Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9-We need Missionaries! and the Exodus!

Dear Friends and Family,

            How are you all? Weeks seem to fly by, and this mission is passing very quickly. We have now been out almost 11 months! We would only have 7 months left, however the mission president called us in to his office and asked us to extend until December to help put on “The Miracle of Christmas” again. And of course we said yes, so after approval from the Missionary Department, our new release date is December 21, 2015. Most of our missionary friends have gone home, who were here when we arrived. There are about 80 left. We will be getting approximately 80 more in April and May.

            By the way, the Mission President just announced to us this week, that the missionary department needs 10 more couples to serve a mission here. Their application numbers for all senior couples are down, and have sent out a request for us to contact people we know who might be able to come. They would need to be available in April and serve for 18 months. What a wonderful opportunity, if any of you are able to do this. It is unheard of, because normally they have a waiting list for Nauvoo. If you can possibly, start filling out your application and send it in, pending dental and medical exams. Put on it requesting Nauvoo- “immediate attention." We would love to serve with you!

            President and Sister Jenson, in our mission presidency just went home to Logan area. We will miss them so much! They have been here for 23 months!  Elder Doug Brinley has been called to replace him and serve as first counselor. We have been serving in the Visitors' Center with him and Sister Brinley, and have become good friends. He was a professor of marriage and family relations at BYU, and has written several books. They have already served 3 other mission to Texas, Fresno, and Hawaii. We feel very blessed to have them here.

            We had the most amazing experience this past week. I would put it at one of my top ten in my life! I just keep thinking, how can this mission get any better? But it does. We had the Exodus Reenactment Weekend. 

          The whole mission was involved with the Exodus Re-enactment on Feb. 7. This is a time that honors the saints who started leaving Nauvoo across the Mississippi River and moving west. They left in the middle of winter and forced out by gunpoint on Feb. 4. They had no wagon to ride in! The people were loaded with supplies and WALKED the whole way in the freezing cold and camped at night! Nine babies were born the first night in tents! Cold freezing temperatures! Mary E Cox Whiting, (Same rel. To me as Mary Fielding) was pregnant when they arrived to Utah! Gave birth a month after arriving. I just can't even imagine. Right now it is so cold right now just above zero- like 8 degrees, that I can’t comprehend how they stayed warm while they traveled!  They mostly crossed by ferries, but the river froze over on Feb. 24 so more wagons could cross quickly, which we believe was a blessing and answer to prayers.  

          The Reenactment is a whole weekend of activities and celebrations; stories of the saints who were forced to leave, and their feelings about it.  There is a banquet, workshops by descendants, a breakfast that morning and the official walk. 

          On Friday, there were workshops and lectures by people who told the “Untold Stories” of Nauvoo. There were slides of their families.  Harry and I didn't participate in this but loved it!  We did sing in a small music group in harmony at the beginning "The Hearts of the Children Turn to Their Fathers." 

         About 500 people and descendants came to Nauvoo to honor their ancestors, and walk with us. Classes were diverse, and involved many nonmembers too from this community. They were held in the Community of Christ building or officially, “The Joseph Smith Historic Sites” visitors center. 

          Then on Saturday morning at the Family Living Center or a continental breakfast, and short  program where Elder Schultz and I sang a musical number with a small group, and we read the history that led up to the forced “exodus” from Nauvoo. It was very emotional for me, as I shared the firsthand experience of my great grandmother, Martha Ann Smith, daughter of Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith, having to leave their beloved home in Nauvoo. 

The tags I'm wearing are the names of my ancestors who lived in Nauvoo and had to leave. Mary Fielding. Martha Ann, her daughter with Hyrum, my dad's grandma and Mary E. Cox, wife of Edwin Whiting.  Dad walked for their husbands.

          For the Walk, we lined up on Main Street; first men dressed as the Nauvoo Legion... 

...then the walkers carrying flags from the countries that represented our ancestors... 

...then the carriages and freight wagons, all lined up in the rear. We walked about a mile down Main to the end of Parley Street at the Mississippi River. This part at Parley Street is also called the “Trail of Hope.” 

          Many descendants of these pioneers came from all over to celebrate this event. We walk "In memory of" one of those ancestors. I walked in the name of Mary Elizabeth Cox Whiting, who was the mother of my great grandfather, Edwin Marion Whiting. (We have a reunion every 2 years in honor of him and his wife, Anna Mariah. I just learned that Mary Elizabeth was baptized here in the Mississippi River, and sealed as the third wife to Edwin Whiting on January 26, 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple. I could have walked for Martha Ann Smith, but others here are descendants of her, and she was such a small girl when she left, she doesn’t have many memories of it.) Harry will walk for her husband, Edwin Whiting. 

          When we walked, I carried the England flag, for my Startup, Smith and Fielding ancestors. 

At the end at the pioneer memorial to the saints who died along the trail, there was a brief flag raising by the Legion, and a message from our mission president. Then we sang “Come Come Ye Saints.”  What a wonderful tribute to these saints, and we feel so blessed to be part of it!

            The weather was beautiful that day! Almost warm- in the 40’s- a few days before it had been 8-15 degrees, so we were thankful for the sunny weather. We have been learning to climatize ourselves! We have a new understanding about “Cold” and “Winter”. We wear many layers of thermal underwear, leggings, heavy socks, sweaters, scarves, heavy coats, hats, and gloves. Our California bodies are not used to this cold cold weather! But we also love the season changes, especially the beauty of snow on the trees and buildings. (I’m sure Elder Schultz doesn’t like shoveling the sidewalks at our house though!)

Looking out our door on our driveway! COLD!!!
            My children asked me why we don't just turn on the heaters!  I told them yes, we have a great new heater/air conditioner. But even when it registers 72, it's only 72 degrees near the thermostat. There are no vents into the kitchen/laundry and bathroom. And there's a basement below us so where there is no carpet it's cold. It's an old house so the walls stay cold and windows etc. We were told that the humidity makes you feel colder. It goes right through your clothes.  I can never get warm. Even inside!! The walls and floors are cold even with a furnace. Dishes in cupboard are cold! People are nuts choosing to live here!!!! How did pioneers last in tiny cabins. Kids stuck in a one room cabin?  It's mostly in the single digits and gets up to 18-20 degrees high! Ha! I'm learning to adapt but I'm glad we won't be here next year this time! 

            I need to share a little about the wonderful wildlife all around us here in Nauvoo. We have the year-round appearance of flocks of snow geese who feed on the Mississippi River, and live by its shores.  This has also been the season of the pelicans that come up from the south (ocean) along the river, and bald eagles come from the north (Alaska and Canada). They come to feed on fish by the Keokuk Dam, because there is abundance of fish there. The eagles are so majestic- When we drive down the river, we spot several. We also have deer who come from the forests into town at night to find food from bushes and trees. We have been frightened and almost hit them with our car as we drive back from performances.  And there are rabbits and squirrels everywhere! We really enjoy living around so much wildlife!

            The projects we have been working on, besides serving as site leaders of the visitors' center, are the Easter program on March 29, and re-doing the Nauvoo website, which is so outdated. We are not in charge of the program,  just helping. But Elder Schultz is in charge of the new website, and working with Mossi Watene,  who is designing it. We are also on the public affairs committee, and setting up visits with the mayors, and tourism directors of Burlington and Fort Madison.

            Even though we have very few visitors this time of year, we enjoy really teaching and talking to those who come in. We have several large families who have come in, and many nonmember senior couples who live locally, but like to come down to visit the historic sites. We are constantly doing missionary work. We gave an Egyptian language Book of Mormon to a man who came from Egypt and works here now. He just stopped in to see Nauvoo. Elder Schultz spent much time with him, explaining our beliefs. He is Muslim, but was very open-minded about learning more.

            Then in March, we have the re-enactment of the Relief Society being organized in the actual Red Brick Store upstairs. We do this with the Community of Christ church (formerly Reorganized Church). Lots of exciting things happen here in Nauvoo. We also start rehearsing again for the summer “Sunset on the Mississippi” show.

            I must close now to go to our Rendezvous show tonight.  Thank you for all your love, support and prayers on our behalf. We truly feel we are making a difference here in Nauvoo; such an important place in the history of this restored Church! May you all catch the vision of missionary work in your neighborhoods and those with whom you come in contact.  The Church really is True!!

Love and Miss you All!
Elder and Sister Schultz in Nauvoo, Illinois

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