Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1, 2014-Father's Day, Ancestry Dig, Martyrdom, Celebrations

Happy Father's Day. Thanks Amber for the decorations!
Dear Family,

            How are you all? We think about you every day. We are having such a marvelous mission here in Nauvoo. This has been an amazing experience so far! It’s hard to believe we have been here for over 3 ½ months. The weather here is sure unpredictable. One day it will be so hot with 90 % humidity, and the next it storms and rains and will drop to the 60’s. Thunderstorms are scary! Very loud, and lots of lightning with no rain.  And tornado warnings are very common. We have sirens, and emergency plans. Many nights we open up our cellar, when there has been an alert! We are told this is common for the Midwest.

            I had a great experience this past week. I went down to the “Nauvoo Dig.” Several Smith family members and other volunteers came this summer to find the log home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. They know where it was but there is nothing there. So after days of digging and sifting through literally mounds and mounds of dirt, they found the corner pillar foundations, and the fireplace base. I was a screener who sifted through all the dirt. I personally found a square nail head, mortar pieces from between the logs, glass from containers, and brick pieces from the fireplace. I also found some china pieces with designs on them. The girl next to me found a tooth, and a medicine bottle. Many other items were found like a rusted spoon, a porcelain door knob, and window glass pieces. 

The above is the pillar of the foundation. 

This is the stone walkway down to the Mississippi River past their home.

            I can’t describe what an excited feeling it was to find these things from my great great great grandparents! I felt such a closeness to them who lived here 170 years ago. I also was taken on a personal tour of the Nauvoo House, which was a hotel in Joseph’s day, right on the Mississippi River. It is next door to this dig site, and is owned by the Community of Christ church, but is not open to tourists. It has been turned into a kind of boarding house people can rent. It is very old, and has all the original wood trim, doors, stairway, walls, etc. I felt such a wonderful spirit walking through all the rooms where Emma worked, and this is how she made money after her husband died.

            Last Friday, June 27, was the 170th commemoration of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. There was an amazing program right on the grass at Carthage Jail. The Nauvoo Brass Band played, the young performing missionaries did a very tender vignette, playing the parts of Emma and Lucy, and the brothers, and friends of these men who were murdered in cold blood. It was very emotional. Then they had two saddled horses with no riders on them walk though and past the crowd, representing these two men who rode into town on horses but never got on them again. Then our mission president, Pres. Gibbons gave a wonderful tribute. At exactly 5:19 pm, the bells of the Catholic church across the street rang many times to honor these two men. What a special program to be part of.

(Here is a snippet of a more personal message we received from our parents on 6/26... this is Christy, her daughter...)

Tonight is the 170th anniversary of the night before the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Tomorrow June 27 (1844) we will go to the commemoration program of it down in Carthage. I have been thinking about it all day as we serve here in this sacred place. Please say a prayer of gratitude to them for sacrificing their lives for this restored gospel, as you go to bed tonight and think of them tomorrow at about 5:00 p.m. Teach your children about it and to honor them. I love you all and I am so thankful to be serving a mission here. It is amazing! Words can’t describe it! I spent a couple of hours this morning at the Smith family dig helping find the foundation of Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack’s log cabin and we found it. Also the fireplace. We had to go down about 8 inches. But I found brick pieces, glass from bottles and china pieces and a square head nail. It was so exciting! I was emotional all day. I was the only volunteer there of about 30 who was an actual Smith! They let me keep pieces of brick from the fireplace and mortar chunks from the logs so I”ll treasure them! There was a cute family there with 5 little kids from Orem. They all helped. Just came cause they heard about it! We should plan on coming in 2016 for the Hyrum Smith home dig.

            It is so different living here from just visiting as a tourist.  We have been welcomed by the local people with open arms. They are so friendly and happy we are here to help their economy. We are officially super busy now with the summer season! We average 1,000-2,000 people per day coming into the Visitors Center. Every show is sold out, and people wait outside in lines before we open in the morning to get tickets for wagon and carriage rides. It is difficult to give personal attention to each person and family, but we try. The pageant starts next week, and they expect a 25% increase in attendance from last year since there are 2 pageants: the regular Nauvoo story, and the British pageant honoring converts who joined the church and emigrated here to join the saints. We have several of those people in our ancestors, so I am anxious to see it.

            The past month we have had 2 visiting BYU groups to entertain. First came the Living Legends, a group of performers who are from 3 groups; Latin American, Native American, and Polynesian. Their show was fantastic with bright colored costumes and feathers, and they performed dances from their cultures. Then this past 2 weeks, the Jazz Synthesis band and Contemporary Dance Theatre came. We loved these performances too! Such talented young people with a variety of songs and dances.

            We are surprised at the variety of ways we are helping further the missionary work here. We thought we would be used in improving the shows and programs here, but the Lord has other plans in mind for us. We are assistant public affairs for the mission, so we travel around to the cities and towns west of Nauvoo, in Iowa, i.e. Burlington, Fort Madison, Monroe, Betensport, and several Amish communities. We meet with the chambers of commerce, and mingle with the people. We also try to attend their cultural events. The north, east and south areas are under other missionaries. We really enjoy this assignment. 

Pioneer Remedies for Mormon Missionaries. This is at an 1807 Mississippi River Fort    

            Also, we perform a vignette in the Rendezvous show, and a specialty musical number in the Sunset show. Elder Schultz has been asked by the Nauvoo Brass Band director to rewrite their Carthage program on Sundays. It was dragging on too long, so he made the narration better, and cut the program from 45 to 25 minutes. He also was the representative for the two BYU groups, introducing their shows, after our Sunset show. 

            And our biggest exciting job is coordinating the Nauvoo mission’s appearance at the Illinois State Fair. It is really a big deal, and we have gotten permission to bring the Young Performing Missionaries and Brass Band to opening day on August 8. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony with the governor, and we will be right on the grassy area inside the main gate. We will also bring a traveling historical trailer called “Nauvoo On The Road”, that takes demonstrations to events throughout the area, i.e. rope making, barrel and candle making, baking bread in a bustle oven, and lots of pioneer games for the children. It travels to schools, local fairs, etc. to show people what Nauvoo is all about.

            This morning we had our weekly mission training, and our President Gibbons shared with us direction from the new mission pres. training he received last week. He was taught by the First Presidency and all twelve apostles, all there at one time, which proves what an importance the church puts on missionary work.  It is their number one priority. Here are some messages from them;
-       No longer is missionary work just finding, teaching and baptizing. It is finding, teaching, baptizing, retention, activation, endowment, and sealings.
-       There is no feeling of fear or negativism about the last days and the perils to come among these leaders/ apostles. “There is a wave of righteousness sweeping the world!” We must all catch the wave and be part of it! They are positive and moving forward. Don’t dwell on the evils in the world.
-        We must begin with the end in mind; envision your investigators and friends dressed in white standing in the temple.
-       We need to bear our personal testimonies OFTEN, especially to our families and our friends. Don’t assume they know you have one. Tell them!
-       As missionaries (all of us) we don’t need to light the flame of the gospel in a person. They already were born with the light of Christ. We just need to “fan” the flame. Ask questions to your friends like, Do you ever wonder why our church builds so many temples? Over 143 at this time. Or do you know much about your ancestors or grandparents? Have you wondered about them, and where you came from? Do you know their stories?
-        The Lord is hastening His work. This is His gospel, His earth, His people. Are we going to keep up?
-       If we compared this time on the earth to a football field, we are on the “one inch” yard line.
-       We CANNOT waste time at all. The Lord is preparing to come again. We must all get involved in spreading the gospel and keeping His commandments.
-       There 85,843 full time missionaries out in the world. It is exciting to part of it!

     I want to bear my testimony to all of you; I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I love the Lord, and I know He conducts His true church through a living prophet today. I love you all so much, and want us all to be together after this life. Keep living righteous lives by keeping His commandments. Share it with your family and friends!


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