Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015- City Presentations, RS Reenactment & New Assignments

Dear Family and Friends,

            How are you all? Time just seems to fly by so quickly! And every week is packed with so many activities here in Nauvoo. After my last letter, on March 18, we had the presentation at Burlington for their Mayor, and 50 Chamber of Commerce members. It went well, except for when we showed the 3 minutes video of Nauvoo, there was no sound- so the silence was embarrassing. We were using their computer, and they said it was working fine when they tested it. But other than that, it was very successful. We have followed up by scheduling a VIP tour for several of them to come to Nauvoo in May to have a wagon ride and short tour of the historic sites. We are hoping this will unify our “region,” and that they will want to refer many visitors to Nauvoo.

            Later that afternoon, I was able to attend the Relief Society Organization Reenactment in the Red Brick Store. All of us 40 sister missionaries wore our pioneer dresses, and rode in wagons down to the store.  We took pictures together as a group, and then went upstairs. Several missionaries took the parts of Joseph Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards. And then there were also many sisters depicting Emma Smith, Sarah Kimball, Lucy Mack Smith, Bathsheba Smith and others. What an amazing experience this was! I can’t even put it into words, to do it justice. To be there in the actual place the Relief Society was organized meant so much to me and all of us.   We sang the same hymns they sang, and the same words were spoken, taken from the notes of Willard Richards. Then I felt very honored to be asked to give the closing prayer as one of the only relatives of Emma Smith. (My great, great aunt)

            Last week, the director of “Rendezvous,” Sister Jones, handed us the script to learn a new vignette. Right now the 3 casts have been dwindling as missionaries go home. We are the only Peter and Abigail, until new missionaries can learn the part. But now she wants us to learn “Thomas and Elizabeth” who sing a song together at the end. We are working on memorizing and blocking it too. We are still very nervous, but have faith we can do it.

            Elder Schultz was also asked to be the new Audio Visual missionary for the mission! This is in addition to his other regular duties, and extra projects, i.e. updating the new website and directing the Visitor Center. He basically is in charge of setting up all the microphones, computers with power points, and lighting in the theaters for every training, sociable (fireside), Sunday meetings, etc. I guess he knows a lot about sound and lighting from his years of show experience! He also recently finished writing the whole script and introductions for the Easter program/concert that will be held this Sunday at the stake center. We have over 6 churches participating in this Interfaith Program, with 3 choirs, a string quartet, a family of 9 singing together, male and female soloists, and other various numbers. It should be a wonderful evening of music and spoken word; different from our Miracle of Christmas, but just as good.

            We were so excited and happy to welcome 12 new couples to our mission this past week. They are from all over Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. About 18 more couples come next month! We have been so short staffed, that many of the sites are shared by one set of missionaries. 

            We continue to have wonderful missionary experiences in the Visitor's Center. A Young Men's quorum from Arkansas- about 12 of them, plus leaders came to ride bikes down the Carthage trail, for a scout patch, and then tour Nauvoo.  Their leader said that he was helping to prepare future missionaries, and wanted them to “feel” the spirit here. Elder Schultz gave them a tour and was able to share his testimony as he told about these valiant saints who lived here, but had faith to follow a prophet to leave and go west.

 We also had 17 German exchange students come in today. All of them nonmembers, and had not even heard of Mormons. We gave them a wagon ride, they watched our 20-minute movie, and we handed them a bag with brochures and pamphlets. Also this week we have had numerous families on Spring Break from Idaho and Utah. It is so fun to help them plan their visit here, to make it memorable for their children.

We are surely very busy! We perform twice a week now, and we practice for the upcoming Sunset by the Mississippi show twice a week. We are also in the Mission Talent Show next week, performing our song and jokes from last summer. But I am also singing in a duet with another sister in my cast. So we spend extra time practicing for that and learning our new parts in the musical. Whew! But we love it here, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

We have also gotten to know many of the people who live here in Nauvoo as permanent citizens. We work with Kim Ourth, head of tourism, and a descendant of the Baxter winery people. She is a young mother, expecting her second baby, and such a hard worker. She is a strong and valiant Catholic woman, and we love her. We also have grown close to LuAnn, who has been the owner of the Nauvoo Pharmacy for 35 years, and a nonmember. Also I love Marian, a Lutheran here who is our postmistress in the little Nauvoo Post Office. Craig Dunn, the chiropractor, and his wife conduct tours down the Carthage Trail, and are great people. Lachland McKay, head of the Community of Christ sites and descendant of Joseph Smith has also become our good friend. We bond over being Smiths together, and he always pull me aside to tell me the latest “information” he has discovered about our ancestors. We love many members, too, who helped us and performed in the "Miracle of Christmas" show. The Miller, Saunders, Evans and Seaman families are awesome.  I taught all of their young children in the program, and we loved seeing them at Stake Conference last week. And many more that I can’t mention, but we understand now why it is so hard to leave here when our mission is done, because you grow to love the local people so much!

I better close now, because it is getting late. We surely love it when you write us back, even if it is only a few lines. We feel so distant and out of touch with everyone, so it really means a lot to us. If any of you are planning a trip here this summer, please let us know in advance so we can help reserve tickets for shows, and plan your itinerary. That is what we do best! We love you all, and we love serving this mission for the Lord, and sharing his restored gospel to all we meet!

Love Elder and Sister Schultz

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16- Spring is here!

Dear Family and Friends,

         So much has happened in the past 3 weeks, that I hardly know where to begin. First of all, it got up to 75 today! Hooray! We are feeling Spring in the air. We haven’t worn coats for a week now, and the tulip bulbs I planted last fall are starting to come up! I love seeing the change of seasons here. Growing up in California, I never was able to see them. Seeing the bare trees and bushes come alive and turn bright green, and then blossom is just amazing. And when they turned bright autumn colors in October, that was beautiful too!

         We have gone from 10-20 guests per day, to over 200 a day during March because of Spring Breaks all over the U.S. Families are coming in to see Nauvoo, mostly from Texas and parts of the south. This week we are welcoming people from the north near Chicago, Michigan and Minnesota. We love to greet these people and share our excitement and spirit of Nauvoo. I had a great experience today with a young man named Joe. He is from Champaign, Illinois and had never been here before. He has been searching for a religion, and found Mormons, and has been having the missionary lessons. He has set a baptism date for May. But he wanted to come to Nauvoo to strengthen his budding testimony. We really connected at the First Vision statue, where he shared that he had just read 3rd Nephi, where Christ comes to America. He got choked up when trying to express how much it touched him. We shared an emotional moment, and I bore my testimony to him, that I knew this gospel was true, and that Joseph had seen the Father and Jesus Christ in the sacred grove. And that I knew the true church had been restored on this earth. He thanked me, and I congratulated him on being baptized.

         After the Exodus last month, we have been very busy on public affairs committee, setting up VIP meetings for us and our director, Sister Watkins and the President. We had one on March 10 with Fort Madison Mayor, and chamber people- about 10 persons. The meeting was a great success, and we told them we wanted to work together as partners. And we invited them to come over for wagon rides and site tours with their organizations. Tomorrow morning we meet with all the City leaders and board members of the Burlington Partnership. The mayor and about 50 people will be there to hear our presentation for Nauvoo. They are giving us about 15 min. which is unheard of they tell us. Usually they don’t allow outsiders of Burlington, but I guess they really perked up when I told them we have over 200,000 visitors a year to Nauvoo, and 60,000 in July alone because of the pageants. Then they were calling us to set up this meeting. So we are nervous but also excited!

         We have been enjoying lectures and training by President Brinley. He is such a scholar on religious subjects, and we are so blessed to have him here. If you remember, he was a professor at BYU for over thirty years. He taught one lesson on the revelations that were given to Joseph Smith here in Nauvoo. Then another lesson which was really interesting was on “Fifty doctrines that are unique to our church different from other churches.”  Just to share a couple; 1. The Trinity- that we believe the Godhead to be three distinct persons, not one. 2. We pray to the Father, and not Jesus. 3. The Plan of Salvation; a Pre-mortal life, mortality, and a spirit world after death with 3 degrees. 4.The nature of angels, 5.sacrament prayers, 6. temple ordinances and covenants, etc. Aren’t we blessed to have a wonderful church with a living prophet who receives revelation for us today?

Picture from Hal and Gina Halladay: "We love this missionary couple! We had a little Brea reunion as Mike Coyle 
happened to be in Nauvoo at the same moment."
         Also since the Exodus, the spirit of Elijah has been working on us to find more of Harry’s ancestors to have their temple work done. Sister Brinley is a genealogy specialist, and has been training me on Family Search and I am getting excited. I downloaded about 20 of his names ready for temple work. I will send some to you all, when I get them printed at the temple. So you will all need to go to the temple and help get the work done!

         Tomorrow afternoon is our Relief Society Organization Re-enactment up in the Red Brick Store, where it actually took place. We are wearing pioneer dresses and being driven down my wagons there, and we will share it with the Community of Christ sisters too. I am so excited to be part of this. I have been asked to give the closing prayer, as a relative of Emma Smith, the original first president of the Relief Society.

         We were called this week to be District Leaders of some of the new couples that are coming in March and April. We will help welcome and train them, and “shepherd” them for the next several months. We will have 2 new couples and 2 young sister missionaries. This will be a special experience. We grew very close to our “district leaders,” the Murrays, who went home last December. We still stay in touch.

         I better close because it is getting late. We sure love you all, and miss home so much. But we also love being here in Nauvoo, and have met and worked with such wonderful people. What blessings we have received! Too many to mention, and we are so grateful for them all.

Love from Nauvoo!  Elder and Sister Schultz