Thursday, October 27, 2016

The End of our Mission in Nauvoo - Some Firsts and Some Lasts

Our friend Stuart gave Bryce a gift - a biker scarf! A whole new look for a missionary, don't you think? Stuart has been a member of the church for a year now and we are so proud of him.

This was one of our last days serving at the Historic Carthage Jail and as full time missionaries. What a sweet gift our mission has been! Behind us are portraits of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith. 

This is the archeological dig of the Edward Hunter home just west of the Nauvoo Temple. There are up to a hundred uncovered home foundations just like this west of the Temple. Amazing!

Our last performance in Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo- here with Sis. Lowe, the director. Just for the record, we still know our vingette lines for Peter and Abigail!

A couple of days before our last day at Carthage, the flowers were all taken out in preparation for planting tulips. Was it ever bare without the previously lush flower pots that are now empty and stacked neatly on the left side of this picture. 

So sad!

See... I told you they were lush!

This picture was taken just before we left our mission. Good friends, Stuart and the Strouds (now serving in Carthage), were there for the send-off.

With our trailer in tow, we said good-bye to our Nauvoo Mission.

We went back to the apartment to pick up our food for the road and to lock our keys in the house for Sis. Hopkin to get later. One last picture before we say farewell! Quite surreal!

We spent the night at the Marydale B&B right by Adam Ondi Ahman and were treated to an amazing breakfast. We highly recomment this B&B.

We really enjoyed the peaceful and reverent feeling at Adam Ondi Ahman. We had never been there before.  It was beautiful.

Then we drove to Far West. The Far West Temple site was fenced in like any other Temple with beautiful flowers. The four cornerstones are still there and are protected by glass boxes. 

This is the view from the Temple site in Far West.

This street sign is just at the corner of the Temple site. I thought it was fun!

After that, we visited Historic Liberty Jail in Liberty, MO. 

It was interesting to visit church history sites before Nauvoo. About the jail itself, we had not known that the floor of the basement cell is original. The presentation was very emotional for us.

This is the Visitor's Center in Independence. They too had a wonderful presentation where a young sister missionary took you through various stations/scenes having to do with church history. 

This sign is kitty corner to the LDS Visitor's Center. 

We also were able to attend the Kansa City Temple too. 

October 1st between the morning and afternoon sessions of General Conference is is when we were released as full time missionaries via Facetime with our Stake President who was in SLC for Conference. That night we went out for dinner and felt completely invisible. No one noticed you! With your missionary tag, everyone glanced your way and at your tag. Then you would say hello and it opened up conversations too.  The other difference we noticed after we were released was the absence of the "mantle of a missionary". 

After the church history sites we travelled to Branson, MO for a few days. It was a good transition and we learned an important lesson - too much free time is actually boring.  Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed our stay and all the wholesome entertainment - it was amazing! And we enjoyed the food, as you can see. BUT, it was good to move on the Aurora, CO where we visited Megan, Jared, and their four kiddos. We no longer had any free time to spare! And that was fine with us!

When we arrived on Aurora, CO,  the Merrills had a welcome home from our mission sign for us on their garage too. That was really fun. The next two weeks was full of soccer games and halloween parties at school and going to the Denver Zoo and the Denver museum and science center, and helping Megan start a new quilt and watching Cubs games and BYU games --- you get the idea!

We celebrated Bryce's birthday early and it was a real surprise!

We had fun watching Logan play soccer and Jared play soccer with an adult league and we also froze to death watching Jared's Varsity boys soccer team play one night. 

Go cubbies!!! On to the World Series!

We went to trunk or treat parties, played at the park, went to a Fall festival and carved pumpkins.  After 2 weeks of fun, we said goodbye and headed to Salt Lake. We stayed with the McKnights from our mission and had mucho fun seeing several people from our mission over the 4 days we were there - Curtises, Lisa Brown, Sis. Allen who we all greeted at the airport as she arrived from Australia, Couches, Veenkers, and Clements.  We also visited with Bryce's brother Jim and wife Leanne. We did sessions at the Provo City Temple and the Salt Lake Temple. We also saw the new display at the Church History Museum of the early history of the church. It was so well done. Lots of interactive displays and inspiring art work. The painting of the martyrdom that follows is the whole reason I wanted to see the new display. I had heard about it while serving in Historic Carthage Jail. It shows the events from both sides of the door - the mob on the left and Joseph and Hyrum Smith, John Taylor and Willard Richards on the right. 

This is a painting of the Nauvoo Temple. I think it is of the Temple in the 1840's rather than today. But either way, to me it is a statement of the faith and dedication of the early Saints and of today's Saints around the world. The early Saints were asked to do hard things and God asks hard things of us as well. Our challenges are taking place in 2016 with much different obtacles than the early Saints had. But in many ways it is the same as we, just like them, take care of our families, ourselves, strive to serve like the Savior did and to fulfill our responsibilties to take the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. We need to stand for and be immersed in what is right and true. And The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints IS right and true. 

And so tomorrow we make our way north to Canada. In the last 18 months we have made lasting friendships, been changed forever by our missionary service as full time missionaries, seen things and felt things we will never forget, and overcome challenges and done things we never thought we'd do.  I now know why people often refer to their missions even 30-40 years later - because it was an amazing, life changing, unforgetable experience. We are so grateful to have been full time missionaries in Nauvoo, Illinois. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Unexpected Church History Gem!

Just a few miles NE of Carthage is the little hamlet of Webster. It was originally called Ramus and I'd heard about it when I worked in the Lands and Records site in Nauvoo.  We didn't know what we'd find, but we sure found more than we expected. 

As we read this sign on the main road,  we knew there was more LDS history here than we knew about. We wondered if we could find the old cemetery mentioned on the sign. 

You have to read the sign - it's like being there!

Sure enough, with the help of a Webster resident, we turned left at the old store on the corner and followed the road left and around to the old cemetery. 

We found the graves of the original settlers who came to Ramus in 1826 and who were converted by missionary Joel Hills Johnson. As you can tell, the Perkins family decendants put up a new marker in 2000.

The exciting find of the day was this headstone of Wilkins Salisbury and his wife Katherine Smith Salisbury. She was the sister of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Salisburys lived in the area and Joseph and Hyrum visited here often.

After the cemetery, we went back onto the main road to see if we could find the town square mentioned on the first sign we'd read. Back behind the little park/playground area we found an old church. Beside it was this door. Curious! This says: "this is the foundation of original brick Mormon church. First meeting house in Illinois. Built 1840. Torn down 1897. Joseph Smith spoke D&C 130 (April 2, 1843) and D&C 131, May 16-17, 1843. Inside the perimeter of these white stakes you may probe 15 inches below the sod and touch the original stone. Foundation undisturbed since 1890's." It goes on to say that the church beside it was built using the lumber from the LDS church by this person's ancestor. By the way, it was for sale. 

Bryce is standing by one of the 4 corner markers of the LDS church.

This is the church beside the original site built out of lumber from the LDS church. Bryce is standing at the same marker. 

Interesting info.

These are some original bricks and a cornerstone from the LDS church. The whole "jaunt" to Webster was like a treasure hunt and we were not "skunked". Great little discovery.