Monday, September 28, 2015

Counsel Bluffs

After a short visit to Chicago and getting a "grandkid fix" we headed west following the saints in 1846.
 Remember, I told you about the muddy spring of 1846 that slowed the saints drastically? Initially, the Mormons were hopeful of getting to their far west destination by the fall of that same year. However, it took four months just to get across Iowa. (In case you were wondering, Iowa was a territory until December of 1846 so it was considered outside of the United States at that time)
 When the first Mormons arrived at Counsel Bluff in June which is about 327 miles from Nauvoo, it was obvious that they would not be able to travel the last thousand miles before winter. Lewis and Clark originally named the place since it was here that negotiations with native Americans over land acquisition were discussed on the bluff. The Mormons named the place Kanesville but would only last for a few years since they eventually left the city and migrated to the Great Salt Lake Basin.

 Crops were planted all along the trail as well as crude housing built and left for the travelers that would follow. The logistics of getting people, wagons, animals, and supplies across rivers were slow and tedious. The Mormons set up four more ferries to accommodate the travels. Originally, there were only two ferries and the owners charged outrageous prices. About four thousand pioneers spent the winter across the Missouri River from Counsel Bluffs which made the trip to the Salt Lake Valley the following April more practical.
 It was here in Council Bluffs that Brigham Young returned to in December of 1847. All of the apostles met him here and sustained him as President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham led the church as President of the Quorum of Twelve not as Prophet for three and a half years after June 27, 1844 when Joseph died.
 Families suffered and many died in their sacrifice.

 Originally, Counsel Bluffs was only a stopping spot for thousands of wagons. Cabins were built across the river in Winter Quarters but not here. The white spots in the background are wagons (not sheep if you were wondering).

 Later, a community emerged, but all temporary for others to use at a later time.

 In December of 1847, Brigham needed to be sustained as Prophet and President of the church as I mentioned above. There was not a building large enough to gather all the members who wanted to attend  so 200 men worked for 18 days and erected a log cabin made of Cottonwood trees. We were told that Cottonwood trees are really good for two things...burning and nothing else. The cabin held about 1,000 people for the event but obviously didn't last long after that.
 The tabernacle was reconstructed in this century. I forgot the date. It is similar to the original but not at the same location exactly. The missionaries serving here showed us where the original one was just across the street in the parking lot of a near-by church.

 Check out the expression on Brigham Young's face below who is represented by the guy in the middle. Don't you think the caption ought to be, "Brigham, why not ask for directions?"

How much are you willing to sacrifice for the gospel of Jesus Christ? Life goes so amazingly fast. It's true that the older you get, the faster it seems to go. I invite you to look at your priorities and adjust your decisions to bring you happiness in this life and eternal life in the next. That time will be here before you know it.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Nauvoo after the Mormon's, Sisters take the title, Dinner with President Gibbons, and The Historic Post office

Have you ever wondered what happened to our little town after 1846 when the Mormons left Nauvoo? We took a tour given by the Nauvoo Chamber of Commerce. 
I know, I's a bit late since we're leaving soon, but we took it none-the-less. 
The reader boards below are displayed in the Nauvoo town square.

 You may have heard that Nauvoo was the wine capital for a number of years. 
In fact, in 1860, Nauvoo claimed to have 425,000 grape plants. 
Would you have wanted to be given the job of grape plant counter? Me either.

 Just so you know, the women have been beating the men at Canasta whenever the Udalls and Johnsons have a minute of diversion. You can't see the score below, and I can't remember what it was, but rest assured we beat them soundly...again.

It is traditional that when missionaries have reached their expiration date as I call it and head home, the Mission President's wife cooks a fine meal for them before they go. It was delicious. 
 It's a pretty large group leaving don't you think?

Historic Post Office
I was in the historic post office on Friday. I haven't served there much obviously because the morning was filled with a comedy of errors. First, while dusting the chandeliers, my duster melted to one of the chandelier light bulbs. When do bulbs the size of Christmas tree lights give off enough heat to melt the duster?
 Sisters Anderson and Wood came to my rescue. But the problems didn't end there...

The sisters went back to the John Taylor home. Sister Brinley, my companion for the day, and I were outside socializing. I shut the door to keep the air conditioner from coming on too much. That sounds innocent enough don't you think? Well, the post office has one of those weird door knobs that has to be unlocked while the door is open. If one neglects to force the dead bolt open before shutting the door, then you are stuck inside.
 You either need the key which is outside as shown in the picture above. Or you need a special gold key that is inside every building...somewhere. I had to wait for Sister Brinley to return to her post (no pun intended...well maybe it was) and instruct me where the gold key was located.

Sister Brinley and I talked up a storm as we were at this site from 9-5 with only a few tours to give.
 I don't think I've reported on the post office before. See below for the cost of postage. Keep in mind that a skilled man's wage those days was about a dollar a day. Ouch, if you have many letters to send.
 Since the cost was so high, it was common to use cross writing when sending a letter. Cross writing is show below. First, the page was filled with writing on one side of the paper from top to bottom. Then the page was turned sideways and filled again on top of the original writing. Sometimes, the page was turned diagonal and filled a third time. A blank sheet of paper held under the words to be read was helpful but not a cure-all. For this and many more reasons, I feel happy to live in my generation. Yea for the internet!
 Note the folded letter to the side of the cross writing above. 
In the 1840's they still used wax and a stamp to seal the letters.
The picture below shows a mail bag used for transporting the Federally owned property.
 A typical post office was often located in a corner of a home or business with cub-be holes like you see below. If mail wasn't picked up (and because mail could be sent COD, this was a regular occurrence) unclaimed mail would be sent to Washington DC and eventually destroyed. Is it just me or does that make you twitch to know all those stories and real life events were destroyed?

In reading through the notes I've taken the past 18 months, I came across a few quotes  that stood out. Some of them are paraphrased below. I invite you to scan through for something that might be of benefit to you, and then of course act on it. Gems of advice aren't much good if you don't do something about it.
  • We lose out on opportunities for growth because we do not listen to the Holy Ghost. We need to relinquish our will in favor of the Lord's will. In 2 Nephi 28:30 it says we learn line upon line until we have learned great wisdom. After we accept revelation, we are given more. When we receive revelation we should thank God for His trust in us.
  • President Hinckley said, "Life is to be enjoyed not just endured. Things aren't as bad as you think. It will all work out." 
  • Concerning the fads in the world--some of them are harmless. Some of them can start us on a path to destruction. To know the difference, listen to and obey the prophets.
  • Never let a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved.
  • We will all suffer pain but it is our choice whether we continue to suffer or not.
  • There's no sense in saying that you trust Christ if you don't take His advice.
  • There is no agency(choice), without some risk.
  • Brigham Young said that we can build a kingdom faster than the adversary can tear it down because the foundation has been laid.
  • Sweet feelings of love in our heart are often companions to adversity.
  • No one can be lying, stealing, or involved in sexual sin and feel the Holy Ghost.
  • Salvation is not a cheap experience. We must all step into Gethsemane a little and experience sin and opposition to be saved.
  • As we come to know Christ as opposed to knowing about Christ, we feel and have confidence and trust in His love.
  • Be of good cheer both in good times and bad.
  • Why would Joseph Smith lie about seeing a vision when all he received for it was persecution and eventually death?
  • Many churches help men be better. Many teach love, peace, patience, service and forgiveness. No other church except the LDS teaches principles and temple covenants that save men in a celestial state with husbands and wives together linked to their family.
  • No sacrifice is too great for the blessings of an eternal marriage.
  • Be humble, faithful, and good then you can have the Holy Ghost with you. Learn what the Holy Ghost feels like to you--it varies between individuals. 
  • You can't teach others what you don't know yourself.

All in fun:

  • Should a woman have a baby after 35? No, 35 children is enough.
  • Having a memory is really overrated. You don't have to have a memory to become one.
  • Not to spoil the ending, but everything is going to be okay.
  • There has not been one case in the history of mankind when a husband has been shot while doing the dishes.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Homecoming on October 11, 2015, In our last few weeks, we are revisiting some "lasts"

You are all invited to 6490 Quail St. in Arvada, Colorado on October 11th 11 AM to here us report on our mission in Nauvoo. We'ld love to have you join us.

Lots of lasts...
One more get together with the group that came with us to Nauvoo.
 A gathering of all the sister missionaries both young and not so young to honor the young sister missionaries who will be leaving in a couple of weeks. Remember, they are called to another mission in the United States for six months. That way they spend two summers in Nauvoo to help accommodate all the guests but aren't bored stiff during the quiet Nauvoo winters.
 A close up to demonstrate that  I was there.
 One more trip to Amish country. I finally got a picture of the sign warning drivers to share the road with Amish buggies... well as the tail end of a buggy. Amish people don't like their picture taken so it's been tricky getting the right shot.
 Another rodeo. At least I don't have to say it's my first rodeo.  :)

 We finally made time to visit across the river from Nauvoo at a place called Montrose where the Mormon pioneers retreated to after leaving Nauvoo for a few weeks in 1846.

 Methodist, Mike Foley, whose family date back to this area for several generations has been studying archaeological evidence as to where the Mormon pioneer settlements and trails were. He uses divining rods to get his bearings and determine where to look.  From what I understand, these metal rods react to empty space made by wagon trains differently than non-compacted terrain. Your body becomes polarized and acts as a magnet in some way. I've probably said that all wrong but hopefully, you got the idea. When I first tried using the divining rods, my body responded oddly causing the rods to swing away from each other rather than crossing each other. I suppose I've always been known as a little off. :)
 He also uses diaries, letters, and journals of early settlers to gather clues. Below is a shot of the temple that is on the last bluff before the pioneers headed west and left the temple behind for the duration of their lives. The temple you see is the same size and location as the original one, so this would be the view that many writings described.
 We also went to a cemetery that Mike thinks is on the outskirts of a place that Joseph Smith had originally named Zarahemla after a city in the Book of Mormon. This town would have been established in the early 1840's and then abandoned in 1846, when Nauvoo was abandoned.
 It was a beautiful, quiet, little place.

 Pioneer Pastimes is about to close down except for weekends. There were some Canadian geese making themselves at home yesterday when we went to set up.
 I guess I'm not as imposing as I thought. My attempts to scare them into the air for a better picture failed miserably and they mostly ignored me.
 We also took a tour through Carthage Jail today. The experiences we relate in Carthage will remain with us forever I think. It was like we never left.

Today after our church meetings, we watched a film entitled Remembering Nauvoo. We'd seen it a few times last summer, but wanted to see it one more time. With it, we saw the short clip Because He Lives. I invite you to watch it yourself. All of what we do is really for one purpose spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Do you want the good news to bring you happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come? Come and learn for yourself.

I love the quote from St. Francis of Assisi that goes: “Preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words.”