Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12, 2014- Two Weeks of Firsts

April 12, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

         We’re sorry we didn’t write sooner this week, but our Prep Day is now Friday, so we weren’t able to until this weekend. The weather here is becoming better! It’s fun to be in a place that has the change in seasons. We definitely came in winter 3 weeks ago, when everything was brown and bare. It is warming up, and we have green grass, buds on the trees, and lots of bulb flowers coming up like daffodils, and tulips. Yesterday it was 70 and today it is 79. But as happy as we are about getting warmer, we know that leads to very hot humid summers here too!

         Since we last wrote, this has been 10 days of real “firsts.” We have served in many pioneer sites for the first time, especially Carthage Jail, and we were in our first performance of Rendezvous in Nauvoo. We also were able to perform in the Talent Review, with Harry playing his bass, while we sang “In The Summertime”, and he told the one line jokes. Everyone in the mission now thinks of us as the crazy funny couple who did that song, and when they pass Harry, they say “Or” to refer to how he tells the titles of the songs. Like “Get Nellie out of the wheat field Pappy, she’s going against the grain” OR……

         We were very nervous to go on stage in Rendezvous this week. We had only practiced in the cultural hall theater (the old one) once, and then they just made us go up and join the cast and do it last Wednesday! We perform it again tonight. There are several vignettes with characters acting out scenes from living in Nauvoo, and having to leave. Today Sister Taye, the director asked us to do the parts of Abigail and Peter. We are not actors, but we accepted! We have learned like any calling or assignment, you do not have an option. You accept it, so wish us luck. It should be kind of funny. We won’t be doing it for a couple of months thank goodness.

         I have had the privilege of serving in The Family Living Center with all the activities there: candle making, bread (I did the demonstration), rope making, barrels, weaving loom for clothes, pottery, etc. That was really fun, and then I have served in the Post Office, Heber C. Kimball home and Carthage. Harry has also served in the Brickyard, and the Blacksmith shop. We have to learn about each of these places, and tell the stories, and give a gospel “Key” message. That has been a wonderful experience to share stories about these amazing people who lived here and built this beautiful city, with over 15,000 people living here when they were forced out. Yesterday, on our PDay we drove over the bridge to Fort Madison, and then to Montrose which is directly across the river from Nauvoo. This is where the saints crossed the river in the winter of 1846 and landed, and had to camp on the frozen snowy ground. There is a memorial there that honors those brave people who left those few days. You can see clearly the temple from there and their city. It was very emotional to read their feelings of looking back and knowing they would never see their homes and temple again. I’d like to share a couple of these with you:

         “During 1846, approximately 15,000 Latter-day Saints fled Nauvoo and crossed this river. They stood heartbroken on this river bank, gazing mournfully at their beautiful temple and city. With only their faith to sustain them, the Saints turned their wagons to the sunset and began their historic trek westward.”
         “By September the last of the saints were forced out. They fled possessing only what they could hastily tie into bundles. Five to six hundred sick and destitute Mormons crossed the Miss. River and huddled into camps just north of this site. Although church trustees did what they could for the “Poor Camp,” they had little shelter, and food was in very short supply. Starving and near desperation their fate seemed dependent on a miracle. The miracle came when many hundreds of quail flew into the camps and dropped from the sky. The quail proved easy prey and could be scooped up by hand. After each refugee had eaten their fill, an order was given to stop killing the birds.”

         I was so touched by this story of the hardship they endured! Luman A. Shurtleff said, “a rugged blanket or quilt laid over a few sticks or brush comprised all the house a whole family owned on earth and the land it covered all they possessed… and many of the occupants lay sick or dying…” I just wanted to share with you what we are experiencing in learning all of this information. So that you can get an appreciation too of this wonderful mission we are on.

         We had the wonderful experience of serving in Carthage Jail last Monday. We both felt such a powerful spirit there. We were able to take families on tours, and bear our testimonies in the room where Hyrum and Joseph were killed. I felt so honored to share this story of my great great grandfather, Hyrum’s life and death. What a great privilege!

         We are now in rehearsals for the Sunset on the Mississippi show that begins in May. It is on the outdoor stage by the visitors center. It is basically a show with the Young Performing Missionaries, and has some fun music and dancing. There are instrumentals like bluegrass, and Harry is playing the bass. We both sing with the large group of senior couples, and are dancing a polka too! It has been lots of fun to get to know our cast. The mission is divided into 3 casts by names of Lucy Mack, or Emma Hale, or we are in Sarah Granger. The two counselors to the president and their wives are also in our cast. There are about 50 of us. We also perform the Rendezvous show together. It is go-go-go all the time as you can see!  But we love being busy! We are in the Visitors Center 3-4 times a week, and are in charge! We meet so many wonderful people, families, church members and nonmembers. It is the first place they all come to ask for directions, pick up tickets for the shows and wagon rides, etc. We really love being in there so often! There is a constant stream of people. Today we had about 250 persons before noon, and busy season hasn’t even started yet. Yesterday 19 young single missionaries arrived. They will be the proselyting missionaries for the rest of the summer. We don’t actually teach the visitors. Our job is to answer questions and direct them to all the sites.

         I’m sorry this ended up so long, but so much has been happening each day. We are in awe of the wonderful missionaries we are serving with. They are good, hard working people and faithful members from all over the country. The more we get to know them, we are humbled to be serving with them.

         We love you all and do miss you greatly! But we know we are supposed to be here. Please keep living the commandments and be faithful!  The Lord will bless you beyond measure if you do! I have a strong testimony of this. We look forward to seeing some of you next summer!

Love Harry and Nancy

(Mom and Dad)

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