-religious group-since ‘07.)
7. Jews – 1.9% of population

President Ezra Taft Benson: “All is not well with this basic institution--the  American home. In fact, it is in grave danger, if not in deadly peril.  There is convincing evidence that a creeping rot or moral disintegration is eating into the very vitals of this temple of civilization.  It gives cause for great concern” (Teachings, 522). 

Our knowledge of God’s plan explains why we are distressed that more and more children are born outside of marriage—currently 41 percent of all births in the United States—and that the number of couples living together without marriage has increased dramatically in the past half century. . . . Now cohabitation precedes 60 percent !! of marriages.  And this is increasingly accepted, especially among teenagers. . . . about 50 percent of teenagers stating that out-of-wedlock childbearing was a ‘worth-while lifestyle’ (“No Other Gods,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 73-74.)

Pres. Kimball: "Jesus Christ our Lord is under no obligation to save this world. The people have ignored him, disbelieved him, failed to follow him. They stand at his mercy which will be extended only if they repent. But to what extent have we repented? Another prophet said, 'We call evil good, and good evil.' Men have rationalized themselves into thinking that they are 'not so bad.' Are they fully ripe? Has the rot of age and flabbiness set in? Can they change?"

In ancient America there was a man who had like Paul in the New Testament, gone about doing evil persuading others to follow a selfish and wicked path. In his repentance process, he came to understand and feel what it would be like to die in his sins. This is what he said about it: Mosiah 28:3

Joseph Smith: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (HC 4:540).

What do you need to do right now for your own happiness as well as the happiness of those you love? Will you do it?